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Sleep and Your Weight: What’s the Link?

3. Eating continued...

Here's more bad news: Sleep-deprived people have bigger appetites. While you're asleep, your body makes a hormone called leptin that tells you you’re full after you've eaten. A lack of shut-eye can mean too little leptin, so you feel more hungry.

Not getting enough rest also messes with another hormone that affects hunger: ghrelin. Your levels of it go up. This hormone causes your brain to think it's time to eat, so if you're really tired, you may also feel hungry.

And too little sleep can also cause you to eat high-calorie snacks and fattier foods, a recent study shows. Again, that vicious loop!

4. Physical Issues

Overweight teens often don't sleep well. Your size may make it harder for you to get comfortable, so you take longer to fall asleep.

Also, being overweight increases the chance you’ll have sleep apnea, a condition that wakes you up over and over again during the night. Even though you don't notice all that waking up, you'll still feel tired in the morning.

Why It’s Hard for Teens

In part, you can blame nature.

Puberty changes your sleep cycle -- when your body craves and needs rest. The internal clock that tells you when to sleep and when to wake up is getting reset.

Plus, melatonin, the hormone in your body that makes you feel sleepy, kicks in later at night for teens than kids or adults. That delay could possibly keep you up.

But you're not doomed to be drowsy all the time. Here are a few easy tips:

  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night, even weekends, to give you 8-10 hours of shut-eye. And as tempting as it is, avoid taking regular afternoon naps or sleeping in on weekends. That will help you stick to your schedule. If you really feel like you need a rest, take a power nap of only 15 to 20 minutes to help you recharge.
  • Wind down for an hour before bedtime. Turn off the TV, video games, computer, and cell phones. Stop texting, too. Also stop cramming for any tests. Instead, read or listen to calm music to chill you out so you can fall asleep.
  • Try not to have big meals (where you feel uncomfortably full) or heavy snacks right before bed. Avoid anything fatty or spicy that could keep your stomach working overtime. If you're going to have a snack, choose something that can help you sleep, like a glass of milk, a small bowl of cereal, or a half a sandwich.
  • Don't have caffeine after 5 p.m. It can take up to 7 hours to wear off.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet and dark. And take the TV out of your room.
  • Walk, run, play sports, or dance to your fave music every day (but not right before bed). Your goal is to get moving for 60 minutes. Exercise or physical activity during the day will help you fall asleep and snooze more soundly.

If you still can't sleep, tell your parents so they can help you or take you to a doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD, FAAP on October 28, 2014
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