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.

Image via Unsplash

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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4 Surprising Things That Drain Your Energy

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Sometimes it can feel like the wind has been taken right out of your sails. One moment you are flying high and the next moment, you feel like curling up on the couch with a  pint of Ben and Jerry’s tucked under you arm while you watch your favorite Netflix special. I have been there.

We all are highly participating players at one time or another in our lives. We push ourselves hard, but at the same time, we are pushed back by the impact of those that we interact with. It is a never-ending cycle of energy exchange and stressors placed on our bodies.

When I get stuck in an energy drain,  I am usually left feeling unmotivated, uninspired, exhausted, and like I have been hit by a truck.

 And it comes at the most unexpected times…

As I stood in the driveway, looking him in the eye, I could hear the hate and anger spewing out of his mouth as he complained about the woes of the world and the heaviness in his heart. I could feel the daggers being thrown into my body — one painful hit after another. He ranted and raved about the injustices and his views about politics. All I could do was stand there in silence, taking the blows of his words and feeling the drain of my energy seeping out of my body. I just wanted to escape.

All of this during a family picnic. A time for happiness. A place of laughter.

Yet here I was stuck as his negative energy vomited all over me.

As I planned my escape, all I could think of was…

“Get me to the couch, pronto!”

The energy drain is real and it can seem like every day is a game of “will I” or “won’t I” be exhausted by the end of the day. When you aren’t prepared like I was at that picnic, you can never really know how the day will turn out. There are obvious energy drains like eating unhealthy foods, finding your stress unmanageable, not getting enough sleep, and not exercising enough. But, there are many drains that you don’t even realize exist — and, that you are participating freely in!

Here are 4 things that could be draining your energy and leaving you exhausted:

Energy Drain #1: Nature Blindness

Nature is healing, even for the the non-outdoor lovers. Plants, trees, fresh air, sunshine — all can lift our spirits and calm our senses. But most of us don’t fully engage in nature to get the real benefits. To get the full benefits, you want to engage your senses. If you have a cellphone attached to your ear or you are focused on how much mileage you are tracking, you may want to reconsider how you engage your senses. The color green evokes feelings of calmness, forest dirt microbes are linked to healthy immune systems, inhaled cypress tree compounds reduce stress hormones and blood pressure and birdsong supports brain neuron health.

But it doesn’t stop there! To really achieve full wellness, get your hands and feet dirty — play in the dirt or dig in a garden. This creates a grounding effect, aka Earthing, and has researched health benefits such as neutralizing free radicals, improving sleep, decreasing stress, decreasing pain, boosting immunity, decreasing inflammation, just to name a few.

Go for a hike and listen to the birds. Get out onto a lake and kayak through the calming waters. Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the sunshine.

Feeling the sunshine against my skin, smelling the fresh breezes, and running my hands over grass or leaves or flowers brings a sense of peace and vitality. It’s an instant mood booster!

Energy Drain #2: Exercise Overload

Too much exercise could be too much of a good thing. It can drain your energy and create an imbalance in your hormones. Especially when it is not the right kind of exercise for you or it is something that you really don’t even enjoy doing. The key is to listen to your body.

When we push ourselves too hard and increase our cortisol levels, a stress hormone, that creates a state of inner body stress. If that inner stress is coupled with other forms of stress that infiltrate our daily lives, then that extra stress from too much exercise can place a deplete on other hormones — causing weight gain, fatigue, and other health issues. Excessive stress can also fatigue your adrenal glands, setting you up for some chronic fatigue issues.

Listen to your body. If your body is feeling overly fatigued, then take a yoga class, participate in some deep stretching, or even take a rest day. Your body knows what it needs.

Energy Drain #3: Negative Friends And Family

This has always been a wrecking ball on my energy, but I never really knew it until I actually KNEW it. Who you surround yourself really does make a difference to your energy levels. The best tip of advice? Seek what restores you. 

According to a study published in the journal Neurology, high levels of negativity is linked to an increased risk of dementia. Negativity increases stress in the body. Increased stress in the body increases body inflammation. And, increased body inflammation increases inflammation on the brain, which is the primary cause of dementia. The people you spend time with at home, at work and in social circles contribute to your emotional and physical health.

It is so easy to get pulled into negativity. It may feel satisfying to a certain respect because it creates a sense of community or like you are building friendships. And we all do it from time to time. But over time, it can lead to patterns of negative thinking and negative mindset. Negative mindsets create a feeling of drain and dissatisfaction — and, it can increase the inflammation in the body, zapping your energy quicker than you realize.

One of the best ways to know if you are stuck in a negative cycle is to go on vacation and see the difference in your body and attitude. Are you suddenly getting good sleep? Do you feel less tension in your body? If so, it’s important to find ways to relax and replenish positive energy!

You can not pick your family. But you can balance a negative day with something positive by listening to your favorite music, going for a walk, engaging in your favorite hobby, or chasing your cat around your house.

Energy Drain #4: Water Shortage

Dehydration is a real problem. Not only is it a problem in the moment, but it creates a slew of health concerns, all leading to energy drain. Drinking enough water is super important, but sometimes that can feel very challenging. That is when it is smart to start choosing high-water-weight foods.

When you feel thirsty, that is a sign that you are dehydrated. Catching it ahead of time can be a critical step for managing your energy levels. Since the human body is composed of about 60-65% water, you need to stay hydrated so that all your organs function properly and your body runs like a smooth machine. When it starts to wear down and get overworked, that can steal more energy from your reserves, create an imbalance in your hormones, and make you feel sluggish and fatigued.

You can determine whether you need to adjust fluid intake by how you feel, where and how you live and how much you are sweating, to name a few. For instance, if you are tired or constipated, drink more fluids or eat foods high in water content, such as watermelon, spinach, tomatoes and broth. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, as well as athletes and people living in warmer climates and at high altitudes, all need to consume more fluids than the general population. The demands are higher.

How can you tell if you aren’t getting enough? You can tell you aren’t getting enough water if your urine appears dark, you feel dizzy or lightheaded or you aren’t thinking clearly. When you feel hungry, drink a glass of water first because you may just be thirsty. Keep a refillable water bottle with you all day. And of course, drink before and after a workout.

The things you do every day to manage your energy levels matter on a greater scale — they matter to your body, mind, emotions and even longevity. These common energy drainers can wear you down, but making a few small tweaks, you can set yourself up for a lifetime of energetic wellness.

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I love inspiration through story-telling! If you liked this article, then you will love my other blogs.

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