Weight Loss Tip – Get sufficient sleep to lose weight

If you want to lose weight, get enough sleep. Sleep is crucial for weight loss as it allows you to perform physical activities properly and improves metabolism. Sleep also significantly affects the hormones of your body that influence your appetite. When you do not get enough sleep, the
hormone, ghrehlin, can enhance your appetite leading to weight gain. It has also been observed that sleep-deprived people crave for sugary and junk foods and even experience tiredness, dizziness and lack of concentration.

Further, people who work for late night shifts or have irregular sleep patterns have been found more prone to obesity and diabetes. You can follow this weight loss diet by expert dietician.

Sleep for at least 7-8 hours in a day is a must as a proper sleep will make you feel energetic and put a check on cravings for high-calorie food, hence preventing you from being a victim of obesity. Avoid eating anything before going to bed as it may interfere with your sleep. Also avoid watching the television before sleep as you may face difficulty in getting sleeping.  Combining sleep with thirty minutes of exercise and a balanced diet can set you on the path of better health and slimmer waistline.

Source: the health site

7 scientific reasons why lack of sleep can be bad for you

Nothing in the world can beat the pleasure derived from sound sleep. Yet, with today’s modern culture, people have trained their bodies to the condition of sleep deprivation. Sleep is essential for the body to restore and regenerate its systems so that you function optimally during the day. Naturally, sleeping for less number of hours in the long run will damage your entire body, with serious effects on the nervous system, circulatory system, immune system, digestive system and reproductive system. Here are some detrimental effects of lack of sleep on the body you must know.

Lowers brain function: When you’re sleeping, your brain goes through phases of  sleep cycle. This gives enough time for busy neurons, relaying signals throughout the day, to form new pathways and reprogram themselves to deal with activities for the next morning. When you don’t sleep, you force your brain to overwork, leaving it completely exhausted. As a result, you’re unable to perform simple tasks the next day. It interferes with your level of alertness and affects your focus and concentration.

Studies have shown that those who are well rested have higher activity in the temporal lobe of the cerebral cortex, responsible for speech. Those who are sleep deprived have least activity in this region, which is why they are unable to process language. Neither do they understand or process what’s being said nor can they speak or express properly. The part of the brain responsible with decision making skills also gets affected. Because the neurons are not rested well, the brain’s response time to a situation gets delayed. That’s why sleep deprived people cannot make quick logical decisions or execute a plan properly.

Makes you fat: Your brain is responsible for regulation of a lot of cycles involving release of hormones and initialisation of pathways. Imagine, if the
neurons themselves are not working properly how will they regulate these pathways? One of the cycles that the brain regulates is the hunger cycle.

Ideally, lack of energy (in the form of food) signals the brain to induce hunger and when the body is provided with energy, the brain is signalled to induce a feeling of fullness. Two key hormones –leptin and ghrelin –play an important role in this cycle. When ghrelin is released in high levels and the level of leptin is low, the brain signals a feeling of hunger. When the levels are reversed, a feeling of fullness is induced.

Lack of sleep over a few nights raises the levels ghrelin, which constantly signals you that you’re hungry. Further, scientists suggest that lack of sleep
manipulates the levels of these hormones such that it triggers cravings for calorie-rich foods, leading to obesity. Studies also suggest that poor sleep
interferes with the body’s ability to metabolise sugar

Increases risk of depression: There’s a reason why you tend to feel positive and happy in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Signals for all negative thoughts originate and are processed by a small part of brain called the amygdala, while all positive thoughts are generated in the region called
hippocampus. When you don’t sleep properly at night, the activity in the hippocampus gets affected with minor or least impact on the amygdala. Therefore, during the daytime your brain just cannot retrieve pleasant or happy memories. Since amygdala is functional, thoughts originated from there mask everything else, making you depressed.

Can lead to heart disease: Lack of sleep affects the circulatory system in a very different way. When you don’t rest for a day or two, you exert stress on all organs of your body. As a result the fight-or-flight response for stress gets triggered. If you continue to exert yourself, this response does not get switched off. As a result, the level of stress hormones in the blood increases. These hormones can wreck a havoc in your circulatory system. They can increase blood pressure, damage the walls of the arteries, affect the heart rate and cause blockages in the blood vessels.

Lowers immunity: Sleeping is the time utilised by the immune system to produce antibodies, increase the number of fighting cells and cytokines in the blood. Naturally, when you don’t sleep these activities get hampered. If the number of white blood cells decreases, you’ll be susceptible to a lot of common infections and will fall sick more often. Prolonged sleep deprivation has also been linked with death, caused due to severely weakened immune system. One study states that those who sleep less than four hours daily have three times greater chances of
dying within six years

Increases risk of accidents: The fact that different parts of the brain rest during different stages of the sleep cycle indicates that you just cannot afford
to sleep for less number of hours. If a particular part of the brain doesn’t get rest for a long time, it will soon begin to shut down itself, inducing
microsleep. In this stage, a person may remain awake with eyes wide open but the brain goes into delta phase for rest. It is in this phase that a person is the most susceptible to accidents and injuries.

Lowers sexual desires: If you still need a stronger reason to sleep well, this one would probably work. Lack of sleep can literally kill sexual desires, in both men and women. You’ll feel more sluggish, tired and fatigued. You won’t have enough strength and will feel low. Lack of sleep can lower the levels of
testosterone, affecting sperm quality and reproduction in men, while in women it can affect orgasms, leading to general loss of interest in sex

Source: The health site

12 Unexpected Things that Mess With Your Memory

12 Unexpected Things that Mess With Your Memory

Surprising memory stealers

You regularly ransack the house to find your keys. You suddenly can’t recall the name of your kid’s teacher. You made your six-month dentist appointment three months late. Sound familiar? Fear not: most forgetfulness isn’t anything serious, says Majid Fotuhi, MD, PhD, founder and chief medical officer of NeurExpand Brain Center in Luterville, MD and co-author of The Memory Cure. Lack of sleep, certain medications, and even stress can impact your memory. “Fortunately, your brain is malleable, meaning it changes and improves,” says Dr. Fotuhi. “Memory can be boosted with simple powerful interventions.” Here are surprising things that impact your memory in both good and not-so-good ways.

A dysfunctional thyroid
When your thyroid’s out of whack, you may feel too hot, too cold, anxious, depressed—and your memory may also be lagging. “Although the thyroid doesn’t have a specific role in the brain, memory loss is the one thing a person notices when it stops functioning normally,” says Dr. Fotuhi. A butterfly-shaped gland that sits along the front of your windpipe, the thyroid reigns over almost all your body’s metabolic processes. “People with high or low thyroid levels—which are very common in women—may have difficulty with memory and concentration,” he says. Ask your doctor for a simple thyroid test to determine if it’s the culprit behind your memory problems.

Hot flashes
Every time hot flashes make you you feel like sticking your head in the freezer, you may also feel a fog rolling into your brain. “The more hot flashes a woman experiences during menopause, the worse her ability to remember names and stories,” says Dr. Fotuhi. “Fortunately, hot flashes don’t damage the brain in any way. Memory improves once the hot flashes subside.” Other menopause-related symptoms contribute to memory loss, including insomnia and sleep apnea, Dr. Fotuhi says.

Lack of sleep
Last night’s late party makes it less likely you’ll remember your new coworker’s name the next day. “While some part of the brain takes a siesta when we sleep, deeper areas involved with memory and emotional response become relatively more active,” says Allen Towfigh, MD, medical director of New York Neurology & Sleep Medicine. “Individuals with sleep deprivation and sleep disorders not only suffer from impaired memory but also daytime fatigue, impaired attention, and reduced reaction time.” The standard recommendation of eight hours of sleep a night doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. If you wake up fatigued and fall asleep unintentionally during the day, then you may need more sleep, says Dr. Towfigh.

Anxiety and depression
Worrying about an upcoming presentation in front of the CEO may also hinder your memory, several studies show. “We don’t understand the exact link, but strong evidence indicates depression, anxiety, and bipolar disease disrupts the neural circuitry involved in developing and retrieving memories,” says Dr. Towfigh. “The severity of the memory loss often mirrors the severity of the mood disorder—severe depression brings about equally severe memory loss.” Prolonged periods of everyday stress increase cortisol levels in the brain, which causes our brain cells to lose synapses (the bridges that connect our brain cells to one another), and make it more difficult to create and retrieve memories. The good news is when memory loss exists with a mood disorder (including anxiety and depression), the memory loss is usually at least partially reversible. “As the individual’s mood improves, often so does the memory loss,” says Dr. Towfigh

Prescription drugs
Check your medicine cabinet: many common prescription drugs can make you feel forgetful. Anxiety disorder meds like Xanax, Valium, and Ativan (which are benzodiazepines) put a damper on the part of the brain that moves events from the short-term to the long-term memory. Tricyclic antidepressants have a similar effect. Heart medicines including statins and beta blockers have also been linked to memory issues, as have narcotic painkillers, incontinence drugs, sleep aids, and even antihistamines like Benadryl. Bottom line: Don’t stop taking your (potentially life-saving) medications, but talk to your doc if you believe any drug you’re on may be messing with your memory.

If you’re still smoking, that may help explain memory lapses. “Smoking damages the brain by impairing its blood supply,” says Dr. Towfigh. Research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry gathered from data obtained from more than 7,000 men and women found a more rapid decline in brain function (which included memory along with vocabulary and other brain functions) with age than from those who never smoked. “Furthermore, cigarette smoking promotes the accumulation of abnormal proteins which impair the brain’s ability to process and relay information

A high-fat diet
Greasy burgers and French fries pack on pounds and are hard on your heart—and they may also cause memory issues. One study revealed that adolescent mice had poorer learning and memory skills after being fed a high-fat diet for eight weeks, while another study on middle-aged rats found that the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for short-term memory) may be particularly vulnerable to the impact of high-fat diets.

More research is needed to determine for sure whether or not high-fat diets impact human memory, but here’s what we do know: Calorically dense diets promote type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, which can all do damage to our brains, says Dr. Towfigh. “This holds true earlier in life, too. Studies link childhood obesity with a reduced attention span and impaired concentration and focus.”

A sudden emergency can make it tough to recall something as simple as your home address. A rat study published in Neuron shows that stress hormones influence an area of the brain area that controls working memory. Researchers found that repeated stress reduced receptors in the part of the brain that’s connected to thought processes Although this study involved animals, the human brain works similarly, explains Dr. Towfigh. “Repeated or chronic stress can be harmful. Regular exposure to elevated glucocorticoids (a hormone released by the adrenal gland) also causes our brain cells to reduce receptors, making brain cells less capable of responding to neurochemical (brain chemicals) cues.” Finding ways to relieve stress may help: Practicing meditation does double duty by easing stress and helping improve memory, according to a study from the University of California, Santa Barbara. College students who completed eight 45-minute meditation sessions over two weeks increased their average GRE exam scores from 460 to 520 and showed improvement on tests of working memory.

A nasty cold sore does more than make you feel self-conscious—it may be messing with your memory, according to a 2013 study in Neurology. Researchers found that people who exposed to many germs, such as herpes simplex type 1 (the cold sore virus), over their lifetimes were more likely to have memory problems than those exposed to fewer germs. Among more than 1,600 study participants, those with a higher “infectious burden” had a 25% increase in the risk of a low score on a cognitive test. Although there is no vaccine for the cold sore virus, childhood vaccinations against other viruses could help prevent problems later in life, the researchers suggest. In addition, regular exercise may help too—doctors think repeated infections may damage blood vessels, since a high infectious burden is also linked to a greater risk of stroke and heart attack.

Green tea
Now for some good news: chemicals found in green tea may help improve your memory, according to a University of Basel study. “Several compounds, EGCG and L-theanine, in green tea increase neurogenesis (growth of new brain cells) in the hippocampus, the part of the brain used for short-term memory and learning new things,” says Dr. Fotuhi. How much green tea has not yet been determined, says Dr. Fotuhi, who recommends combining green tea with other healthy habits such as exercise for greatest memory improvement benefits.

Regular sweat sessions also help keep memories sharp. “Physical exercise improves mood and sleep and by doing so, it invariably improves cognition and memory,” says Dr. Towfigh. An animal study published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, for example, showed daily exercise increased brain cell growth after 12 weeks of conditioned running. Dr. Fotuhi recommends 45 minutes of aerobic exercise four days a week for the best memory boost.

Source: Health

Poor sleep quality linked to lower physical activity

poor sleep

A new study shows that worse sleep quality predicts lower physical activity in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).Results show that PTSD was independently associated with worse sleep quality at baseline, and participants with current PTSD at baseline had lower physical activity one year later.

Further analysis found that sleep quality completely mediated the relationship between baseline PTSD status and physical activity at the one-year follow-up, providing preliminary evidence that the association of reduced sleep quality with reduced physical activity could comprise a behavioral link to negative health outcomes such as obesity.

“We found that sleep quality was more strongly associated with physical activity one year later than was having a diagnosis of PTSD,” said lead author Lisa Talbot, postdoctoral fellow at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco. “The longitudinal aspect of this study suggests that sleep may influence physical activity.”

Study results are published in the July 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, which is published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
“This study adds to the literature that shows that better sleep leads to healthier levels of exercise, and previous research has shown that better sleep leads to healthier food choices,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler. “It is clear that healthy sleep is an essential ingredient in the recipe for a healthy life.”

The study involved data from the Mind Your Heart Study, a prospective cohort study of 736 outpatients recruited from two Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers. PTSD was assessed with the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS). At baseline participants rated their sleep quality overall during the last month, and at baseline and again one year later they reported how physically active they have been during the last month. Of the 736 military veteran participants, 258 had current or subsyndromal PTSD.

According to Talbot, the results suggest that behavioral interventions to increase physical activity should include an assessment for sleep disturbance.
“The findings also tentatively raise the possibility that sleep problems could affect individuals’ willingness or ability to implement physical activity behavioral interventions,” she said. “Sleep improvements might encourage exercise participation.”

The research was performed in collaboration with principal investigator Dr. Beth Cohen of the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Research funding was provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Irene Perstein Foundation, and the Mental Illness Research and Education Clinical Center of the U.S. Veterans Health Administration.

According to the National Center for PTSD of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD symptoms such as nightmares or flashbacks usually start soon after a traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. Symptoms that last longer than four weeks, cause great distress or interfere with daily life may be a sign of PTSD.

Source: science daily

Get rid of dark circles with these yoga asanas

Even with good skin and great make-up, a woman can look tired and fatigued due to dark circles. Thought to be caused due to stress, lack of sleep and in some cases due to constant ill health, dark circles are also known to form due to lack of oxygen and blood flow to the face. That is why Ayurveda and yoga practitioners believe that by increasing the blood flow to one’s face it can help resolve the problem. So instead of trying various chemical and cosmetic methods to get rid of them, here is an all natural way to zap those dark circles away.

Hastapadotasana: Also known as the standing forward bend pose, this asana is the first one you should perform in this series. Hastapadotasna stretches out the muscles of almost all parts of the body, invigorates the nervous system, resolves digestive disorders and helps increase the blood flow to your face. It is also know to help tone the muscles of the abdomen and relieve any stomach disorders.

Steps to do this pose: Stand straight with your legs shoulder width apart. Now, stretch both your hands forward and upwards, making sure you feel a stretch up your spine. Now start bending slowly until your palms are touching the floor and your head touches your knees. For most people touching their hands to the floor might be difficult, so don’t fret, keep trying till you start feeling comfortable. Once in this position, breathe normally and hold the asana for as long as you are comfortable.

Tip: Avoid doing this pose if you suffer from spondylitis, high blood pressure or heart disease.

After you have performed hastapadotasana, you can perform the other asanas in this series. Do not do the other poses before you do this asana.

Viparitakarani: Also known as the legs-up-the-wall pose, is great when it comes to beating dark circles. It not only increases the blood flow to your head and face but is also beneficial in stretching out the back, relieving lower back pain and calming the mind. One of this aasana’s greatest benefits is that it helps relieve cramps in the back and leg and calms the mind. According to Ayurveda lack of sleep and stress are the number one cause for dark circles and this asana targets exactly those areas.

Steps to do the asana: Lie down flat on the floor, near a wall. Now, raise your legs such that they are rested comfortably along the wall and the base of your back is touching the wall. Stretch your arms out on either side of your body and relax. You may choose to raise your chin towards the ceiling, but do not stress your neck while doing this pose. Close your eyes and breathe in deep allowing yourself to relax. Hold this pose for as long as you are comfortable.

Tip: Avoid doing this pose if you are menstruating, have serious eye disorders like glaucoma or suffer from high blood pressure.

Sambhavi mudra: Is a form of yoga practice that helps awaken the ajna chakra. Although it is called a mudra, this is a form of meditation that is meant to awaken the most important chakra in our body. Apart from that this mudra helps calm the mind, stretch the muscles around the eyes and relaxes those present between the eyebrows.

Steps to do this pose: Sit comfortably in a calm corner of your house and place your palms on your thighs. Make sure your palms are facing upwards so that there is an equal distribution of energy. Now turn both your eyeballs so that you are literally trying to look at the centre of your eyebrows. Breathe normally and hold this pose for five to six counts. To intensify the mudra you can choose to hum ‘Om’. This is not religious in any way but is based on scientific evidence that the word ‘Om’, when chanted produces a type of vibration throughout the body, that is very beneficial to massage the nervous system and activate the chakras. To stop doing the mudra, close your eyes and slowly bring your eyes back to their normal position. Keep your eyes closed for a short while and then slowly open them.

Surya Namaskar: Surya Namaskar has a deep effect in detoxifying the organs through copious oxygenation and has a deeper relaxing effect. It is a series of 12 physical postures. These alternating backward and forward bending postures flex and stretch the spinal column giving a profound stretch to the whole body. You can find out how to do the asanas correctly in our post about surya namaskar.

Source: health

Could lack of sleep cause a fatal mistake?

Behind the controls of the Metro-North train that derailed in New York earlier this week was a tired driver, according to new reports that engineer William Rockefeller fell asleep at the wheel.

Could lack of sleep cause such a fatal mistake?

Biologically speaking, experts said, yes. Sleep deprivation affects the brain in multiple ways that can impair judgment, slow reaction times and increase the likelihood of drifting off during monotonous tasks.

“When you’re sleep deprived, your brain reverts to a teenager — it’s all gas and no brake,” said Michael Howell, a neurologist at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. “Suddenly the part of the brain that says, ‘Let’s think through this,’ is not functioning well.”
The purpose of sleep has long mystified scientists, said Maiken Nedergaard, a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. In an evolutionary conundrum, lying unconscious for hours on end makes people and other animals vulnerable to predators. Yet, not sleeping for long enough can actually lead to dementia and death. Chronic sleep-deprivation can cause obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other ills.

Studies have shown that exhausted people do worse on tests of memory and have more trouble learning. Tired basketball players sink fewer free throws. Even golfers who fail to get enough shut-eye take more strokes to finish a round.

“Almost everything researchers have looked at,” Howell said, “they’ve demonstrated is impaired if you don’t get enough sleep.”

When it comes to accidents, sleep matters because failure to get enough rest hampers functioning of the brain’s frontal lobes, which are responsible for executive judgment, or the ability to pay attention and make good decisions.

In overtired people, Howell said, imaging studies have shown that there is less blood flow to these areas in the front of the brain and brainwaves there move more slowly.
The result is a compromised ability to respond to things, along with a faulty tendency to do things you shouldn’t have done. When the frontal lobes aren’t working efficiently, people also have more difficulty paying attention during boring tasks, such as driving a car on a highway or operating a morning commuter train.

Early morning hours, like when the Metro-North train crashed, are some of the most vulnerable times for sleepy accidents, Howell said, especially for people whose circadian rhythms favor a later sleeping schedule and make it biologically difficult to function well after waking up with an alarm clock at 5 a.m.

Reports that Rockefeller had been driving for 20 minutes since his last stop and felt zoned out before the accident suggest that he probably fell asleep before the crash, Howell added.

Recently, scientists have begun to piece together an even more nuanced understanding of why sleep is so restorative. In a study published in Science this fall, Nedergaard and colleagues injected mice with a green dye that allowed them to track the movement of cerebrospinal fluid, the liquid that surrounds the brain.

As our brains do their work throughout the day, previous work had shown that cerebrospinal fluid collects the waste products of normal metabolism and functioning. Then, a network of tiny channels works like a dishwasher to regularly flush out the dirty fluid and send it to the liver for detoxification.

The new study found that sleeping facilitated the flushing of this toxic fluid, which was much slower to drain in sleep-deprived rodent brains. Nerve cells are very sensitive to the presence of waste, Nedergaard said. When surrounded by contaminated fluid, communication at the cellular level likely slows down.

Source: mashable