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The Anatomy of a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep, or lack thereof, can affect more than just your energy level. As evidence of a correlation between sleep and weight loss continues to pile up, your pillow may start to look even more attractive. Getting enough sleep is a basic human need. The fact that it can help prevent weight gain is just icing on the low-fat cake. So how do we get a “good night’s sleep”?

Studies have found that lack of sleep increases the levels of ghrelin, a hunger hormone which signals the brain when it’s time to eat. A lack of sleep also decreases the levels of leptin, a hormone that signals the brain when you are full. When you get enough sleep, you set your body up for success by helping to regulate the hormones that make you feel hungry and full. So now that we know sleep is important, how much do we need?

Individuals differ in their needs, but adults usually need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.¹ In addition to sleep duration, sleep quality is also important. Unfortunately, a good night’s rest can’t be borrowed or bought. But there are ways to set yourself up for a restful night. If you find yourself tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep, or if your sleep is often interrupted, then the tips below may help.

  • Move the TV and the computer out of the bedroom. Your bedroom should be a place for relaxation and sleep.
  • Keep your sleeping area as dark as possible, as well as cool and quiet.
  • Start a relaxing pre-bed routine, like drawing a warm bath or enjoying a cup of decaf tea.
  • Avoid stressful activities before bed, especially watching violent or disturbing movies or TV shows.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every morning.
  • Avoid exercise within 3 to 4 hours of your bedtime. Exercising gives your body an energy boost, so if you have trouble falling asleep, try moving your workout to earlier in the day.
  • Make a “to-do” list for the next day, so you can stop focusing on upcoming plans.
  • Schedule your sleep just like you do your other activities.
  • Limit your caffeine intake after lunch as this can impact falling asleep.

Set yourself up for weight loss success by getting a good night’s rest every night. With a few simple steps, you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no-time.

1. The National Sleep Foundation. Myths and Facts. Available at: Accessed on July 19, 2013.