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How can I improve my sleep to help maintain a healthy weight?

Here are some basic habits that can help everyone maintain a healthy weight and strengthen their sleep:
  • Exercise. This one’s a no-brainer. Regular physical activity will help you maintain a healthy weight. It can also improve your sleep. Research has shown that aerobic exercise can improve sleep for people with insomnia. For the most sleep-enhancing exercise routine, get moving in the morning and get outside in the sunlight. This early-in-the-day exertion and exposure to sunlight will strengthen your circadian rhythms, helping you to feel more alert during the day -- and sleepier at night. If morning exercise doesn’t fit in your schedule, find another time during the day that does. To avoid exercise interfering with winding down for sleep at night, schedule your workout no closer than four hours before bedtime.
  • Drink in moderation. Drinking alcoholic beverages comes with lots of calories, which can undermine an otherwise healthy weight-loss routine. Alcohol is also disruptive to sleep. A couple of glasses of wine may help you fall asleep faster, but in actuality the presence of alcohol your system prevents you from reaching the deepest stages of sleep, which are the most restorative. I’m not saying you have to abstain altogether, just keep things very moderate. To avoid having even a small amount of alcohol interfere with your sleep, make sure your last drink happens no closer than three hours before bedtime. And try my glass-for-glass strategy: for every alcoholic drink you consume, alternate with a glass of water.
  • Strive to be consistent. We are creatures of habit. Our bodies respond to routine. Setting regular wake times and sleep times, as well as mealtimes and times for exercise, has been shown to help improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia rates, particularly in older adults. Another place where routine matters? Bedtime. If you’re a parent, you know how much a bedtime routine can soothe, relax and prepare your child for bed and sleep. As adults, we’re no different! A nightly routine that includes time to wind down, away from television, computers, PDAs and the like, will help your body and mind relax and prepare for sleep.
Keeping your weight healthy and your sleep habits strong often isn’t about a handful of big decisions, but rather a whole series of small ones, made day after day.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.