Parents: Weight Won’t Budge? Get Your Zzz’s
By JJ Virgin
You seem to be doing everything right: exercising regularly, eating three lean, clean meals per day, drinking water instead of soda or coffee. How come you still haven’t shed those extra pounds?
Sleep may be the culprit. More specifically, lack of sleep.
Many people are chronically sleep-deprived and don’t even realize it because they’ve been living that way for so long! However, numerous studies confirm the importance of quality sleep as part of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, people who get five hours of sleep per night are 50% more like to be obese. Those who get six hours are 23% more likely to be obese.
Sleep is especially important when you’re exercising because that’s when your body repairs and rebuilds muscle. Just one night of poor sleep can make you hungrier, more stressed, better at storing fat, and worse at burning it off.
This is why I urge you to get a solid seven to nine hours of sleep per night if at all possible. Yes, I’m a mother myself, and I get that sleepless nights or intermittent sleep is sometimes part of being a parent.
But quality sleep will improve your mood, your mental acuity, and your overall health, which can make you a better, more patient parent. If you can fit in a catnap in the afternoon after lunch between 1 and 3 pm, studies show that you wake up and have the same mental acuity that you did first thing in the morning. Ideally, your nap would last at least 20 minutes, but no longer than 2 hours, so rest up while your little one does.
Another sleep strategy is to trade off with your partner. One night you get up when baby cries, and the next night it’s his responsibility. Then on weekends, you get one day to sleep in and he gets the other day.
Other sleep saboteurs include caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes. Nicotine mimics the effects of adrenaline, keeping you from falling asleep. There are plenty of other health hazards of smoking, so make quitting a priority if you smoke.
It’s sometimes challenging as a parent to get enough sleep, but it’s necessary for health and weight loss.