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Sleep and Your Weight: What’s the Link?

boy sleeping

With your late-night studying and early-morning classes, getting a good night's sleep is hard. Who has the time?

Studies show that most teens don't get the rest they need, especially on school nights. That throws off both your body and your brain. Teens need 8-10 hours a night.

Shut-eye resets your brain and lets your body's systems recharge. Missing sleep can affect your focus, mood, relationships, and even the choices you make about food and exercise. But that's not all. Lack of Zzz’s may also raise your risk of being overweight, research shows.

The bottom line: Sleep and weight are related in several ways.

1. Energy Level

It's pretty simple. When you're tired, you don't have the energy to motivate yourself to be active. And exercise helps burn off calories so you don't gain weight. To make matters worse, if you aren't active enough during the day, it's actually harder to fall asleep.

Do you see the downward spiral developing here? First, you don't get enough physical activity, which can make your weight go up. Then, not exercising makes it harder for you to sleep. And not sleeping enough makes you less likely to work out, which can lead back to weight gain.

2. Your Motivation

Being sleepy makes you cranky and less motivated. So when you're tired and in a bad mood, you're probably going to settle for the easy junk food instead of the healthy options that may take a little more effort. Or you'll sit on the couch and watch TV instead of going for a walk.

3. Eating

How you eat -- especially right before bed -- can affect how you sleep, too.

You already know that having a lot of snacks after dinner can lead to weight gain, but too much food can also keep you awake. You can get heartburn, gas, or just feel uncomfortable. And some types of food, like chocolate, which has caffeine, can keep you up.

So if you can't sleep, you aren't going to have the energy to be active during the day -- and you're back in that nasty loop we just covered.

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