Sleep. After a long day, we put our heads on the pillow and pass out for several hours until a new day dawns. Many people don't really give it a thought. We get tired, we sleep, we wake up the next day.
What you might not know is how important sleep is to our overall health. Sleep can be considered a luxury, but it should be a priority in your weight management program. Studies show that sleep deprivation - when accompanied with occasional stress - can affect your blood sugar balance, your ability to manage your appetite, and your leptin levels.
What is leptin? It's a hormone that suppresses the desire to eat, stimulates your metabolic rate, and helps with sustained energy levels in the body. It is produced in fat tissue and travels through your circulatory system to your brain. When you overeat, or increase your fructose consumption, you can become resistant to leptin. This leaves room for another hormone, ghrelin, to be secreted by your stomach and tell your brain it's time to eat.
1. Strive to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night: That is the good-sleep sweet spot for optimal energy, health and longevity.
2. Appreciate your time in the bedtime and the alarm: A consistent sleep schedule is key. Staying up late or hitting snooze eight times throws your body off its rhythm.
3. Turn down the lights an hour before going to sleep: The bulbs in your house emit blue-spectrum light (like sunlight), which suppresses production of melatonin, a crucial hormone for conking out.
4. Put the phone away! No text, email, watching videos or checking social media in bed: Your devices shoot blue light at you, too.
5. Seek natural light in the mornings: Sunlight signals your body that the day has begun. It cuts off the hormones that make you groggy and stimulate the ones that perk you up.
6. Cut off caffeine after 2 P.M: Caffeine lasts about 8 hours in your system, so even an afternoon cup can disrupt your sleep.
7. No sleeping in on the weekends: This confuses your body as much as jet lag does, and will make it harder to fall asleep later.
8. Exercise regularly: People who get daily cardio activity sleep better and more deeply.
9. If you must have a cocktail, have a glass or two, no less than an hour before bed: It might make you pass out fast, but alcohol seriously hurts the quality of your sleep. Each drink takes about an hour to break down.
10. Keep the bedroom dark, quiet and cool: Make the bedroom a sanctuary for sleep. Use a sleep mask and earplugs if you need them, and set the thermostat to around 70 degrees F or lower.