fitness

3 little known ways your sleep can affect your weight.

Image: iStock.

Forget diamonds – with today’s stressful lifestyles, sleep is the most precious gift you can give someone. While we’re all acquainted with the importance of sleep for our mental health, a lack of sleep can also have a significant impacts on our physical health, too.

According to My Sleep Coach sleep consultant Elina Winnel, your quality and quantity of sleep can have a big impact on your general health. Impacting your diet choices, metabolism and your motivation and energy levels.

1. Sleep affects your metabolism.

If you’re feeling tired or groggy, your metabolism will actually slow down in order to conserve energy and your body will crave different kinds of foods.

“When you get a good sleep, you’re less likely to reach for the quick-fix, energy-rich foods and less likely to produce the stress hormone cortisol, which can increase appetite,” explains Winnel.

2. Restless night? Your energy levels can suffer.

There’s a reason you feel refreshed and happier when you have had a decent night’s sleep; your body is quicker to store glycogen and convert it into fuel to get you through the day.

“Your body is also quicker to break down energy stores giving you a spring in your step and good cognitive function,” she says.

Takeaway point? Sleep = happiness. (Post continues after gallery.)

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 3. Sleep is the best motivation builder.

Whether it’s to wake up early and get to that class you’ve been meaning to try or getting your clothes out so you have time for a post-work run, quality sleep is the key to staying motivated.

“When you’re tired, you are much more likely to make poor food choices and far less likely to take part in physical activity and exercise. Nothing beats that great feeling you have the morning after a quality snooze and it makes it much easier to stick to your fitness routine,” says Winnel.

Sleep is the secret to staying motivated. Image via iStock.

You should aim for around seven and a half to eight and a half hours sleep a night. But it's not just about quantity - the quality of sleep is even more important.

To ensure you're getting the most out of those precious hours of shut eye, Winnel recommends exercising earlier in the day rather than at night, as exercising late will mean your body will be too alert to sleep come bedtime.

“The regular production of endorphins will help you fall asleep faster at night so you can get the ideal number of hours you need too," she says.

Put any work emails and electronics away or risk losing the ability to shift gears and slow down entirely. (Post continues after gallery.)

"Regularly practice slowing down your brainwaves by fitting relaxing activities into your schedule every day; walking, yoga, meditation - whatever works for you. It’s the key for deep, easy sleep," says Winnel.

This will also help to reduce stress, which is one of the biggest inhibitors to a good night's sleep.

The final tip to getting quality rest is to pay attention to your posture - yes, it does matter even when you're sleeping.

"It’s often tempting to curl up when hopping into bed, but this can restrict your breathing and make your nervous system believe you’re stressed. Try to keep an open posture with your shoulders back. This will make it easier to breathe deeply," she says.

What are your tips for getting to sleep?