Dr. Erika Schwartz, M.D., is a leading national expert in wellness, disease prevention, and bioidentical hormone therapies. Dr. Schwartz has written four best-selling books, testified before Congress, hosted her own PBS special on bioidentical hormones, and is a frequent guest on network TV shows.

Dr. Erika Schwartz, M.D

Big Gains With Small Changes: Sleep and Exercise

Friday, 07 Feb 2014 04:46 PM

By Dr. Schwartz

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Since entering perimenopause or menopause, it’s likely that sleep is no longer your friend. You probably struggle with getting enough, but increasing the amount of sleep you get is critical to weight loss.
 
Sleep deprivation disrupts hormone function, leading to unwanted pounds. So here are some tips that have helped my patients and me fall and stay asleep.
 
•    Go to bed a half hour earlier every evening until you’re in bed eight to nine hours a night.
 
•    Don’t drink alcohol before bedtime; it will make you wake up early.
 
•    Banish all technological devices and work-related items from the bedroom. Your TV, cellphone, and      computer make for bad dreams, not restful sleep.
 
•    Take a sleep supporting supplement like melatonin or valerian.
 
•    Don’t eat or exercise two hours before turning in — these activities will keep you awake.
 
•    Once you lie in bed, close your eyes and take three deep breaths into your chest and belly, hold for the count of 5 and let the breaths out to the count of 5.
 
Doing this will relax you and switch your body to parasympathetic tone, which helps you get restful sleep.
 
If you aren’t exercising now, start slowly and do things that work for you. Doing simple sit-ups every morning is a great start; just be careful not to strain your neck. Begin with 10 and work your way up to 50.
 
Also consider fast walking, running, swimming, pilates, yoga, or spinning. What you choose to do is up to you — don’t be intimidated or bullied into doing anything you don’t want to do. Just make sure you move.
 
If you have a sedentary life or job, get up every hour and move. Walk around the desk, the room, the house, the block. Park as far away as possible from your destination and never take the elevator.
 
You will see tremendous results with minimal changes.

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