You Snooze, You Lose

By Eric Metcalf
In fact, it is sleep. A 2004 study by researchers at Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin found that people who slept less had lower levels of the hormone leptin and higher levels of the hormone ghrelin. Leptin suppresses your appetite, making it easier for you to pass up that second piece of cake. Ghrelin, on the other hand, makes the cake irresistible.

The benefits of sleep go beyond hormone control. The fewer hours you doze, the more waking hours you have to spend overeating. And when you're sleep-deprived, it's harder to get motivated to exercise, says Helene Emsellem, M.D., director of the Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and a spokeswoman for the National Sleep Foundation. "You have to be in a good mood and optimistic to diet," she says. "You can't take it on if you're irritable, edgy, and tired."

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