Today I want to talk to you about creating healthy nighttime habits. About how having a great nighttime routine can help you sleep better, maximize your fitness results, and even improve your work, schooling, and social life. Yes, you really could sleep your way skinny!
I know, it sounds like a scam late-night infomercial, but this report by the National Sleep Foundation shows that it may be true. In the 16-year long study, people who slept for 5 or fewer hours a night were at a 30% greater risk to gain weight than those who snooze for 7 hours!
Science of Sleep
There’s lots of science involved in this finding, but mostly it has to do with hormones. When you are low on sleep or restless, your body produces ghrelin, which increases hunger and cravings. At the same time, the body reduces leptin, a hormone that helps you feel full and satisfied. The result? You’ll be hungry and craving usually high-fat, high-calorie foods while your body’s metabolism actually slows down. That’s a recipe for disaster for your fit goals.
For 4 foods that actually boost metabolisms, check out my post here.
And that weight gain forms a vicious cycle: overweight individuals are at a greater risk for sleep problems like sleep apnea, and generally have lower quality sleep than others, so the hormone problems just get worse!
Simply by getting enough sleep, anywhere from 7 to 9 hours each night, your body and metabolism can regulate itself more efficiently. You’ll maximize your fitness results since your body repairs muscle during rest. Because you’ll have more energy and motivation to exercise, you can achieve your ideal goals!
For a little extra energy and motivation for your next workout, check out the latest sales on IdealLean Pre-Workout below:
To help me talk about healthy nighttime habits, I’ve recruited Stuart, one of IdealFit’s writers and our resident night owl. I challenged him to change some of his…less-than-healthy nighttime habits and hopefully achieve some healthy goals. That’s what it’s all about right?
Stuart — Healthy Nighttime Habits With a Recovering Insomniac
Before I start, I have to come clean:
My name is Stuart, I’m 25 years old, and I am an insomniac.
When Lindsey asked me to help out with this blog, I figured she must have had me mistaken for someone else! I told her I was the wrong person to ask about “a healthy nighttime routine.” She told me that’s why I was exactly the right person to ask.
I have been a night owl since I was a toddler. Always the last kid awake at sleepovers, my parents quickly gave up on the bedtime battle with me. I am about to graduate with honors after working my way through college waiting tables until around midnight, and pulling all-nighters regularly. I’ve always worn the shadowy circles under my eyes like a badge of honor.
Except now, I see that the effects of poor sleep/nighttime habits are catching up to me. Since taking my first real, (more sedentary) job, I have started gaining weight, losing energy, and noticing that I just don’t feel very healthy these days. So maybe I am the right person for this experiment— maybe I could learn something.
So Here’s What I am Going to Do:
- I’ve searched the web for the top tips from sleep scientists, the National Sleep Foundation, and others on how to create a foolproof nightly routine.
- I’m actually going to be the ‘guinea pig’ and try these tips out, then tell you what works.
- By creating a healthy nighttime routine, science tells me I should sleep better, feel better, look better, and get better fitness results.
Buckle up Everybody— It’s Bedtime.
My 9 Best Healthy Nighttime Habits
I made use of my sleepless nights to search the web for some of the best, proven ways to optimize my nightly routine. After trying tons out, here are 9 that worked the best for me:
- Stick to A Schedule: Your body is built on patterns of activity called a circadian rhythm. By establishing a schedule of waking up and going to bed at the same time every day (yes, even on the weekend) your circadian rhythm will be consistent. That means healthier sleep and metabolism for your fit lifestyle!
- Set the Stage: The primary purpose of your bedroom is for sleeping, right? Is it actually set up to do that? After reading that your bedroom should be kept cool, between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, I lowered the AC and slept better that very night!
You can set the stage for sleep even further by removing or blocking lights and sounds, and using calming colors like blue, green or grey in the space.
(Someone’s been reading my blog)
- Cut the Cord: Sleep researchers believe that the blue light from electronic devices like smartphones, TV, and tablets mimics daylight, keeping the brain stimulated and awake. This one was hard for me, who doesn’t love scrolling Facebook before bed? By avoiding screen time for 30 minutes before bedtime and reading a physical book instead, I felt much more relaxed and ready for sleep when I turned out the lights.
- Eat This, Not That: Alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, heavy meals, and spicy foods can all disrupt your nightly routine in different ways. Eating large meals before bed can lead to discomfort and the body storing those calories as fat. I’m a big nighttime eater, so I swapped out my midnight munchies for apples and almond butter 45 minutes before bedtime. Delicious, lean, and no weird dreams!
- Get Your Beauty Rest: Skin cells are most active at night, so showing your skin some TLC before bed can give you a smoother, clearer complexion over time. Showering, cleansing the face, and using a quality night cream all can help with this.
(Close enough, right?)
Look for retinols, retinoids, peptides, or Vitamin C on the label. These will enhance your skin’s natural repair process. Now while my wife hasn’t converted me to facials just yet, after washing my face each night I saw reduced redness after just a few days.
- Stress Less & Wind Down: Stress disrupts your sleep patterns by creating a state of hyperarousal. This means your blood pressure, breathing rate, and alertness go through the roof.
One way to beat stress is to create a relaxing bedtime routine. Us humans are creatures of habit. The body needs routine, and the mind will always try to create patterns. Creating a routine that you do each night helps your mind tell your body “hey, it’s bedtime!” Lots of people here at IdealFit swear by some pre-z’s yoga, writing in a journal, or reading a book. I’d drink a glass of water and read, after a few days of this my body got the hint!
- Dress for Success: Did you know clothes really can make the man/woman? Psychologists have discovered that the clothes we wear create symbolic meanings in our minds, and can actually influence our actions. Translation? Wearing specific “workout clothes” can help you get the best workout, and wearing specific “sleeping clothes” can actually improve the quality of your sleep!
I’ve never been big on pajamas, but changing into comfortable clothes that my brain knew were just for sleeping helped me get into that mode faster and easier than I believed it could, I am now #TeamPJs!
- Sweat 4 Sleep: I was always told not to exercise late in the evening because it could keep you awake! I definitely didn’t need any help in that department. It turns out, it might actually work the other way around.
Recent studies have found that most people can not only work out much harder and longer in the evening hours, but that evening resistance exercise (like bodyweight workouts or weight training) can significantly improve the quality of your sleep habits! In a randomized trial, the group that exercised at 7 pm woke up less and got to sleep faster than at any other earlier time.
This made a HUGE difference for my nighttime routine! I’m not sure if it was just because I went too hard too fast, but I slept like a baby after my very first evening workout.
- Try a Probiotic: I always thought probiotics were just for old lady yogurt. It turns out, I was wrong and they have a TON of benefits for everyone. Probiotics refer to healthy “good bacteria” found in your digestive system that aid in digestion, boost immunity, reduce cholesterol, and generally help you have a happier, healthier tummy.
Taking a probiotic supplement at night makes them even more effective because at night your body’s digestive activity is at its lowest. This helps more of the good bacteria make its way through your stomach and into the intestines where they are needed.
Wrapping it UP – Probiotic Benefits for Better Sleep
Because women can especially benefit from a healthy digestive system, IdealFit has created the Nighttime Probiotic. Designed for women’s bodies and to be taken at night, IdealFit’s nighttime Probiotic is a smart part of any healthy evening routine. Simply take 1-3 capsules 30 minutes before bed, and let billions of good bacteria get to work improving your health and well-being while you sleep naturally.
Rest easy knowing you are doing something good for you each night. Try IdealLean nighttime Probiotic tonight: