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Most people would assume that to get better results, they need to ramp up their exercise and dial in their nutrition habits. In fact, lack of sleep can negatively affect your willpower, hunger, and cravings- and stand in the way of the results you want.

It might not seem fun or sexy to concentrate on getting more sleep, but trust me, it’s game changer.

Getting enough sleep is just as important to your health, well-being, and your weight as diet and exercise is.

Being sleep deprived sets up your brain to make bad decisions. It dulls activity in the frontal lobe which is responsible for decision-making and impulse control. It’s almost like being drunk. You don’t have the mental clarity to make good decisions. When you’re overtired your brain is looking for something that feels good. You might be able to say no to those freshly baked cookies when you’re rested, but if you’re sleep deprived your brain has no problem saying yes.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people were starved of sleep, late-night snacking increased, and they were more likely to choose high-carb snacks. In another study done at the University of Chicago, sleep-deprived participants chose snacks with twice as much fat as those who slept at least 8 hours.

A second study found that sleeping too little prompts people to eat bigger portions of all foods, increasing weight gain. And in a review of 18 studies, researchers found that a lack of sleep led to increased cravings for energy-dense, high-carbohydrate foods.

It appears that being sleep deprived leads to craving junk food while also lacking the impulse control to say no.

Benefits of Sleep and Stress Management- Improved focus. Improved memory. Less irritable. Less emotional. Less cravings. Less tired. More energy. Good mood. Ability to handle pressure. Weight control. Motivation to train. Balanced hormones. Improved immunity. Improves willpower. Less hunger. Less injury.

Sleep is like nutrition for the brain. Have you taken note of your mood and habits after having a poor night’s sleep? Besides the brain fog and feeling groggy, notice what else is being affected. How’s your motivation? Your attitude? Are you grumpy or irritable? Do you have more cravings? Do you have less self control or none at all? Trying to fill the void or empty feeling with food and nothing quite seems to satisfy you?

Sleep is so underrated for your health and weight management. You should be waking up feeling refreshed and ready to seize the day! Getting in a kick ass workout, fueling your body with a protein packed breakfast and not having any cravings until lunch. Having the ability to make clear decisions and getting things done. Imagine being in a good mood and having positive energy vibes, the kind where people actually want to be around you.

How to get more SLEEP

Try to sleep 8-9 hours no matter what.

Studies have shown that going to bed 1 hour before midnight is equal to 2 hours of sleep! Artificial blue light from your devices, TV and workspace disturb your natural sleep and wake cycle, you can cut out that blue light using blue light blocking glasses.

Set a consistent sleep schedule each night and make it a priority. Here are the steps to take.

Take an inventory of what your day looks like and see how much time you spend on meaningful and non meaningful tasks that can be assets or liabilities to your sleep. Increase your available sleep time by cutting out the habits that aren’t serving you. Is it really necessary to check your phone to see what’s going on in Facebook, Tik Tok and Instagram for the 10th time?!

Shut off all electronics, computers, tablets, your phone, TV’s and such 2 hours before bedtime. Read a relaxing book instead that’s non stimulating.

Try and get a small amount of magnesium from foods like nuts or local honey before bed, magnesium will help you fall asleep. Limit liquids before bed unless you’re dehydrated.

After you brush your teeth and are ready for bed, try deep breathing using an app like Headspace or doing a 5 minute meditation. There are several apps or guided meditations you can find on Spotify or YouTube. Start the video or song and put your phone screen down, don’t get sucked into checking your email one last time! Here is a 5 minute meditation I found on YouTube: 5 minute calming meditation

Once you fall asleep it’s important to stay asleep. Keep your room relatively cool and use moisture wicking sheets and pillows if you tend to wake up in a sweat. Use black out curtains or a sleep mask to eliminate light, and cover all those led buttons with tape if you are sensitive to light. Use a fan or even ear plugs to drown out little noises that might wake you up.

Sleep quality and duration are also affected by the activities you do during the day. Get out in the sunlight and do some kind of daily activity, walking is great for this! Avoid doing any type of heavy exercise later in the day. A walk after dinner is fine but a full blown workout will get your cortisol elevated and interrupt melatonin, the hormone responsible for helping you to sleep.

Don’t drink too much caffeine and limit caffeine after 2 pm, noon if you find you are caffeine intolerant or sensitive to it. Limit alcohol and don’t have it less than 2 hours before you go to sleep. While 1 drink may be relaxing, overindulging will affect your sleep quality leaving you feeling tired the next day. There are other things that are more beneficial to help you wind down and get ready for sleep than alcohol, try an herbal tea instead.

Prioritize your sleep, aiming for 8-9 hours so that you can feel your best everyday. I hope you find this helpful, to lose weight, sleep has as much impact as diet and exercise and should be prioritized as such.

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