get more sleep

A Hidden Benefit Of Working Out: Better Sleep

Woman walking

A good sweat season may boost your mental health, help you slim down and even prevent illness. Plus there’s one more benefit to add to the list: Giving you a good night’s sleep.

Even though research supports a correlation between exercise and sleep, there is no set formula for seeing the benefits. You’ll need to experiment to know what works best for your body. For busy moms, the best time for exercise is when you can fit it into your day. You may find a morning boot camp class is ideal for squeezing in fitness, while others prefer a good run during their lunch hour. Or perhaps days are too hectic and the after-work Zumba class is when you’re revved and ready to go.

One word of caution: It’s probably best not to pop in an exercise DVD right before bed. Working out so close to lights out can make you feel energized when you are trying to come down from the stress and pressure of the day. And who wants to be up until 2 a.m.? A workout can also make you hungry. That’s fine during the day when you need the calories for energy, but at night, you don’t want to overeat before sleeping because it may interrupt your zzz’s.

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

Challenge Yourself: What You Should (and Shouldn’t Do) to Get More Sleep

For the past two weeks, you’ve read about how Peggy and Tiffany are trying to get more sleep. If you’re also struggling to catch more zzzs, it’s important to know what’s beneficial–and what’s counterproductive–to achieving that.

For example, did you know that exercising after dinner won’t keep you up for hours? Or that you should never use your snooze button? Learn why, and read more ways to get better sleep here.

What’s the most interesting change you’ve made to achieve better sleep? Share in the comments below.

Tiffany, Week 14: Sleep and The Scale


Did you know that lack of sleep could be making you fat? That was a, well, wake-up call for me. I’m not getting enough sleep and I’m considered morbidly obese. I need to listen to the experts. They might know a thing or two.

As I’ve shared in the past I wasn’t the best sleeper. I would take the evening and, like millions of other women, spend way too much empty time online or watching mindless television. In this challenge I’ve learned how truly important it is to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.

Stephanie, the nutritionist we’ve been working with, sent me a link to an article about how the lack of sleep may cause obesity by affecting the brain’s ability to choose healthy foods. Which totally makes sense. I know in times past when I didn’t get enough rest I’d crave a lot more sweets and want more sugary foods to help keep me pepped up.

Same with drinking too much. You’re sluggish the next day because your body passes out but you mind doesn’t. You deprive it of the rest it needs to truly come down and get into REM sleep. Hence a hangover. I don’t know about you but when I’ve had a night of a little too much celebration, I feel tired no matter how much I’ve slept and napped. Plus then I know I want nothing to eat but food that is so bad for me.

I’m so happy to say that’s behind me. I’m sure I’ll slip here and there but rather than make bad sleeping habits a recurring theme, they will be a one off here and there. Knowing what I know now about how much better I feel when I’ve had a good night’s sleep….Why would I want to go back?

Have you ever tried getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night to see how it impacts your health? Drop me a line and let me know.

Peggy, Week 14: Couldn’t 8 Hours Be A Myth?

peggy avagliano

I believe different people need different amounts of sleep. Growing up, my siblings and I never slept in. (See my last blog about Grandma Webb.) My father, my brother and I all became doctors. We all had our children fairly young, and while we were in training or shortly after joining our respective practices, so sleeping in was never part of our adult lives either. Right now I get about 6 hours of sleep a night and I’m used to it.

But I know plenty of people, like my sister-in-law, who love to sleep in. There are, of course, individuals who need 8 or 9 hours of rest a night.

Regardless of what some studies may show, I don’t think you can make a blanket statement about how much rest we all need. Also, according to my Fitbit activity and sleep tracker, my sleep efficiency is terrific! It takes me about 3-5 minutes to fall asleep. I rarely wake during the night, and never for more than a minute. I may sleep 6 to 6.5 hours, but I must drop immediately into REM sleep.

Peter has had a few bad nights sleeping due to a knee injury, but everyone else sleeps like a log! Amanda, 15, and Christina, 20, occasionally sleep in on a weekend. They would stay in bed reading a book until 9 am.

How much rest do you think you really need each night? Post a comment and tell me!

Tiffany, Week 14: What’s Your Wind-Down Plan?


It’s week two of the Sleep Challenge and we’re trying to get as many points as we can. One way to do that is to take 30 minutes to unwind before going to bed—without the TV, iPad, computer, video games or anything electronic. What can you do? Some ways Dr. Oexman (the sleep expert who helped design the challenge) suggested for relaxing were to read a real book (not an e-reader), talk to your spouse about your day, spend the time in prayer…you get the gist.

As I mentioned in my last post, we’re also trying to get points for getting 7 or more hours of sleep per night. This was hard in the beginning because of the list of things (surfing the internet, watching TV) I like to do at night after the kids have gone to sleep and I have a moment to myself. I would oftentimes go to bed still not fully ready for bed but knowing I had to at least turn in by midnight so that I wouldn’t be so tired. I used to always think that if I stayed up late then I could have extra coffee to help keep me alert the next day. Not so much.

I have to admit, the wise Dr. Oexman knows his stuff. I still am not going to bed by 9:30 on a Friday or Saturday night. But Monday through Friday we try really hard to get to bed by 10pm at the latest so we can get in at least 7 hours of sleep and I’m shocked at how much better I feel the next day. I don’t get as sleepy as often as I used to and I know Andy loves it too. He feels so much better and with him being on his feet all day everyday he really appreciates a good night of sleep. In the past I wouldn’t go to bed with him because he liked to go to bed where I wanted to stay up. Now I know he loves it that we go to bed together and we both get a good nights rest together.

Could you give up electronics before going to sleep? No last-minute emails, online shopping or clearing off of the DVR. Give it a try tonight and post a comment and let me know how it went tomorrow.