Sleep and weight loss… Is there a connection?

Sources say YES!

And there are so many other benefits, as well.

Ladies, this is fascinating stuff. I’m currently reading Arianna Huffington’s new book Thrive, which I highly recommend for anybody but *especially* for females in the business or entrepreneurial worlds. Thrive is changing my definition of personal success and fulfillment from a more-more-more! faster-bigger-better! perspective to a more balanced approach in which my health doesn’t suffer from overwork, stress, and lack of sleep. How can I lead women to better health when I’m falling asleep at the wheel? I can’t! I have to lead by example. Thrive really hit home when I read about the sleep deprivation that so many women face, especially when working in corporate America or building their own businesses (like I am).

This is crazy:

“Of all sleep-deprived Americans, women are the  most fatigued. Working moms get the least sleep, with 59% of respondents to a national survey reporting sleep deprivation, and 50% saying they get six hours of sleep or less.” (source: Thrive)

You know the feeling that you need to get ONE MORE THING done before bed? Then one thing turns into three or four and pretty soon it’s midnight? It’s not just you… Many of us are feeling this tug to do MORE, and it seems to be getting worse and worse. In fact, it’s becoming an epidemic as more of us are connected to our smartphones and computers ’til all hours of the night. One more email comes in that we just HAVE TO respond to, and once again, sleep gets pushed to the back burner. Sadly, this workaholic mentality leads to lack of sleep (and built up sleep debt over time), making us less productive, sicker, fatter, and more stressed!

This is not something to be taken lightly. Sleep deprivation is impacting us deeply.

Check this out:

“Our sleep patterns can have a physiological effect on our brain. A study conducted at Harvard Medical School found that people who got more sleep than the bare minimum they needed increased the volume of gray matter in their brains, which is linked to improved psychological health.” (source: Thrive)

Sleep acts like a housekeeper. All systems in the body clean up and detoxify overnight, including the brain, which clears out harmful waste proteins that build up between its cells — a process that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. As stated in Thrive, you can’t “entertain guests” (be awake) and clean the house (detoxify during sleep) at the same time.

sleep

Sleep deprivation changes our brains and our physiology as well as our outlook on life, our energy levels, and our capacity to make smart choices and decisions. This is one reason why sleep loss can lead to weight gain. When we’re pooped, why would we want to whip up a healthy snack? Instead, we look for a quick energy boost, usually in the form of a sugar fix, and often over-indulge without thinking because we CAN’T THINK STRAIGHT. Any sleep-deprived mom can attest to this!

In a (somewhat sad and sinister) analogy, Huffington states, “there’s a reason why sleep deprivation is classified as a form of torture and is a common strategy employed by religious cults. They force prospective members to stay awake for extended periods to reduce their subjects decision-making ability and make them more open to persuasion.”

Everything you do, you’ll do better with a good night’s sleep.

  • You’ll be less prone to illness, stress, traffic accidents, and weight gain.
  • Regular sleep helps you exercise better, faster, longer, and harder.
  • You’ll have more energy and can be more active.
  • You’ll make better decisions when it comes to your food choices, not to mention choices related to business, family, and house and home.
  • You’ll look brighter, healthier, and more youthful.

As stated in Thrive, “it’s common for people to overeat, but people don’t generally oversleep.” Electric light has shifted our internal clocks such that we’re going to bed later than we normally would, and then forcing ourselves — with an alarm clock — to get up before we’re fully rested. This causes a state of chronic sleep deprivation that builds up over time and becomes sleep debt.

What’s the solution?

The solution is to stop this madness and make a change.

One of the best ways to make a positive health and behavior change is to have a community for support, encouragement, and accountability. Hence, the June Sleep Challenge that I’m offering on our Facebook page.

I will be participating as well.

Every day (from June 1-8, 2014) I’ll post my experiences and the number of hours I slept on Facebook. I encourage you to do the same! Top commenters will WIN valuable gifts.

Top Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep:

  • Treat your sleep like an appointment, with the same urgency and respect that you’d give to a business meeting or a medical appointment. Figure out how many  hours of sleep you need to feel your best (7.5 hours? 8? 9?) and then count backward to figure out what time you need to go to bed.
  • Set a “laptop curfew” and try to stop working/playing 2 hours before your scheduled bedtime.
  • Set your alarm clock for your BEDTIME, so that you are forced to enter your bedroom to turn off the alarm. That will move you in the right direction… Your bed.
  • Go public about your decision. Join our “Sleep Challenge” on Facebook from June 1-8, 2014 by leaving comments with your own sleep struggles and wins!
  • Get a new, fresh pillow and a fun new pillowcase to make sleep-time feel more special (I have a silk pillowcase that I plan to use for my Sleep Challenge week).
  • Make your bedroom darker (use blinds AND curtains, cover any LED lights from your alarm clock, unplug any night-lights, etc.).
  • Make your bedroom cooler (bring in a fan for the cool air and the calming “white noise”).
  • Practice core breathing before bed and take “breath breaks” throughout the day to prevent stress and tension from building up (this can also lead to better sex, as noted in this article).
  • Exercise, walk, garden, dance… Simply MOVE YOUR BODY as much as you can every day (but preferably not right before bed).
  • Banish all LCD screens (laptops, tablets, smartphones, TV) from your bedroom. The bedroom is for two things: sex and sleep.
  • Consider wearing orange-tinted glasses for the 1-2 hours before bed if you tend to spend time in artificially lit rooms. The blue light from artificial light and devices (computers, tablets, smart phones, etc.) disrupts circadian rhythm and suppresses melatonin production. When your melatonin is decreased, it makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. As an alternative to blue-blockers or orange-tinted glasses, turn off your lights and use candle light during the last 1-2 hours of your day.
  • If you must use the computer (or other devices) before bed, consider installing f.lux. It’s a software that helps remove blue light from your computer screen after a certain hour (usually around 4PM) to mimic the natural cycles of light and dark. It’s much much easier on your eyes at night!
  • Try not to drink coffee after 2pm and avoid alcohol right before bedtime. Both caffeine and alcohol can disrupt your sleep.

I want to leave you with a quote that I absolutely love… If this doesn’t inspire you to sleep, I don’t know what will:

“Women have already broken glass ceilings in Congress, space travel, sports, business, and the media — imagine what we can do when we’re all fully awake.” -Arianna Huffington, Thrive

Remember:

Join the June Sleep Challenge (June 1 through 8) on our Facebook page! It’s free and 100% online. All you have to do is PRIORITIZE SLEEP from June 1-8 and join the conversation on Facebook.

Let’s start a movement of SLEEP!