Why Your Workout Plan for Weight Loss Should Include Sleep

woman sleeping

There are many elements to a workout plan for weight loss or for any kind of goal you want to crush. Sure, you’ve got the exercise portion, and you know that healthy eating is a biggie. But are you getting enough shut-eye, too? Turns out, sleep is an important part of being fit, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.  

When you relax and sleep, your body lowers its cortisol levels. Why does that matter? Because cortisol is the hormone that makes you super stressed, and it’s also the one that’s been linked to belly fat and overall weight gain. Stress also tends to make it harder to stick to nutrition goals and get your butt in the gym. Kick up your workout plan for weight loss with these sleep-happy tactics.

Wake up and go to bed at the same time … even on the weekends.

Although sleeping in can feel fabulous, many sleep experts warn against overdoing it. You can’t “catch up” on lost sleep during the week by snuggling in until brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Instead, uneven sleep times can make it tougher to fall asleep and get quality zzzs.

Go to bed early.

We know, we know: Those late-night comedy shows are killing it right now. But put that DVR to work or catch them the next day online. Sleep research has suggested that early bedtimes — before 10 p.m. — can be helpful in establishing a healthy sleep routine.

Put. Down. Your. Phone. At least right before bed.

Electronic devices emit something called blue light — that’s what makes your smartphone or iPad “glow” from within. Research has suggested this kind of light negatively affects melatonin, the hormone that sends you into sleepy time. When that happens it’s harder to fall asleep when you finally do put the device away. If you really need to use one, dim the brightness or use a program to filter the blue light. But the best strategy is to wind down at bedtime with a good, old-fashioned book instead.

Create a bedtime ritual.

Sometimes routine can be a beautiful thing. When you go through consistent motions to get ready for bed, you create triggers in your mind that it’s time for shut-eye. That makes it much easier to fall asleep and stay that way until morning. About an hour or a half-hour before bed, begin getting ready by dimming the lights and turning down the thermostat (most people sleep better when the room is cooler). If your brain is super busy, try jotting down three things that made you feel grateful during the day or create your to-do list for tomorrow so it won’t be pinging through your head when you’re trying to fall asleep.

Get those zzzs

When you’re putting together a workout plan for weight loss or other goals, make sure that sleep is a must-have, not a luxury. When you relax and sleep, all kinds of good things happen. You feel more refreshed, your energy levels are steady, and you tend to make good eating and workout choices. Skip the late-night Netflix binge and grab some dreamtime instead.