9 ways to feel fitter, stronger and leaner in life’s second half. Peta Bee
Establish a regular sleep pattern
Disrupted sleep patterns are more common among women than men, particularly around menopause. According to recent YouGov Australia data, “Women appear to have more trouble falling asleep than men, with 13 per cent taking more than an hour to fall asleep, compared to seven per cent of men.” Men also appear to be getting better shut-eye, with four in 10 (41 per cent) describing their sleep as good, compared to three in 10 (33 per cent) of women, reports YouGov.
“Scientists have shown that too little sleep can disrupt our hunger and satiety mechanisms, leading to increased appetite and snacking during the day,” says nutritionist Dominique Ludwig, founder of the Renew Reset Recharge Nutrition Program. “We all know that if we feel tired, we want the quick fixes that are usually rich in sugars or refined carbohydrates – and they’re bad news for the waistline.”
Need more proof of how much sleep matters when it comes to weight loss? In 2022, Naima Covassin, a cardiovascular medicine researcher at the Mayo Clinic, showed that restricting sleep over 21 days in a group of participants resulted in them consuming more than 300 extra calories – and 17 per cent more fat – a day than when the same people were not sleep-deprived.
Their lack of sleep led to a nine per cent increase in total belly fat and an 11 per cent increase in harmful abdominal visceral fat, and catching up with recovery sleep and naps didn’t reverse these gains, at least in the short term. “Establishing a good sleep routine with regular bedtimes and not eating for at least two to three hours before bed are excellent strategies for fighting belly fat,” says Ludwig.