10 COMMON SLEEP MISTAKES

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If you snooze, you will lose weight!

Sleep

Sleep

Sleep is essential for your health and successful weight loss.  The truth is that you can sleep your way to a smaller waistline.  If you do not get enough sleep, your metabolism will slow, and your body will degrade.  

It is not easy to get enough sleep in the age of a digital life.  We have built so many tasks into our daily lifestyle that we have overstressed our minds into a constant state of readiness.  Weight loss isn’t the only benefit of getting a good night of sleep.  A full night of sleep or 7-8 hours can help to improve memory, reduce inflammation, slow aging, reduce stress, improve immunity, and can even lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Things that ruin your sleep:

  1. Using your phone, computer, or tablet in bed.  Your electronic gadgets use blue light to illuminate the screen, and this part of the spectrum specifically reduces your body’s production of melatonin.  Melatonin is a crucial hormone that helps you fall asleep. Consider signing off your digital habit an hour or so before bedtime.  
  2. Eating too close to bedtime.  Sure, some foods might be good at inducing sleep, but most do not.  I recommend avoiding food and drink at least 2 hours before bedtime.  Anything closer will increase your odds of reflux at night and may reduce your melatonin levels.  
  3. Sleeping Child

    Sleeping Child

    Watching television in bed.  A TV in your bedroom also gives off the same blue light that reduces melatonin.  It also activates your mind.  Cut off the TV 1 hour before bedtime or even better remove it from the bedroom.  The bed should be only for things that start with the letter S – Sex and Sleep.  

  4. Too much alcohol.  Alcohol reduces the quality and duration of sleep.  It directly inhibits melatonin and thus reduces the ability to fall and stay asleep.  Alcohol also reduces sleep duration and, indirectly, quality.  Alcohol increases urination and gastric reflux both of which reduce quality and duration of sleep.  Reduce your alcohol and improve your sleep.
  5. Too little sunlight.  Sunlight in the morning shuts off the melatonin production.  This process is essential for maintenance of your circadian rhythm which establishes a sleep-wake schedule. Exposure to light makes you feel alert, and lack of light encourages you to fall asleep more easily at night. 
  6. Exercising during the wrong time of day.  You must individualize your exercise program.  Each of us is different.  Some will be energized by exercise and others will be calmed by it.  You need to exercise at your best time.  If you are energized by exercise, night exercise would be counterproductive to good sleep, but calming could be ideal for good sleep if you are anxious by nature.  
  7. Altering your sleep schedule.  Keeping a good sleep schedule will increase the quality of your sleep and may increase the duration of your sleep.  Avoid sleeping in on weekends and maintain a good circadian rhythm.  
  8. Night lights reduce the quality of sleep.  Just like I said before, a light of any type reduces sleep quality and duration.  Turn your clock facedown and remove all incidental lights from the room.  I also use black out drapes.  Dark is what you need for good sleep.  This concept includes cell phone chargers.  
  9. Caffeine is the enemy of good sleep.  Tea and coffee both induce alertness and urination which is a problem if you are trying to sleep.  Caffeine keeps you up, and most types of tea and coffee contain caffeine.  Avoid caffeine after noon if you have insomnia.  
  10. Avoid reading in bed.  Almost all physicians, including sleep physicians, will recommend that you avoid reading in bed.  You should restrict light exposure for an hour before bed.  It is impossible to read in the dark so just say no.  

The bottom line:  Good sleep will help with weight loss and your health, so maximize your chances at good sleep.  

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About the Author

ChuckH

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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