You’re in the middle of your daily run, and you’re sweating bullets. You’ve committed yourself to these runs since the beginning of the month, and they’re going well — but they’re hard. Halfway through your run, you think, Why can’t my body just burn fat while I sleep?
Great question! However, the answer comes with good news and bad news.
Have you ever looked at your reflection in the morning and felt thinner than the night before? You think it’s just some trickery with the lighting in your room, so you step on the scale but, sure enough, you’re lighter than you were the previous day. Did your body really just burn fat while you were sleeping? Why have you even bothered working out when apparently your body is content to drop weight off through the night?
What Is Quality Sleep?
Quality sleep is defined as the ability to fall asleep within 30 minutes of laying down, sleeping through the night uninterrupted, and getting the recommended number of sleep hours for your age group. For individuals aged 26-64 years of age, the recommended number of sleep hours per night is 7-9.
Hold up — if that sounds like way more than you get every night, it’s time to change that. Thankfully, there are simple ways to improve your body’s ability to get a full night’s rest by enhancing your sleep hygiene.
Sleep hygiene is one of the simplest strategies to improve your sleep quality. Strong sleep hygiene is characterized by a bedroom setting and daily habits that support undisturbed, consistent sleep. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, making your bedroom comfortable and free of distractions, adhering to a calming pre-bed ritual, and developing healthy behaviors throughout the day can all contribute to good sleep hygiene.
Every sleeper is capable of adapting their sleep hygiene habits to their individual needs. In doing so, you can cultivate beneficial habits that will make it simpler for you to sleep deeply throughout the night and wake up feeling well-rested.
By following these simple steps, you can improve your sleep hygiene and consistently give your body a full night’s rest of quality sleep.
Make Sleep a Priority
It may be tempting to sacrifice sleep in order to work, study, socialize, or exercise, but it is essential to prioritize sleep. Calculate a target bedtime based on your fixed wake-up time, and make every effort to be in bed about this time each night.
Start With Small Adjustments First
If you wish to change your sleep routine, don’t try to do it all at once, as this can throw off your schedule. Instead, make tiny, gradual alterations of up to two hours so that you can acclimatize and settle into your new routine.
Enhance Your Bedroom
The environment in which you sleep is a crucial component of sleep hygiene that goes beyond routines. In order to sleep more easily, your bedroom should exude tranquility. Your sleeping surface is essential for comfort and pain-free sleep, so choose your mattress and pillow with care. Sheets and blankets are the first things you touch when you go into bed, so it’s important that they match your preferences and needs.
The Relationship Between the Gut and Sleep
A healthy microbiome containing the proper amount of neurotransmitters can aid in achieving quality sleep. For optimal microbiome health, essential neurotransmitters that influence our sleep must be present.
Dopamine is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that is utilized to send messages between nerve cells. It also allows us to think, learn, process information, and feel pleasure.
Serotonin is a hormone that stabilizes mood and also transmits impulses between nerve cells. It focuses primarily on emotional consequences, such as combating sadness and lowering anxiety, while also promoting physical healing.
Considered an inhibitory neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a naturally occurring amino acid that, when bound to GABA receptors in the brain, can prevent not just seizures but also negative emotions such as worry, tension, and terror.
Melatonin is a hormone that responds to darkness and regulates your circadian rhythm. Thus, the body is able to determine when to be active and when to relax.
Diet can have a significant effect on the amounts of these neurotransmitters in the body. For instance, the majority of serotonin is found in the stomach and intestines, highlighting the importance of gut health. Without a healthy microbiome, unhealthy levels of these neurotransmitters can impair your capacity to feel, think, and operate significantly. The interruption of the body’s normal circadian rhythm can result in sleeplessness.
How Sleep Affects Weight Loss
Even if getting a proper night’s rest isn’t enough to keep the weight off, it’s still important to understand just how much sleep actually affects your body’s ability to burn fat. Conversely, it’s also important to understand the consequences of failing to get an ample amount of sleep each night.
A review published in 2017 found that individuals who had altered sleeping patterns generally had larger appetites and consumed more calorie-dense foods than those who did not. This data suggests that changing sleep times may have consequences on a person’s ability to manage their weight. Insufficient sleep can also increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, upon which a cluster of risk factors can occur concurrently. Multiple occurrences of these risk factors raise the chances of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Additionally, researchers have connected shorter sleeping periods to hedonistic eating. When a person eats hedonistically, they eat more for pleasure than for sustenance. This practice could lead to an increase in non-nutritious food choices and caloric intake over time.
In contrast, people who sleep longer are less prone to indulge in hedonistic eating and want non-nutritious pleasure foods. A 2021 study indicated that university students’ hedonic hunger decreased when they slept better. This shows that, following a good night’s sleep, people consume fewer calories and make healthier food choices because they lack the desire to consume food for pleasure.
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Best Ways to Improve Your Sleep and Your Overall Health
Who doesn’t want to kill two birds with one stone? There are a variety of changes you can make to your daily life that not only work to improve the quality of sleep so that you burn more fat but also provide you with a healthier lifestyle in general that is sure to improve your overall quality of life. These strategies are all pretty straightforward, but remember to move at a pace that’s comfortable to you and start with small changes first.
Trade Coffee for Tea
White tea, which is derived from the same plant as green tea, is loaded with antioxidants and health advantages, including fat loss, but is not as well-known as its green version. Studies have connected white tea extract to the inhibition of fat cell formation and the promotion of fat breakdown.
Get More Sunlight
The objective of spending more time outdoors and receiving more sunlight is to enhance the brain’s production of serotonin, which is a chemical that makes us happy. Serotonin is transformed into the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Even if you reside in an area with harsh winters (therefore little sunlight), you should still aim to get at least 30 minutes of outside time. Even on a foggy day, you can obtain the necessary sun exposure by just going outside.
Put Screens Away Before Bed
Two hours of gadget use before bed is enough to inhibit melatonin secretion, according to a study funded by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Foundation. You can fall asleep or pass out, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate you’re having restful sleep. Because their melatonin is suppressed by using their gadget immediately before bed, a large number of people sleep eight hours yet still feel exhausted when they wake up in the morning. Harvard researchers also discovered that the intensity, brightness, and specifically the blue spectrum of color emitted by our smartphones causes a constant decline in melatonin.
While there is blue-light-blocking eyewear available, the most important factor is to find an alternative to gadget use before nighttime that is of equal or higher value. Developing better habits, such as spending time with loved ones, reading books, and playing games with our children, is the key to establishing a healthy routine of restful sleep.
Avoid Working Out Too Late in the Evening
Many individuals are aware that a decent workout will aid in sleep, but did you realize that a constant exercise pattern or regimen is also crucial? This does not mean that you must exercise first thing in the morning, but early-morning movement is essential because it promotes a natural cortisol increase.
Similar to screen time and caffeine, if you must exercise in the evening, you should cease no later than four hours before your planned bedtime.
Never Underestimate the Power of Quality Sleep
It turns out that getting enough sleep affects almost every other aspect of our body’s productivity. Maybe we can’t cancel our gym memberships in favor of getting 10 hours of rest every night, but we can ensure we’re treating our bodies with care by getting the appropriate amount of sleep we need. By doing this, you make it easier for yourself to refrain from eating unhealthy foods and engage in healthy lifestyle choices.
Great sleep leads to a more efficient metabolism, which in turn leads to better overall health. Take a look at your nightly routine and make changes where necessary to start your journey to a healthier life. You’ll be surprised at the difference getting quality sleep makes!