Losing weight is difficult. Diet plans and celebrity influencers try to tell us that there’s a magic bullet that you can buy for only $99. That's not true. To lose weight, you must ensure that your body is in a calorific deficit. By this, we mean that your body must burn more calories than you consume to use your energy reserves. These reserves consist of stored fat. There’s no simple scheme that will get you down to your target weight in a day. But there is a simple change you can make to help you lose weight – get more sleep. By getting more sleep, we can help to get our body into a state where it can burn more calories. It also has to recuperate to ensure that we are performing at our best. That is easier said than done though, as we all have our own routines before bed. Here are seven bad sleeping habits that you should try to change if you’re trying to lose weight.
1. Sleeping in clothes
Pajamas might make you feel super comfy after getting out of the shower before bed. But they’re actually well known to disrupt sleep. When we sleep, your body temperature cools down to help you stay in a deeper sleep. Wearing clothing to bed can interfere with your body’s natural thermometer. This interference harms the quality of your sleep. Ditching your pajamas can also help you to lose weight. The extra layers can impede the release of growth hormones. These hormones burn a significant number of calories and help to build muscle. Not to mention, everyone is far sexier in their birthday suit! Removing clothes increases the chances of you having sex. You can count sex as extra exercise, which leads to more calories burnt. If you feel more comfortable wearing pajamas, then that’s fine. Make sure that they’re light and free-flowing so that they don’t restrict your movement when you sleep. The trick is to get comfy while making it easier for your body to regulate the temperature. The goal is always to burn more calories. You'll then enter a calorific deficit and increase the opportunities to lose weight.
2. Staying up too late
Staying up too late can have a significant impact on your quality of sleep. It also increases the likelihood that you’ll feel tired and grumpy the next day. If you’re not feeling yourself, you’re inclined to comfort eat which doesn’t help if you’re trying to lose weight. Staying up late can seem like a good idea when you’ve got work to do or episodes of your favorite TV show to catch up on. But this can not only impact your sleep but also give you much more opportunity to snack. The more time you are awake is extra time available to succumb to all that chocolate. Remember, it’s all extra calories that you could avoid if you were fast asleep. Some people believe that your metabolism is also slower at night. So, eating at night leads to fat stored as there’s no chance of burning it off when you’re in bed.
3. Looking at bright lights before bed
It’s no secret that turning off the lights helps you to fall asleep at night. When we were cavemen there was no such thing as artificial light, and we’d sleep in the pitch dark. So, it's only natural that we find it easier to doze off when we revert to that setting. Studies suggest that even having a small light on impacts your quality of sleep. Light also contributes to creating more cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol can cause you to gain extra weight. Technological devices are also sources of light. They will keep you awake long after you intended to go to sleep. Some studies show that these devices emit light in a particular wavelength. They trick your brain into thinking it is daytime, so it takes far longer for you to fall asleep once you put them away.
To combat these issues, put devices away at least an hour before you intend to go to sleep. Close your curtains, move any digital alarm clocks away and make it as dark as possible. You’ll see how fast you fall asleep.
4. Keeping your room too hot or too cold
Have you ever been on holiday to a location with a hot climate and the air conditioning stopped working? Then you’ve experienced how difficult it can be to sleep when you’re too warm. When you’re relaxing at home, you might not feel hot to this extreme. But studies show that colder temperatures can help you to fall asleep faster. When we fall asleep, our bodies cool down as they repair cells that we damage during our day to day lives. We also release fat burning hormones that help us to lose weight. By reducing the temperature in the room, we increase all these effects that help us to stay healthy. We recommend that you open a window to cool the room down before you go to sleep, or even buy a fan, but make sure it’s a quiet one!
5. Exercising before bed
If you’re trying to lose weight, then you’ll be well aware that a lot of physical activity is the best way to do it. It’s important to remember that the time of day can impact how effective your exercise is. Some healthcare professionals say it's best to do your workouts in a fasted state. Exercising before you have had any breakfast in the morning helps to target and burn fat. A less effective time to work out is before bed when you should be winding down to help yourself to doze off. When you work out, you raise your heart rate and get hot and sweaty. You’re much less likely to go to sleep when you get into bed. If you must work out before bed, try less intense activities like yoga or Pilates.
6. Treating yourself to a midnight snack
If you want to lose weight, then eating before bed is a bad idea anyway. If you’ve had three square meals then your body doesn’t need more food, you’re only tempted to give into cravings. This increases the number of calories you’ve consumed in a day. It makes it more challenging to achieve a calorific deficit and lose weight. Then, if you do eat, you’ll completely slow down the sleeping process. When you eat, you kick the digestive process into action. This process causes your body temperature to rise. As mentioned earlier, it becomes harder for your body to release hormones. As a result, you slow down the fat burning process. To combat this, make an effort to finish your food consumption a few hours before bedtime. Allow your body to wind down. Not only that, you’ll spend longer in a fasted state which further helps your cause when trying to lose weight.
7. Not sleeping enough
Sleep is like nutrition for the brain, it needs it to function and be healthy. Your brain also controls the rest of your body. So, it’s no surprise that when it isn’t running at full capacity, other body functions suffer. Studies show that when you do not get enough sleep, your resting metabolic rate drops. Your resting metabolic rate is the rate at which you burn calories when you’re resting. You could be undermining all the hard work you’re doing at the gym because you’re not valuing your sleep enough. Not sleeping can also impact muscle loss, which is crucial for your resting metabolic rate. Muscle burns far more calories than fat does. An extra 10kg of muscle mass can lead to you burning an additional 100 calories a day without even trying! Yes, that’s right, you can sleep for longer and lose even more weight, it’s a win-win. Plus, the longer you spend asleep, the fewer hours there are in the day to eat.
It’s easy to underestimate the impact that sleep has on your metabolism and ability to lose weight. Not only does our body burn fewer calories, but we get more tired which makes us want to do less. We also often feel grumpy when we’re exhausted, which can lead to emotional eating that we later regret. Plus, social media before bed is never a good idea anyway for many reasons, so it can’t hurt to log off a bit earlier each day. By combating these simple bad habits, we can help our bodies to lose that extra weight that we’ve grown to dislike. We can also start to feel more comfortable. They’re all easy enough to do too and will at least save you that $99 on a ‘killer’ diet plan!