Tuesday: Health and Fitness

Turn Your Lights Down Low

You don’t sleep enough, do you? No one does. Experts say we should all be getting around eight hours of solid sleep a night, which is laughable to most people (dare I say, especially women and New Yorkers, and New Yorker women, forget about it).  Most of us wear our exhaustion like a badge of honor, bragging that we slept three hours last night or explaining dramatically that it’s just “too hard to shut our brains off,” as if our brains work harder than other people’s. But what if I told you that your lack of sleep was making you gain/hold on to weight? What if I told you that sleeping more would directly affect your health and ability to become a lean, mean, sex machine? Bet you’re fully awake now.

There are plenty of reasons we don’t sleep well: stress, eating habits, work schedule, and social life. Some of them are so ingrained into our daily lives that it’s hard to imagine changing them, but a few simple changes will make all the difference in getting real, restorative shut-eye that helps your body repair itself and function better during the day. And look, it may suck to go to sleep earlier, but you’ll be thanking yourself when you’ve lost weight, feel more awake during the day, and I don’t know – live longer. So, listen up:

– Sleep in as much total darkness as you can. Our bodies crave utter darkness during sleep and the light from your computer or even the streetlights outside can effect the quality of your rest. Try to cover up or black out anything in your room that provides light.

– Keep electronic devices out of your bedroom, or at least as covered up and far away as possible.

– Don’t stay up late watching TV or stalking people on Facebook. I know this is a tough one, but really, what are you getting out of this? Do you think you’ll ever look back and say, “I wish I had stayed up later looking at pictures of my friend’s cats and babies?” These activities keep your brain wired and your body unprepared for rest, so don’t do it. Read a book or write a letter instead. You might find yourself way more productive without it.

– Don’t exercise or eat heavily a few hours before sleep. A nice healthful dinner and a good vigorous workout in the evening are great ideas, but not an hour or so before bed; your body will be working overtime on those processes rather than on what it needs to do while you sleep.

-Keep your bedroom on the cooler side; get a warm comforter if needed but a warm room will overheat and dehydrate you, compromising your sleep.

On the flip side, there are plenty of things you can do to help you relax and sleep better: a warm bath (not too hot); drink warm (decaffeinated) tea; have sex. Now, doesn’t that night sound better than staying up till 3:00 am like an Instagram-obsessed zombie? After even a couple weeks of solid, restorative sleep, you’ll notice better performance at work and at the gym; your body will respond better and may even shed those last few pounds. Let me know how it goes!


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