According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of American adults don’t even get seven hours of sleep a night, when current guidelines recommend sleeping seven to nine hours every night. This magic number seems to be the optimal level to increase energy levels and lower the risk of obesity, hypertension, Type-2 diabetes, heart disease and depression. In other words, not getting enough sleep could be sabotaging all your hard efforts to lose weight on a low-carb diet like Atkins. If your energy levels are lagging and the scale isn’t budging, it may be time to revamp your sleep habits with these tips:
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Try to go to bed at the same time every night consistently so that you are getting the optimal seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
Set up ideal sleeping conditions. Turn the thermostat down. Cooler temperatures tell your brain it’s time to turn in for the night. In fact, a study says that the ideal room temperature for getting your ZZZs is 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If early-morning light bothers you, try blackout shades. And if you’re sensitive to noise, a white noise machine is soothing for some people.
Create a bedtime routine. Prepare everything you need for the next day before you get tired and lose your steam. Pack lunches, lay out workout and/or work clothes, make sure the kids’ homework is finished and in the right place, have a plan for breakfast and get the evening dishes done and everything in order so you don’t lay awake thinking of these nagging details or wake up to a frantic mess. Once it’s close to bedtime, turn down the lights, and choose a relaxing activity like reading a book or taking a hot bath so your brain has a chance to wind down as well.
Turn off the electronics. Disconnect one or two hours before bedtime. All that screen time is stimulating, not relaxing. And don’t charge your phone next to your bed. Even if it’s on vibrate, there’s no need to get woken up by the buzzing of status updates or news alerts.
Watch what you drink and when. Since caffeine is a stimulant, that afternoon cup of coffee could affect your sleep as much as six hours later. And, although alcohol is a depressant (which makes people feel sleepy), if you drink it too close to bedtime, it can actually interrupt sleep cycles throughout the night. Stick with water (not too much; you don’t want your bladder waking you up during the night) or herbal tea like chamomile, which has been shown to help you relax.
Exercise during the day. Hitting the gym too close to bedtime is also something that may make it hard for you to wind down, although some gentle yoga poses or stretches can be a part of your bedtime routine.
Eat for optimal sleep. If you chow down on a heavy or spicy meal too close to the time you hit the hay, you may pay for it later in the form of heartburn or intestinal distress. Keep your low-carb snacks and meals spaced out throughout the day so that your metabolism and energy levels stay at an even keel.