Whether you’re pledging to get to the gym more or promising to drink less, the key to sticking to your goals this year is making sure you get enough sleep. It may sound counterproductive to hit the hay when you’re working toward new goals, but research has found that getting quality shut-eye can help you stick to your resolutions. We’ve partnered with Sleep Number to better understand why sleep is so important for achieving goals. And we’ve called on sleep expert and co-author of “The Art of Falling Asleep,” Dave Gibson, for tips on how to stay on track. So read on to discover legit reasons why you should be spending more time in bed.
If you’re feeling tired, you might find yourself reaching for more sweets and carbs instead of healthy foods like fruits and veggies. Getting the right amount of sleep can help you make healthier decisions in the kitchen.
As Gibson told HuffPost, “When you lack sleep you crave sugary sweet foods, carbs and salty snacks. They are pleasure foods. We don’t tend to go for fatty foods and proteins because they aren’t rewarding. Basically, you are pleasure eating as a stimulus.”
“If you don’t sleep, you will get a reduced level of leptin, which is the hormone that will tell you you are full; and you get an increased level of ghrelin, which tells you when you are hungry,” said Gibson. “So you are removing the ‘I am full’ signal and adding the ‘I am hungry’ signal. As a result, you don’t feel satisfied by food.”
If you are struggling to lose weight, it might have to do with your sleep schedule. As Gibson explained, when you lack sleep, you also tend not to lose body fat.
“When you don’t get enough sleep, your body thinks you are in crisis, so it thinks, ‘Wait a minute, I better hang on to the thing that gives me my energy,’ which is my body fat, so it is holding on to the thing you want to get rid of,” Gibson added.
You may be tempted to cut your sleep short to get to the gym, but those extra Zs could be key to getting the most out of your workout.
“Athletes like Usain Bolt always nap before going for a run,” said Gibson. “Sleep will improve your motor skills. So if you don’t sleep, you literally don’t function as well on a physical level. If you get less than six hours of sleep, you’ll have a decrease in muscle strength and aerobic output. The more you sleep, the better you will exercise and the more you exercise, the better you will sleep — it’s a nice cycle.”
In order to reach your goals through sleep, Gibson recommends getting around eight hours of sleep a night. To make sure you are consistently getting enough sleep, he also suggests sticking to a sleep schedule and keeping phones out of the bedroom.
“The main thing with sleep is regularity. It is not just about the quantity, but the fact that you go for it every day at the same time,” said Gibson. “You should be getting around seven and a half hours of sleep — it varies per person, but don’t ever dip below six.”
Quality sleep will help you reach your goals in 2018 and beyond. Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal health and performance. Because everyone’s sleep needs are different, Sleep Number® beds adjust to your ideal level of firmness, comfort and support. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night’s sleep.