30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge Day 18: Yes, Sleep CAN Help You Eat Healthier

weight loss benefits of sleep
Catch some ZZZs. (Image: Kristen Schellenberg / LIVESTRONG.COM)

It's easy to sacrifice some shut-eye when you're juggling work, life and your fitness journey, but let's get one thing straight: You need your sleep. A solid block of slumber every night is more important than you think; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider insufficient sleep a public health problem.

We live in a world with a hectic pace in which, thanks to multiple high-tech gadgets, you're constantly plugged in and accessible, and multitasking is the norm. Are you one of the millions of people who combat fatigue every day by throwing back some seriously high-octane caffeinated beverages to keep powering through? There's a healthier solution: Improve your sleep hygiene and lay the groundwork for a better, longer night's sleep.

Your sleep habits affect your daily routine. Sleep deprivation causes you to have trouble focusing and affects your moods during the day. Next time you experience a co-worker's mood swing, it's a safe bet that sleep — or lack thereof — is the culprit.

“Lack of sleep is a unique stress that induces a chronic stress response in the body,” says Shawn Talbott, nutritional biochemist, exercise physiologist and author of “The Secret of Vigor: How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Metabolic Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy.”

Then there's the negative impact it has on your health — and eating habits. Some preliminary research shows that even an hour or so more a night can help you eat fewer sugary foods and carbohydrates, the macronutrients a tired brain and body crave when you need energy.

What Lack of Sleep Can Do to Your Health

Research has linked a lack of sleep to a bunch of physiological effects that might sabotage your get-lean journey. A lack of sleep can:

  • Increase fat storage
  • Raise stress hormone levels
  • Cause spikes in hunger and unhealthy cravings

Plus, lack of sleep actually causes a decrease in the production of human growth hormone, which fights aging, builds muscles, aids fat loss and boosts immunity. In short, sleep is vital.

5 Ways to Wind Down and Get Some Shut Eye

  1. Chill out. A cooler room temperature aids sleep, so figure out your ideal temp.
  2. Go dark. Light can interfere and impair sleep, so make your room as dark as you can.
  3. Quiet down. You'll fall asleep much easier when your room is as quiet as possible.
  4. Get on schedule. Create a sleep schedule to allow your body to establish a pattern.
  5. Unplug before bed. Don't bring your cell phone, tablet or computer to bed; let your mind unwind.

How to Join the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge

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Calorie tracking can be easy. (Image: LIVESTRONG.COM)
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