Sleep deeper for longer – every night!

Sort your sleep for good for a leaner, healthier and happier life, says New Body Plan editorial director Joe Warner

I recently posted a blog that said that if you’re serious about getting back into shape then you needed to be wary of spending too much time in front of your television – because if you’re not careful your TV can make you fat.

Today I’m writing to warn you about another household object that could derail your fat-loss efforts. It’s where your favourite at-home activity takes place – sometimes just for a few quick blissful minutes, other times for hours on end – and life wouldn’t be worth living without it.

Sweet dreams
That’s right, I’m taking about sleep. Why? Because I can’t stress enough just how important sleep is to a leaner, healthier and happier you. Yet for so many of us right now stress is what’s stopping us sleeping: 40% of people in the UK have reported sleep problems because of the stress of the COVID-19 epidemic, according to King’s College London.

And you only need to have one night of bad sleep to know how all you want to do the next day is eat junk food and lounge around, so you consume far more calories than you burn and gain weight, rather than eat well and exercise, which helps you burn more energy than you eat and get leaner, stronger and fitter.

If you did have a bad night last night try these five simple strategies to boost your energy levels without gaining weight, then use my tried-and-tested tips for sleeping soundly: doing so might just be the single-best thing you can do for you health and happiness not just today, but ever!

How I lost 10kg of fat in 8 weeks (and 7 ways how you can too!)

1 Write down your worries
As a self-confessed stress-head nothing has helped me sleep better than this tip: keep a notebook on your bedside table and before lights out write down anything that’s playing on your mind. And add a little “action note” too, if you can, on what you’ll do tomorrow to tackle the issue.

The quick and simple act of committing your concerns to paper will get them out of your head long enough for you to drift off. Then, if you wake up with worries in the night, repeat this process. It sounds too simple to work, but trust me – it might just be the breakthrough you need to start sleeping like a baby! Here’s some more advice on how to overcome stress and anxiety.

2 Cut back on caffeine
I love coffee, and there’s tons of research that proves caffeine boosts mental and physical performance. But too much of it too late in the day will impact your ability to fall asleep because caffeine has a half-life of around six hours, which means that it takes that long for half of the stimulant to leave your system.

So that double espresso that you had for a 3pm concentration boost (containing 180mg of caffeine) means that 90mg will still be working its magic at 9pm – exactly the time you want to start winding down. Try to avoid coffee, tea, energy drinks and other caffeinated beverages after 12pm so as to not affect sleep.

To find your perfect transformation plan, take the New Body quiz!
Take the New Body quiz!

3 Keep your cool
Tossing and turning all night because you’re too hot will guarantee you get out of the wrong side of bed in the morning, so keep your bedroom as cool as you can. That means using the right tog duvet for the weather, wearing light and free-moving fabrics, and allowing air to circulate. And keep your curtains closed with the windows open during the day to prevent the room getting too hot in the first place.

4 Lights out
Any kind of light can affect sleep depth and quantity so the darker your bedroom the better. That means covering up digital clocks and another other constant or flashing lights, and having blackout-style curtains to block any source of external light. If you’re still struggling for shut-eye then a simple eye mask is a great option for complete darkness to help you drift off.

5 Turn off the TV
All screens – TV, laptop or phone – emit blue light, which your brain mistakes for natural light and so prevents the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Enable “Night Time” mode on all your devices that have it, which shifts the light emitted to red end of the spectrum that doesn’t affect melatonin, and try to avoid all screens during the hour before bed, especially scrolling social media or news sites that might stress you out.

6 Back off the booze
A couple of drinks may make you feel drowsy and even help you fall asleep quickly, but don’t be fooled: your sleep quality is hugely affected by alcohol. It’s why you wake up shattered no matter how long you sleep for.

It’s because booze causes alpha waves in your brain, which are associated with periods of wakefulness and activity, so those delta waves – which are associated with periods of rest and restoration – don’t get your brain to themselves to work their magic. And if you are going to drink, try these smart booze swaps to avoid the dreaded beer belly.

To find your perfect transformation plan, take the New Body quiz!
Take the New Body quiz!

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