Lose Weight Sandman Style
There are two decadent indulgences in my life that I love to dream about: sleep and food. While food is my obvious passion, my undercover love is sleep. I love that feeling of climbing into bed and settling back against the pillow. It is as decadent as a dark chocolate salted caramel. Yum! The major difference though, is that while a piece of sugary deliciousness often derails some of those health and clean eating plans, the indulgent solid night's sleep will do exactly the opposite. Believe it. In chapter 7 of my new book “The New You and Improved Diet,” I outline all of the healthy benefits of succumbing to great rest. To lose and maintain a healthy weight, you need sleep as much as you need a healthy meal plan, a good dose of regular physical activity, and stress management. Finally! Weight loss news you’ve been dreaming about.
The deal with sleep and weight: Are you thinking I'm not teaching you anything new? You are probably thinking to yourself, if I sleep more, there are fewer hours in the day to spend eating! While that may be partially true for those late-PM snackers, that answer doesn't tell the whole story. Researchers believe that America's rising obesity rates may be intimately related to the fact that we’re sleeping fewer hours than we did in the past. In the 1960s, when 1 in 9 adults were reported to be obese, Americans reported sleeping 8.5 hours a night on average. They didn't have all of the technology, multitasking demands, and places that are open 24 hours that we have today, so it made sense they turned in a little earlier. By 2002, the average sleep time had fallen to less than 7 hours a night, and obesity rates skyrocketed to 1 in 3! Sleep research is really conclusive that getting enough sleep is key in weight management. Those who sleep less have higher levels of hunger hormones circulating in their blood, which causes an increase in appetite. Yes, your body has a hormonal response to being tired, telling you you are hungry and need to eat more.
Why lights out time is important: When babies are little, parents quickly learn that they need a sleep routine so their babies little bodies know it is time for bedtime. I recommend you do the same. You don't need warm milk and a bedtime story, but you should have a more grown up version so that your big-kid body knows to prepare for a good night's rest. I call your bedtime ritual “sleep hygiene,” and I take this process very seriously. For me, it's using a favorite hand cream, listening to soothing music and/or sipping chamomile tea as I organize my things for the next day. (Don't get me wrong, I do fall asleep with my makeup on and dishes in the sink from time to time too!) Also, I recommend you give yourself a set bedtime — I'm not ashamed that I treat myself like a four-year-old — and I recommend this for everyone to get the most out of their night.
Tips and tricks for successful shut eye: When things get tough for almost anyone, one of the first things that gets compromised is often shut eye. Most of us cheat or slip sometimes and do not get the sleep we dream of. It’s easy to get caught up working, cleaning the house, watching television, etc. It also can be hard to disconnect from the world and shut down, so I'll share an artillery of strategies to make sure you really rest when your head hits the pillow. Here are some of the tips I offer in my book “The New You and Improved Diet” to help you get on the road to restful slumber:
1. Starting tonight, banish all of your electronics from the bedroom. Really. Sleeping with your phone or open laptop will negatively affect your sleep. Say "Goodnight, phone! See you in the morning!" and leave your phone in another room.
2. You know if you sleep better in a warm or cold bedroom, so make it happen! Consider wearing socks to bed if your feet get cold. You may like the bedroom a little cooler or warmer when you are sleeping than you do when you are awake, so make the adjustment before you drift off.
3. Get outdoors every day and whenever possible. Regular sun exposure keeps your circadian rhythms in tune and helps your body understand the difference between day and night. Even you can squeeze in 10 minutes of fresh air in the morning or afternoon so try it out right now!
Happy shut-eye, my friends. You have nothing to lose, but a little bit of weight from trying to improve your sleep, so give it a go. Night night, sweet dreams.
Keri is a contributing editor and advisory board member for Women's Health Magazine, and is the Nutrition and Health contributor for NBC's New York Live. She is regularly featured on national television programs including NBC's The Today Show, ABC's Good Morning America, Access Hollywood Live, The View, The Talk, The Chew, Dr. Oz, The Doctors, The Rachael Ray Show, The Steve Harvey Show, MSNBC, The Fox News Channel, and CNN. Keri hosts an original series called "A Little Bit Better" which is featured on Youtube's LIVESTRONG Woman channel.
Keri resides in New York City with her children, Rex and Maizy. Whether she is training for a marathon, going to the farmers' market, or drinking her nightly cup of herbal tea, Keri lives and breathes a Nutritious Life while inspiring others to do the same.