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Your Body Takes In More Calories When You Don’t Sleep Enough, Science Says

Your Body Takes In More Calories When You Don’t Sleep Enough, Science Says

More and more people today sleep less and gain more weight than ever before. If you didn’t think there was a correlation between the two, you are wrong. Scientists confirmed that the average American eats 385 extra calories per day when they are sleep–deprived. This means that each time you deprive your body of getting enough sleep, an entire workout session goes to waste, as you add those calories the next day.

Surprising findings in the research

Together with his team, Andrew Calvin – MD, MPH and assistant professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic – conducted a research on 17 people, both men and women, ages 18 to 40 to find out how sleep deprivation affects daily calorie intake. They tracked participants’ sleeping habits to discover their average sleeping hours. Next, they placed them into two groups – one that was allowed to sleep their normal hours, and the other that slept only two-thirds of their regular sleep time.  Both groups were allowed to consume any type of food in any amount they need. After eight days, the results showed that people who were deprived of their normal sleep hours were taking extra 549 calories daily, whereas the group with more sleeping hours consumed 143 fewer calories than usual.

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Another surprising finding was that it is actually due to increased calorie intake that the levels of hormone leptin (which informs our brain that we are full) were higher, and ghrelin (a hormone that informs our brain that we are hungry) levels were lower than usual, and not the other way around as was considered before. Therefore, we cannot rely on hormone control to stop us from eating too many calories after less sleep, but it is something that can be regulated only by getting enough sleep. As Calvin says, “If you are looking to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight, I think getting adequate sleep may be very important.” Contrary to the popular belief, that the longer hours we stay awake, the more calories we burn, the research found no significant difference in activity expenditure between the two groups.

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How the vicious circle forms

This shouldn’t come as a surprise as we are all familiar with feeling drowsy and irritated after not getting a good night’s sleep. It is then no wonder that we tend to crave more fatty and sugary meals than usual as they provide artificial comfort and soothe us at least for some time. This leaves us feeling even more tired and lazy, resulting in not getting activity needed for burning extra calories. Hence, we gain weight in time, not to mention the amount of stress we are causing to ourselves, as we don’t allow our body and mind to rest and rejuvenate properly during sleep.

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Most common factors causing sleep deprivation include stress, worry and busy lifestyle. It can easily turn into a vicious cycle as we tend to feel more stressed and worried and our productivity worsens due to lack of sleep. Hours of sleep people need for proper rest wary from person to person, but it is important for everyone to respect their bodies’ needs in order to remain healthy, productive and happy.

What you should do to stop gaining weight from lack of sleep

Most people find it harmless at first to cut down on their sleep when making progress in their career but are very soon faced with the negative consequences of sleep deprivation. They tend to feel tired more often and are left with fewer productive hours of work. In order to avoid such struggle, it is highly recommended to finish all our tasks at work, or a study, strictly during working hours. Avoid consuming caffeine at least five hours prior to sleep as it robs you of quality sleep you need for next day’s professional challenges. Also, a great way to distract your mind from thinking about work is to get a white noise sound device, as it blocks out the distracting noise and provides soothing and relaxing sounds instead.

To prevent losing sleep due to worry, you should start practicing relaxing exercises before sleep. Deep breathing exercises such as yoga or meditation are extremely helpful as deep breathing provides enough oxygen, which clears our mind and calms our body.

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Ana Erkic

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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