Sleep for Fitness: Why Rest Is Essential for Weight Loss, Well-being, and Your Fitness Goals
Among other things, sleep is one thing that is vital to our health and can also be severely affected as we age. From our stomachs feeling upset with us, to feeling stressed, or being too wound up to catch some zzzzs, lack of sleep can affect us all differently.
So what can be done about it?
Keep in mind, there are some severe sleep issues and if you have insomnia or are completely unable to sleep, you should consult your doctor.
But here are some trusty at home steps we can take to help us drift off to our la la land.
The Number One Factor:
The number one factor that can help with our sleep and allow to get a full night of rest is maintaining a healthy weight and eating a nutritious diet. Let’s dive into the nutrition side first.
Processed flours such as white pasta and pastries, processed sugars, alcohol, dairy products, red meats, and oils such as sunflower, safflower, and corn oil all hinder your body’s ability to sleep. These are all inflammatory foods, which means they could lead to an upset stomach or other uncomfortable symptoms.
Foods that can help you sleep:
In sharp contrast, there are many foods that can help minimize the stomach issues, flare-ups, or inflammation and their effects. Fish, fresh fruit and veggies, and also omega 3.
Omega 3 is not naturally produced by our body and has anti-inflammatory benefits. Salmon, olive oil, eggs, tuna, flax oil or seed, almonds, and walnuts are all examples of things that can aid in getting your body to stay healthy and happy during this tumultuous phase.
Avoid eating foods that are acidic along with spicy foods, these, in general, can affect our sleep so it’s better to avoid them for the most part or at least cut our consumption down.
Soy can actually act as a reliever to acid reflux or inflammation, along with flax-seed. Try having some soy-based yogurt with some flax-seed crushed up and sprinkled over it. Flaxseed has been shown to possibly alleviate the effects caused by inflammation.
Skip the alcohol and caffeine especially in the late afternoon and evening. Opt for a sleepy time hot herbal tea instead, it can help calm you down, or if it's too hot to be drinking a hot beverage, serve it chilled over ice.
Maintaining a healthy weight can also greatly enhance your chances of getting a good night's sleep. As we age it’s easier to put on weight as the amount of muscle we have decreased over time. Our muscle naturally fades as we age, and muscle is one of our top calorie burners, so as we lose muscle, we are not passively burning as many calories in a day, which can contribute to weight gain.
This is one reason why exercise and lifting weight is so important at this stage in life because we can reverse the muscle degeneration process if we are proactive (More on that here!)
Also, we can tend to add weight in the abdominal region during this time, which is the most dangerous type of weight to add on. Maintaining a healthy exercise routine is crucial at this point. Not only to maintain a healthy weight, but exercise has been proven to aid in sleep.
So if you’ve been on the fence about working out, get off it and start! It can greatly aid you in your overall health as well as enhancing your sleep life.
In addition to eating right and exercising, there are a few other techniques that can be of great value when it comes to calming ourselves before bed.
Put on some lightweight clothing for bed so that you are comfortable, and use blankets if it's cold. Then shortly before bed practice some type of relaxation methods.
Whether this is just sitting quietly listening to some soft music, or sitting through a guided meditation (there are some amazing free apps out there to help with this) or even deep breathing for several minutes can be effective.
If you’ve never used essential oils, this can also be an incredible sleep aid. Rub a few drops of lavender on your feet. It can help soothe you. In addition to lavender, some other essential oils that aid in sleep are vanilla, jasmine, rose and sandalwood.
It's helpful to try each thing and see which helps you and your family the best!
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