Sleep is one of the best things you can do from a self care perspective but it’s also one of the areas that Brides are most likely to neglect in favour of late night wedding planning.
The recommended amount of sleep is at least eight hours a night but a lot of us are falling too short of this and it’s having a massive impact on almost every aspect of wellbeing, from our health to our weight.
You can be doing all the right things with your wedding workouts and eating healthy but unfortunately, it’s probably not going to do much to counteract the damaging effects of having a poor sleep.
Here’s a look at why getting enough sleep is so crucial for your health and wellbeing, and why diet alone can’t undo the effects of not sleeping well.
Sleep Quantity Versus Sleep Quality
As I’ve already mentioned we’re told how many hours we should be sleeping each night but in the end is it enough for us even if we can manage to achieve it?
Sleep quality is all about how well we sleep each night and is completely different to how long we sleep. It’s pretty easy to tell how long you sleep, just count the hours between when you went to bed and when you woke up. Sleep quality though can be harder to determine.
Poor sleep quality means that you’re not sleeping in line with your circadian rhythm or going through all of the important sleep phases (particularly with REM sleep).
Some of the signs that you’re having poor sleep quality can include:
- Waking up during the night
- Waking up abruptly to an alarm clock most mornings and not naturally waking up.
The Link Between Sleep and Health
What exactly happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep? Pretty much everything is affected but here are some of the more serious effects that poor sleep patterns can have on your health:
- Lower immunity. If you seem to be getting sick every other week especially in the colder months, your sleep habits could be to blame. In one study, researchers deliberately exposed people to the common cold virus to see how likely they were to go onto develop a cold. Participants who had been sleeping for less than 7 hours per night had lower immunity and were almost 3 times more likely to be impacted. Even a small sleep debt has been linked to lower immunity.
- Higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Studies have looked at the link between lack of sleep and developing heart disease and stroke and it’s a scary connection. Getting less than 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night means a higher chance of developing Coronary Heart Disease or having a stroke – and dying from it.
- Higher risk of diabetes. A sleep debt can pave the way for developing Type 2 diabetes. In this study, just a week of not sleeping well reduced insulin sensitivity and raised concerns about whether consistently sleeping badly might open the door to developing health issues linked to insulin resistance.
- Increased inflammation. Inflammation is now linked to lots of different health problems and can be increased by sleep loss.
As you can see poor sleep habits can have much more of a damaging effect than just stopping you from losing weight for your wedding.
Sleep and The Mind
You’ve no doubt heard that eating the right foods can boost your brain health but it’s not just what’s in your wedding diet that can affect your memory and concentration.
Sleep becomes an important factor too, and a lack of sleep has been shown to impair both memory and concentration. In fact, one study has suggested that even moderate sleep issues can be as damaging as alcohol in affecting performance! (ever feel like your drunk dragging yourself off to do a wedding workout?!)
The deeper stages of sleep are particularly vital when it comes to clear thinking, focus, memory and learning. This is the time when your brain does a lot of its mental ‘sorting’, such as filtering out information that isn’t really needed right now. It doesn’t sound a lot but it all adds up to better performance.
If you feel like your head is going to explode with colour themes, venue options, flowers, cakes, decor… then this is when achieving that deep sleep can help!
The Link between Sleep and Weight Gain
If you don’t sleep well, it can be a lot harder to maintain a healthy weight. The biggest problem is that it can affect your metabolism and can ruin your good intentions for eating well.
Poor Sleep has a big effect on the hormones that are linked to appetite – namely leptin and ghrelin. Leptin helps to keep your appetite in check while ghrelin does the opposite.
Ideally, you want to have more leptin and less ghrelin but if you’re not getting the desired amount of sleep it can throw the balance out and actually switches them around.
Ultimately you’re a lot more likely to overeat, even when you’re full. Plus you’ll find it harder to shift stubborn fat on your stomach, as sleep deprivation encourages fat to build up in this area in particular and what Bride out there wants to retain weight on their stomach….
How to Improve Sleep Quality
Brides, take a mental note.
I want you to try and incorporate these activities now starting tonight to help you achieve that wedding weight loss:
- Make your room as dark as possible. Pitch black (or as close to it as you can get) is best.
- Set up a bedtime routine that involves going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time each morning.
- I’m afraid to say it but switch off all electronic devices at least an hour before bed (even your phone!) to reduce the amount of ‘blue light’ you’re exposed to just before bedtime. This ‘blue light’ means your body finds it harder to produce enough of the sleep hormone, melatonin, to help you sleep well. So basically no scrolling Pinterest for wedding inspiration while you’re in bed.
If you haven’t been seeing sleep as a key part of your plan to get in shape for your wedding, it’s definitely time to change that!