Are you getting enough shuteye? Joni Peddie of Resilient People says that sleep can help you lose weight and look younger

This World Sleep Day (13 March 2020) is a time to re-think how sleep can boost your mental health, physical health, weight and general well-being.

“If you don’t prioritise your sleep, you are putting your health at risk,” she warns.  “Good quality sleep is the diet pill we’ve all been looking for, the ultimate wrinkle cream and the secret to longevity. And guess what? It’s free!” says Joni Peddie, CEO of Resilient People who is challenging South Africans to “catch a wake-up”.

Sleep is active

Peddie, a behavioural strategist, reminds us that sleep is not an inactive state – while we are asleep, our brain and body are busy.

Sleep repairs and heals your heart and blood vessels. According to British scientist Matthew Walker, if you’re only sleeping six hours a night (instead of the minimum of seven hours), you have a 200% increased risk of having a fatal heart attack or stroke!

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Sleep speeds up your metabolism

The proof is in the pudding – good sleep helps you burn fat and increase your metabolism at night, and regulates your appetite during the day.

While you sleep your body generates heat and speeds up your metabolism. However, too little sleep triggers a cortisol spike. This stress hormone tells your body to conserve energy while you are awake, which means your body stores more fat.

Sleep helps you eat less

The hormone ghrelin stimulates hunger, while leptin signals satiety to our brain, telling us when to stop eating. Sleeping fewer than seven hours a day causes our body to decrease leptin production and increase ghrelin levels. When we have had too little sleep, we crave foods higher in carbohydrate, fat and sugar, eat larger portions, and are less inclined to hit the gym.

Our craving for those foods is the body’s emergency plan to compensate for its fatigue. These foods will give you a burst of energy, but Peddie describes this as ‘superficial energy’, as it is short-lived and results in even lower energy levels after 30 to 45 minutes.

Sleep helps you look younger

How well you age is determined by how well you sleep.

Overnight, our skin rejuvenates itself by shedding dead skin cells which are replaced with new, healthy ones. In addition, you build collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid, the protein fibres that keep your skin looking plump, elastic and smooth.

During sleep, the blood flow to your skin also increases, which helps remove pollutants, repair damage from UV exposure, restore your complexion and give you a radiant, youthful glow. This makes sleep a multi-functional ageing tool.

5 Proven ways to sleep better

How to sleep better

Here are two of Peddie’s tip for getting a better night’s sleep: 

Exercise in the morning – Not only does regular exercise increase blood flow and help nourish and repair the skin, but it also releases cortisol from your body for a better night’s sleep.

Exercise causes the body to release endorphins, which helps us to stay awake. Even light exercise, such as walking for just 10 minutes a day, improves sleep quality. Try exercising earlier in the day, as it will keep your brain active and your body energetic for the day’s activities. It will also allow time for the endorphin levels to regulate and the brain to wind down by bedtime.  

Be mindful what you eat and drink – Your daytime eating habits play a role in how well you sleep, especially in the hours before bedtime.

Avoid caffeinated drinks for at least six hours before bedtime. Caffeine blocks the production of chemicals in the brain that tell your body to fall and stay asleep and can stay in your system for up to 12 hours.

Cutting back on or avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrate foods will help you maintain regular energy levels throughout the day, help you sleep better at night and assist with weight loss.

If you’re tempted to grab that muffin during your midday slump, drink a glass of water instead. This will suppress your appetite and help restore your skin and detox your body while you sleep.

About the author: Joni Peddie is a professional speaker, executive coach and strategic facilitator who is passionate about building awareness that sleep is the key to good health and resilience.

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Sources: Walker, M. (2017). Why We Sleep. Simon & Schuster and Breus, D. M. (2018, April 10). Here’s what really happens when you’re sleep deprived. The Sleep Doctor


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