Sleep, Fat Loss & the Importance of Creating a Bedtime Routine

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Whether you aim to improve performance in the gym, recover faster, lose weight, or increase mental health, sleep could be the missing piece in helping you improve your health.

Most of us stick to a bedtime routine religiously throughout our childhood. But, as we move into adulthood, that same routine either adjusts or is completely thrown out the window as we enter the demanding world of school, full-time work, raising families (or pets, or plants, you do you!), and other responsibilities.

Sleep is vital in weight management, mood, energy, decision-making, and happiness. Yet more often than not, it's one of the first things we sacrifice to get through our to-do list.

Today, we're tackling why sleep is so pivotal to these areas of health and providing a few tips to build a better sleep routine.


Sleep and Weight Loss

Sleep plays an imperative role in weight maintenance. There have been several studies linking getting less than seven hours of sleep per night with a higher body fat percentage [1]. 

When you don't get enough sleep, the resulting low energy causes you to move less throughout the day. This makes it much more tempting to skip your workout, and your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) also decreases. This decreases overall calorie burn throughout your day.

Lack of sleep also triggers a spike in your stress hormone, cortisol. This triggers your body to conserve energy (aka, body fat). Your hunger and fullness hormones are also impacted. Your "I'm hungry" hormone, ghrelin, increases, and your "I'm full" hormone, leptin, decreases. This is a double-whammy when it comes to hunger. When you're hungry, tired, and stressed, this is a recipe for overeating and putting on weight [2]. 


How Does Sleep Impact Mood?

Studies have shown that sleep deprivation—even one night of restlessness that decreases sleep quantity to 4-5 hours— has a direct impact on your mood [3]. Lack of sleep has a direct impact on mood-regulating hormones like cortisol, dopamine, and serotonin [4].

So, if you've ever noticed a link between sleepless nights and moodiness, or short temper, you're not alone. And, if your decreased mood has you stuck to the couch (hey, we've all been there), you likely know that it is tougher to engage in healthy habits like healthy food choices and exercise.


Sleep, Energy, Performance & Recovery

Not getting enough sleep makes you, well, sleepy! Exhaustion is one of the first things we think of when it comes to a lack of sleep and the impacts it may have on the way we feel.

Lack of energy has a direct impact on the way you perform in the gym and your drive (and ability) to push through a workout.

In terms of recovery, sleep—especially between the hours of 10 pm - 2 am—is extremely important to the release of natural Growth Hormone (GH), which aids your body in proper recovery from daily stress and exercise [5].


Tips for Creating a Successful Bedtime Routine

Below are a few things to try as you build a successful bedtime routine. All of these habits may not be possible at once—start with 1-2, then add more habits as your confidence (and sleep quality) builds. As you go, double down on practices that work best for you.

  1. Unwind early: Listen to some relaxing music, sit on the balcony, engage in conversations with the family, and definitely avoid bringing work into the home.
  2. Put on pj's or comfortable clothing upon returning home: This will help relax you and provide a sense of completion from work's daily grind.
  3. Set a non-negotiable bedtime and adhere to it: We create a habit by carrying out the underlying behaviors that are its very foundation each day. Pick a time and commit. Train your body clock. Establish the amount of sleep you feel is ideal for you, and ensure you set aside enough hours to meet this is key.
  4. Brain dump for the previous day: Spend 5-10 minutes each night, writing down a list of to-do items to ensure you hit the pillow feeling organized and in control. We want to be ready to wake up and crush the next day not tired, grumpy and hating life.
  5. Remove TV from the bedroom: Leave the TV watching for the living room and ensure your bedroom remains your peaceful sanctuary.
  6. Set out work clothes for the next day: This small task can save you a lot of last minute craziness. Take the extra 5 minutes now when you have it.
  7. Use an alarm clock not your phone: To avoid being distracted by notifications should you wake and check the time in the middle of the night.
  8. Turn the screen brightness right down on your phone. Put all electronics away and off at least 30-60 mins before your scheduled bedtime.
  9. Ensure you are hydrated but not so hydrated that you need to take three trips to the washroom during the night.
  10. Read a chapter of a book (Hard cover if possible to avoid further eye strain)
  11. Journal: Finish the day giving thanks and writing about any challenging feelings or emotions that you are currently experiencing, to enable you to reduce any unnecessary or unwanted stress.
  12. Mediate, stretching and breathing exercises: Light stretching, meditation and breathing exercises all help to calm the mind and the body, allowing us to be as relaxed as possible, when we hit the pillow.
  13. Save some carbs before bed as they tend to help you sleep and avoid having anything too high protein or fat as these take longer for the body to digest.
  14. Wear earplugs and an eye mask to block out any unwanted noise or light.

We hope these tips help you get some much-needed rest!

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Working Against Gravity was established in 2014. Our nutrition coaches work one-on-one with clients to build custom programs that fit their needs. Our goal is to help each client discover a program that makes sense for them and produces lasting results, helping them develop a positive relationship with food—and themselves—along the way.

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