*Yawn* If you wake up feeling groggy every morning and are in need of tips for falling asleep easier — keep reading.
Sleep is the cornerstone of health and well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults aged 18-60 need 7 or more hours of sleep per night.1 Sleep is like eating enough fruits and vegetables — we know it’s good for us, but we don’t always get enough. The short-term impact of not getting enough sleep affects cognitive abilities and makes it challenging to be present and focused during essential daily activities.
Less known is how a lack of adequate and quality sleep can affect our weight loss goals. If you are trying to lose weight, getting some restful shut-eye should be at the top of your to-do list. But why?
Let’s look at sleep for weight loss:
- Over time, lack of sleep can lead to increased cortisol levels, which can also impact metabolism and inhibit weight loss.2
- Poor sleep can negatively affect glucose metabolism, which in turn can negatively affect weight loss goals.3
- Shorter sleep duration is linked to changes in appetite-controlling hormones and can cause your appetite to change (not in a good way!).4
Studies now show that chronic sleep loss may increase the risk of obesity and weight gain. According to the experts, getting adequate sleep may actually prevent weight gain or facilitate weight loss.4
The CDC also notes that failure to get enough sleep has longer-term impacts and is linked to several chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression.5
In a nutshell, if you are trying to lose weight and you are not prioritizing your sleep, you may not see the results you are hoping for or expect.
5 Tips for Falling Asleep
Getting quality sleep is sometimes easier said than done. Most of us know we need to get rest to recharge, but between busy schedules, our obsession with screens and stress, getting a solid 8 hours can be an elusive dream (no pun intended).
While your desperation for more sleep may have you reaching for pills or googling “things that make you sleep,” there are some basic sleep hygiene tips that can you put into practice that have shown to be sleep soundly solutions. Here are some simple tips for falling asleep in a natural way that you don’t want to skip out on.
1. Ending the day with a ritual can help you unwind
Rituals can play a major role in helping you sleep. Aiming for an early bedtime and keeping your environment calm can be helpful in creating a restful, peaceful oasis. As you end your day, reflect on what went right and the progress you made throughout your day. Identify 1-2 things that went well during the day that you feel proud of and leave the stresses of the day behind you (let that stuff go!).
Some people benefit strongly from a daily ritual to end the workday and transition into the evening hours — this can often mean time spent with family and friends, socializing and participating in activities that recharge the mind, body and spirit. Transition rituals could be breathing exercises, playing favorite songs on the way home from work or keeping a gratitude journal. If you are a list maker, write down your top 3-5 tasks to focus on tomorrow and commit to making them a priority to complete. Then put your list aside and rest. Don’t focus on your to-dos. Leave that for tomorrow!
2. Practicing intermittent fasting can help you avoid overeating before bedtime
Did you know that the way you eat can affect the way you sleep? Practicing intermittent fasting, or eating during a designated window and fasting for the remaining hours after your evening meal, can help people experience quality sleep and support a healthy circadian rhythm.6
Intermittent fasting can prevent you from going to sleep overly full and uncomfortable, which may cause you to have a hard time falling asleep. An added bonus? Combining your goal of attaining restful sleep with intermittent fasting can give your body the support it needs to lose weight, as following this dietary pattern has been linked to successful weight loss as well.7
3. Unplugging from electronic devices before bed may help you fall asleep easier
Setting limits on blue light exposure on phones, tablets and TVs will help increase melatonin production, which in turn leads to better sleep. Avoiding such devices before bedtime is an easy way to help you fall asleep. Watching television shows and movies, playing video games and mindless scrolling on social media stimulate the brain, making it more difficult to wind down. The blue light from these devices also disrupts melatonin production.
In fact, results from one study show that sleeping near a small screen, sleeping with a TV in the room, and experiencing more screen time was associated with shorter sleep durations.8
And in a study evaluating over 40,000 women, exposure to artificial light at night (from sources like TVs staying on all night) was linked to an increased risk of developing obesity.9 So, if you fall into the group that passes out with the TV on at bedtime, you may have found yourself a habit that is worth breaking.
Many experts recommend keeping the TV out of the bedroom, as well as smartphones which can interrupt sleep with dings and ringer reminders. Use a traditional alarm clock instead. Keeping the bedroom dark will also help promote better sleep.10
4. Including more movement into your day may help you relax at night
It is well documented that regular physical activity helps reduce stress and anxiety,11 which also may help promote sleep. Regular exercise improves sleep quality and duration and also helps induce the most restorative stages of the sleep cycle. And while everybody’s “ideal” amount of exercise will vary, data shows that at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week is suggested.12
So whether you’re hitting the gym, going for a brisk walk with your friend or playing a friendly game of tennis, moving your body will serve you well once the sun goes down. Bonus? Combining physical activity with a quality sleep goal will give your body double the support when it comes to weight management goals!
5. Find simple ways to unwind
The more relaxing you can make your bedroom in the evening the faster you might fall asleep. Burning a lavender candle or diffusing a calming blend of essential oils can help prepare the senses for sleep. Soaking in a warm bath or taking a shower in the evening can also help start the relaxation process. Reading, listening to calming music and doing gentle stretches are additional ways to help you unwind and manage stress simultaneously. A quick tip is even propping your feet up against a wall, which reverses blood flow from the feet and can be done in bed. An essentially good time for guided meditation and prayer, the evening hours are prime for winding down and calming your nervous system and physical self.
Prioritize enough quality sleep to maximize your weight loss results
As with any new routine, experiment with rituals, patterns and methods to see what works best for you and your lifestyle. While it’s essential for your health to get enough sleep, getting enough sleep also has long-term benefits to your weight loss goals. Without quality sleep, you may not see the results you are hoping for — even if you are eating all of the right foods and doing the right exercises. Plus, improving the quality of sleep will help energy levels and cognitive function throughout the daytime hours, so it’s a win-win. Start by choosing 1-2 tips and add one every week — in no time you’ll notice the benefits of improved slumber!
Jenny can help you create healthy habits for life, which may lead to better sleep! With one-on-one personal coaching support and a complete daily menu of delicious, chef-crafted meals, Jenny provides you with the necessities to support your weight loss goals. Start Max Up, our most effective program ever, and you can lose up to 18 pounds and 5 inches off your waist in your first 4 weeks.* Learn more about Max Up today!
* First 4 weeks only. Average weight loss in a study was 15 pounds and average waist size reduction was 3 inches for those who completed the program.
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written and reviewed by certified professionals.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on the topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Certified Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
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