Benefits of sleep and weight loss

Leah O'Daniel

Benefits of sleep and weight loss

Sleeping is one of the most underutilized, overlooked partof maintaining a healthy life. So many things happen within your body duringsleep that it would be too lengthy to detail here. At the fundamental core, restis a vital bodily function the same as breathing. It supports healthy brainfunction, emotional, and physical health too. Many health conditions andproblems are directly related to lack of sleep or lack of sleep quality.

Balancing sleep is a thing we all know about, and most of uslikely think about too. If we are all being honest, it’s probably alwayssomething that’s on the back burner. For me, and many others that I know, itusually works out to something like waking up early every morning, stillfeeling groggy or tired. Next, I’m thinking to myself that tonight, I’m goingto go to bed earlier, so I can get more sleep. At the end of a long day of work,I make dinner. Do all the chores that require my attention. Flip around on myphone, mindlessly. Clean up after dinner. Deal with the random life thing thatpopped up. Think to myself that I’ll just watch one episode of whatever show,and before I know it, there isn’t any more time left to go bed earlier. Andrepeat for every day of the week.

This cycle is extra complicated with first responders andmilitary personal hectic and often unpredictable schedules. Shift work plushigh-stress job situations come with the high price of sleep deprivation. Overtime, this can lead to weight gain, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heartdisease, stroke, and depression (Christian & Ellis, 2011). Besides the triedand true things like blackout curtains, a quality mattress, or a noise machine,there are a few things you can do to help mitigate some of the issues relatedto lack of sleep or sleep quality.

Sleep Routine:

Regardless of when you can sleep according to your schedule,make an honest effort to carve out dedicated time to a bedtime ritual. Five toten minutes spent even on hygiene (teeth brushing, face washing, etc.) thatsignals to your brain and body that it’s time for sleep (Smith & Eastman, 2012).

Taking time to plan sleep or catching a nap during the day hasalso shown to decrease on-the-job grogginess and improve both alertness andoverall sleep quality. Utilize eye masks and earplugs when possible. As withall things, over time, adding a sleep routine will condition your body and yourbrain to trigger sleep hormones when performed consistently.

Stimulants:

Try to be strategic in the intake of stimulants likecaffeine. Tracking your food and beverage intake can help show you patterns forwhen you are most likely to consume most of your caffeine. Creating thisawareness and identifying trends could be a useful tool in regulating your bodyto your specific work schedule.

Track:

Most fitness trackers can track sleep too. Fitbit trackerscalculate the percentage of time you spend awake, in REM, light, and deepsleep. Other trackers like Garmin and Apple Watch have these capabilities too.

As with all things, by  tracking your sleep or just being aware of trendsin your body can provide you with a lot of insight. For one thing, recognizinghow much sleep you are averaging will let you know how much sleep your bodyneeds. Yes, the official recommendations are 7-8 hours, but some peoplefunction perfectly well on less sleep, too. Tracking sleep will also allow youto connect the dots regarding what may have happened that day, on a shift, ifpoor sleep is related to nutrition, etc.

Sleep Aids:

Again, try to utilize sleep aids such as melatonin sparinglyand strategically. Melatonin, for example, can be a great tool in aiding sleep,but it also comes with some caution. For a brief background, melatonin is anaturally occurring hormone in our bodies. Taking too much or heavy reliancecan cause long term effects in the way your body naturally produces it.

If you find yourself consistently unable to sleep without asleep aid, consider adding a magnesium supplement to your bedtime routine. Magnesiumhas tons of benefits, including mood regulation and stress reduction. As itrelates to sleep, magnesium increases a sleep-promoting neurotransmitter(GABA).

A secondary supplement for consideration is Vitamin D.Though the research is relatively new; preliminary findings suggest thatsupplemental vitamin D can improve overall sleep quality when taken at thebeginning of your day (whenever that may be for first responders). Vitamin Ddeficiencies are relatively common among most adults (Kennel, Drake, & Hurley, 2010). Consider havingyour levels checked and adding this fat-soluble vitamin to your first meal ofthe day.

Sources:

Christian, M. S., & Ellis, A. P. (2011).  EXAMINING THE EFFECTS OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION ON WORKPLACE DEVIANCE: A  SELF-REGULATORY PERSPECTIVE. Academy of Management Journal, 54(5),  913-934. Retrieved 5 11, 2020, from  https://journals.aom.org/doi/abs/10.5465/amj.2010.0179

Diamond, S. A. (n.d.). The Therapeutic Power of  Sleep. Psychology Today. Retrieved 5 11, 2020, from  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evil-deeds/200811/the-therapeutic-power-sleep

Kennel, K. A., Drake, M. T., & Hurley, D. L.  (2010). Vitamin D deficiency in adults: when to test and how to treat.  Retrieved 5 11, 2020, from https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc2912737

Smith, M. R., & Eastman, C. I. (2012). Shift  work: health, performance and safety problems, traditional countermeasures,  and innovative management strategies to reduce circadian misalignment. Nature  and Science of Sleep, 4, 111-132. Retrieved 5 11, 2020, from  https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc3630978