Sleep has a major influence on your quality of life. Ask any new parent how their day is going and they’ll yawn in your face as a response.
Sleep is essential.
In fact, you can get so sleep deprived that you die. If sleeping is so important to our bodies that it shuts down if we don’t lay down and rest, that should give you a good idea of how far up on your priority list it deserves to be placed. Poor sleep and sleep reduction impacts your insulin levels, metabolism, immune function, appetite and performance.
That’s right, if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re much more likely to have those donuts. Probably the entire dozen. Paired with an impaired (nailed it) metabolism and poor insulin secretion, you’re in for long-term trouble.
Ever notice how much tougher it is to fall asleep during those hot summer days? Your body cools down as you sleep, so set yourself up for deep sleep and fall asleep quickly by keeping your bedroom chilly. 18° Celsius (65° F) is a good starting point. Adjust from there to your liking.
Blue light devices are not that great before going to bed. That includes your smartphone, tablet, TV, laptop, desktop computer - you name it. Blue light reduces the production of melatonin which is the hormone that makes you sleepy. There are blue light filter apps out there for almost any platform (except television sets). f.lux is one example that works for Android, Windows and Mac. With new iPhone/iPad models iOS offers a native solution to filter blue screen light. Don’t underestimate how much of a difference this makes. You can also wear blue light blocking glasses 2-3 hours before you go to bed. They are not necessarily a fashion statement, but work.
Now I know that’s not realistic for everybody every day of the week. Still, try to get as many days in where you go to bed within a 1 hour timeframe and wake up within a 1 hour timeframe. You should notice a difference after a couple of weeks of consistently doing so. This is based on your circadian rhythm. Our body loves groundhog day. Your body loves to know what happens when and how. Your body likes routine. Not convinced? Ask any musician who’s on a world tour, jetting through different time zones how they feel. It's not solely because of drug and alcohol abuse they feel like shit.
Some research out there suggests that we cycle through sleep patterns that last around 90 minutes. This may be the reason why you wake up after a long night’s sleep and still feel like crap. You woke up in the middle of a cycle. Keep an eye on how long you actually sleep. With 90 minute intervals, the following lengths would make sense for most people: 6 hours of sleep, 7.5 hours, 9 hours, 10.5 hours.
If you want something, you need a plan on how to get it. And if you lay out a plan, you have to stick to it. It’s no different when you’re trying to lose fat. In our case, your plan would consist of your calories and macros you consume on a daily basis.
But how do you stick to those numbers?
First of all understand that there are no good or bad foods.
You’re setting yourself up for failure if you apply black and white thinking to your food choices. This also invites an all or nothing approach that causes havoc in the long run. Let’s assume you have a chocolate bar and count it towards your calorie intake for the day. You track it. All good. You understand that that chocolate bar will eat up a good chunk of your available calories and macros, but since you’ve accounted for it, you’re still on track for the rest of the day. You’re not hurting your progress. But let’s assume you don’t track it because you tell yourself that the day is now lost. You decide to binge out the rest of the day on pizza and cake. This actually hurts your progress. That one little chocolate bar would not be an issue. But the rest that follows is. Because you applied an all or nothing approach.
“Either my day is perfect or I will binge on junk food” is the wrong approach long-term.
Practice good habits that fit your lifestyle and behaviour. Prepare your meals if that helps you better adhere to your diet. If certain foods “trigger” your appetite and make you eat everything in sight, don’t even buy them in the first place. If you crave something and it’s right there in the fridge, it’s highly unlikely you’re not gonna eat it. But if you’d have to drive to the store and get it it’s much more likely you pass. Another one is to not go shopping when you’re hungry. Or bring a shopping list and make each grocery shopping trip very quick and only go to the areas in the store where you find the items on your list. Keep it brief. In and out. Hmmmm, In-N-Out. These are just some examples.
In order to build successful habits remember one thing: start with something that’s stupid simple.
Then build on top of that. Tell your spouse, family and friends that you go on a fat loss diet. Explain to them what your plan is and that you’ll count your calories and macros. The better they understand the more support you’ll get. Social events are almost always attached to food. You cannot avoid these situations. So tell everybody what you’re doing and why. It will require patience but long-term it will help you out a lot to have family and friends on your side.