The Salk Institute published a report two years ago showing that mice who fasted for 16 hours every day were leaner, more energetic and healthier than mice who didn’t fast. Now the Intermountain Medical Center finds that the same may be true in humans.
One explanation for the Salk mice study is for two hours after eating your liver converts the nutrition in your meal into fat for later use. If you don’t eat for at least two hours, your liver then stops making fat molecules, and starts making molecules for cellular repair. However, if you keep eating every two to three hours, your liver keeps making fat molecules, and spends little time making molecules for cellular repair.
The researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center add that fasting forces your body to use up stored fat cells for energy. And fasting may trigger action from the human growth hormone (HGH) to protect lean muscle and metabolic balance.
The net result of periodic fasting are lower triglycerides, weight and blood sugar levels. And your liver is allowed more time to help repair damaged tissue throughout your body.
But why do some people find it difficult to not snack throughout the day and night?
Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University speculate that our modern lifestyle and out-of-balance circadian system may be to blame. Artificial light helps us to sleep less and eat more. And the modern lifestyle encourages larger calorie intake at night.
Unfortunately, this may lead to obesity and poor long term health. Ideally, we should eat the most calories at breakfast, and the least at dinner. Combine this with sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night promotes the health benefits indicated in this new research results.
Think about it. If you’re sleeping 7 to 8 hours each night, that’s 7 to 8 hours you’re not eating. And if your can avoid eating for at least two hours before bed time, that’s a total of 9 to 10 hours of fasting. That gives your body 9 to 10 hours to repair your body tissues, rather than producing fat molecules.
This may be one of the reason that people who sleep 7 to 8 hours a night are healthier than people who sleep less.
Try these suggestions to increase your ability to fast for 10 to 12 hours each day.
- Eat a large breakfast of proteins, healthy fats and whole grains.
- Make dinner your smallest meal of the day.
- Don’t reduce your calorie intake, but try to eat them within a 12 hour period during the daylight time period.
- Try to get a good dose of natural sunlight during the day.
- Don’t eat 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
- Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
- Snack during the day with high protein snacks, such as nuts and seeds.
- Limit your sugar intake, and stay away from low fiber carbohydrates.
- Don’t drink high caffeine drinks after 2 pm.
If you can fast for 10 to 12 hours each day, you’ll significantly reduce your risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
A byproduct of a study on the effects of exercise on breast cancer is that older women who exercise in the morning experience better sleep than those who exercise in the evening, according to the article “Morning Exercise May Help Sleep.” So if you’re wanting better sleep, think about becoming an early bird.
This study didn’t try to find a reason why early birds sleep better. But some speculate that early morning exercise may reset your circadian rhythm toward daily activity and nightly sleep patterns. Whereas exercising at night may tell your body you want to remain active all night.
That’s because exercise raises your body temperature, increases activity hormones and creates lactic acid, all which makes you more restless and discourages sleep. A good night’s sleep, on the other hand, requires a slight drop in body temperature, and you definitely don’t want an increase in activity hormones if you’re wanting to sleep.
The WebMD article “Why You’re an Early Bird or a Night Owl” agrees with this speculation by stating: “Morning people, however, also have advantages. Larks generally sleep better, have more regular sleep patterns, and have more flexible personalities.”
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, it may be because you’re trying to do too much in the late afternoons and evenings. Try being more active in the morning, and less active in the afternoon and evenings. And it’s best to do your exercise routine in the mornings.
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In the recent New York train crash, the train’s engineer said that he was in a “daze situation” where he zoned out. Sleep researchers now know that when we are sleep deprived, a few localized brain cells can stop functioning while the rest of the brain is still awake. This is called micro-sleep.
ScienceDaily reports that researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison claim that “some nerve cells in a sleep-deprived yet awake brain can briefly go ‘off line,’ into a sleep-like state, while the rest of the brain appears awake.” They state further, “Specific groups of neurons may be falling asleep, with negative consequences on performance.”
I’ve experienced this myself while driving. After a long day, I’ve found myself not being consciously aware of some parts of a trip. If you have put things in their wrong place in the kitchen or dropped small items out of your hand for an unknown reason, you probably experienced micro-sleep. It can occur while performing a routine task. Most of your brain is awake, but a few critical brain cells may have fallen asleep.
If you continue without taking a nap or getting a full night’s sleep, the entire brain can automatically turn off and go to sleep. When this happens, we have no control in preventing it. When your brain decides it needs sleep, it just shuts down.
The only remedy for micro-sleep is sleep. If we don’t give our brains sufficient sleep, we risk making mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes can cause the death of innocent lives.
So if you find yourself in a daze or zoning out, pull over and take a nap. If you don’t, you’re endangering innocent lives.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the best way to decrease our risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease is living a healthy lifestyle. New research is indicating that a good night’s sleep is also essential for brain health.
Three years ago, research at Columbia University showed that we can substantially reduce our risks of Alzheimer’s Disease by regularly consuming a Mediterranean-type of diet. This dietary lifestyle includes consuming more fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, fish and poultry, seeds and healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil or canola oil, and eating less red meats and high fat dairy products.
On top of eating a Mediterranean-style of diet, these researchers also found that we can reduce our risks even further with frequent moderate-intensity exercise.
A new study led by Dr. Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that a good night’s sleep is also essential for long-term brain health. Dr. Nedergaard states that “the restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness.”
This new understanding of brain activity is made possible with new imaging technologies allowing observation of the activities of a living brain. In this study, medical researchers were allowed to see how the living brains of mice, remarkably similar to human brains, function.
This study shows that our brain functions differently between awake and sleep states. When we’re awake, our brain must use all its energy for cognitive and muscle control functions. It has little energy to remove biological waste products that our brain cells make, while we do our daily activities. Cleaning our brains of biological waste is an activity that can only be accomplished while we’re sleeping.
Janitorial servicing of our brain is reserved during sleep, because the brain in sleep mode has the energy to clean itself rather than using that energy for wake-state activities. Not only that, but when we’re sleeping, the space between our brain cells increases by 60%. This allows large waste molecules to pass easily back to blood vessels that carry these wastes out of the brain and to our liver for waste disposal. Large waste molecules like beta-amyloid proteins.
Beta-amyloid protein plaques are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Clumps of these sticky proteins prevent nutrition from reaching our brain cells, which eventually kills them. If enough beta-amyloid clumps form in our brains to kill vital cognitive brain cells, Alzheimer’s disease develops.
The new research is suggesting that these brain-cell killing proteins is typically removed in a healthy brain during a good night’s sleep. However, if we form the habit of not sleeping between 6 to 8 hours on most nights, these harmful protein clumps just keep building up in our brains. Over time, these beta-amyloid clumps kill enough brain cells that prevent us from having healthy cognitive function, which can eventually lead to death.
We may find that a healthy diet with moderate-intensity exercise keeps our circulatory system healthy enough to deliver essential nutrients to our cognitive brain cells for proper functional activities. A healthy circulatory system is also essential to perform necessary janitorial functions in our brain to remove harmful waste products that can lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s. With new research, we now know that a good night’s sleep is necessary to allow our body to remove these harmful waste products from our brain.
So, if you want to substantially reduce your risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease, eat a Mediterranean-type of diet, keep physically active, and get a good quality 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
There is one important difference between those of you who sleep well and insomniacs. Insomniacs have a higher core body temperature than those that sleep well throughout the night.
When you sleep well, your core body temperature decreases at the onset of sleep, and continues to decrease as you go deeper into sleep. Then your core body temperature increases as you approach a waking period. When you don’t sleep well, your core body temperature doesn’t decrease as much as it should to induce a high quality of sleep. And glycine helps to reduce your core body temperature to induce the quality of sleep that you need to sleep soundly throughout the night.
What Is Glycine?
Glycine is an amino acid that, just like GABA, acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in your brain. As was stated in
Part 1 of this series, GABA calms your brain and central nervous system to help you go and stay asleep. Whereas glycine reduces your core body temperature, which in turn induces sleep and maintains a good quality of sleep.
Glycine is readily available in most health stores as a supplement. I prefer the powder form. And just a little scope of powder is all that you need to get a good night’s sleep. It has a peasant sweet taste and quickly dissolves in liquid.
Alternative Ways To Decrease Your Core Body Temperature
Keep your bedroom cool. Research shows that you can decrease your core body temperature and improve your sleep quality by keeping your bedroom between 60 and 68 degrees F.
If you think that temperature range is too cold, drink chamomile tea about an hour before bedtime. Chamomile tea is known to increase glycine levels, and it taste good too. I not only drink chamomile tea, but I add glycine powder to the tea as well. Ever since I started drinking this combination an hour before bedtime, my sleep quality has drastically improved.
Increased levels of two inhibitory neurotransmitters in your brain are known to improve quality of sleep. GABA calms your nervous system, and increased levels close to bedtime helps induce sleep. Glycine lowers your core body temperature that recent research shows is essential for a good quality of sleep.
GABA levels can be increased with valerian root and yoga exercises. These methods, however, may take several weeks to increase GABA levels to the extent that is required to help you sleep better.
Glycine supplements has a more immediate effect on giving you better quality sleep. These supplements are easy to find in health stores, and has few if any side effects. You can also drink chamomile tea, which increases glycine levels in your body. Or you can do what I do and add a small amount of glycine powder to chamomile tea and start sleeping better almost immediately.
The Effects of Glycine
Glycine Ingestion Improves Subjective Sleep Quality
Journal of Pharmacological Sciences:
Glycine Improves the Quality of Sleep
Rapid Decline in Body Temperature Before Sleep
Do Chronic Primary Insomniacs Have Impaired Heat Loss When Attempting Sleep?
The Relationship Between Insomnia And Body Temperatures
The New York Times:
The Claim: Cold Temperatures Improve Sleep
Chamomile Tea: New Evidence Supports Health Benefits
Glycine Improves the Quality of Sleep
What is Glycine?