There’s so much more to weight loss than just what you eat and how much you exercise.
When I started my weight loss journey nearly 10 years ago, the first place I started was looking at my sleeping habits.
I was not sleeping nearly enough so I read a lot of articles and research on sleep and the impact on weight.
I remember reading somewhere that nearly 92% of us need at least 8 hours of sleep or more on the bell curve of 4 to 10, so I started working on getting 8 hours of sleep every night. This is not easy for a driven workaholic with 3 kids and 3 bonus girls and a husband. As you can imagine there is endless laundry, activities, cooking and cleaning and I had very high standards and expectations for myself.
First thing I had to let go of was not having everything be perfect; especially me. This was harder than it sounds. I remember the first few weeks lying awake thinking of all the things that I didn’t get done around the house and how much more work there was going to be for me the next day, which wasn’t really true. The longer I would stay up to get things done around the house, the longer it took me to do it versus if I waited to do it the next day when I was fresh and energetic.
I was often craving pick me up foods, like sugary carbs, at around three or four o’clock when I was dragging myself around feeling not so energetic and really tired. I started to notice a difference in that when I had a good night of sleep of around eight hours I was not craving those pick me up carbs anymore versus when I would only get around six hours of sleep or if I had a poor quality sleep where I tossed and turned throughout the night.
I experimented with different ways to help me go to sleep and not worry as much about what I wasn’t getting done and being able to let it go. I would have Chamomile tea about 2 hours before bed, put lavender on my pillow, no electronics an hour before bed and having all the lights off or on low about an hour before bed. Reading a book before bed sometimes helped, as well as writing in a journal what I was grateful for. I also found that going to bed earlier eliminated late night snacking. When eating supper at 6:00 pm and not going to bed until 11:00 pm or later I would feel the need to have a snack before going to bed but by going to bed at 10:00 pm I did not.
All these things really helped and contributed to my sleep. For me it was important to have options and that it didn’t have to be just one thing that helped me sleep better.
The changes were gradual. I noticed I wasn’t feeling as stressed. I was waking up feeling more energetic and refreshed, not craving the pick me up foods like I was before. I was able to make better decisions/choices because I wasn’t feeling tired and looking to hit the easy button. Approximately six months later I had lost 37 pounds! Focusing on just my sleep helped me accomplish this.
I realize now that I wasn’t in a very healthy mindset or productive place when I was tired. I felt defeated and powerless. It is a slippery slope because when you’re not feeling well, you’re not feeling replenished, you’re not feeling rejuvenated, so you just keep on spiraling down.
For me, sleep was the foundation and improving my sleep really supported me in being able to make better choices and decisions for myself.
Sherry Matheson CPCC
Certified Health & Wellness Coach