You know that sleep is important to your overall health. You might also know that when you sleep your body regenerates. Hormones are released and your systems are balanced. Sleep studies have also shown that we’re much more creative and can tap into our right brain systems more readily when we’ve had a good night’s sleep.
Additionally, sleep has a significant impact on your ability to lose weight. Just getting one more hour of quality sleep each night will help you reach your health and weight loss goals more quickly – and you’ll be happier too! Why? Because sleep helps you better manage stress.
As a romance writer, who may live a relatively sedentary lifestyle, getting a little more sleep each night may help you become a better writer, lose weight, and have more energy during the day.
Let’s explore the data connecting sleep and creativity and weight loss and then dive into some tips to help you get the sleep you need.
A study conducted at The University of California, Berkley found that when testing inferences, “people who had a night’s sleep between training and testing got a startling 93% correct, whereas those who’d been busy all day only got 70%.” (Source: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20131205-how-sleep-makes-you-more-creative)
It’s also theorized that during the night as we sleep and dream, we piece together bits of information from our day. We make connections. When you wake in the morning with a brilliant idea or suddenly you know how your heroine is going to get from point A to point B, you owe that revelation in part to sleep.
There have also been several studies testing REM sleep and creativity. People were woken right after REM sleep and given problem solving tests. Those that were woken after REM did much better on the tests than those who were woken at different times in the sleep cycle or those that were tested during the day.
Over the past decade a number of quality studies have been conducted on the relationship between sleep and weight. The following are just a few of the overwhelming findings:
- A University of Chicago study found that when dieters got a good night’s rest, they doubled the amount of weight loss from fat compared to dieters who slept restlessly.
- A large study conducted at Columbia University found that people who got less than four hours of sleep were 73 percent more likely to be obese than people who got seven to nine hours a night.
- An Australian study found that there was a connection between sleep patterns and obesity among adolescents.
- A Japanese study of six-and seven-year olds found that children who slept eight to nine hours a night were twice as likely to be overweight. And children who got less than eight hours of sleep a night were three times as likely to be overweight.
It’s clear that sleep is an essential part of lifestyle and path to more creativity and improved health. However, there are still many questions about how sleep impacts your weight.
The Theories Behind the Results
Understanding that sleep impacts your weight isn’t enough but doctors and scientists are only beginning to understand the connection. Here are three likely causes of weight gain due to poor sleep.
- The Stress Factor – Hormone levels are maintained during sleep. When you don’t get enough, your body cannot respond to stress in the best manner possible. Cortisol levels can increase. When you’re feeling stressed, it’s more challenging to stick to your diet. In fact, you may actually crave foods that are bad for you.
- Ghrelin – During the night, your body also regulates hunger hormones. When you don’t get enough sleep your body reacts like you haven’t eaten much – it thinks you’re starving. Your leptin levels fall and your ghrelin levels increase. This imbalance causes you to feel hungry and to overeat.
- Hormonal Changes – Human growth hormone is also released during sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can impact your hormone levels. Disrupted hormones can cause your metabolism to slow down and actually store more fat.
7 Steps You Can Take Tonight to Improve Your Sleep
Natural health experts, doctors, and medical researchers all recommend creating sleep patterns. The human body likes routine. It responds positively when you write at the same time every day, eat at the same time every day, and sleep and wake at the same time every day.
1. Try to go to bed and wake at the same time every single day.
2. Turn off all electronics and media at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.
3. Make sure your sleeping area is free from devices that might disturb you – like your cell phone.
4. Sleep in a dark room and eliminate any external light sources with window treatments.
5. Don’t eat two hours before you go to bed.
6. Don’t drink caffeinated beverages after three in the afternoon.
7. I also recommend keeping a pen and paper beside your bed so that you can record your dreams upon waking. Dreams have inspired a few story starters and romance plots and you just never know when you’re going to wake from a fabulous dream.
Finally, consider keeping a sleep journal. Make notes about what you eat and drink on nights when you don’t get a good eight hours of sleep. If you’re particularly stressed, evaluate how that impacts your sleep as well. Your sleep and lasting health are too important. Improve your sleep, improve your creativity, and lose weight too!