If you’ve been stuck in a constant cycle of losing and gaining weight no matter what you do, you may be focusing on the wrong weight loss tactics. Believe it or not, your bedtime routine may be a contributing factor to your weight gain, but the good news is that by adjusting your routine slightly you can get back on track to reach your desired goal weight.
#1. Late Night Munchies
At the end of a long day, when we sit down to watch our favorite TV show, it’s hard not to reach for the popcorn. But, a study run by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania shows that eating food late at night can lead to weight gain. Not only that, but it can increase insulin and cholesterol levels, and negatively affect metabolism and hormonal markers implicated in heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
Figuring out how late is too late to eat really depends on the time that you go to sleep. A good rule of thumb, though, is to stop eating food and snacks after 6 pm, and if you absolutely must eat, stick to low-calorie foods like cucumber, celery sticks or low-cal veggies.
#2. Lack of Sleep
Life can be busy. There is so much to do during the day and not enough hours to do it in. Because of this, we often put sleep on the back-burner, but research has proven that lack of sleep is a contributing factor to weight gain.
Researchers believe that a lack of sleep alters the release of two hormones that help your body to regulate feelings of hunger. When you are lacking sleep your body will generate more ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, and less leptin, which suppresses appetite.
It is recommended that an adult gets at least seven hours of sleep per night in order to keep their appetite on track and maintain desired weight.
#3. Screen-time Before Bed
As much as we love to scroll through our Facebook feed before we go to bed, it may not be the best choice for us when it comes to our weight. Studies show that being on devices, such as phones and laptops just before bed can inhibit sleep, which, as we know, can lead to weight gain. Our devices contain blue light, and while this is good during the day because it increases attention, reaction time, and mood, these are not necessarily qualities that we want when we’re trying to fall asleep.
The blue light in devices affects our sleep pattern, and lack of sleep has been proven to contribute to weight gain, so staying off of your devices at night time may be your best bet if you’re looking to keep the pounds off.
It is recommended that you put the screens away at least two hours before bedtime in order to ensure a better sleep.
#4. Drinking Caffeine at Night
For many people, mornings and coffee go hand in hand. That’s because the caffeine in coffee helps to block molecules in the body that induce sleep. When we drink caffeine, whether it be coffee, tea, or soda, we are effectively warding off sleep, which, as we know, is linked to weight gain.
Not only that, but researchers have been able to link the consumption of chlorogenic acid, which is found in coffee, to weight gain.
So, if you’re a coffee lover, reserve your cup for the morning, and do not pour yourself a mug after dinner, if you want to keep a healthy weight.
#5. Sleeping with the Light On
If you’re a fan of sleeping with a light on, whether it be a bedside lamp, a nightlight, or even light from the hallway, you may be unknowingly contributing to weight gain. A study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that exposure to even a small amount of light increases weight and is also associated with an increase in depression.
It can sometimes be hard to combat previous habits, but if you have been sleeping with the light on, consider turning it off when it’s time for bed. Close the blinds, use blackout curtains, put your cell phone and electronics out of sight, and turn your alarm clock away.
#6. Lack of Exercise
With our busy schedules, it can sometimes be hard to fit a workout in, which is why we need to find a time to squeeze it in, no matter the hour. There are rumors going around that exercising before bed can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep, and as we learned before, less sleep is linked to increased weight. These rumors, though, are false.
The National Sleep Foundations 2013 “Sleep in America” poll found that a whopping 83% of participants who exercised at each day (at any time of day) experienced better sleep at night.
So, if you’re having a difficult time sleeping, try a calming workout, like yoga or stretching, in order to catch more of those zzz’s.
Achieving and maintaining your goal weight can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. It’s not as simple as exercising a bit more or eating a bit better. Sometimes there are factors that contribute to our weight that we didn’t even consider. Our bodies are complex, and everything that we are exposed to, or encounter, can affect it. Being aware of your daily routines, and adjusting accordingly, will help you to keep those unwanted pounds off.
*Article originally appeared at The Hearty Soul.