A non-stop schedule makes getting the rest you need difficult while also pushing stress levels to the limit. You might think you will recover once the holidays are over, but at that point, the damage may be done. Research shows that both sleep and stress are linked to weight loss success. Keeping rest and stress relief at the top of your priority list will ensure you get through a hectic period while still hanging onto your health and your waistline.
Sleep is often viewed as a luxury rather than a necessity. This encourages squeezing more tasks into the day at the cost of a good night’s sleep. Many people operate on five to six hours per night, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most adults need seven to nine hours to function at their full potential.
Lack of sleep has bigger consequences than tiredness. Research shows that sleep influences the hormones that regulate appetite, preventing weight loss and often resulting in weight gain. There are three main appetite hormones – ghrelin, leptin, and cortisol. Ghrelin and cortisol stimulate appetite giving you the urge to eat more. Leptin suppresses appetite signaling fullness. When you don’t get enough sleep ghrelin and cortisol production increases and leptin production decreases. This results in increased cravings and hunger which can lead to a higher calorie intake that causes weight gain.
Stress and lack of sleep often go hand-in-hand. Stressful situations can keep you up at night and tiredness and irritability can make daily tasks more stressful. High stress also causes a spike in cortisol further triggering food cravings, especially for high-calorie carbohydrates. This constant increase in appetite can make it difficult to resist unhealthy snacks and grazing between meals.
Set Your Priorities
Making sleep and stress control a priority will better prepare you to accomplish your endless to-do list while keeping your weight in check. Follow these tips for increasing sleep and reducing your stress levels.
- Set a regular schedule for the time you go to bed and wake every day.
- If you sometimes experience insomnia, get your workout in at least four hours before bedtime and avoid caffeine in the afternoon.
- If your mind races at night, keep a notebook and pen by the bed. When a thought or task pops into your head, write it down, forget about it, and get some sleep.
- Exercise, even if you can only fit in 10 minutes. Every little bit will help to reduce stress.
- Add stretching exercises and short walks throughout the day to give yourself a break from stressful work.
- Delegate your to-do list. Are there things that family and friends can assist with like cleaning, shopping, or cooking? Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- If cravings and hunger increase, take time to evaluate your sleep schedule and stress level. Make changes to gain control before you start seeing the evidence in the form of extra pounds on the scale.