The Complex Relationship Between Sleep and Weight

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This blog is guest written by Sheila Johnson at https://www.wellsheila.net .

Are you struggling with stubborn body fat while suffering from insomnia? Or perhaps you’ve gained a few pounds and aren’t sleeping as well as you used to. It’s easy to write these connections off as coincidence, but there’s a complex relationship between weight and sleep. Not only does your weight affect how well you sleep, but sleep also impacts your ability to maintain a healthy weight. Wild Flowers Grow invites you to read on if you’re ready to get better sleep and lose weight. 

How Weight Affects Sleep (and Vice Versa)

Excess weight is linked to sleep disorders

Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that causes the airway to become obstructed during sleep. Because sleep apnea reduces sleep quality, it can lead to further weight gain due to sleep quality’s impact on appetite, exercise, and metabolism.

Poor sleep makes you hungrier

Sleep deprivation causes the body to release more appetite-stimulating hormones and suppresses leptin, a hormone that tells your brain when you’re full. If that’s not bad enough, insomniacs are also more likely to reach for high-fat, high-sugar, and high-calorie foods.

Poor sleep makes it harder to exercise

People are less likely to exercise when sleep deprived. Even if you work up the will to hit the gym, workouts tend to be shorter and less intense when you’re not well-rested.

Poor sleep leads to weight gain

There’s also research that suggests poor sleep lowers resting metabolism and increases insulin resistance, two things that make it even harder to lose weight.

These facts are scary, but you can break the cycle of insomnia and weight gain.

How to Sleep Better with Excess Weight

Before you get serious about losing weight, you need to address your poor sleep quality. These are some things you can do to sleep better when you’re carrying extra weight:

Get a supportive mattress

If you’ve gained weight, your old mattress might not be as supportive as it used to be. Many heavier individuals find foam mattresses don’t provide enough support to align their spine, which can lead to back pain and difficulty sleeping. If you’re on the heavier side and tend to toss and turn most nights, switching to a larger size innerspring mattress for more support could be the perfect solution to help you achieve better sleep.

Avoid eating and drinking before bed

Overweight people are more likely to experience acid reflux. To reduce nighttime heartburn, stop eating and drinking three hours before bed. If you’re a side sleeper, sleep on your left side.

Exercise more

Exercise is proven to improve sleep. Vigorous aerobic exercise like running or HIIT is best for sleep, but even moderate-intensity exercise makes a difference. However, avoid intense exercise right before bed. If you’re looking for a nighttime workout, try a mindful yoga routine instead. Better yet, making yoga a regular activity can enhance your ability to feel more relaxed since it’s a great stress reducer. If you need some extra motivation, use discounts to splurge on some new activewear from stores like Nike or Finish Line. 

Talk to your doctor

Sleep apnea and snoring may go away with weight loss, but in the meantime, it’s important to address sleep disorders that leave you waking up groggy. Talk to your doctor about sleep apnea. You may be prescribed a sleep study and a PAP machine.

Weight Loss Tips for Better Sleep (and Health!)

Now that you’re sleeping better, it’s easier to conquer your weight loss goals. There are tons of weight loss tips out there, but these simple tips are at the core of any weight loss plan:

Eat filling foods

Controlling your appetite will be a challenge at first, so avoid empty calories and instead, focus on filling foods like proteins, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.

Find exercise you enjoy

Consistency is the most important thing when it comes to exercise, so find something you can commit to. Again, yoga is fantastic when you’re starting a weight loss journey because it’s low-impact, beginner-friendly, and adaptable to every body.

Focus on the dos, not the don’ts

It’s common to approach weight loss by taking things away — junk food, calories, lazy nights on the sofa. Instead of focusing on what’s off-limits, work on building healthy behaviors. Planning your meals, eating more vegetables, and getting active are positive goals that build you up.

It’s hard to find the motivation to get healthy when you’re not sleeping well. Unfortunately, poor lifestyle habits also make it harder to catch quality rest. If you’re stuck in the cycle of sleep loss and weight gain, use these tips to get your sleep and your health back on track.

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This blog is written by Sheila Johnson at https://www.wellsheila.net . For more info and to contact her directly, head over to her website and see what she has to offer! 

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5 Ways To Instantly Lower Your Stress

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Life’s chaos are like ribbons.

They wave and dance in and out of your life but, when some of those ribbons brush up against your skin? WHAM! 

A sting of pain — Some of those ribbons have thorns and others may feel like sandpaper and others get wrapped around you, holding your down and not letting you walk forward in life.

Another word for life’s chaos? Stress.

As my friend, Katie, and I sat and talked, I brought up the word “harmony” and how harmony resonates with me when talking about stress, rather than referring to stress as balanced or managed. Katie’s face softened, a smile emerged, and a glimmer of resonance filled her face as she sunk into the concept of stress harmony. 

Here is the real deal — life is chaotic. It is never truly balanced and nor should it be. We need to have stress to fuel our drive to be great. 

We need to have stress to inspire us to create. 

We need to have stress to persevere. But the question is, where is your line in the sand? 

Stress only truly becomes toxic and burdensome when it is either heavy and negative or when it becomes chronic. When life hands us lemons and we decide to suck on the lemon instead of turning it into lemonade, that’s when harmony flies right out the window.

That’s when we feel overwhelmed and frustrated and out of control. 

We all know that too much chronic stress is unhealthy for us. Every Tom, Mary, and Joe tells us so. But on a deeper level, stress can set up us for future pains and aches and major health issues. Immediately, you might experience:

  • Low energy
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
  • Food cravings
  • Depression and other mood imbalances
  • Blood sugar imbalances

But, in the long term, you may experience:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Weakened immune system
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Skin irritation
  • Respiratory infections
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Insomnia
  • Burnout
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD
  • Alzheimer’s or Dementia

Stress is not just physical or mental/emotional, there is so much more that can cause stress in your life. Stressful situations are energy and how you perceive those situations directly affect your own personal energy — good or bad.  The key to bringing it into harmony is to address it in real time — not just when you get a chance or when your schedule allows for it. It is easy to forget and push it aside, downplaying the effect that it has on you. This is the first step of letting it get out of control.

Here are 5 easy ways you can get back into harmony from a mind, body, and soul perspective:

  1. Get grounded. Grounding, aka Earthing, has gotten much attention. Research has shown that grounding neutralizes free radicals, improves sleep, decreases pain, decreases stress, improves inflammation, strengthens the immune system, just to name a few benefits. And it is easy to do — all you have to do is get your bare feet or hands in dirt or on a natural surface to reap the benefits. Getting grounded is essential to start healing your stress. Check out my blog on grounding to get all the details.
  2. Explore nature. Nature has a calming effect that can instantly decrease our stress levels. Spending time in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Whatever you call it — forest bathing, ecotherapy, mindfulness in nature, green time or the wilderness cure — humans evolved in the great outdoors, and your brain benefits from a journey back to nature. Take a bike ride around your neighborhood or check out local trails to go hiking. Simply sit out on your porch or in your yard. Or you can…
  3. Go for a walk. It is well known that moving the body improves your health, but being strategic in how you use exercise to manage your stress levels is key. When the body is stressed, it is already in a very heightened state. Engaging in exercise that is too aggressive or that will raise the stress levels even more (yes, exercise does place stress on the body) may not be what your body needs when trying to calm down. Going for a walk is a great way to move the body, loosen the muscles, increase feel-good endorphins to the brain, and give you thinking time to work through your stressful problems. Start with 15 minutes and increase it as you can.
  4. Practice gratitude. Being grateful and being stressed can not co-exist. They simply can not happen at the same time because they are on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. When you are feeling stressed, take a moment to breathe and then practice gratitude for the things that are good in your life. Stress is all perspective and when you actively and consciously make an effort to change your perspective towards gratitude, you begin to break the chain of negative thinking, opening your thoughts and your brain to being able to figure out how to work through your stressful situation. Practicing gratitude is super easy! You can simply start saying out loud what you are grateful for and why or you can pull out your journal and write it down. Need more ideas of how to practice gratitude? Check out my infographic here. 
  5. Breathe and reframe. The breath is powerful. A shallow, tight breath increases the body’s stress and an open, deeper breath can instantly calm the body. Learning how to expand the breath to come from the entire torso rather than just the chest is a great tool to use in the moment of stress. How do you do it? Take 5-10 deep breaths allowing your torso to expand in all directions (like you are trying to create a barrel shape). Breath in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, and exhale for 4 counts. But it doesn’t stop there. Since stress is about a person’s perspective on the situation, it is even more powerful to couple breathing and reframing the mindset in real time. I like doing this with power statements. For example, Perform the breath described above and immediately say a power statement such as “I am in control.” Repeat the process until you have completed all the breaths. You can use the same power statement or a different one, it really is about what you need in that moment. 

Learning how to take back control of your stress is possible. Living in a chaotic world does not have to be. Stress is all about perspective — when you can learn how to calm down your body and reframe your perspective, life starts to open up!

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5 Tips To Help You Get More Sleep

According to the CDC, 35% of Americans are not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep per night.

That is over 1/3 of the American population. And, that’s a big problem! Considering that sleep and rest are vital for so many of our bodies functioning, it’s no wonder that health concerns are on a rise.

This is not all due to a lack of willpower or a desire to stay up late. Western culture and environmental factors significantly plays a role in Americans finding it harder and harder to get the amount of sleep that they need. Not only are they getting less sleep, but the quality of sleep has been greatly impaired.

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Why Is Sleep Important?

In the past, sleep was not emphasized and doctors often disregarded the importance of it. Now, studies have shown that those who get less than 6 to 7 hours of sleep a night are at more risk for diseases. Here’s why-

Sleep may help you:

  • Keep your heart healthy
  • Help prevent cancer
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce stress
  • Make you more alert
  • Improve your memory
  • Help you lose weight
  • Reduce your risk of depression
  • Help the body heal itself
  • More energy

More (Quality) Sleep Now

You know that you need more sleep, but how do you do that? With all your responsibilities, late-night activities, and 8:00 pm dinners, how do you get the right amount of shut-eye?

It might be as simple as how you are setting up your day!

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5 Tips For More Sleep Success

1.Setting a nightly routine. We as humans love routine. As much as spontaneity may be fun for awhile, routines allow us to focus on other areas that need more thinking and they prime the brain to expect a certain behavior or expectation will follow. It’s all about conditioning ourselves to set ourselves up for success. Your nightly routine may differ from the next person. The key is to find a way that creates relaxation and a winding down for the day — conditioning the brain to say “hey, it is time for bed.” Setting a specific time that you begin your night routine, rather than leaving it to “when you feel like it,” is essential. I recommend starting your night routine 1-1.5 hours before you want to fall asleep. That is the one tip that will be the most common for all of us. After that, it is really about personal preference. You could read a book, drink a cup of tea, listen to soft and soothing music. You could talk about your gratitude of the day with your partner (see tip #4) or brain dump your to-do list for the next day — whatever is relaxing to you. The key with your nightly routine is have it support your bedroom environment (see tip #3). This means that limiting your exposure to blue light and electronic devices is highly encouraged.

2.Supplements. There are many supplements that have evidence-based research supporting the effectiveness to sleep.

  • Melatonin is a key sleep hormone that signals your brain when it’s time to relax and head to bed. Start with a low dose to assess your tolerance, and then increase it slowly as needed. Since melatonin may alter brain chemistry, it is advised that you check with a medical professional before use. Take around 1–5 mg, 30–60 minutes before bed.
  • Ashwagandha leaves could potentially be useful for insomnia therapy.
  • Ginkgo biloba is a natural herb with many benefits. It can aid in sleep, relaxation and stress reduction. Take 250 mg, 30–60 minutes before bed.
  • Glycine is an amino acid that can improve sleep quality. It has been shown in studies that 3 grams is effective.
  • Valerian root is shown to help you fall asleep and improve sleep quality. Take 500 mg before bed.
  • Magnesium is responsible for over 600 reactions within the body. One of the most well known is how it can improve relaxation and enhance sleep quality.
  • L-Theanine is an amino acid that can improve relaxation and sleep. Take 100–200 mg before heading to bed.
  • Lavender is a powerful plant-based supplement with many health benefits. It can induce calming and relaxed effects to improve sleep. Take 80–160 mg or diffuse the oil in the air.

3.Set your bedroom environment. Setting your bedroom environment to promote deep sleep and relaxation can be exactly what the doctor called for. This can include factors such as temperature, noise, furniture choice and arrangement, and external lights. Numerous studies have shown that external noise, often from traffic, can cause poor sleep and long-term health issues. What can you do? To optimize your bedroom environment, try to:

  • Minimize external noise
  • Eliminate light and artificial lights from devices like alarm clocks (put a towel over them)
  • Turn down the temperature. Test different temperatures to find out which is most comfortable for you. Around 70°F/20°C seems comfortable for most people
  • Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, relaxing, clean and enjoyable place
  • Limit your exposure to blue light by keeping your smartphone out of the room (or totally turning it off so texts or calls don’t wake you up) and keeping the television off (or removing it completely)

4.Visualizations or gratitude work. Visualizing and gratitude work are helpful when working on goals and enhancing your life and your happiness. But this doesn’t stop there. Visualizing moments that make you happy or reflecting on the areas in your life that you were grateful for help to decrease cortisol levels and increase the feel good hormones. They are an overall stress reducer. This is important for good quality sleep because the less worry you have, the more your body can relax and fall asleep. Happiness and decreased stress are also associated with inner peace. The more inner peace you feel, the easier it is to fall asleep and stay asleep. Gratitude cannot exist in an angry state. The simple act of reflecting on what makes you happy and grateful, increases the inner peace and love within you, making it much easier to get the sleep you’re looking for.

5.Eat more carbs a few hours before bedtime.

Serotonin is best known as the “feel good” neurotransmitter and it improves mood and provides a sense of calm. When serotonin is elevated at night it enables restful sleep. It just so happens that eating carbs is necessary for the body to synthesize serotonin. Let’s not stop there! There’s a second way that having carbs at night can help you sleep. In addition to raising serotonin, carbs help lower the stress hormone cortisol, which can inhibit sleep when it is elevated at night. Which carbs should you eat at night?  Whole food, complex carbs such as starchy vegetables, beans, and (pseudo)grains — brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, etc — are good choices. The key is to stay away from refined and processed carbs such as bread, crackers, cookies, ice cream, etc.

There are many things you can do to help create a higher quality sleep. These are 5 powerful tips that can be exactly what you need!


Did you know that stress ages you? Here is my morning routine to slow the aging process (and make you happier and more energetic!). Click the link below!

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7 Tips On How To Build Your Self-Confidence In Your Workouts Part 4 Of 8: Effortlessly Using Sleep To Increase Your Energy

“I will sleep when I am dead.” One of the favorite sayings by so many and one of the sayings that I silently lived by for way too long in my life. The concept of consistent sleep seems so trivial and unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. I mean, think about it- we, as humans, literally make a plan to lay down at night and fall asleep. Just close our eyes and do nothing for 5, 6, 10 hours, depending on what your plan is that you created. Like a machine, we “go to sleep” to recharge our batteries. It seems like such an odd concept and, on the surface, it may be challenging to wrap our heads around the importance of it for overall functioning and health. But, just as interesting of a concept of why the human was created to sleep in the first place is why it is so dang important for optimal health. See, we are like our cellphones. We turn it off, plug it into it’s power source, and, within hours, the cellphone is charged and ready to perform optimally. As that battery drains, we get warning signs that it needs to be recharged. If we ignore those signs, the cellphone runs out of battery and it can not function. If we only charge it half way, the cellphone functions for shorter periods of time. Can you see how that relates to you and sleep? Getting proper amounts of sleep and proper amounts of the right kind of sleep will make or break your day. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone with a newborn or anyone who burns the candle at both ends and works crazy amounts of hours!

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Limited sleep makes us cranky and easily stressed. It creates imbalances in our hormones and raises cortisol levels, increasing weight gain and decreasing fat-burning. It causes digestive problems and gut-related imbalances. It increases emotional and mental instabilities and promotes us to be more depressed and anxious. This is only the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more! Let’s explore a little…

  1. Lack of sleep can make you fat. Short sleep duration has been directly linked to increased weight gain and obesity in adults and children.
  2. The well rested are more likely to eat fewer calories. Hormones influence our cravings and appetite. Decreased shut eye time creates an imbalance in those hormones, therefore, those who are well rested are less likely to overeat and have insatiable appetites. This directly translates to less food cravings and less calorie intake.
  3. Sleep improves concentration and productivity. A good night’s rest increases problem solving skills and enhances memory, while poor sleep increases brain function impairment.
  4. Getting a proper amount of good sleep can maximize your athletic performance. Studies have shown that it can significantly improve speed, accuracy, reaction times, and mental well-being, therefore, you will gain more out of your workouts. This equates to more intense bouts in the gym, increased grip strength, faster cardio speeds, and increased resistance in your strength and workouts.
  5. Inadequate sleep increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. At least a whopping 15 studies have linked increased cases of heart disease and strokes to those who sleep less than 7-8 hours per night consistently.
  6. Sleep deprivation can cause pre-diabetes in health adults. Actually, it can do this in as little as 6 days. Healthy adults who push sleep to the wayside consistently are at a much greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  7. Decreased sleep equals increased depression. You got it! Studies have linked sleep quality to depression and have shown that an estimated 90% of patients with depression complain about sleep quality. This has even been shown to link to higher suicide rates. If you already have a sleeping disorder because of other health issues, poor sleeping patterns may strongly increase the depression that may already exist.
  8. Poor sleep increases inflammation within the body. Increased inflammation in the body can increase cell damage and has been linked to the onset of disease and cancer. Disease and cancers exist in an inflamed body and are often the result of inflammation and damage to the digestive tract. Poor sleep has been strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract and gut lining, therefore increasing your chances for disease and cancer.

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After reading those, I bet you are a little more motivated to get some deep, quality sleep tonight! But, what if you truly struggle to fall asleep, regardless of how badly you want to get more sleep? That can be a huge problem for a lot of people, even the healthiest of the healthy. When I am hyped up or have a lot on my mind, sleeping seems like the most challenging activity and quieting my mind— forget about it! Rest assured, there are some key practices that you can put in place that will help to calm your mind, rest your body, decrease your stress, and allow you to be more likely to fall into a deep slumber. What are they? Let’s look at a few…

  1. Prepare to have 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If it is 1 am and you know that you have to be awake by 6 am to get ready for work, then your stress levels will be more likely to increase and falling asleep will appear to be unattainable. Prepare a routine that will allow for 7-9 hours of sleep so that you can begin to wind down. 7-9 hours of deep rest is the optimal amount to reset your entire system and allow for the healing process to take hold.
  2. Create a nightly routine. A low stress, winding down routine to your evening is absolutely essential. If your system stays revved up all the way until you want to fall asleep, chances are that you will not. By incorporating a nightly routine to signal your body and brain that it is time for bed, you will begin to train yourself to naturally fall asleep. Begin your nightly wind down 1-2 hours before you actually go to bed. Try reading, listening to soothing music, taking a bath, or laughing with your kids. This is also a great time to turn down the lights and begin to allow your natural body rhythms to respond as they know how.
  3. Turn devices off 1 hour before bedtime. The blue light on devices is a killer of sleep and rest. One hour before you prepare to sleep, turn off your television, get off your phone, put away your computer, and cover up that bright alarm clock light that is like a beacon in the night. Because EMF waves from your electronic devices and your WiFi can highly impact the quality of your sleep, I would suggest decreasing their impact. I put my cellphone at least 8-10 feet from me when I sleep and turn the WiFi off in the house.
  4. Have sex. The pink elephant has entered the room- No one wants to talk about how sex is one of the best ways to decrease stress and improve feelings of calmness. But, it is! Here’s the deal— being close to someone you love and having skin to skin contact is healing and increases Oxytocin. And, having an orgasm greatly decreases your stress levels and helps to release soothing neurotransmitters to the brain that will help to calm and stimulate the pleasure center. When this happens, we can more readily access our ability to fall into a deep slumber.
  5. Warm your belly and eat soothing foods. One of my favorite night-time routines to signal my brain that it is time to sleep is by drinking a calming tea or a cup of warm coconut milk. Adding a bit of vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamon to the coconut milk is a soothing overload to the senses.  Eat some walnuts, almonds, and cashews. Not only are they heart healthy, but certain nuts are shown to increase levels of melatonin and tryptophan in the body.

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With all the chaos, noise, stimulation, and environmental disturbances in our modern world, getting quality sleep may seem to be a distant memory. It doesn’t have to be! There are simple tricks that you can take, if you dedicate the time to implementing them, that will get you on the fast track to deep sleep.

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Action Step:

Take action now! Do you get enough rest or are you running on empty? Be honest with yourself and look at your life and see how a lack of sleep is affecting your health and setting you up for future problems. Once you allow yourself to accept that “sleeping when you are dead” is not a good habit, you will be more likely to stay committed to your new change. Set a plan- that is where you start. I would start with creating a nightly plan to get yourself used to winding down and preparing to “become sleepy.” Finding the specifics that create your sleepiness and prepare your mind for a restful night. Now, share my “Shout And Share” with all your friends to help get them set up for success in their new habit!

Go to the comment section. Make a comment and let me know what you have struggled with, what you have tried, and what your action plan is. The best discussions start between like-minded friends! Share this with your friends and get more people in on the action.

Do you want to learn more? This was a just a snippet into how you can apply this to your own life. If you are craving more and need to make a change in your life right now (or even if you are scared and don’t know what to do), I am here to guide you in the right direction. Contact me at tansynr@tansyrodgers.com to learn more about what you can do to get you from where you are now to where you always dreamed you wanted to be!

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