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.
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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
- Chill out. A cooler room temperature aids sleep, so figure out your ideal temp.
- Go dark. Light can interfere and impair sleep, so make your room as dark as you can.
- Quiet down. You'll fall asleep much easier when your room is as quiet as possible.
- Get on schedule. Create a sleep schedule to allow your body to establish a pattern.
- 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
1. Download the MyPlate App
Documenting your food and activity might seem like overkill, but it’s not. People who track their calories and physical activities enjoy greater success losing weight and keeping it off for good!
Tracking everything honestly is essential to making the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge work for you. Sometimes you’re not even aware of everything you consume, but once you start tracking it, you’ll think twice before you make poor choices. And that’s a good thing.
- Daily meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and snacks
- Exercise and activity
- BMI (Body Mass Index)
2. Print Out Your Daily Calendar
Isn't it so satisfying to check things off of your to-do list? Each day during the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge, you're accountable for five key steps: tracking breakfast, lunch and dinner; tracking your water intake; and either walking or running.
We created a helpful calendar to keep you on task for all 30 days. Print it out and check off each activity as soon as you complete it.
3. Stay Connected on Facebook
For daily support, motivation and camaraderie with LIVESTRONG.COM team members, join our Facebook Group for the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge. We'll share recipes, tips, motivations, pictures and more! Plus, we'll answer all your questions.
4. Read Up On How to Catch Some ZZZs
- 10 Proven Tips for a Good Night's Sleep
- 12 Foods That Help You Fall Asleep
- 11 Habits That Are Ruining Your Sleep (and How to Fix Them)
Readers — Are you joining us in the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge? If so, what's your weight-loss goal? Have you ever done a weight-loss challenge group before? How did it go? Have you joined our LIVESTRONG.COM Challenge Group on Facebook? Leave a comment below and let us know.