Holiday season is very nearly here, and whether
you're jetting off to Corfu or Cornwall, it's likely that you'll
want to get in shape ahead of your summer break.


Expensive gym memberships and crash diets are not for
everyone, but there is a very simple solution; all you really need
to do to slim down for summer is get a good night's sleep!


Research by Silentnight and the University of Leeds
has found a direct correlation between poor sleep and higher BMI,
suggesting that making sleep a priority could be the key to
slimming down.


Silentnight's sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, says:
"When we sleep well and deeply, we wake up feeling balanced and in
alignment with ourselves.  Prioritising sleep means we are
more likely to know what choices we need to make - what food to
eat, what to drink and when and how to move.


"Not getting enough sleep forces our body into crisis
or survival mode. We start to run on adrenaline which makes us
conserve energy and store fat particularly around the middle - this
is called 'truncal thickening' -  and we start breaking down
our muscles.


"Being tired also makes us more reliant on caffeine
and refined sugars during the day and these are all substances that
will make us put on weight. Often people who have difficulty
getting to sleep delay going to bed, and then snack as a
procrastinating exercise or drink alcohol mistakenly believing it
will make them more tired; these are all excess calories that will
lead to weight gain".


Here are Dr Nerina's top tips for sleeping yourself
slim this summer:


Eat and drink to sleep


A protein-rich breakfast eaten within 30 minutes
of rising will help you produce more melatonin at night so you fall
asleep more easily. Eating foods such as chicken, cheese, tofu,
tuna, eggs, nuts, seeds and milk will also help to boost these
hormone levels. Also remember to aim to drink two litres of water
per day and stay off the caffeine.


The electronic sundown


Stay off technology 60-90 minutes before you get
into bed; your descent into deep sleep will be quicker and more
effortless. Your bedroom needs to be a personal sanctuary. Try to
switch off as soon as you leave work and never bring your work life
into the bedroom.


Stop checking the time


If you're anxious about how much sleep you're
getting, avoid checking the time. This will just make the anxiety
worse. To sleep well we almost need to let go of wanting to sleep
well. In other words, the more pressure we put on ourselves to
sleep, the less likely we are to actually fall asleep. In these
situations it might be helpful not to use the word 'sleep' but
replace it with the word 'rest'


Exercise


Regular exercise is one of the most effective
ways of reducing stress hormone levels (mainly adrenaline) thus
enabling you to sleep more deeply. This doesn't have to be a 10km
run; something as simple as a 20 minute walk outdoors is enough to
reduce your stress levels.


Early to bed


At least four nights a week, aim to be in bed by
10.30pm. You don't need to be asleep but at least resting… you
could be reading a book, listening to calming music or meditating -
but not on your phone nor your laptop. Your waistline will thank
you!