Week 1 Holiday Challenge: Get More Sleep

Make sleep your priority this week.

Getting adequate sleep is critical to both your physical and mental health. It has been shown to boost your immune system and lower your risk of developing heart disease, hypertension, and some cancers.

 You may be surprised to learn that sleep is strongly tied to your weight. As your hours of shut-eye go down, so does your metabolism, meaning you burn calories at a slower rate. At the same time, your levels of ghrelin, the hormone that signals hunger, goes up. This combination of increased hunger and a slower metabolism can work against you, especially when faced with an employee break room filled with holiday cookies.

 The first step in achieving a good sleep schedule is to make a commitment to get more sleep. Make sleep a priority over the work, TV shows, and projects that keep you up late. This week, try the following strategies to get a good night’s sleep.

Set a schedule and stick to it.

Decide what time you need to be up in the morning and count back 8 hours. Take a few nights to adjust to this new bedtime. If you decide to shift your bedtime from 11:00 to 10:00, try going to bed at 10:45 one night, 10:30 the next, and so on until 10:00 is the new normal. Try not to vary your schedule too much on the weekends.

 Avoid caffeine late in the day.

“Late in the day” can mean something different for every person. Decide a caffeine cutoff time, whether it is 1 pm or 4 pm, and stick to it. As for food, avoiding eating too close to bedtime. If you must eat something close to this time, make sure it is on the lighter side.

 Exercise regularly.

Aerobic activity promotes better sleep. As with caffeine and food, be sure to avoid exercising too close to bedtime. This cutoff time will be different for everyone. 

Turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary.

Create a calming atmosphere with relaxing colors and materials. Remove all screens and electronics. Televisions, phones, and tablets can all be disruptive to your sleep. Shut out all noise if you need silence to sleep, or play relaxing sounds if you prefer a bit of noise.

Establish a routine before bed.

Set an alarm in the evening to remind you to get ready for bed. Avoid work or phone calls after this time. Help your body transition into a relaxed, sleepy state by showering, reading, or something similar. Find whatever routine works best for you.


** This information came from the “Eat Smart, Move More, Weight Less” Holiday challenge. Want to join the challenge? Click this Here!**