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Sleep More, Weigh Less: the link Between Sleep and Weight Loss

Sleep and weight loss: 12 Sleep Secrets That Can Help You Lose Weight continued...

Hold the caffeine. A morning cup of joe? No problem. But you may want to avoid the stuff before you hit the sack. Caffeine is a stimulant, temporarily increasing adrenaline production and blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain. For the average non-smoking adult, caffeine's effects last about 5 to 7 hours, says Hyla Cass, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine, and author of 8 Weeks to Vibrant Health: A Woman's Take-Charge Program to Correct Imbalances, Reclaim Energy, and Restore Well-Being, so if you have trouble snoozing, skip the late-afternoon or evening brew. Smokers and children both metabolize caffeine more quickly, she says, but be extra alert if you're pregnant or on the pill -- women on the pill take up to 13 hours to metabolize caffeine, while pregnant women can take up to 18 to 20 hours! And don't be fooled into thinking that coffee is the only culprit. Chocolate, tea, soda, and some painkillers and cough medications can contain enough caffeine to keep you up at night as well.

Disconnect. A Belgian study found that subjects who spent more time watching TV, playing computer games, and using the internet got less sleep and felt more fatigued. The advent of cable TV and the Internet made it hard to find time to sleep, says Patel. Now there are other things to do at midnight and 1 a.m. To counteract this effect, get into the habit of tuning out at the same time every night, saving the last half hour before bed for relaxing activities like light reading, stretching, or writing in a journal.

Keep your cool. For the best sleep possible, the National Sleep Foundation recommends a slightly cool room -- it matches the temperature drop that occurs inside our bodies while we sleep. You may want to experiment, though, as the optimal temperature varies from person to person, Epstein says.

Clear the decks. If stress or worry keeps your mind racing when you should be relaxing, take a sheet of paper and write down your thoughts, Epstein says. You'll be better able to deal with your problems after your mind and body have had time to rest. "Try to develop a pre-sleep routine that marks bedtime as the end of the day," he says -- a warm bath, for example, or a relaxing stretching or meditation session.

Stay serene. If time is ticking and you're still awake, keep calm and relocate to another room. Lying in bed fretting about being awake will make your bedroom a stressful place, Epstein says. Do something relaxing like reading or listening to quiet music. (Whatever you do, don't turn on the computer!) Before you know it, you'll be stumbling back to bed, and slipping off to sleep -- bringing you one step closer to your weight loss goal.

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Reviewed on January 01, 2007

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