Here's an easy way to keep trim and look more beautiful: get a good night's sleep. According to several studies in humans and animals, lack of proper sleep may be associated with the release of certain hormones that can trigger overeating and weight gain. It also makes you look as haggard as you feel: in a recent Swedish study, researchers found that sleep-deprived people were perceived as less attractive in photos than people who had gotten a refreshing night of z's.
If carrots aren't your thing, here are a few sticks: data suggest that men who sleep less than 6 hours a night have four times the risk of death of those who get between 6.5 and 7.5 hours, while 17-to-24-year-olds show a 5% increase in risk of psychological distress with every hour of lost sleep. But beware: there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, at least according to the mortality data. Research shows that people who sleep more than 8 hours per night are also more likely to die early than people who sleep less.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults get an average of 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. For teens, the National Sleep Foundation recommends at least 8.5 hours a night — a quota that only 15% of adolescents meet.
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The trouble with New Year’s resolutions is keeping them. So if you’re one of the many who have preemptively given up on losing weight or exercising or saving money in 2011, here are five eminently more manageable goals that will help you feel accomplished — and happier and healthier — without the pressure.