Did you know that a disrupted sleeping pattern could be affecting your results more than you realise?
The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep.
When a lack of sleep is experienced, a few things happen in our bodies. Firstly, we change the way that our appetite is regulated, causing over-eating and increased food cravings. Secondly, tiredness decreases the likelihood of physical activity. Thirdly, lack of sleep changes our metabolic processing speed, slowing down how many calories we burn whilst performing basic activities.
Getting enough sleep
Above all achieving adequate sleep promotes the regulation of essential hormones.
Having enough sleep regulates the production of Gherlin and Leptin. Gherlin regulates hunger whilst Leptin suppresses it. A lack of sleep causes an increase of Gherlin and a decrease of Leptin; causing an overall increased hunger.
As a side note, research also suggests that insufficient sleep promotes cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods.
Increasing the quality of your sleep
Tip: Get your workout in. Exercise has a chemical effect on the brain. Physical activity stimulates the brain to produce more adenosine. Adenosine is the chemical that caffeine blocks to make you feel more alert. Morning exercise has been suggested to prime your body for better sleep at night, whilst late-day exercise may stimulate your brain, an increased heart rate post-workout has also been proven to keep you awake for longer. However, science suggests that it is just a matter of choosing the right workout and timing for your schedule.
Resolution: Play around with your schedule to find what works for you. Try working out in the morning for a week, then in the evening the next. Track your sleep and see which schedule works better for you.
Tip: Allow your mind time to wind down before bed. Keeping your mind stimulated before sleep will impact the depth of sleep.
Resolution: Schedule an hour calming pre-sleep routine before bed. Have a bath/shower, read something light hearted. Put your phone on do not disturb and start taking your sleeping schedule a little more seriously. With time, your mind will associate these rituals or activities with sleep, aiding in subconsciously getting ready for bed. Avoid working, watching TV and texting whilst in bed as these are all stimulants of the brain.
Tip: Research shows that blue light from tech devices can suppress hormones responsible for telling you it's time to sleep. Blue light affects the production of melatonin in your brain, altering your circadian rhythm.
Resolution: Get into the habit of turning off your blue light 2 hours before bed, or setting a schedule to help you achieve a consistent sleeping pattern.
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Tracking your sleep
For some, tracking their sleep can cause more problems than it's worth. Being conscious that you're trying to improve your sleep, as with being conscious of decreasing your calories or increasing your workouts, can induce unwanted anxiety.
However, if you do have the means, I'd give it a go.
Most fitness trackers have the ability to track your sleep, and there are several apps that help here too.
I'd suggest, begin by assessing your current situation, put small, necessary changes in place. Track your progress for a week, re-assess your situation, make further small amendments where necessary. You'll notice an improvement in no time.