by Alejandra "Alex" Ruani — Get free science updates here.
Welcome to our Thursday’s Science Catch-up: curated links by The Health Sciences Academy. Get our email updates every other Thursday here (it’s free).
Let’s catch you up with studies and news that recently made the headlines!
Click on your favourite topics to read our summary:
What’s the best temperature for a good night’s sleep?
Your core body temperature needs to drop slightly to help initiate sleep. But if your core temperature is too high, your brain cannot easily make the switch from being “awake” to being “asleep”.
So, what’s the best room temperature to help initiate sleep then? We illustrate it with a graph that you can share:
Sleep loss amplifies food cravings via the endocannabinoid system
Scientists at the University of Chicago report that sleeping less rises your blood levels of a “chemical signal” that causes cravings for highly-palatable, pleasurable foods.
What is this chemical signal?
It’s the endocannabinoid 2-AG (2-arachidonoylglycerol).
Besides hunger hormones, 2-AG could be part of the complex mechanisms that encourage overeating and weight gain.
So if you struggle to control yourself around food, monitoring your sleep quality and quantity is one of the first things you’ll want to do!
Best to sleep on it? Brain ‘replay’ during sleep consolidates memory
Here’s more sleep news – the theme of the week!
Researchers at the University of Bristol tell us that during sleep your brain ‘replays’ daytime activity patterns at fast-forward speed. This ‘replay’ strengthens the microscopic connections between brain cells that are active, helping you retain important information and consolidate memories.
For your brain to store data and learn effectively, good sleep is imperative!
Drink more water to eat less sugar?
This study analysed the dietary habits of more than 18,300 adults, and found the majority of those who increased their consumption of plain water by 1 to 3 cups daily:
- decreased their total energy intake by up to 205 calories daily,
- consumed up to 18 grams less sugar, and
- cut their sodium intake by up to 235 milligrams.
Discovery in leafy greens holds key to gut health
Australian and UK researchers found that ‘rare molecules’ largely found in leafy greens like spinach can help maintain the balance of your gut microbiota.
What are these rare molecules?
They are sulphur-containing molecules called sulfoquinovose (SQ for short).
Each time you eat leafy green vegetables, you consume significant amounts of SQ, which, as the researchers discovered, feed certain strains of “good” gut bacteria – limiting the ability of “bad” bacteria to grow and colonise the gut.
Next time you have your spinach, think how you’ll be helping these tiny “good fellows” protect your microbiotic garden.
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What has inspired you this week? What are your thoughts on some of these topics? Leave a comment and let us know!