If you find yourself feeling desperate for coffee first thing in the morning, refueling on caffeine mid-day, craving a sugary snack in the afternoon, and barely making it through the day without collapsing, you’re probably suffering from a common problem: You’re sleep deprived.
Okay, so you already knew that. But sleep deprivation affects more than just your energy levels. It can affect your weight, because inadequate rest actually disrupts the hormones that regulate fat storage and appetite. Your body thinks you’re enduring some sort of crisis situation, and begins to increase fat storage and cravings for sugary treats.
Of course, you’re not enduring a war or natural disaster. You just have a job, kids, social obligations, commuting… basically an average American life as an adult. But your body doesn’t know that, and you’re suffering some ill effects as a result of your sleep deprivation. You’ve put on weight, despite eating well, and you don’t really have the energy to exercise most days.
So, you know you need to get more sleep. But how? Try these hacks to your daily routine, and you can increase your rest time by an hour or two.
Avoid screen time at night. After about 8 pm, stay off of your phone or tablet. Don’t use your laptop in bed, and don’t watch TV. The light from these screens disrupts brain signals that help you feel sleepy.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Don’t drink caffeine after 3 pm, and limit your intake in the morning to no more than two cups of coffee. Avoid drinking alcohol at night, especially on work nights, because it disrupts the quality of your sleep.
Lower your stress levels. Find methods that work for you, such as daily yoga or meditation, a hobby that relaxes you, or even counseling. And use it faithfully. Stress can increase insomnia and causes other health problems as well.
Set the mood. Buy room darkening shades, invest in earplugs, or purchase a better mattress and pillow. You spend one third of your life in bed, so you might as well create a restful environment.
As always, see your personal physician if you’re worried about your sleep habits or your weight. He or she can make additional recommendations to help you get the rest you need, and live a healthier lifestyle.