Here’s a pop quiz: How many hours of sleep do you need each night at a minimum?
The answer, for adults 18 years and over, is between 7 and 8 hours a day. Sleep deprivation is defined as less than 7 hours of sleep, two nights in a row. A good habit for having a solid night’s rest is sleeping between 7 and 9.5 hours per night, at times that are in rhythm with your body’s natural clock for getting sufficient rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep.
Another pop quiz: What happens to your waist when you are not getting enough good-quality sleep?
The answer, for everyone, is that not getting enough sleep leads to unwanted belly fat. When we suffer from sleep deprivation, our bodies increase the amount of cortisol (the ‘stress hormone’) in our blood. This, in turn, raises insulin levels and both cortisol and insulin are responsible for storing belly fat.
Historically, we maintained belly fat during periods of stress as a part of our ‘flight or fight’ response within our nervous system. We put stress on our body when we deny it adequate amounts of restful sleep, contributing to the ongoing storage of belly fat on our bodies.
If you want to get rid of belly fat, use these strategies and tips to get you started on a more restful and restorative night’s sleep:
- Reduce noise and distractions during the hour before your bedtime. Even reading stimulating, exciting materials in bed before you go to sleep can contribute to night-time tension and anxiety.
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule so that you are feeling sleepy when you lay down to sleep.
- If you are feeling unable to sleep, get up and write down what is worrying you so that you can sleep without anxieties running through your mind.
- Avoid alcohol within three hours of bedtime, and avoid all caffeine-containing beverages well before you turn in for the night.
- Finish all eating three hours prior to going to sleep, and do not drink more than four to eight ounces of fluid before going to bed.
- Being physically active outdoors during the day can also help you feel tired and sleep through the night.
Sleep hygiene is another important factor to great-quality sleep – including everything from the air quality in your room (try aromatherapy) to not allowing your furry, noisy pets to sleep in the bed with you.