Discussions of weight loss often involve diet and exercise info. Here are healthy weight loss tips that focus instead on sleep and its role in weight.

With our go-go-go lives, we often skimp on sleep in order to squeeze everything in. "Studies show that the duration of sleep in our population has been decreasing over the last 30 years to the point where we're falling short by more than an hour a night," says Eric Ravussin, Ph.D., a professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

One recent study from Case Western Reserve University found that, on average, women who sleep for five hours or less a night are 32 percent more likely to put on pounds and 15 percent more likely to be obese than those who get at least seven hours.

Another study from Laval University in Canada shows that even more sleep is beneficial. Researchers tracked almost 750 people for 10 years and found that women who slept for six to seven hours a night were 11 pounds plumper than those who snoozed for seven to eight hours. Plus, previous studies suggest there's an association between less sleep and greater food intake. Four things you can do now to get your 40 winks tonight for a more healthy weight loss:

  • Natural weight loss tips # 1: Go to bed earlier At first it may seem hard to fall asleep before your normal time, but after about a week your body will get used to it and you should start to feel tired.
  • Natural weight loss tips # 2: Eliminate caffeine at least four hours before going to bed; it takes time for its stimulant effect to wear off. Ditto for alcohol: While it may make you feel drowsy at first, it can disrupt sleep even after it's processed and eliminated by the body.
  • Natural weight loss tips # 3: Get up and go to bed at the same time every day (even on weekends) so your sleep schedule is consistent and your body knows what to expect.
  • Natural weight loss tips # 4: Calm down before turning in Take a warm bath or listen to soft music. Most people need a two- to three-hour buffer zone to relax between the active part of their day and bedtime.