Last week’s article was about habits. This article is about one of the worst habits that most people have, sleep.
The numbers vary a bit by source, specific metrics or sample populations. But generally anywhere between a quarter to half of Americans do not get enough sleep (being short by one to three hours).
Lack of sleep can lead to gaining weight. At a physiological level, lack of sleep often causes hunger. And most people do not make the best decisions when they are tired, particularly about food. And somebody who is consistently tired is going to hold more of the calories they eat (as fat).
Adjusting and improving your sleep schedule is one of the quickest and easiest steps for improving their overall health (including their weight).
The first step calls back to an earlier column: setting a goal and figuring out how far you are from it. Most people should sleep for eight to nine hours a night. (The more daunting that number seems, the more that fixing your sleep schedule will help.)
Consistency is also important. Realistically, it is difficult for some people to have a consistent schedule, particularly if their job does not have consistent hours.
Similarly, it is not always possible for people to sleep at night (often due to job or family obligations). Whenever possible, it is best to keep a natural schedule, falling asleep early enough to get eight hours before waking up relatively early in the morning.
Regardless of when you are falling asleep, there are relatively simple steps that will make
it easier to fall asleep, and lose weight.
Avoid screens (including phones) for at least an hour before planning to sleep. Beyond phones being distracting and distressing, the light from the screen can trick your brain into thinking it is daylight hours.
Another step is to avoid large or carbohydrate-heavy meals less than three (ideally four) hours before going to sleep.
If you have any questions or comments, sleep on them before emailing me.