If you find yourself hungry for sleep, you may also be hungry for food. That’s the latest “snooze” on the relationship between how poor sleep habits can increase your tendency to overeat and under-exercise.
It turns out that a tired dieter has a hard time making healthful lifestyle choices – which means you may be too tired to exercise or too quick to reach for candy as a way to give your low energy level a boost.
If you’re making poor eating and exercise choices, are feeling stressed or are having trouble keeping your motivation high, it may be time to take a new look at your sleep habits and see if some changes are in order. Here are some suggestions:
1. Establish relaxing rituals. If your evening bedtime routine involves spending time in bed with your laptop, blackberry or cell phone, don’t expect to turn off the lights and quickly doze off. Instead, it’s recommended that you establish a relaxing evening ritual before you hit the sack - like soaking in a hot tub, doing some mild stretching or reading a good book. These are the type of activities that can help your mind quiet down and your body relax so you’re ready for a good night’s sleep. Also, start your evening ritual early enough so you have enough time to wind down.
2. Seek comfort and quiet. Having a comfy bed and the right temperature (like Goldilocks said, “Not too cold, not too hot, but just right!”) are important if you want to have a good night’s rest. Loud noises can be disruptive also so if you sleep with a snorer, consider getting yourself a box of disposable earplugs as a way to block out those noises that keep you awake.
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3. Avoid stimulants. Some people are surprised to learn that nicotine - like caffeine - is a stimulant. According to the National Sleep Foundation, smokers have more problems falling asleep, waking up and experience more nightmares than non-smokers. So this can be another reason to kick that smoking habit! Also, caffeine, in the form of coffee, tea, chocolate and even some soft drinks may be hindering your ability to fall asleep. By paying attention to your caffeine intake and its effect on your sleep habits, you’ll be able to make the right adjustments in your diet to improve your sleep. Though alcohol is really a depressant, it can also interfere with sleep, causing frequent awakenings and less restfulness. Skipping that nightcap may be just what you need to sleep better and awaken well rested.
4. Move to snooze. Regular exercise (not right before bedtime though!) has been shown to help improve sleep habits. If you’re a sporadic exerciser and a sporadic sleeper, there may be a connection. Commit to fitting in at least 30 minutes of regular activity (even brisk walking) on most days of the week and you’ll be well on your way to better sleep habits in addition to improved fitness.