Does getting through the day without caffeine fixes seem like a distant dream (actually it's been a long time since you had a dream!) A poor night's sleep can make your life a living hell - ask any new parent! Forget about eating right and exercising when you're sleep deprived, as even performing basic daily tasks an be enough to make you want to hide away from the world - even the smallest things turn in to major stresses!
A recent study has shown that people who are sleep deprived can eat more than 500 additional calories per day - that's a lot of calories (and a lot of weight gained if you're not careful!) If you're struggling with managing your diet well and exercising consistently because you're wide-eyed at 2am, this could be a lot to do with why you're not achieving the results you want and here's why: -
How Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain.
You're too tired to work out after a night of no sleep (that's stating the obvious!) but to make matters worse, when you're sleep deprived, the hormone Ghrelin is stimulated, which is responsible for stimulating hunger in combination with a drop in Leptin which signals to the brain that you are full and to stop eating - you can see where this is going right?!
Not enough shut eye means that you can develop impaired glucose intolerance, which means you aren't uptaking glucose into your cells efficiently to fill you with energy, leaving you feeling more tired and more hungry for the wrong foods to get fast fuel, more often than you should. Uh oh. I see excess calories on the horizon. So where do all these excess calories go? Well because your body isn't functioning as well as it should they go right on those problem areas you are dying to get rid on - the bum, thighs and belly. Great.
Not only that but chronic sleep deprivation can muck up your Cortisol secretion levels (the stress hormone responsible for helping us make the appropriate 'fight or flight response'). Elevated Cortisol levels leads to heightened alertness, which leads to, yes you've guessed it, more insomnia!!! Will it ever end?!
If you're lacking in sleep it's vital to mental, emotional and physical health to ensure you get back on track. It really can transform your life.
New Mums and Dads with little angels screaming in the middle of the night - I hear you cry "We're ready to sleep but the little one doesn't agree!" Then it's time to find a way to take it in turns to ensure each of you gets a few good nights rest to recover - neither you guys or baby will benefit if you don't make this a priority somehow to ask friends, family and each other for the help you need.
TOP TIPS FOR A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP
Ensure You Are Getting a Balanced Diet
A lack of essential vitamins and minerals can lead to hormonal imbalances and lack of sleep. Try a good quality Magnesium supplement - something that is often lacking in the diet but essential to catching those ZZzzzzzzs.
It's All About the Routine
New parents will understand the importance of a routine when it comes to baby's sleep patterns, but the same goes for adults! Have a bedtime routine, whether it's relaxing reading a book or having a shower or bath with a cup of camomile tea. Just make sure that for 1 hour before bed (or at least 30 minutes) you are not using a TV, tablet, phone or any other electronic device as the blue light messes up your melatonin levels, convincing you it's time to wake up.
Exercise Daily but Not Before Bed!
Get out for some fresh air and do at least 20 minutes of exercise in the day which helps you to get a good night's sleep. Just don't do it right before bedtime - a sure fire way of waking your body up when you want it to be getting sleepy.
Make sure it's dark, relaxing, a comfortable temperature and of course, comfortable. If you can remove any electronic devices and make this an IT free haven!
Avoid Alcohol / Caffeine / Cigarettes / Heavy Meals After 7pm
All these things will just stimulate you. We want the opposite effect!
Try some gentle stretches whilst breathing deeply! This has been shown to help a lot of people get a better night's rest and is a great addition to your bedtime routine. Read our Guide to Stretching.
Deep breathing is a great way to relax your heart rate. Try the 4-7-8 trick! Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts and then exhale for 8 counts. Keep doing this until you feel more relaxed (or in fact fall asleep as it has been known to have this effect on some people!)