Find out how quality sleep can help you slim. Plus if you regularly find yourself waking during the night, discover how to solve whatever's messing with your shut-eye
SLEEP YOURSELF SLIM
Lack of sleep raises levels of the hormone ghrelin, which boosts the urge to eat, and reduces levels of leptin, another hormone that regulates your appetite. No wonder you can’t resist the doughnuts after a bad night’s sleep! If you’re tired, you’re more likely to reach for the high-cal food to boost your energy fast. Here are your skinny sleep rules…
- Aim to kip for between 61/2 and 81/2 hours
Studies show this is how much sleep the slimmest people get.
- Turn off gadgets like phones and tablets an hour before bed
This will help you unwind properly and have better quality sleep. Research shows that people who get the deepest sleep weigh less.
- Go for a walk as soon as you get up
Studies from Northwestern University, US, have found people exposed to more bright light first thing rend to stay slimmer. The reason? It may be because bright morning light revs up all your body’s systems, including your metabolism. If it’s too chilly to venture outside (it is the British summer we’re talking about after all!), at least eat your breakfast by a window.
- Stay on schedule
Routine helps you sleep better and stay slimmer, research shows. In one trial, those who went to bed and got up at about the same time each day had the lowest levels of body fat.
And if your sleep is far from peaceful, identify what’s stopping you sleeping and find out how to sort it with our easy solutions…
The cause: Most of us have been woken by this agonising pain in our calves from time to time. It’s thought to be down to abnormal nerve activity during sleep. And if you have restless legs – the urge to move your legs at night – this can also trigger leg cramps.
Sort it: Try having a warm bath before bed to reduce the risk of cramps. Cut down your alcohol consumption as alcohol can aggravate restless legs.
The cause: If you’re suffering from breathlessness and a tight chest, asthma may be the cause. It’s often worse at night because lying down causes mucus to accumulate in your airways.
Sort it: See your doctor – you may need medicine to help reduce inflammation in the airways and prevent symptoms.
The cause: If you’re experiencing see-sawing hormones, blame them! PMS and the menopause can both lead to night sweats due to a drop in oestrogen – and your body needs to be cool for good-quality zzzzzs.
Sort it: Try the herb agnus castus (£7.49/60 from Holland & Barrett) which can help ease hormonal night sweats. And make sure you’re wearing thin, light nightwear made of a natural fabric like cotton.
The cause: If you drink alcohol in the evening, it can interfere with the deeper phases of sleep, meaning you wake more easily. Otherwise it may be that your sleep environment is not optimal.
Sort it: Practise good sleep hygiene. For quality sleep, your room should be cool, dark and quiet, says sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley. Take time to unwind before bed and avoid having too much booze or caffeine. A mug of calming camomile tea is the perfect pre-bed drink.
The cause: The most common reason is acid reflux, when stomach acid splashes up the gullet while you’re lying down and irritates your throat. It happens when the valve closing the stomach off from your gullet doesn’t work properly.
Sort it: Prop up the head of your bed with 4in blocks, so you’re in a tilted position, advise gastroenterologist Professor Peter Whorwell.
The cause: If you eat a high-GI meal in the evening means the food will release its energy rapidly. This results in a blood-sugar crash as your pancreas pumps out insulin to deal with the rush of glucose.
Sort it: Choose a low-GI evening meal – basmati rice, pasta and vegetables (but not potatoes) are good carb choices. Always eat protein, such as meat or fish, with your carbs, to slow down the sugar release. If you need to snack before bed, go for a low-GI option like a couple of oatcakes spread with almond butter. Studies show eating protein with complex carbs before bed can improve sleep quality.