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By Deborah Dunham for Blisstree.com

Sleep, those precious hours that often get cut short in the midst of our busy, over-scheduled, over-stressed lives could be the real culprit behind our nation’s obesity epidemic. According to new research, sleep is just as important as diet and exercise when it comes to weight loss. Here’s why.

Reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers touted the benefits of sleep and how a lack of it can contribute to our waistlines:

Chronic sleep restriction is pervasive in modern societies, and there is robust evidence supporting the role of reduced sleep as contributing to the current obesity epidemic.

Why does a lack of sleep lead to weight gain? Apparently, our hormones that regulate appetite and metabolism don’t work correctly when we don’t get enough sleep. Therefore, when we’re tired, we tend to eat more. Sugary, high-carb snacks, anyone?

Keep reading for more reasons to catch some extra zzz’s… 

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