Grab Your Zzzzzzzs

Get too little or too much sleep and your waistline may suffer. Specifically, less than 5 hours or more than 9 hours of sleep nightly can increase the possibility of weight gain. In one study, women who had less than 6 hours of sleep or more than 9 were more prone to gaining 11 pounds compared to those sleeping 7 hours nightly.

Insufficient sleep can make you hungrier, fatigued, and less apt to move. Shortened sleep affects the hormones that control hunger. Not only are you likely to eat more, you also tend to indulge in less healthy choices. Sleep deprivation may cause stress, making the body release cortisol, a steroid that can stir hunger. People who sleep less may also consume more calories because they are simply awake longer and have more opportunity to eat.

Finally, you are left drowsy, leading to less physical activity. What’s worse, as you eat more, move less, and gain weight, you are also more apt to have sleep-disordered breathing such as sleep apnea.

Counting sheep may not work for you, but there are things you can do to get a better rest. Try to limit nighttime disturbances and distractions. One way to avoid sleep problems is to keep the television off and your smartphone out of reach. A study published this summer from the University of Houston College of Optometry found that the blue light emitted from televisions, tablets and phones can contribute to sleep dysfunction.

Ideally, sleep in a cool, noise-free environment. Try to manage your day’s stress and mentally put your worries to rest when you head to bed. Be mindful of your caffeine intake, especially after noon. And, finally, consult your doctor about any medications you take that may keep you awake. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz