When it comes to losing weight, most people find it hard to change the eating (and exercise) behaviors that got them into trouble in the first place.
Did you know that the amount that you sleep can have a direct effect on whether you’re a healthy weight, or significantly overweight? Do you know the miminum hours of sleep that you need to give yourself the best chance at succeeding with your (ideally healthy and enjoyable, please!) weight loss program?
According to an article by sleep expert Dr. Charles L. Samuels, which I clipped a while ago from the Canadian Journal of Diagnosis (I’ve been meaning to share this with you for quite some time), we humans used to sleep an average of 9 hours a night in the early 1900’s. Today, the average night’s sleep is only 7 hours a night. I’ve often wondered why I seem to need 8-9 hours, ideally – looks like it might actually be normal for our bodies.
According to Dr. Samuels, we need 7-8 hours just to be able to function “normally” in the daytime. Oops! I only got 6 last night; I stayed up late because I’d gotten 9 hours the night before. I’m a night owl, and seem to think that after a major sleep-a-thon I can get away with less the next night, but I’m actually really sabotaging my health, mood and productivity by doing that.
Did you know that being a “night owl” can actually make you more likely to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder? And if you develop SAD, you will likely experience food cravings for carbohydrates that can actually account for the phenomenon of “winter weight gain”. Yikes! So, if you’re a night owl, going to bed earlier will not only help protect your good mood in winter, but will also protect you from gaining those extra pounds.
Also, chronically limiting your sleep is directly linked to weight gain. If you only sleep 6 hours a night, you’re almost 25% more likely to be obese (not just overweight, but obese) than someone who’s getting 8 hours a night. Which person do you want to be?
Dr. Samuels gave some tips for peple struggling with losing weight:
- get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and catch up on “sleep debt” on the weekends
- eat a big breakfast, eat a lesser lunch, and eat lightly at dinner. Eat more protein with breakfast, and continue to make sure you get enough protein throughout the day, as it will help suppress your appetite
- walk 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week
Does that sound easy or what? Much more enjoyable (and sustainable) than some of those crazy, complex diet plans that are out there. Now stop reading this, and get to bed!