Without proper sleep, our mission for fat loss morphs into the next installment of Mission Impossible (and Tom Cruise won't rescue us).
According to a research study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, getting less than 6.5 hours nightly resulted in the subject having a higher body fat.
A sleep poll conducted by the sleep foundation found that 43% of Americans rarely obtained a good night's sleep on the weeknights.
We know sleep is essential, yet, action doesn't follow suit. We know to cut our caffeine late at night, ease up on the booze, exercise, and eat healthy.
The problem isn't lack of willpower or knowledge--it's the lack of having a routine.
However, once you implement these five helpful and unique actions into your life on a consistent basis, your quality of sleep (and life) will immediately improve.
1. Eliminate electronics 90 minutes before bed
From the moment we wake, we check email, check our social media, and surf the internet. We're glued to our screens.
After being stimulated with electronics throughout the day and night, falling asleep isn't the easiest of tasks.
Due to the artificial blue lights emitting from our PC screens, our hormones (i.e. cortisol and melatonin) are thrown off their natural biological clocks (now it should make sense why police lights are blue--they're heightening our senses).
However, shutting off electronics 90 minutes before bed helps your hormones stay on schedule.
For the nights where you must be on the screen 90 minutes before bed, I recommend you download f.lux, which is a free software program for your computers, tablets, and phone screens where the light and brightness adjusts as the day goes along to help protect you.
2. Have a feast for dinner (with zero guilt)
You've eaten a decently sized breakfast and lunch, but now it's dinner time; instead of eating a satiating dinner, you're going to listen to your stomach grumble for the next 4 hours until it's time to sleep.
But, instead of starving yourself--reverse your eating patterns. Eat smaller portions throughout the day; when dinnertime comes around--fell free to participate in your very own personal feast (with only healthy foods of course!).
This style of eating is easier on your daily lifestyle as it does not force you to avoid carbs at the dinner table or make you feel like you have to nibble on celery at the office parties.
It may sound counter intuitive to eat carbs at night, but eating carbohydrates at night presents a couple of benefits such as promoting relaxation (which we need after work) through the release of serotonin, which helps with sleep, mood, and weight loss.
Feel free not to worry about your carbs going to the wrong places because you're eating carbs after 6pm (that rumors been debunked).
3. Construct a personal sleep cave
It's time to go to sleep, yet there's a television on, your laptop sits open and on, and your smart phone and tablet are within arm's reach.
Is it time to sleep or have you just relocated from the living room to the bedroom?
One of the easiest steps to netting optimal sleep is to set your bedroom up for success. Your bedroom has two purposes: sleep and sex.
To get started towards your sleep cave, close the blinds (make sure they're dark), leave all electronics in another room, no television, and leave your stress at the door.
A perennial snake plant (or Mother-in-Law's Tongue), is a highly recommended plant for improving air quality in your bedroom to allow for improved sleeping.
4. Have some (or lots of) sexy time
As we discussed earlier, the bedroom is only for sleep and sex. With all potential distractions removed, the quantity and quality of your sex life is likely to benefit (and who doesn't want that).
Besides being a stress relief and helping with weight loss, sex provides immense benefits for the quality of your sleep through each orgasm obtained.
An orgasm affects various hormones positively, mainly Oxytocin (aka the cuddle hormone). According to a 2003 study in the journal of regulatory peptides, oxytocin helps with sleep due to its calming effects while subsequently countering the effects of cortisol (our stress hormone)
5. Quiet your inner voices
From worries about work, relationships, our looks, our workouts, what we're going to eat tomorrow, and the tasks we have to do over the weekend--the voices in our head never shut up at times.
Excessive internal dialog is troublesome when it comes to affecting our quality of sleep.
A couple of activities to try to quiet the inner voices are meditating for as little as ten minutes, read a book (preferably fiction or an autobiography), clear your thoughts by journaling, or take a relaxing bath.
Question for you: What's the biggest hurdle preventing you from consistently getting quality sleep?
To learn more about Julian and how to build a world-class body while designing a lifestyle on your own terms, visit''The Art of Fitness and Life'and receive your free 5-day fat loss course on how to fail-proof fat loss.
Photo credit: Diogo A. Figueira