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FOX Medical Team

Is your bedroom making you fat?

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ATLANTA -

Having a hard time resisting a doughnut or biscuits and gravy? You may be hungry for sleep, and experts say there's a big connection between your sleep and your weight. The problem may be your bedroom.

Over the last decade, several studies have shown how you sleep dramatically affects your weight. The less sleep you get, the more you crave high fat, high sugar comfort foods.
   
Psychologist and sleep specialist Dr. Michael Breus says if you can solve your sleep issues, the weight will come off. The first place to start is to look around your bedroom for what's working and what's not working.

"Walk into your bedroom and take a look around, and how does it make you feel?" asks Dr. Breus.

If "stressed" is the answer, Breus says start rethinking your room -- focusing on your senses. First is sight.
   
"Too much light can actually make it difficult to fall asleep. So one of the things I do is I ask people to take the bedside lamp and use a 40 watt bulb instead of a 90 watt bulb," said Breus.

Next, Breus says, is to listen.
    
"We know that if it's too quiet, it's hard to fall asleep, and if it's too noisy it's hard to fall asleep," explained Breus.

If you can't stand the silence, turn on a fan or a sound machine.

"Believe it or not, ocean sounds have been shown to help people fall asleep, any type of meditation, or relaxation, like an audio relaxation can also be quite helpful," said Breus.

If the TV helps you fall asleep, Breus says leave it on.

"The caveat is you need to have a TV timer that will turn it off for you 30 minutes after you go to sleep. I find that some of my patients, if they're just quiet, in a dark room, their brain just starts going and going and going and they can't fall asleep.  So that's something that helps them," Breus said.

Next, think about your bed.
 
"And most people don't think about this, but your mattress and your sheets have a lot to do with you how sleep," said Breus.

Breus says think of your bedding as "performance equipment."

"The easiest way to ruin your mattress is to have a cheap pillow.  So I often tell people, "Don't just go out and get the $7 what-have-you. Really get a pillow that fits you and your sleep needs," said Breus.

If you're having a hard time relaxing, Breus recommends aromatherapy. He says both lavender and vanilla have been shown to help people fall asleep. You can use a lavender oil diffuser, or just put a drop or two of oil on your pillow.
     
All this month, the FOX Medical Team will be talking to Dr. Breus about how to get better sleep, how to help kids who can't sleep, and about whether taking sleep medications is okay. If you have a question about sleep, leave a comment on Beth Galvin's Facebook page!

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