If you’re not getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis, it may be having a negative effect not only on your energy levels but also on your waistline.

In a study of more than 68,000 women over a period of 16 years, Harvard researchers found that those who got less sleep tended to gain more weight. In fact, women who slept five hours or less a night were 32 percent more likely to gain at least 33 pounds during the study period than those who slept seven to eight hours.

Here are some tips to help you get your full dose of rejuvenating (and slimming!) sleep:

• Reduce the caffeine in your diet, and don’t drink caffeinated beverages late in the afternoon or in the evening.

• Beware of excitotoxins  that can rob you of sleep. Common excitotoxins include MSG  and aspartame (which you should already be avoiding because of their other health-harming effects).

• Go easy on the alcohol. While booze initially makes you drowsy, it interrupts your sleep cycle later.

• Shut down. If you keep a computer and/or TV on in your bedroom, the light will keep your brain waves in the “awake” state.

• Get cozy. A relaxing cup of herbal tea with chamomile and valerian helps you ease into sleep.

• Try melatonin or L-tryptophan, natural supplements that promote deep, restful sleep.

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Kelley Herring

Kelley Herring is the Founder & CEO of Healing Gourmet – a multimedia company that educates on how foods promote health and protect against disease. As a young adult, Kelley battled a debilitating health condition that went misdiagnosed by multiple doctors for more than a year. Finding no help from “modern medicine”, she turned to her own knowledge of biochemistry and her passion for health research. She soon learned that her symptoms were related to nutrition and within weeks, she charted a course back to health with nothing more than simple lifestyle changes and the power of the plate. The lessons she learned spawned the creation of Healing Gourmet. Kelley is a firm believer in vigorous exercise, moderate sun exposure and delicious, healthy, home-cooked meals. She is also the creator of Healing Gourmet’s Personalized Nutrition Software and Editor-in-Chief of the Healing Gourmet book series published by McGraw-Hill including Eat to Fight Cancer, Eat to Beat Diabetes, Eat to Lower Cholesterol and Eat to Boost Fertility.

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