7 Tips for a Great Night’s Sleep

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I get a lot of questions on how to lose weight. People want to know the latest fad, the secret food, and how hard their need to train. I appreciate the enthusiasm for intense training, but the hardest workout in the world will actually cause more problems if you don’t have the proper recovery mechanism. I simply call this having your priorities in order: eating breakfast, drinking plenty of water, and going to bed at a reasonable time increase your chances of getting in shape.

What usually screws people up is a lack of sleep. Sleep is huge in the recovery process: it gives the body a chance to balance out our stress and growth hormones. A meta-analysis on sleep showed that people who slept less than 6 hours a night over the course of four years had higher levels of obesity (1). Sleep problems should be tied in with the obesity epidemic: in fact, I’ve never had a client who had terrible sleep patterns and managed to get results from their program.

But there is hope. Dr. William C. Dement, known as the “father of sleep research,” wrote an excellent book entitled The Promise of Sleep. If you want an in depth look at just how strong of a relationship there is between sleep and our overall health, then look no further than this book. In the meantime though, UEFP can be your sleep help center and give you the cliff notes version on how to get a great night’s sleep.

  1. Have a bed time- Your body likes to have a schedule. It might make you feel like a child, but give yourself a bedtime and make a strong attempt to keep it. Other grown adults will look at you like you’re crazy, but you’ll love the increase in energy that you have.
  2. Make that bedtime no later than 10:30 pm – Our growth hormones go to work around 10:30 pm – if we’re asleep. Waiting to the wee hours in the morning to fall asleep means that these hormones never get a chance to shine and the entire stress/growth hormone relationship gets thrown off.
  3. Prepare for bed- The last thing you want to do is rush around like the Tasmanian Devil at night. Your body needs to get ready and be prepared for sleep. So try to make sure that all the things you need to do are done an hour or so before you go to bed.
  4. Dim the light – Light tells your body it’s daytime. If you have your house lit up like a Christmas tree, the hormones that promote sleep aren’t going to be able to allow you to feel asleep. Try to keep as few lights on as possible, and make sure that those lights are relatively dim.
  5. No TV- Have a television in your room? Get rid of it. The same goes for your cellphone, tablet, and any other electronic device you may have. If you need to relax before you go to sleep then read in bed.
  6. Associate your bed with sleep- Use your bed for sleep- don’t use it to do your taxes, knock out your homework, or have a late night argument with your spouse.
  7. Keep the room cool- Dr. Dement tells us that the body likes a cool space to sleep in. Keep the room under 70 degrees. It’s okay to stock up on blankets as long as the room is cool.

Remember: you can’t out-train a good diet and a great night’s sleep.

[toggle title=”References“]

1. Mozaffarian, D. Hao, T., et al. “Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long Term Weight Gain in Women and Men.” (2011) New England Journal of Medicine 364.25, 2392-2404[/toggle]

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