Monday, 31 December 2012

Change Your Life by Changing Your Body Language



Nearly everyone is influenced by “nonverbals” — feelings and messages that are emoted by body language. From the expression on your face to the way you sit, stand, or walk, your body language is telling someone how to measure you up — and that includes yourself.
Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist, professor, and researcher at Harvard Business School, where she studies how nonverbal behavior and snap judgments affect human perceptions. Her research reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions, and even our own body chemistry, simply by changing body positions.
She’s especially interested in nonverbal expressions of power and dominance. For example, a broadening of the arms and legs is a nonverbal form of dominance that both humans and primates employ.
Or, throwing your arms wide apart in the air is an expression of both pride and power — even sightless persons who’ve never had a chance to see how others physically express their pride will display feelings of pride in this way.
Lacing your fingers behind your head with elbows pointed outward and your feet resting on your desk sends a message that you’re a strong, high-powered individual.
Reiterate your power without saying a word by standing and leaning forward with your hands on your desk. But change your position by locking your arms close to your body with your hands folded, or stand with your arms and legs crossed tightly and, suddenly, you’re perceived as submissive, weak and vulnerable.

Change Your Position and Change Your Brain

What’s fascinating is that you can evoke these feelings of power, dominance, or submission in yourself by simply assuming the different positions and holding them for as little as two minutes. That’s because your body can change your mindset, and your mindset can change your behavior. And once your behavior changes, you can change outcomes in your life — all in the way you position your body.
As Cuddy explains in this entertaining and informative video, her studies demonstrate physiological proof that your body actually does change your mindset and the way you perceive yourself. This happens because powerful hormonal changes occur in the cortisol and testosterone levels in your brain as you assume a position.
Depending on the position, your cortisol and testosterone levels will rise and fall — and your subconscious feelings of power or submission will directly correlate with those levels. Sit in a submissive way for just a couple minutes and, inexplicably, you’re not as likely to make assertive decisions. But change the pose to a powerful stance and a couple minutes later with no prompting, you feel like you’re in charge — assertive and comfortable with making high-power decisions, even when they’re a gamble.
Cuddy calls this “power posing.” But can power posing for a few minutes actually change your life in a meaningful way? Yes, she says.
Try her tested methods for exhibiting power and confidence, and learn how just a few tweaks to your body language can change both your personal perception of yourself and your life. From speaking engagements to job interviews to your performance on the job and many other situations, you can change how others perceive you, and ultimately change your life by purposely adopting a new body language.

Fake It ‘Till You Make It and Become It

But what if you think this isn’t real and it can’t last because it’s only temporary while you’re consciously posing? “Fake it ‘till you make it,” she advises, but don’t stop there: fake it until you become it — powerful, confident and proud to be you.
Two minutes, she says: two minutes, two minutes, two minutes. Think it, power-pose it, and configure your brain for whatever you want to be for just two minutes before any stressful situation, and then keep doing it. Before you know it, you’ll not only be better at whatever it is you want to achieve, but you will become it.
And then, she says, share it so that others can change the outcomes of their lives too.

This article was written by the Dr. Mercola at www.mercola.com. For additional information on this topic and articles, please visit his website. 

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Too Little Sleep May Fuel Insulin Resistance


By Dr. Mercola
If you're sleep deprived for a night or two (or more), you expect to feel groggy and irritable.
But losing sleep impacts your body on a far deeper level, too, increasing your risk of obesity and chronic diseases like diabetes.
New research has shed some light onto why sleep deprivation may be so damaging to your health, as it linked lack of sleep to serious impairments in the way your body responds to the hormone insulin.

Lack of Sleep Impairs Your Body's Insulin Sensitivity

Impaired insulin sensitivity, also known as insulin resistance, occurs when your body cannot use insulin properly, allowing your blood sugar levels to get too high. Insulin resistance is a precursor to type 2 diabetes as well as a risk factor in many other chronic diseases.
In fact, controlling insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your risk of chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. The increase in insulin-related diseases we're now seeing is largely due to lack of exercise combined with the excessive consumption of fructose and carbohydrate consumption in the average American diet … but it also appears that lack of sleep is likely playing a part in the equation too.
According to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine,1 after four nights of sleep deprivation (sleep time was only 4.5 hours per night), study participants' insulin sensitivity was 16 percent lower, while their fat cells' insulin sensitivity was 30 percent lower, and rivaled levels seen in those with diabetes or obesity. The study's senior author, Matthew Brady, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, told CNN:2
"This is the equivalent of metabolically aging someone 10 to 20 years just from four nights of partial sleep restriction. Fat cells need sleep, and when they don't get enough sleep, they become metabolically groggy."

Not Enough Sleep Has Serious Consequences To Your Metabolism

When you're sleep deprived, leptin (the hormone that signals satiety) falls, while ghrelin (which signals hunger) rises. In one 2010 study,3 researchers found that people who slept only four hours for two consecutive nights experienced:
  • 18 percent reduction in leptin
  • 28 percent increase in ghrelin
This combination leads to an increase in appetite. Additionally, sleep deprivation tends to lead to food cravings, particularly for sweet and starchy foods. Researchers have suggested that these sugar cravings stem from the fact that your brain is fueled by glucose (blood sugar); therefore, when lack of sleep occurs, and your brain is unable to properly respond to insulin (which drives glucose into brain cells) your brain becomes desperate for carbohydrates to keep going. If you're chronically sleep deprived, consistently giving in to these sugar cravings will virtually guarantee that you'll gain weight.
As mentioned, getting too little sleep also dramatically decreases the sensitivity of your insulin receptors, which will raise your insulin levels. This too is a surefire way to gain weight, as the insulin will seriously impair your body's ability to burn and digest fat. It also increases your risk of diabetes. In short, sleep deprivation puts your body in a pre-diabetic state, which can lead to increased weight and decreased health.

Can't Sleep? Here are 10 Reasons Why…

If you're staying up late to watch your favorite TV program or intentionally pulling an all-nighter to cram for a test, you know why your sleep is lacking. But far more often, Americans have trouble sleeping and they don't know why. According to the National Sleep Foundation, few Americans get sufficient amounts of sleep. Only four in 10 respondents said they got a good night's sleep every night, or almost every night, of the week,4 and a separate poll found 43 percent of Americans reported "rarely or never" getting a good night's sleep on weekdays.5
There are many factors that can influence your sleep. For my complete recommendations and guidelines that can help you improve your sleep, please see my article 33 Secrets to a Good Night's Sleep. Following are 10 often-overlooked factors that might be interfering with your sleep:
  1. Too Much Light in Your Room
    Even the tiniest bit of light in the room, including those emitted by electronic devices, can disrupt your pineal gland's production of melatonin and serotonin, thereby disrupting your sleep cycle.
    So close your bedroom door, install black-out drapes, use a sleep mask, get rid of night-lights, and refrain from turning on any light during the night, even when getting up to go to the bathroom. If you have to use a light you can use a red flashlight, as that wavelength of light has a minimal impact on melatonin production..
  2. Exercising Too Close to Bedtime
    Exercising for at least 30 minutes per day can improve your sleep. However, don't exercise too close to bedtime (generally not within the three hours before) or it may keep you awake.
  3. Drinking Alcohol Before Bed
    Although alcohol will make you drowsy, the effect is short lived and you will often wake up several hours later, unable to fall back asleep. Alcohol will also keep you from entering the deeper stages of sleep, where your body does most of its healing.
  4. Your Bedroom is Too Warm
    Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs bedrooms too warm. Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is quite cool, between 60 to 68 degrees F. Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless sleep. When you sleep, your body's internal temperature drops to its lowest level, generally about four hours after you fall asleep.
    Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to sleep, since it mimics your body's natural temperature drop.
  5. Caffeine is Keeping You Awake
    Caffeine has a half-life of five hours, which means some will still be in your system even 10 hours later, and 12.5% 20 hours later (see the problem?). Plus, in some people caffeine is not metabolized efficiently, leaving you feeling its effects even longer after consumption. So, an afternoon cup of coffee or tea will keep some people from falling asleep at night. Be aware that some medications contain caffeine as well (for example, diet pills).
  6. You're Watching the Clock
    The more you watch the clock when you wake up in the middle of the night, the more stressed and anxious you will become, and the more you may actually "train" yourself to start awakening at the same time each night. The solution is simple: Remove the clock from your view so you actually have to sit up or change positions to see the clock.
  7. Watching TV to Help You Fall Asleep
    The artificial glow from your TV can serve as a stimulus for keeping you awake and, possibly, eating, when you should really be asleep. Further, computer and TV screens (and most light bulbs) emit blue light, to which your eyes are particularly sensitive simply because it's the type of light most common outdoors during daytime hours. As a result, it can disrupt your melatonin production and further interfere with your sleep.
  8. Worrying in the Middle of the Night
    If stress keeps you up at night, try keeping a "worry journal" next to your bedside so you can jot down your thoughts there and clear them from your head. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can also help balance your body's bioenergy system and resolve some of the emotional stresses that are contributing to your insomnia at a very deep level. The results are typically long lasting and improvement is remarkably rapid.
  9. Do Not Eat Three Hours Before Bed
    Although you might struggle with this initially, it is ideal to avoid eating any foods three hours before bed, as this will optimize your blood sugar, insulin and leptin levels and contribute to overall good health.
  10. Smoking
    The nicotine in cigarettes is a stimulant, which can keep you awake much as though you just drank a cup of coffee.

How Much Sleep is "Enough"?


There is no perfect answer to this question because the answer depends on a large number of highly individual factors. The general consensus seems to be that most people need somewhere between six and eight hours of sleep each night. You are seriously fooling yourself if you are sleeping less than six hours a night and saying you don't need much sleep to be healthy.
There's compelling research indicating that sleeping less than six hours may increase your insulin resistance and risk of diabetes. And less than five hours of sleep at night may double your risk of being diagnosed with angina, coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Interestingly enough, the same appears to be true when you sleep more than nine hours per night.
The question of the ideal amount of sleep is a topic Dr. Rubin Naiman -- a clinical psychologist, author, teacher, and the leader in integrative medicine approaches to sleep and dreams -- has addressed on numerous occasions throughout his career as a sleep expert (as well as in the video above), and he agrees: people want a number, but this 'number' must be as individual as the person asking for it.
"I think asking 'how many of hours of sleep should I get?' is like asking, 'Doctor, how many calories should I eat?'" he says. "Of course the answer to that depends on who that person is. It's so individual. It also depends on the quality of those calories. Again, a lot of people are knocking themselves out night after night after night with sleeping pills.  They may be getting seven to eight hours, but is it sleep? It looks like sleep. It might feel like sleep, but you know what, it's not really sleep. That's part of the question too—the quality of it."
Again, for a comprehensive sleep guide for quality sleep, please see my article 33 Secret's to a Good Night's Sleep.

Visit Dr. Mercola's website for more great articles like this, www.mercola.com