Ok, so the title might sound like clickbait but it comes from real data. What if I told you that you could lose 55% more body fat with one simple strategy? And it isn’t painful, restrictive, or involving any crazy eating habits. In fact, all you’d have to do is sleep for a minimum of 8 hours, every single night.
Scientists recently completed a study where groups of people ate identical diets, moved their bodies comparably and lived in similar environments, and were told to sleep a certain number of hours per night, with their weight loss efforts tracked over time.
It turns out the subjects who slept for 8.5 hours per night improved their fat loss efforts by no less than 55% more than the 5.5 hour group. Not only is that an incredible result in terms of body shape, but it’s also an incredible indicator that your health is markedly better too.
You see, weight loss happens naturally when your body is relaxed and healthy, working efficiently, effectively absorbing all the nutrients you’re putting into it and able to easily regulate metabolism.
So, how do we get better sleep?
1. Invest in your sleeping space
Considering we spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping (and that it's so critical for our health), it makes sense to invest some money here. Here's a checklist:
- How's your mattress? Apparently mattresses should be changed every 7 to 8 years. Time for a new one?
- Do you have a comfortable pillow?
- Are your PJs, sheets and bed coverings natural fibres like cotton, linen or wool?
- Are you warm enough, or cool enough? Would a bedside fan help?
2. Limit blue light
Research shows exposure to blue light from room lights (not just devices like your phone or TV) delays feelings of sleepiness by around 90 minutes. Most of us use a light of some sort in the evenings so it’s important to think about your exposure. If you struggle with falling asleep, then it might be worth investing in a pair of blue light blocking sunglasses.
Biochemically, seeing light suppresses the hormone that makes you sleepy, so modern electricity makes it tough for us to get our Z’s. Of course TV, phones, laptops, and other devices all emit these blue lights too so it's best to shut them off at least an hour before bedtime.
3. Prioritise sleep
Society tends to celebrate anyone who can neglect sleep and pull a 120 hour week. But this is starting to change, with some high profile, successful people starting to talk about the importance of sleep for focus and productivity.
It's not just about focus and productivity, there are significant health consequences of sleep deprivation - including weight gain, links to cancer, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes (have a read of this article).
And if getting healthier isn’t enough motivation, it turns out insufficient sleep also blunts happiness hormones, which is why you often feel flat and fatigued after a bad night’s sleep - you literally have no emotional energy to churn through.
So whether it’s mental or physical health you’re trying to improve, sleep is important.