Sleep, everyone needs it. Quite strange actually if you think about it. One third of your life you are unconscious. Your body rests on ‘a large pillow’ (a.k.a. your matrass) with your head resting on a smaller pillow under a warm blanket. While your body is turned off, your brain goes on a kind of hallucinatory trip. The most bizarre events take place that are beyond your control and that often have only a little connection with reality.
It’s about a third of your day, which is quite a long time, and you’re virtually helpless from outside danger. There must be very important things happening in our sleep that nature finds it necessary that we, and every other animal, have to do this over and over, day after day. Well here’s why. Chronic sleep deprivation can increase the risk of many diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer and depression. Those are things that can happen in the long run. As humans, we are not always able to change our current lives for benefits in the future. Even though we know it’s very important to do so.
In the short term, we see that you get more hungry if you don’t sleep enough. This is partly due to the hormonal changes that happen because you don’t get enough sleep. For example, we see that concentrations of the hormone associated with hunger, Ghrelin, rise and the hormone associated with satiety, Leptin, fall. From other studies we see that people who sleep less while losing weight have a greater chance of losing muscle mass compared to people who get enough sleep. That’s a loss.
Too little sleep also makes you less strong mentally. So you are more hungry and you feel less mentally strong. That increases the chance that you make poorer food choices. Because of too little sleep and too much stress, you are also more likely to look for comfort foods, i.e. products that you really like. Often these are products that are also high in calories and because you like them so much it is easy to eat too much as well.
Everyone sleeps, but not everyone knows how important it really is. Especially if you want to lose weight. We’ll give you ten tips to get a better night’s sleep. Not every tip may be applicable to your situation. Pick the ones that work best for you and experiment with them.
Ten tips for a better night’s sleep
1. Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. You hear this often. You may have even tried it. In our experience, the bottleneck is often simply going to bed too late. So start your sleep routine earlier. That means sleep, not an extra episode of your favourite Netflix show, should be your priority.
2. Create a steady rhythm. Every clock likes to be in sync, including your biological clock. A fixed rhythm ensures that your body is not faced with surprises and helps with a more regular sleep pattern.
3. Make the bedroom as dark as possible. Light can cause the production of melatonin, the substance that helps you fall asleep, to stop or decrease. Light can also wake you up or keep you awake. Therefore, choose curtains that allow little or no light to pass through in the bedroom.
4. Find the right temperature for you. Do you and your partner have different preferred temperatures? Then try playing with different types of blankets.
5. Try to relax and not work 1-2 hours before you want to go to sleep. Sometimes you have to let things go. Continue with it the next day if you are well rested. Do something relaxing before going to bed. Examples are showering, taking a bath, cuddling, having sex, reading a book, meditating, etc.
6. Write the day off. This ensures that you do not keep worrying about things that happened that day. It is also useful to make a To Do list for the next day. Don’t go on with this for too long, because you don’t want to get too caught up in it either.
7. Stop your caffeine intake after 13:00-15:00 in the afternoon. Caffeine remains largely in your blood for up to 6 hours. How much this affects you is different for everyone else so experiment with it. Herbal tea is a good alternative to a hot drink during the day.
8. Expose yourself to as little blue light as possible 1-2 hours before going to sleep. Some phones and computers have the functionality to adjust this themselves. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to download an app for your phone and computer that does this.
9. Reduce your screen time about 1-2 hours before you go to sleep so that you don’t get too excited with things that can wait until tomorrow. For example, being on social media and checking your email.
10. If you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t look at your phone. This creates stimuli and can wake you up.