WOULDN'T it be great if weight loss was so straight forward that you could even do it in your sleep?
Well, it kind of is.
For most of us, the thought of shedding body fat is a daunting one with complicated diets and exercises needed to achieve the end goal.
But it doesn't have to be that hard – it's simply a matter of re-balancing our lifestyles.
Sleep really does affect weight loss
We tend to store a lot of fat around our middles if we're exposed to high and prolonged periods of stress.
Stress comes in many different forms but the effect on our metabolisms is basically the same.
If you're disproportionately storing more fat around your lower belly, then you need to start thinking about reducing your stress levels and getting a good night's sleep.
Pre-bed tea time
An easy way to start improving the quality of your sleep and boosting your weight loss is by drinking a cup of tea before bed.
We're not talking about the kinds of dubious diet teas that promise to help you shed a stone in a week.
And we're not talking caffeine rich builders, which could keep you up at night.
Instead, try these herbal teas to satisfy sweet cravings, calm the mind and prepare the body for rest…
Cinnamon has tonnes of health benefits.
It's naturally anti-inflammatory, meaning that it'll help you de-bloat and reduce your overall physical stress load.
It's also said to increase insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar – both of which are vital for losing weight.
The spice is also thought to boost metabolism because your body uses more energy to process it.
"Though it has a slight metabolism/thermogenic effect, it is more about balancing blood sugar and insulin resistance, which in turn aids weight loss and can lessen food cravings," nutritionist Helen Bond told The Sun.
"Again, this does not replace the need for dietary changes. A far better way of balancing blood sugar and insulin resistance is to follow a sugar-free, low-carbohydrate diet."
Dr Sally Norton told The Sun that cinnamon can be added to desserts or hot drinks as a healthy alternative to sugar, as it can have a subtle sweetness.
So if you want something sweet after dinner, a cup of cinnamon tea might be the ideal solution.
Try Pukka Three Cinnamon tea, £2.50, Waitrose
Chamomile is probably the best known "sleepy tea".
The Romans, Greeks and Egyptians all used the herb as a dressing for wounds to help them heal quicker.
Nowadays, it's known to help soothe muscle spasms, which makes it the perfect post-meal drink.
It can help to relieve belly cramps, IBS, indigestion and gas.
And it's also been used for centuries as a sleep aid, thanks to healing ingredients like apigenin and bisabolol.
Sip on Clipper Chamomile Tea, £1.39, Holland & Barrett
Feeling tired and groggy inevitably leads to snacking through the day or reaching for calorific foods.
But peppermint tea has been found to awaken the senses in a variety of ways.
It relieves tension headaches, clogged sinuses, improves energy, and may improve sleep.
And it might help to aid weight loss.
A small study got 13 people to take a peppermint oil capsule each.
Scientists found that this reduced appetite compared to not taking peppermint oil.
But it may just be that it's a really satisfying tea that leaves you feeling really refreshed and less likely to snack.
Get yourself a box of Twinings Infusion Pure Peppermint, £1.70, Tesco
Roobios is a South African tea made from the fermented tea leaves of the Aspalathus linearis shrub.
Sweet and earthy, it includes plant chemicals which have been directly linked to combatting obesity.
A 2014 study found that the tea may speed up weight loss by increasing levels of leptin – our appetite hormone.
It's the stuff that tells the body we've had enough food.
We love Tick Tock Rooibos Tea, £2,15, Sainsbury's
This stuff is traditionally drunk black and has actually been directly linked to weight loss.
A 2016 study found that the fat-burning effect of daily tea drinking helped 59 overweight or obese people to reduce their BMI and shift a significant amount of weight.
In just four weeks, they were found to have cut fat from their arms, legs and bellies.
And they also reported having a smaller appetite after drinking the stuff.
Have a go with Dragonfly Skinny Dragon Pu'Er tea, £1.87, Waitrose
Lack of sleep = stress
Laurence Fountain, PT and founder of Salus London, previously told The Sun that "cortisol is going to interfere with different hormonal effects".
"Firstly, it’s going to interfere with your thyroid – meaning it’s going to be very hard to burn fat when your cortisol is high. In fact, you’re going to be more likely to burn muscle."
And secondly, "too much cortisol can also lead to an over-stimulation of the brain during sleep causing an increase of ghrelin – the hunger hormone, which is going to make it impossible for you to control your appetite and stay away from simple sugars and high-fat foods."
Weight loss more likely after 8 hours
A 2011 study found that people who slept between six and eight hours a night had a greater chance of achieving their weight-loss goal than those who slept less or more.
It also found that lower stress levels were associated with greater success at weight loss, particularly when combined with between six and eight hours of sleep.
Sleep has all kinds of miraculous effects on our bodies.
It can help us fight cravings and stabilise our insulin levels.
Excess insulin makes you more hungry and tells the body to store more calories as fat – so you want to make sure that you're as insulin sensitive as possible.
One study forced 11 men to have only four hours of sleep for six nights. After this, their bodies' ability to lower blood sugar levels decreased by 40 per cent.
Poor sleep also slows down your metabolism, increases your calorie intake and increases your appetite.
So anything we can do to promote a much better sleep is going to result in greater fat burning ability.
Work on an 80:20 approach
Don't think that drinking tea is going undo eating badly and doing no exercise.
Think of tea as the cherry on top of a cake that you've been building with good lifestyle habits.
No one is saying that you have to ditch the evening wine altogether.
But if you want to lose weight, you're probably best off trying to minimise the amount you drink and saving it for those weekend nights.
Try to drink tea five nights a week and then treat yourself on Fridays and Saturdays when you can catch up on sleep the next morning.
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