You may already know that those who get inadequate sleep—whether they aren’t logging enough hours or are tossing and turning due to ambient light and noise—are more prone to put on a few extra pounds. A new study reveals one of the mechanisms that may be causing the weight gain.

Sleep is critical to your circadian rhythm (your body’s cycle of hormones, energy, eating, etc.). When the circadian rhythm is disrupted—you switch time zones, you don’t sleep enough—those processes get messed up, and you become tired in the middle of the day, groggy, hungry at the wrong times, etc. And according to the new study, it also messes with the reward centers in your brain.

People who suffer from insomnia are more prone to make unhealthy eating decisions, hence the stereotype of raiding the kitchen for dessert in the middle of the night. This contributes to weight problems that people who aren’t rested may have.

Here’s a list of natural sleep aids to help overcome insomnia, and subsequent side effects like weight gain:

-Minimize light. If your windows are letting in street light, a safety light, or anything else, invest in blackout curtains. Within your home, use motion activated lights to avoid tripping rather than leaving lights on, and try not to fall asleep with the TV on (use a sleep timer).
-Minimize sound. White noise is okay if it helps you sleep, but other noises can interfere with your dreams, making them more intense, and your sleep potentially less restful.
-Make sure your nutrition is adequate, during the day, and before bed. Natural sleep aids in the form of a mineral supplement can make sure that your brain is getting all the support it needs to refresh itself.
-Avoid “unnatural” sleep aids. While they may give you long, dreamless sleep, they often prevent the brain from resting, causing a long list of side-effects including sleep walking.
-Set aside enough time to sleep as often as possible—and remember, it’s ok to nap! 20 minutes is optimal to not feel groggy, otherwise give yourself two hours of sleep (not including the time it takes to fall asleep) to avoid waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle.
-Finally, consider meditating or “clearing your mind” before bed. A new study finds that insomnia, even in adults, can be caused by things that go bump in the night (although it may be a potential intruder rather than the boogeyman that’s bothering you!). Relaxing and making sure that distractions will be minimal s the best way to fight this problem.

What are your natural sleep aids for getting adequate rest?


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