If you consider yourself a healthy eater and you exercise regularly, but don’t get enough sleep, guess what? Your sleep deprivation can completely undermine your other health efforts! On average most of us get 6.5 hours of sleep a day. The National Sleep Foundation says we need 7-9 hours of sleep.
When we don’t get enough sleep, we are less alert, making us prone to mistakes and even car accidents. Our memory is impaired. And we are more likely to be stressed. Without a proper night of sleep, our metabolism also does not function properly—we may crave high calorie and high carbohydrate foods, which can deter your weight loss goals.
So many people who feel that there aren’t enough hours in the day, throw sleep out the window to make more room. Please do not do this. Set a bedtime schedule that consists of at least 7 hours and stick to it. If you have trouble falling asleep, here are some tips to try:
- Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime
- Shut down your technology and the TV at least a half hour before bedtime.
- Learn to manage stress…try yoga or meditation. If you have a lot of thoughts on your mind before bed, write them down…imagine them seeping into the notepad and out of your head.
- Exercise regularly
- Make your room a relaxation space for sleep only
Our nutrition throughout the day can impact your sleep. Foods that promote better sleep include:
- Complex carbohydrates (think “whole” grains)
- Lean protein that has tryptophan (low-fat cheese, chicken, turkey, and fish.)
- Heart healthy unsaturated fats (Examples include peanut butter (read the label to make sure peanuts are the only ingredient) and nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios)
- Herbs such as basil and sage
There are also sleep-inducing, healthy snacks you can have before bed
- Try a banana with low-fat yogurt
- Eat low-fat cottage cheese with a few 100-percent whole grain pita chips
- Smear peanut butter on 100-percent whole-grain bread
- Enjoy an apple with mozzarella sting cheese
If you are having trouble getting your zzzs, make your plan today to improve your sleep and you will see positive results in your health—watch and see!