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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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