Most tips for weight loss analyze your diet and activity, while sleep is overlooked. Sleep plays an important role in reaching your weight loss goals. In fact, less than seven hours of sleep per night can reduce the benefits of dieting properly. Even when you routinely work out and eat healthy food, lack of sleep will rob you from your well-earned weight loss results.
Two hormones that control hunger—leptin and ghrelin—are the link between sleep and weight loss. Understanding how leptin and ghrelin affect our body helps us understand the importance of sleep as part of a dieting regime. Leptin is a protein produced by fatty tissue. This means that the less leptin you produce, the more empty your stomach feels. Ghrelin, a peptide hormone produced in the stomach, reduces the amount of calories you burn and increases the amount of fat you store. Sleeping less than the recommended number of hours each night will depress leptin and stimulate ghrelin, making weight loss nearly impossible. To successfully shed unwanted pounds, you must control these two hormones by getting the sleep your body needs.
Fight unnecessary hunger by remembering to prioritize sleep. Aside from feeling less satisfied after meals, lack of sleep can mean less energy to exercise. Don’t set yourself up for success and then deny your body the rest it needs to refuel. Next time you hit the gym or start a new diet, remember that sleep should be a top priority too.
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Is Napping Healthy?
Following such interesting news stories as the Spanish mayor issuing a proclamation for his entire city to nap, and college campuses and workplaces in the spotlight for encouraging naps with quiet rooms and special sleeping chairs, we are often asked our thoughts on napping.
Napping may be a hot topic on parenting blogs, but what about the effects of napping for adults? Is it good to get a nap in during the day, or will your nighttime sleep suffer? Does it affect your metabolism or focus? According to experts, it depends. Here are some things to think about, and tips on how a nap can be helpful without sabotaging your night.
The Cause of Your Sleepiness
If you are thinking about whether or not you should take a nap during the day, the first thing to consider is why you might need to take a nap. Do you have bad nighttime habits that are causing you to go to bed too late and not get enough sleep? Are you experiencing bad sleep? Do you have a medical problem causing fatigue? If there is another problem that is can be addressed to eliminate the need for daytime sleep, try to take care of that first. If, however, your sleep disturbance can’t be fixed (like with an unconventional work schedule or a newborn baby), then napping might be a good solution.
Is There a Risk to Napping?
TIME magazine pointed out that a 2014 study that showed a correlation between napping and ill health is nothing that should cause alarm. The connection between the two is most likely due to the fact that people in poor health will nap during the day—not that napping causes poor health. So don’t worry about that!
Should I Try a Nap Alternative?
Instead of taking time to rest, some people would rather reach for caffeine to stay awake. There’s at least one good reason why an afternoon cup of coffee is not your best bet. Some evidence shows that caffeine, though it can perk you up, can be detrimental to your memory. Not to mention that a late cup of coffee can interfere with sleep later just like a late or lengthy nap can.
Napping Might Be Natural
The National Sleep Foundation points out that 85% of mammal species sleep in more than one period. Humans are strange in this aspect because we’re convinced that the best schedule is one in two distinct parts: day for being awake, and night for being asleep. Some of the greatest thinkers of our time have been nappers, and many people claim that it helps them feel refreshed and refocused instead of experiencing an afternoon lull.
Many benefits have been found for napping, and most experts agree that ten to thirty minutes is the ideal length for health benefits and focus. Benefits include relaxation, reduced fatigue, increased alertness, improved mood, and higher productivity with the addition of things like a quicker reaction time, improved memory, and an overall clearer mind. Shake the blahs, cure a headache, or relieve stress with a quick snooze.
A nap can have many benefits, but the downside is that some people find they have a groggy period after waking from the nap, and may take a long time to feel alert again. If you sleep too long, you may not feel tired at night when you need to get a full night’s rest. That’s why it best to plan your nap, use time wisely, and not let yourself sleep too long.
If you want to take an occasional nap or make napping a part of your daily routine, keep a few things in mind.
- Keep your nap short. A 15–30 minute nap is unlikely to affect your night, but a three hour nap could certainly leave you lying wide awake at bedtime. Set an alarm, or have someone wake you after you’ve caught a few Z’s.
- Make sure you have enough time before bed. If bedtime is quickly approaching, it likely won’t make sense to take a nap. If you had a physically or mentally active morning and want to take a short nap during the midday slump, that’s probably perfect timing to get the most out of a nap.
- Set the scene for sweet sleep. Go somewhere dark with a good temperature and comfortable bed or chair. Draw the curtains in your bedroom and put on something comfortable to sleep in. It may be tempting to doze on the couch with your jeans on and sun blaring, but you’re unlikely to get nearly as much benefit from that as you would from a more sleep-friendly setting. If you’re out of the house, find a quiet place or safe spot in comfortable conditions.
- If you are more tired than usual and can’t figure out why, make sure you talk to your doctor about what could be causing fatigue. Of course, if you’re turning to naps during the day because you’re not sleeping well at night, make it a point to investigate. Is a bad mattress causing you to miss out on restful, restorative sleep? If that’s the case, come talk to us at Jonathan Stevens or try our mattress finder quiz to get matched with your ideal sleep solution.
Whether you need a new mattress, earlier bedtime, or more consistent schedule, nighttime sleep should be priority. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy a nap!