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Can poor sleep habits make you fat?

by Nancy Maneely

Sweet Dreams Sleep Weight GainA newly published meta-analysis of sleep studies found a link between inadequate sleep and obesity.

The research, published in a special issue of The American Journal of Human Biology, explores how lack of sleep can impact appetite regulation, impair glucose metabolism and increase blood pressure.

The analysis reinforces the new thinking among experts that poor sleep habits have negative health consequences that range far beyond the occasional grumpy morning-after. In fact, improving the quality of your sleep may be the simplest way to boost your immune system, among other benefits.

When you experience that occasional sleeplessness, it’s very important to nip it in the bud before one night becomes two, then seven, and eventually – a chronic condition requiring medical intervention.

There are some simple things you can do to establish what the experts call “good sleep hygiene.” The National Sleep Foundation recommends these fundamentals for sleeping smart:

  1. Establish a regular bed and wake time.
  2. Avoid nicotine altogether, and avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
  3. Exercise regularly, but complete the workout at least three hours before bedtime.
  4. Establish a consistent, relaxing “wind-down” bedtime routine.
  5. Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet and comfortable.
  6. Discuss the appropriate way to take any sleep aid with your health-care professional.

Once you’ve established the basics, any of the following nighttime rituals may help:

  • Soft, relaxing music or relaxation CD
  • Non-stimulating reading material (in other words – a boring book!)
  • Aromatherapy eye pillow – this works to block light as well as soothe tired eyes
  • Warm aromatherapy bath with relaxing essential oil such as lavender.

Additionally, there are some herbal remedies for sleep which are time-tested and safe. These can be taken in the form of teas available at your natural health retailer … or even grown in your backyard! Valerian, lemon balm, lavender, chamomile are some examples.

Finally, you may wish to try a natural, non-prescription sleep aid. Look for these ingredients in your all natural supplement: Melatonin, GABA, L-Glycine, and 5-Hydroxytryptophan.

Sources:
Science Daily, April 17, 2012
National Sleep Foundation

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