Getting a Good Night’s (Or Day’s) Sleep

Adequate sleep duration and good sleep quality are of utmost importance in promoting healthy weight loss and maintenance. A relationship between a lack of sleep and increased body fat has been found in multiple studies, indicating that sleep can have a major impact on our weight and overall health. Poor, inadequate sleep can affect our bodies release and use of several hormones that may be related to weight gain. These hormones include growth hormone, thyroid hormones, insulin, and the “stress hormone” cortisol. When we don’t sleep enough, we produce less growth hormone, which results in fat gain and muscle loss and a slower metabolism. The “stress hormone” cortisol is elevated in people who are depressed and who sleep less or poorly. Higher levels of cortisol can make us feel hungrier and increase our cravings for carbohydrates and sweets, thus promoting weight gain and increasing our bodies output of insulin. Insulin is a hormone used to regulate our blood sugar levels and when it is increased in our blood stream it makes our bodies better at storing fat. In addition, when we are without enough sleep, we may tend to eat more to keep ourselves going, instead of going to bed earlier and achieving a restful night’s sleep. This creates a cycle of eating for more energy, which increases our calories and reduces the amount of sleep we get each night.

But all is not lost. There are things, including foods we can eat and supplements we can take, that can help promote a better, more restful sleep. Below are some tips you may want to consider trying.

How to eat for a good night’s sleep

  • Avoid stimulants, such as chocolate, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, MSG (often found in Chinese takeout and highly processed foods), and tobacco
  • Eat foods high in tryptophan, a sleep-producing hormone, 3 hours before bed. These include turkey, bananas, figs, dates, fat free yogurt, and tuna.
  • Avoid rich, heavy and/or spicy foods before bed and avoid eating within 3 hours of bed – both can cause heartburn and reflux that may disrupt sleep.
  • Avoid drinking for at 90+ minute prior to bed to reduce your need to urinate throughout the night.

Supplements that can help you sleep (**before starting any new supplements consult your physician to ensure they are safe for you to take; also avoid taking at the same time as prescription medications**).

  • Chamomile
  • Valerian Root
  • Hops
  • Lavender
  • Catnip
  • Passionflower
  • Melatonin
  • Calcium and magnesium

Hopefully at least one, if not several, of these tips can help get your body and mind on the right track to a good night’s sleep. Good night!!

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