5. You skimp on sleep
Sleep helps you avoid extra pounds. Researchers at the University of Turin calculated that for every hour a person sleeps, their chances of becoming obese dropped by 30 percent. “A lack of sleep leads to weight gain over time,” says Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput, assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, and scientist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). Sleep is a huge factor in maintaining a healthy weight because people with a sleep deficit eat more (a lack of sleep interferes with leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite), and move less. “Lack of sleep increases fatigue so people are less likely to exercise,” he says.
The challenge: Increase your sleep quantity and quality. “Sleep between 7 and 9 hours per night,” says Dr. Chaput. To improve sleep quality, keep your bedroom cool, dark and free from TV viewing, smartphone and tablet use. Don’t smoke or consume large meals prior to bedtime, and move frequently during the day. “Active people sleep sleep better, so get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day,” says Dr. Chaput.