Want to lose weight? Avoid Sickness? Sleep on it.

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo.  -- So you want to avoid the flu and colds, or maybe you want to lose weight.  Here's a suggestion you can sleep on.  Getting enough shuteye is a healthy New Year's goal.

One study from Carnegie Mellon University found adults who slept fewer than seven hours a night were three times more likely to catch a cold than those who got eight hours.  More sleep might even help keep the flu virus from invading your body.

"Good quality and enough sleep helps boost our immune system and makes it stronger," said Dr. Lori Noorollah, a sleep specialist at Centerpoint Medical Center.

Dr. Noorollah knows adequate sleep could also help you avoid weight gain and even help you lose.

"You feel better during the day.  You have more energy.  You're able to do more activity. You're more motivated to do things like exercise," she said.

But many of us do things that sabatoge sleep.  They include drinking coffee or soda late in the day.

"People don't realize that the half-life of caffeine is six to eight hours, so if you drink a cup of coffee at five o'clock, it's definitely still in your system when you're trying to go to bed at night," said Dr. Noorollah.

She says one alcoholic drink may be okay a few hours before bedtime, but no more than that.  Alcohol disrupts sleep, causing you to not get into the deeper stages.

The sleep specialist also suggests avoiding screen time before bedtime.  That bright light from your phone or laptop can keep you awake.

"(It) can suppress melatonin which is the signal to our body that it's time to get to sleep," she said.

So turn off early so you can turn in for the night.

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