Ever wondered why you can’t drop that last 10 pounds?

A new study from Oregon has found that study participants who had the most trouble dropping 10 pounds on a weight loss program were so stressed or depressed that they slept less than six hours or more than eight hours a night.

You might not have thought that the amount of sleep you get, as well as how you manage your stress, contributes to weight loss or gain but it does!

Earlier research has suggested that appetite-regulating hormones are affected by sleep and that sleep deprivation could lead to weight gain. In fact recent studies have shown that people who sleep five hours or less per night have higher levels of ghrelin – a hormone that stimulates hunger – and lower levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin than those who sleep eight hours per night.

Sleeping disorders are rampant in this country and come from all kinds of stress generated by work, school, social demands and personal problems. Technology also interferes with normal sleep patterns. We are constantly on our laptops, have our TV’s on or walk around with blackberry’s in our hands, and even take them to bed!

So what does this research tell us? Reducing stress and improving sleep may be the first step to weight control. Here are my steps to find a more restful night’s sleep.

1: Set a sleep schedule. Go to bed and rise at the same time for 6 weeks; long enough to create a new routine.

2: Turn off all electronics 2 hours before bed. This will allow both your body and mind a break and a chance to truly unwind.

3: Stop drinking caffeine or at the least cut it off before lunchtime. Caffeine keeps you stimulated and awake much longer than you may realize. Caffeine enters the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine and can have a stimulating effect as soon as 15 minutes after it is consumed. Once in the body, caffeine will persist for several hours. Did you know it takes about 6 hours for one half of the caffeine to be eliminated from our bodies? Cutting it completely out of your diet allows your body to become tired naturally and to awaken, naturally.

4: Create a restful sleep environment. Light candles, play soft and soothing music or run a warm bath. True, peace allows our bodies and minds to be still and prepare for sleep.

5: Stop all liquids a few hours before bed. People often complain that they are unable to fall asleep because they have to use the restroom. Yet, they don’t realize it may be from drinking that 32 ounce glass of juice before bed! If you cut off drinking right before bed, you may find you don’t awaken during the night.

Sleep is vital for our health and wellness and can be something we look forward to. We must take it seriously though, and do what it takes to create a good and restful night’s sleep.

Sweet dreams!

Heather McCoy, Holistic Health Coach

Email: hmholistic@gmail.com

Website: www.wellnesswithincounseling.com