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Why Good Sleep is Essential to Weight Loss

Jul 3, 2008
In the 80's the ability to live with very little sleep was held up as some kind of badge of honour. The less sleep you needed, the more intelligent you were, and the more highly regarded you were.

Modern scientific research shows that not only were those "sleep rejectors" behaving unintelligently and producing lower-grade, lower levels of work, but they were setting themselves up for serious mental and physical disease.

Sleep deprivation, whether deliberate or unintended, can be considered a relatively modern disease, interfering with the normal operation of all of the body's systems and especially interfering with our metabolism. It's our metabolic rate that determines whether or not we get fat on the food we eat, or burn it up to run our bodies efficiently.

For instance many diet companies will tell you that weight loss is simple, just a matter of "energy in/energy out". This is a particularly stupid lie, because the state of your metabolism is more important than either.

Because the quality of your sleep has such a big impact on weight loss, quality sleep is an essential part of any weight loss program, although the actual amount varies from one individual to another. Most adults need at least 7.5-8.0 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Children and teenagers require much more - around 12-13 hours of sleep each night.

Quality sleep is even more essential in the journey to recover from any illness, including depression.

9 Steps to Improve Sleep

1 Protect your sleep time. Don't allow the expectations of others to detract from your sleep. If you need to go to bed early in order to get your sleep, do it. If you need to stop people from interrupting your sleep, do it.

If sleep interruption is beyond your control (for example if you have small children or a sick partner who needs care during the night) make sure you get extra sleep during the day, and also make sure you get some nights off.

2 Routine is the friend of good sleep. When we have a regular routine for most days, we're actually training our brain to shut down really efficiently each night, especially if we schedule in a "slowing down" time each night before bed.

3 About the slow down time before bed. This is a time when you want to avoid stimulation, whether that's from books or television, or from alcohol for example. This is a time for dimmed lighting, quiet music, and easy conversation.

4 Remove Unacceptable Stress from Your Life. Oftentimes people find it hard to relax enough to go to sleep, or to stay asleep, because they're plagued by troublesome thoughts. There are highly-effective techniques to both remove the stress, and to deal with the thoughts. The two most commonly used are Logotherapy and NeuroStim, both of which you'll find help for on the forums at TopLifeSolutions.com.

5 Prepare Your Bedroom. Of course your bed and pillows etc should be comfortable! But in addition your room should be dark and on the cool side, with fresh air. Those are ideal sleeping conditions.

6 Don't get up once you've gone to bed except for good reason. I've heard experts tell insomniacs not to stay in bed if they can't sleep because they'll end up associating their bed with their sleeping difficulties. Really this is rather illogical because bed is already associated with lots of things apart from sleep! My own advice is to stay in bed if it's an appropriate sleep time in order to train your brain that this time of night means bed!

And there's very good evidence for my stance on this. Take the example of a baby or small child whom we're helping to move into a good sleep routine. One thing we never do is, after a time of trying, get them up out of their bed! The idea is to provide as little stimulation as we possibly can because otherwise that would be training them to be wakeful - the exact opposite of what we're hoping to achieve.

So you can be confident that if you stay in bed, especially if you use one of my relaxation techniques, you'll be training your brain toward better sleeping. And if you don't sleep, at least you'll still be resting and you'll get more benefit from that than you will going and switching on television, or reading a book.

7 Be Active During the Day. A good level of physical activity is essential to good sleep.

8 Ensure you have great relationships with others: family, friends, colleagues, your neighbourhood. Quality relationships are essential to our wellbeing and we sleep so much better when our relationships are in a good state.

9 Ensure your nutrition is adequate. Our body can produce the right hormones at the right time only if we take in the right nutrients. For example the extre low-carb diet that is being touted around the internet (and unfortunately even by some doctors who should know better!) is a recipe for lousy sleep, because it interferes with the production of melatonin. Enjoy a good, healthy diet with lots of variety and you'll increase your ability to sleep well.
About the Author
There are 17 lifestyle factors which have a important impact on weight loss, and sleep is just one of them. The free book "17 Solutions" spells out each of them and tells you how to get them right! Sponsored by the globally-launched Kind Communities Initiative.
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