Natural Weight Loss

Lesson #5

Sleep is an amazingly powerful, but commonly overlooked element of a healthy weight loss plan.

Nighttime rest is a precious time that allows our bodies to heal and rejuvenate. Without enough sleep, you will not only have a hard time reaching your ideal body weight but also soon your overall health will start to suffer.

Why Proper Sleep is Important for you

By some estimates, Americans average about six hours of sleep per night. That may be enough for some, but not for the majority of people, especially for those concerned about their weight. According to a study from Columbia University, presented at the annual scientific meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, you will need to get more sleep than six hours if you want to stay healthy and fit. Researchers used almost 10 years of data collected on nearly 18,000 subjects who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The study gathered information on general dietary and health habits. After accounting for other factors that are known to contribute to obesity, the Columbia team reported these estimates: 

  • Less than four hours of sleep per night increases obesity risk by 73 percent, compared to subjects who slept seven to nine hours each night.
  • An average of five hours of sleep per night increases obesity risk by 50 percent.
  • An average of six hours of sleep per night increases obesity risk by 23 percent. 

The researchers believe the link between sleep deprivation and obesity is altered body chemistry. According to the research, a lack of sleep increases ghrelin, a hormone that sends a hunger signal to the brain. The usual foods of choice are ready-to-eat carbohydrate snacks. At the same time, the level of a protein called leptin drops. Leptin helps suppress appetite, so when the level is low, appetite increases. This causes you to look for something to eat. Combine too much ghrelin and too little leptin, and you’ve set the stage for the ingestion of extra food that your body neither needs nor can digest properly. The inevitable result is intestinal congestion and weight gain. 

What you can do

Sleep deprivation is not only detrimental to your weight loss goals; it is also connected with a host of other ill effects including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. While everyone is different, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that you get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.

While there are some days in life that stress and lack of sleep are unavoidable, you should try to stick to a routine that allows you to wind down at the end of your day and allow your brain and body to get a good night’s rest. 


Create a bedtime ritual

If you have trouble falling asleep due to reasons beyond time constraints, try your best over the next seven days to develop the following three habits: 

Get to bed by 10pm

Most of us focus on how many hours of sleep we get. However, those approaches that understand nature’s intelligence suggest that it’s not just the quantity of sleep—but what’s even more important is the quality. 

The deepest and most regenerative sleep occurs between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. 

Your adrenals function best to recharge your body during these hours and this is also when your body is geared up for its peak internal cleansing and rejuvenation cycle. You will be waking lighter, fresher, more energetic and positive. 

Switch Off The electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed

Whether it’s a TV, computer or phone, unplug from all devices

No more stimulating your brain this late at night. Checking your emails and browsing social media can be addictive and often keeps us up longer. Also the light from all these devices will interfere with a restful sleep.

Read something light or listen to music

It’s nice to let your mind wander through pages of an enjoyable book in the evening. Or you might prefer listening to some mellow music as a way to relax the body and mind before bed.

N & Z Recommended Nighttime Readings:

the bottom line

Along with nourishing the body with whole plant-based foods and exercising, getting quality sleep is an important part of weight loss and vibrant health. Poor sleep dramatically alters the way the body responds to food. For starters, your appetite increases and you are less likely to resist temptations and control portions.

To make matters worse, it can become a vicious cycle. The less you sleep, the more weight you gain, and the more weight you gain, the harder it is to sleep.

On the flip side, establishing healthy sleep habits can help your body maintain a healthy weight.

Aim to be in bed and asleep by 10 pm because the greatest physiological repair work happens between 10 pm and 2 am. 

Start one healthy habit at a time until each new habit becomes part of your everyday life.

Keep in mind that any new practice will feel foreign, hard or perhaps a little uncomfortable for a little while. Be patient and use your persistence. Soon enough you will start to notice positive changes in your health, your mood, your weight and even your love life.

If you keep eating a diet based on whole plant foods, stay hydrated, move your body, and get plenty of sleep, this 21-day challenge will be a great jump-start to your health goals.

Dedicated to your health & wellbeing,

Let us know in the comments below what your evening time usually looks like and how you think it could be improved!

2 responses to “Lesson #5 – Sleep Well”

  1. I 100% agree with this. However, in some phases of life we have no control over our sleep. I have a 5 year old and an 18 month old. I’ve been up anywhere from 2-5 times a night for the last 18 months and did not sleep week while pregnant either. Before that I had a brief time where sleep was ok when I only had my son but had a few years of broken sleep with him as well. This is also during a time where I want to lose weight and am breastfeeding. Sleep is so important but with babies and young children it’s out of your control.

    • That is really tough… Although a good night’s sleep is the obvious remedy, this can sometimes seem impossible when you’ve got babies to look after. But even if you can’t prevent sleep deprivation, I would suggest you try to work around it by implementing lifestyle changes that will help you get the rest you need.
      A few suggestions:
      Movement/Exercise – Try to carve out a few minutes every 90 minutes to get up and take a walk, stretch your body, do a few sun salutations, etc. This doesn’t have to be anything intense, just get your heart rate up a little so your body is getting some fresh supply of oxygen.
      Fresh Air/Sunshine – Nature is a true healer and fresh air and sunshine are wonderful medicine. Do your best to spend a minimum of 30 minutes outside every single day. Rain or shine.
      Meditation – Like sleep, meditation balances, repairs and heals the body in a number of similar ways, from boosting your Growth Hormone and DHEA, to reducing your stress hormone Cortisol.

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