Ok – raise your hand if you get 7.5 hours of sleep every night? I know you can’t raise your hand – but I’m sure most of you are like me and rarely get anything close to that. And the holidays make that even worse – I’m going to wrap one more gift, do one more load of wash, finish decorating the cookies, or get this one last gift ordered on-line. Research does show that if you aren’t getting enough sleep you are more likely to gain weight, and by getting adequate sleep you will likely start to drop extra pounds. Web MD and many other sources tell us that those of us who are sleep deprived likely have a slower metabolism – so our body is burning fewer calories than others. Sleep deprivation may affect the way our body stores and burns carbohydrates – resulting in weight gain.
So how can we either get more sleep or a better night of sleep? Here are a few suggestions:
- Avoid caffeine 6 hours before you go to bed – caffeine is a stimulant that can impact sleep for up to 6 hours. So most of us should avoid soft drinks and another cup of coffee after about 5:00 pm.
- Avoid spicy or overly rich foods close to bed time that may cause heart burn.
- Don’t watch TV or use your lap top in your bedroom they stimulate your brain.
- Gradually move your bed-time up to get more sleep. Try going to bed 10 or 15 minutes earlier for a couple days, if you are still tired, move it up again.
- Exercise – it will make you more tired, but try to do it earlier in the day. Some people find exercise close to bed time keeps them awake.
- Try kicking your pets out of your bed for a couple nights – there is evidence to support that for some people pets in their bed make disturb sleep.
- Make sure your room is the right temperature, not too hot or cold, and outside lights or bright night-lights aren’t bothering you.
Another sleep tip – sleep loss may result in moodiness, impatience, and irritability. Who needs more of that during the busy holiday season?
Author: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.