Want to lose weight? Sleep more!

Sleep deficiency is one of the most overlooked killers of your weight loss. Especially in Dubai, where everyone’s in a rush, people sacrifice sleep to be “more” productive. Then they compensate by overdosing on caffeine, which then impacts their sleep again. And the vicious cycle repeats. So what counts as sleep deficiency? It varies, but for the average adult it’s anything less than 6hrs a night for 2-3 consecutive days. What does sleep deficiency do? Here are a few side effects: reduced cognitive ability, slower reaction speed, higher risk of cardiac disease, high blood pressure, your skin looks older, memory deterioration, higher tendency to eat junk food, higher likelihood of weight gain and lastly, it impacts your exercise performance. To sum up, no matter how amazing your workout program is, lack of sleep will negatively impact your progress. This is why all good personal trainers ask about your sleeping habits when you first start.

Here are 6 practical ways to optimize your sleep.

1. Be consistent with your sleep timings

Do your best to go to bed and get up at the same hours. This helps maintain your circadian rhythm (aka your biological clock). Don’t let work or anything else get in the way.

2. Optimize your bedroom

Melatonin is a hormone produced in our brain that manages our sleep-wake cycle. Higher levels tell the body its time to sleep, lower levels make us more alert. One of the main triggers to produce Melatonin is darkness. So step 1 is to get yourself black-out curtains so there is no light peeking into your bedroom. Step 2 is ditch the TV, avoid your phones and read a book instead. The blue light from the screens reduces melatonin production and tells your body to be more alert. Step 3 set the room temperature so that you’re not too cold or hot. Overly hot/cold rooms will interfere with the quality of your sleep.

3. Exposure to sunlight

Studies have shown that exposure to sunlight helps maintain our circadian rhythm. Take any opportunity you can to get outside. Workout out outdoors, take short walks during work and keep your homes bright during the day.

4. Avoid caffeine after 3 PM

This one is going to be tricky for most of you. Caffeine stays in your body for roughly 8 hours after consumption. This means that any coffee in the late afternoon is going to negatively impact the quality of your sleep. By quality, we mean how much deep sleep you get, not necessary how many hours. There’s a difference. How much the caffeine affects you will depend on how sensitive your body is to caffeine and how you are managing the other points mentioned in this article. If you must have something hot to drink, opt for decaffeinated coffee or herbal tea.

5. Eat wisely

Studies have shown that eating processed, junk foods high in refined sugars or trans fats negatively impact your sleep. You tend to be more restless and wake up more often. Alternatively, studies have also shown that having adequate levels of vitamin D (eggs, fish, milk), potassium (sweet potatoes, bananas), calcium (yogurt, leafy greens) and magnesium (avocados, nuts, seeds) improve sleep quality. Bottomline, pick your dinner ingredients carefully and make sure you give yourself time to digest before going to sleep. If you’re not sure what to eat, consult a nutritionist or a qualified personal trainer.

Get these 5 elements in order and you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time! And with that you’ll start seeing better results from your workouts.

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