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Sleep and weight: Aim for eight hours


I heard on the news that the less sleep you get the more likely you are to be overweight. Is it true?

Some scientists say it's true. We've all fallen victim to the occasional midnight snack, but now there is evidence to back up the connection between sleeping less and eating more.

A University of Chicago study recently released in the Annals of Internal Medicine has linked sleep deprivation to increased levels of ghrelin, a hunger hormone, and decreased levels of leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full. If you're fighting your weight and tend to skimp on your zzz's, this news may be encouraging. After all, hitting the sack earlier is easier than wind sprints and celery diets.

Aim for eight hours of sleep a night. If you don't need that much, your body will wake up naturally before the full eight hours are up.

What can I do to cut a few pounds over the next month or two without making any drastic changes to my diet or exercise routine? I don't want to disrupt my life.

To melt away a few pounds painlessly, try these 10 tricks. You don't have to do all of them every day - just start mixing them into your routine.

1. Order a half portion at restaurants.

2. Take the stairs.

3. Substitute water for soda or juice.

4. Use milk, not cream, and a sugar substitute, not sugar.

5. Take the dog out for an extra walk.

6. Instead of grilling, poach meat and steam veggies.

7. Park at the far corner of the shopping-center lot.

8. Don't nibble while you cook.

9. Do 10 sit-ups and 10 push-ups before bed.

10. Skip dessert.

Where's a quick and easy place online to read up on new research in the fields of health and fitness?

There's no shortage of exercise and health information flying around, particularly online. But while finding information is easy, trusting random facts and figures shouldn't be. Weeding out inaccurate information and unreliable sources will be your biggest challenge. Here are five free, trustworthy sources that should lead you in the right direction:

Do you have a fitness question? You can submit questions via e-mail to, or online at, or in writing to Fitness Q&A;, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.

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