Did you make a New Year's resolution a few weeks ago? If so, good for you! It's always a good thing to set goals for yourself. Maybe you're interested in learning a new language or trying a new experience. But most Americans' resolutions have to do with getting healthier.
People often specify this by saying they'll go to go to the gym more or lose a set number of pounds. That's all great, but it takes determination. Only 14% of resolutions are kept by people under the age of 50, and just 39% for those over 50. So if you're trying to get healthier and want to be a part of the successful resolution minority, you should think about one aspect of your life you may be neglecting: your sleep.
If you're going to plan on jogging in the morning, hitting the gym or cooking at home more, you need to factor sleep into your actionable plans.
First, let's get scientific.
If you get a poor night's sleep, you're more likely to be hungry the following day, according to studies published in The Journal of the American Medical Association and The Lancet. According to the studies, cortisol, the hormone responsible for regulating your appetite, is increased when you sleep poorly. That means you're more likely to be grabbing breakfast through a drive-thru window.
Speaking of which, your brain centers are able to better regulate comfort food cravings like fast food when you've slept well. But when you've been tossing and turning all night, you're likely to be on the hunt for something to make you feel better. And then you're still in trouble, because your leptin levels are depleted.
Leptin is in charge of letting your brain know you're full, and if he's running on low sleep, he's going to be slow on the uptake. That means that you'll be reaching for that carton of ice cream when you'd normally throw in the towel for the meal.
But then there's the practical side of things. Think about when you have a bad night's sleep and the alarm goes off early the next morning. You were supposed to go to the gym, but that snooze button looks awfully tempting.
Work, as we all know, is a lot tougher when you're yawning all the way through it. This typically means it'll take longer to complete your tasks, which means you tend to need to take longer, and any extracurricular activities like the gym go by the wayside.
Part of why we're so passionate about good sleep--and why we want to help more people get it--is because it's the foundation upon which your day is built. So if you're day has exercise and health structured around it, you need to be well rested in order to keep your brain regulated to make the best decisions for you.
So if you are committed to getting healthier this year, by all means, take the stairs, sub the fries for a salad, and crank out a few push-ups. But don't neglect the thing that so many people find expendable in their day, which is much more critical to weight loss (and overall health) than most people realize.
So get your Rip Van Winkle on, get a good night's sleep and wake up ready to tackle the day.