Can Testosterone Help With Fat Loss?

Can Testosterone Help With Fat Loss?

  • There are loads of reasons why you might want to raise your testosterone levels.

You might want to pack on slabs of muscle, boost your maximal strength or improve your athletic (and bedroom) performance. Alternatively, you might be aiming to improve your health or just feel better about yourself.

But did you know that optimal testosterone levels are also important for keeping fat at bay and maintaining a healthy and aesthetic body composition?

In this article we give you the lowdown as to why.

 

Testosterone – The King of Hormones

Within your blood right now you have testosterone flowing. It is a naturally occurring steroid hormone that is responsible for performing a number of important jobs.

  • Anabolic:promotes and regulates protein synthesis. This helps to maintain muscle mass.
  • Androgenic: promotes masculine features such as voice deepening, body and face hair and helps you maintain a socially dominant temperament.
  • Health: maintains a number of metabolic health markers including the regulation of bone and fat tissue.

In order for these to be performed optimally, you need to have just the right amount of testosterone. Too low and both your health and also performance will suffer.

 

What’s a normal testosterone level?

Anything between 300 – 1000 ng.dL would be classed as normal during a clinical test.

If your serum T falls below the lower benchmark then you have hypogonadism – clinically low testosterone. This is usually diagnosed with a morning T test.

And research suggests that one of the first symptoms of low T is the accumulation of fat – particularly around your belly.

 

Calories and Fat Loss

The key to losing fat is to find a healthy negative energy balance. This means eating less than you burn off each day.

By achieving a calorie deficit you allow your body to tap into the fats stored in your adipose cells and use it to make up the lack of incoming calories.

But if you’re in a surplus you won’t be able to break into these cells, and if anything you’ll continue to top them up with surplus energy.

 

How to work out your calorie deficit

To achieve a negative energy balance you firstly need to find out how many calories you’d need to maintain your body weight.

There are a lot of factors that can influence how much energy you need, but by inputting your vital statistics and daily activity levels you’ll get a valid figure.

Once you’ve done this you calculate a deficit of 20%. This usually equates to around 500 kcal for most people.

That sounds difficult to work out, right?

It can be, yes.

So to make it as simple as possible for you we’ve added our own calorie calculator below. That way you know you’ll maximize your changes of getting your daily energy intake needs just right.

 

Click here to calculate your ideal calorie intake

 

So How Does Testosterone Help With Fat Loss?

So even though you need to find a negative energy balance to lose fat, there are ways that you can speed up fat loss once you’re there.

 

And that’s where testosterone comes in.

Here’s why your hormones are important when you’re trying to cut fat.

 

#1. Testosterone builds muscle

Muscles require calories to maintain mass. So if you’ve got more mass you divert more incoming energy towards them, as opposed to your fat cells.

 

This is a process called nutrient partitioning.

 

Testosterone is an important regulator of muscle mass and when combined with strength training helps to increase protein synthesis. This is why testosterone is considered a natural anabolic steroid hormone.

 

A study published by Griggs et al [1] found that boosting T levels in a group of nine male volunteers over a 12-week period, increased muscle mass and protein synthesis by 27%.

#2. Low testosterone causes fat gain

Low T levels are associated with an increase in total fat levels and visceral adiposity – what we know as ‘belly fat’.

Just like higher T levels help to partition incoming calories into muscle cells, low T levels cause energy to deviate towards fat cells instead.

 

A study published in JCEM [2] found that when a group of men had their testosterone levels blocked, their fat mass went up by a massive 36%

So by elevating your testosterone you can decrease existing fat levels as well as prevent fat from accumulating.

 

 

 

“Testosterone booster supplementation reduces total body adipose tissue” [2]

 

 

#3. Testosterone inhibits fat cell growth

Optimal T levels help to keep your fat cells small. Why? Because it helps to reduce how much your fat cells soak up insulin.

In one study, researchers exposed fat cells to testosterone and found that it reduced the uptake of glucose – even in the presence of insulin [3]

Why is that good?

Because testosterone stops fat cells converting incoming energy into fat and the androgens from T attach themselves onto the receptors responsible for shuttling the energy into fat cells too.

 

#4. Testosterone boosts energy

Although this one doesn’t directly help you burn fat, more energy allows you push harder in the gym. And that means more calories burned.

Working hard in the gym is a surefire sign that you’re getting stronger and packing on lean tissue.

If you’re constantly tired, lethargic or lack vigor then your gym sessions just won’t be productive enough to make a difference.

 

Key Points:

  • The key to fat loss is achieving an energy deficit.
  • Testosterone helps you build muscle which boosts your metabolism
  • Elevating testosterone levels inhibits the creation of adipose cells
  • Optimal T levels help build endurance and energy. These help you workout harder in the gym

 

MVP Testo

As a premium testosterone-boosting supplement, MVP Testo has the ability to push the muscle building boundaries in a safe and natural way.

Shred body fat, boost energy and ramp up your athleticism with nutrients such as vitamin D3, magnesium and zinc.

Build muscle – increase strength and size. Look and feel better

  • Improve body composition – train harder and progress better than ever before
  • More energy – whether it’s in the gym or bedroom, you’ll have tons more vigor and endurance

 

MVP Testo is considered to be a revolutionary, exhaustively researched muscle-building supplement with one very focused aim…to smash down the barriers to growth by opening your testosterone floodgates.

 

References

  • Griggs, RC et al. Effect of testosterone on muscle mass and muscle protein synthesis. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1989; 66(1): 498-503
  • Woodhouse, LJ et al. Dose-Dependent Effects of Testosterone on Regional Adipose Tissue Distribution in Healthy Young Men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2004) 89 (2): 718-726

Corbould, A. Chronic testosterone treatment induces selective insulin resistance in subcutaneous adipocytes of women. J Endocrinol. 2007; 192(3): 585-94

Does Lifting Heavy Weights Boost Testosterone?

Lift Heavy Weights to Boost Testosterone

When it comes to boosting your testosterone levels or packing on muscle mass you need to focus your resources from every angle.

This means you need the best supplements, an optimal diet and a training program that’ll push you to your limits. You need to think clearly about rep ranges, exercise selection and overall approach.

In this article we’ll tell you why heavy weightlifting is the best way to boost your testosterone levels. Read on to find out more…

Testosterone Basics

Testosterone (T) is a naturally occurring steroid hormone that plays an important role in male health and performance.

Produced n the Leydig cells of the testes, T is an androgen, which means it, is responsible for regulating a number of masculine traits and characteristics.

It is regulated by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. Together with the testes it forms a loop called the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonodal (HPG) axis. The specialized bundle of small nuclei in the hypothalamus sends a hormone called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) to its next-door neighbor – the pituitary gland.

Once the pituitary gland receives this hormone, it releases its own hormones called Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) into the main circulation of the bloodstream. These hormones then bind to receptors in the Leydig cells and testosterone is released.

Testosterone and Muscle Building

Normal T levels for a man should fall between 300 and 1000 ng.dL, with mean average concentrations sitting at about 724 ng.dL in healthy, fit men [1].

When optimized, testosterone regulates everything from bone mass to libido. Our male hormones have two categories of effects:

  • Anabolic – characteristics relating to development of male traits such as increased strength, voice deepening and hair growth
  • Androgenic – actions include increased protein metabolism and inhibition of protein breakdown

One of the major contributions that testosterone provides you with is the regulation of muscle mass. 

As we age though out testosterone levels can naturally start to drop. As soon as this happens, you’ll lose strength and muscle mass, your protein metabolism will be lower, and a decrease in physical performance will occur.

It is therefore paramount that you do all you can to fight against it using diet, supplementation and exercise.

 

Here’s How Lifting Heavy Boosts Testosterone

The mere inclusion of weight training positively effects testosterone. A study by Fry et al [2] found that even when men only lifted 70% of their body weight for 5 sets of squats, testosterone levels rose higher than men who didn’t train.

But there’s a very strong relationship between how heavy the weight you lift is is too.

For example, a study by Häkkinen et al [3] found that 6 months of heavy resistance training in combination with explosive exercise increased concentrations of both total and free testosterone as well as growth hormone significantly. The volunteers also improved strength, maximal muscle activation and 1RM too.

Interestingly it only took one workout for testosterone levels to begin to increase.

Similarly, a 21-week study conducted by Ahtiainen et al [4] found that strength was well correlated with both testosterone and muscle size. This led the research team to confirm that T is an important regulator of muscle mass.

The Big Lifts – More Muscle and Higher Testosterone

So which lifts give you most bang for your buck? So far all of the research points to compound exercises. 

These are characterized by multi-joint; multi-muscle lifts such as squats, deadlifts, presses and pulls. The more muscles are activated during the exercise, the better. They let you lift far heavier than single-joint exercises purely because you can activate more muscle.

A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports [5] found that more muscles involved in training led to both improvements in strength and increases in anabolic hormone levels.

World-renowned expert William J Kraemer [6] also found that compound exercises were more effective than isolation exercises for boosting testosterone too. In his study, a group of 20 elite weightlifters were given wither a heavy weightlifting program consisting of compound exercises or the less effective a lower intensity workout.

Not only does the magnitude of hormone release relate closely to the amount of muscle involved; bigger lifts also promote better protein synthesis. This in turn leads to bigger muscles. Compound exercises help to stress more muscles and this leads to better overload – a key indicator of muscle growth.

So ditch the bicep curls and start to lift some heavy stuff! Replacing your fly’s with bench presses, leg press with squats and triceps kickbacks with dips will make all the difference.

Putting it Into Practice – Our Top Tips

Tip #1: Lift big

By now you know that you need to lift heavy to elevate your testosterone levels. But how heavy?

The research we’ve discussed above used loads of around 85% of your 1RM or more. So dig in deep and start to load the bar up.

Tip #2: Compound all the way

There’s no need to work on isolation exercises to optimize your anabolic hormones. Focus on lifts that maximize muscle groups. Rows, deadlifts, overhead presses, squats, pull-ups and bench presses are the way forward.

Tip #3: Full Body Approach

When you’re training big and using complex lifts you need to ditch the split training approach and think full body. Organizing your sessions into either ‘upper body – lower body’ or ‘push – pull ‘ gives you an opportunity to work all of your major muscles in one go.

And as we know, more muscle equals higher testosterone.

 

Summary – Train Hard and Heavy to Boost Testosterone

If there’s one thing that research tells us, it’s that loading up the bar and lifting heavy optimizes testosterone levels.

Ditch the side bends and bicep curls and start to put in more challenge squat, pull and press movements to really boost strength, hormones and muscle mass.

 

Try MVP Testo

Risk Free for

90 days

Let us take the risk. If you do not see any results then we will gladly refund your money.

Just order 90 days (3 months worth) or more of MVP Testo testosterone booster and you will be covered by our cast iron guarantee. So whether you order a 3-month supply or a 12-month supply you will be covered.

Order right now and start making your workouts count! End the frustration and finally see growth week after week.

 

References

  • Bhasin, S et al. Reference ranges for testosterone in men generated using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry in a community-based sample of healthy nonobese young men in the Framingham Heart Study and applied to three geographically distinct cohorts. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011; 96(8): 2430–9
  • Fry, AC et al. Acute testosterone and cortisol responses to high power resistance exercise. Fiziol Cheloveka. 2010; 36(4): 102-6
  • Häkkinen, K et al. Basal concentrations and acute responses of serum hormones and strength development during heavy resistance training in middle-aged and elderly men and women. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2000; 55(2): B95-105
  • Ahtiainen, JP et al. Muscle hypertrophy, hormonal adaptations and strength development during strength training in strength-trained and untrained men. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2003; 89(6): 555-63
  • Hansen, S et al. The effect of short-term strength training on human skeletal muscle: the importance of physiologically elevated hormone levels. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2001; 11(6): 347-54

Kraemer, WJ et al. Acute hormonal responses in elite junior weightlifters. Int J Sports Med. 1992; 13(2): 103-9

Does Mucuna Pruriens Boost Testosterone?

Testosterone is the primary male hormone. It is responsible for giving you your manly traits – from your deep voice and broad shoulders, to your muscular frame and athletic ability.

 

If your levels aren’t optimized then you could very quickly lose mass, gain belly fat and start to suffer in the bedroom.

And you don’t want that of course.

 

A number of herbs and nutrients claim to positively affect your T levels, giving you the muscle mass, strength and virility that you desire. But not all of these deliver.

 

Does mucuna pruriens boost testosterone and is it a supplement you should consider?

Read on to find out…

 

What is Mucuna Pruriens?

Mucuna Pruriens is a plant you’d find in India as well as other tropical and sub-tropical climates. It belongs to the Fabaceae family.

 

It is a tropical legume that is sometimes known as velvet bean, cowage or cowitch. In terms of its macronutrient profile and calorific content, around one third of the bean contains protein [1] and its digestibility is similar to that of soybean and lima bean. As such it is considered a type of food [2].

 

The velvet bean plant is a shrub with long and slender branches. It is a vigorous climbing plant that bears flowers of either purple-lavender or white.

 

Each flower is covered in small hairs that can be itchy to touch if they come into contact with the skin. Other species have silky hairs that do not cause irritation.

 

The plant is used widely in Ayurveda – Indian herbal medicine – particularly by the South Indian tribe, the Kanikkars.

 

As both a food source and herbal remedy, it has been used for thousands of years for its supposed benefits as a sexual tonic.

 

Mucuna pruriens has a reputation for improving sexual performance and also testicle size – but does this translate to changes in testosterone levels though? Let’s see what the studies say…

 

 

 

What Does the Research Say – Does Velvet Bean Boost T?

Many of the proposed benefits of mucuna relate to the fact that the bean supplies nature’s best source of L-DOPA (levodopa). This is an amino acid that acts as a precursor to the neurotransmitters dopamine and epinephrine (collectively known as catecholamine’s). 

 

Dopamine itself has been found to regulate testosterone synthesis by elevating levels of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) – a hormone that stimulates T release from the testes.

 

L-DOPA is also thought to work against prolactin – a hormone that suppresses testosterone and libido [3].

The first thing you’ll find though when you search for the effects of mucuna pruriens on testosterone is the lack of relevant available research. And the studies that are published are largely limited to infertile men. 

 

The Studies

In one study, published in fertility and Sterility [3] a group of infertile men were given 5 g of dried mucuna powder for a 3-moth period. Testosterone levels did increase, however they were still much lower than normal levels.

 

Likewise, results were seen with a very similar study, also using a group of infertile men. In the research, published in Journal of pharmaceutical and biomedical analysis [4], testosterone levels were seen to increase, however they were still lower than control group T levels at the end of the study.

 

Ultimately, this herbal supplement is massively understudied in terms of its potential role in regulating testosterone.

The limited human studies that are available only use infertile men.

It is difficult to know at this stage whether or not it would do the same in healthy men who are wanting to improve T levels for aesthetic or performance gains. 

 

 

 

Are There Any Side Effects?

There are a number of case studies that highlight some of the potential side effects of velvet bean. In fact in one report 203 cases of psychosis were reported over a 6-week period [5].

 

This was in Mozambique and took place during a famine in which the beans were eaten raw. It is unlikely however that the same adverse effects would be seen in supplement form.

Probably the most common side effect is the plant’s famous itch. Touch those hairs and you’ll wish you hadn’t. The actual cause of this is a compound called 5-hydroxytryptamine.

 

And if you get the dose wrong and take more than you should then velvet bean can cause hallucinations, high blood pressure and even hair loss. At slightly lower doses you can experience vomiting, nausea, sleeplessness and headaches.

 

Summary – Velvet Bean and Testosterone

Mucuna pruriens is a food that has been used for years as part of traditional medicine. As a supposed male tonic it has been suggested to aid in sexual performance and testicle size.

 

There is no real research to show that it enhances testosterone levels – and the studies that are available are limited at best.

 

The cost-benefit of the herb is far in favor of risk so for that reason we’d suggest you avoid it. There are far more reliable nutrients out there so it makes sense to go with more reliable and researched products.

 

Try MVP Testo

Risk Free for

30 days

Let us take the risk. If you do not see any results then we will gladly refund your money.

Just order 30 days or more of MVP Test testosterone booster and you will be covered by our cast iron guarantee. So whether you order a 1-month supply or a 12-month supply you will be covered.

Order right now and start making your workouts count! End the frustration and finally see growth week after week.

 

References

  • Vadivel, V et al. Evaluation of velvet bean meal as an alternative protein ingredient for poultry feed. Animal. 2011
  • Lampariello, LR et al. The Magic Velvet Bean of Mucuna pruriens. J Tradit Complement Med. 2012; 2(4): 331–339
  • Shukla, KK et al. Mucuna pruriens improves male fertility by its action on the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis. Fertil Steril. 2009; 92(6): 1934-40
  • Gupta, A et al. A proton NMR study of the effect of Mucuna pruriens on seminal plasma metabolites of infertile males. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2011. 15; 55(5): 1060-6

Infante, ME et al. Outbreak of acute toxic psychosis attributed to Mucuna pruriens. The Lancet. 1990; 336(8723)

Does Testosterone Make You More Powerful?

You’ve been hitting the gym hard and you’re starting to notice some differences in your physique.

You’re looking leaner, more muscular and you’re strength is ramping up nicely. Why? Because you’re beginning to optimize your hormones and you’re getting fitter.

Testosterone is a key regulator of all things masculine – from muscle mass to stamina. From libido to metabolic health. When your levels are optimized you’ll look and feel better.

But could improving your testosterone levels naturally help you to become more powerful too?

In this article we take a look at what the research says…

The Effects of Testosterone

Testosterone (T) is the king of male hormones.

Produced in the Leydig cells of your testes, T regulates everything from your physical endurance to strength, muscle mass and bone density.

It promotes the development of male characteristics, helps you maintain health and wellness, and also promotes libido, sexual performance and bedroom stamina.

Testosterone production and decline

As you reach puberty your T levels begin to rise sharply. They peak during late teen years and then remain high through your twenties.

By the age of thirty though, testosterone begins to decline by around 1% each year.

Key Point: Normal testosterone levels are between 300 ng.dL and 1000 ng.dL

Although some men are able to maintain a healthy hormone level as they age, many suffer the effects of low testosterone otherwise known as hypogonadism.

From a clinical perspective, hypogonadism occurs once your T levels drop below the minimum threshold of 300 ng.dL

The side effects of low T this include:

  • Loss of strength and muscle mass
  • Reduction in endurance and athletic ability
  • Increased belly fat
  • Loss of libido and sexual performance

 

Athletic Performance and Power

There are many important factors that can affect athletic ability. These include speed, strength, agility and power and all of these factors can make the difference between winning and losing.

What is power though?

Explosive power is the combination of sped and strength and is simply the act of being able to generate force quickly.

Key Point: Power is being able to apply high amounts of strength and force in relatively short time periods.

Being powerful makes you explosive – fast and strong. These are important characteristics in practically all sports.

But it’s not just athletes that benefit from being more powerful.

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) states that power training is also an important component of a typical gym member’s program too [1].

And as hard working a gym goer, improving power can help you:

  • Reduce potential injury
  • Improve strength and muscle conditioning
  • Increase skill, coordination and body awareness
  • Achieve better muscle recruitment and synchronization

Key Point: The ability to move and generate power is crucial to overall function and safety during movement.

Testosterone Boosts Power

It has long been known that optimizing your T levels can lead to an improvement in athleticism.

More muscle mass

Testosterone is a key influence in human metabolism and muscle mass.

Low T levels lead to a loss of lean muscle tissue, whereas higher levels help you gain mass and strength.

Combining strength and power training with optimal T enhances the amount of muscle you have as it speeds up how much your cells repairs themselves.

“Evidence suggests that the effects of T on muscle mass result from its positive influence on protein synthesis” [2]

More strength

Optimal T levels also help you to improve maximal strength ability.

A study by Storer et al [3] found that T booster supplementation helped a group of 61 athletes increase maximal strength whilst at the same time improving lower body power.

So if testosterone can improve strength it can improve power too?

Most definitely.

Testosterone and Explosive Performance

There are a number of factors that influence explosive speed and strength production.

These include age, gender, fitness levels, muscle mass and testosterone levels [4].

So how could testosterone effect power production?

Boosts mechanical power in sprinters

Biology of Sport [4] published a paper in 2002 that showed high T levels were associated with higher velocity, and mechanical power in men when compared to women.

In a range of power-based tests, men were found to exhibit better:

  • 60 m dash
  • Squat jumps
  • Countermovement jumps
  • Continuous jumps

After the differences between weight, height and muscle mass were factored in, the research team suggested that the better explosive jumping seen in men was down to higher testosterone.

They concluded, “high T levels in men might be a factor that ensures superiority in explosive power and speed”.

Improves jumping power

A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research [2] found that having higher testosterone levels resulted in better power production in a group of 70 athletes.

Using 22 female and 48 male elite track and field athletes, the researchers firstly measured their T levels using blood tests.

They then asked the athletes to perform various countermovement jump tests – gold standard measures of explosive ability.

The result?

The research team reported that female jump ability was around 86% that of men. But for both genders, higher T levels meant better jump scores and more power.

Key Point: Higher T levels helped a group of athletes improve explosive power.

Summary

Being powerful makes a big difference to your athletic ability, and being able to move at high speed, deliver explosive movements and move heavy weight quickly are all markers of a good athlete.

Research suggests that those with higher explosive ability also have higher levels of testosterone. It is therefore important that you train to improve power but also aim to optimize your hormones too.

That way you can maximize your chances of being a high-power athlete.

How To Boost Testosterone Naturally

There are a number of natural nutrients and ingredients that can elevate your T levels safely and without side effects.

MVP Testo has used exhaustive research to combine the best of these nutrients into a muscle boosting formula that has the ability to:

  • Improve strength – enhance speed, force and athleticism
  • Add slabs of muscle – more muscle and better aesthetics
  • More energy – train harder for longer

Containing natural ingredients such as zinc, magnesium and oyster extract,

MVP Testo is the next generation of testosterone booster.

References

  1. National Academy of Sports Medicine. The Importance of Reactive/Power Training. NASM. 2017
  2. Cardinale, M et al. Is Testosterone Influencing Explosive Performance? J Str Cond Res. 2006; 20(1): 103-7
  3. Storer, TW et al. Testosterone dose-dependently increases maximal voluntary strength and leg power, but does not affect fatigability or specific tension. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003; 88(4): 1478-85
  4. Boccia, G et al. Career Performance Trajectories in Track and Field Jumping Events from Youth to Senior Success: The Importance of Learning and Development. PLoS ONE. 2017; 12(1)

This is your brain asleep!

Sleep Lab

It has been more than 50 years since scientists first discovered that the brain is highly active during sleep. Since then, careful observations and technical innovations have helped us understand a great deal about what goes on when we sleep. We know many of the most common characteristics and patterns of sleep, as well as how diseases, medications, certain behaviors, and varied lifestyle choices influence when and how well we sleep.

Take a first-hand look at the sleep patterns of healthy sleepers of various ages and explore how shift work and certain sleep disorders affect the amount, pattern, and depth of sleep. To see what sleep looks like to researchers and sleep physicians, enter the Sleep Lab.

launch interactive

Sleep, Learning, and Memory

The Learning Process and Sleep

Healthy sleep is essential for optimal learning and memory function.

Sleep, learning, and memory are complex phenomena that are not entirely understood. However, animal and human studies suggest that the quantity and quality of sleep have a profound impact on learning and memory. Research suggests that sleep helps learning and memory in two distinct ways. First, a sleep-deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently. Second, sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information.

Although the exact mechanisms are not known, learning and memory are often described in terms of three functions. Acquisition refers to the introduction of new information into the brain. Consolidation represents the processes by which a memory becomes stable. Recall refers to the ability to access the information (whether consciously or unconsciously) after it has been stored.

Each of these steps is necessary for proper memory function. Acquisition and recall occur only during wakefulness, but research suggests that memory consolidation takes place during sleep through the strengthening of the neural connections that form our memories. Although there is no consensus about how sleep makes this process possible, many researchers think that specific characteristics of brainwaves during different stages of sleep are associated with the formation of particular types of memory.

 

Sleep researchers study the role of sleep in learning and memory formation in two ways. The first approach looks at the different stages of sleep (and changes in their duration) in response to learning a variety of new tasks. The second approach examines how sleep deprivation affects learning. Sleep deprivation can be total (no sleep allowed), partial (either early or late sleep is deprived), or selective (specific stages of sleep are deprived).

Sleep Stages and Types of Memory

Different types of memories are formed in new learning situations. Scientists are exploring whether there is a relationship between the consolidation of different types of memories and the various stages of sleep.

The earliest sleep and memory research focused on declarative memory, which is the knowledge of fact-based information, or “what” we know (for example, the capital of France, or what you had for dinner last night). In one research study, individuals engaged in an intensive language course were observed to have an increase in rapid-eye-movement sleep, or REM sleep. This is a stage of sleep in which dreaming occurs most frequently. Scientists hypothesized that REM sleep played an essential role in the acquisition of learned material. Further studies have suggested that REM sleep seems to be involved in declarative memory processes if the information is complex and emotionally charged, but probably not if the information is simple and emotionally neutral.

Researchers now hypothesize that slow-wave sleep (SWS), which is deep, restorative sleep, also plays a significant role in declarative memory by processing and consolidating newly acquired information. Studies of the connection between sleep and declarative memory have had mixed results, and this is an area of continued research.

Sleep plays a major role in the ability to learn new tasks that require motor coordination and performance.

Research has also focused on sleep and its role in procedural memory—the remembering “how” to do something (for example, riding a bicycle or playing the piano). REM sleep seems to plays a critical role in the consolidation of procedural memory. Other aspects of sleep also play a role: motor learning seems to depend on the amount of lighter stages of sleep, while certain types of visual learning seem to depend on the amount and timing of both deep, slow-wave sleep (SWS) and REM sleep.

The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Learning and Performance

Another area that researchers study is the impact that a lack of adequate sleep has on learning and memory. When we are sleep deprived, our focus, attention, and vigilance drift, making it more difficult to receive information. Without adequate sleep and rest, over-worked neurons can no longer function to coordinate information properly, and we lose our ability to access previously learned information.

In addition, our interpretation of events may be affected. We lose our ability to make sound decisions because we can no longer accurately assess the situation, plan accordingly, and choose the correct behavior. Judgment becomes impaired.

Being chronically tired to the point of fatigue or exhaustion means that we are less likely to perform well. Neurons do not fire optimally, muscles are not rested, and the body’s organ systems are not synchronized. Lapses in focus from sleep deprivation can even result in accidents or injury.

For more information about how sleep deprivation affects performance, see Sleep, Performance, and Public Safety.

Low-quality sleep and sleep deprivation also negatively impact mood, which has consequences for learning. Alterations in mood affect our ability to acquire new information and subsequently to remember that information. Although chronic sleep deprivation affects different individuals in a variety of ways (and the effects are not entirely known), it is clear that a good night’s rest has a strong impact on learning and memory.

Open Questions

Although current research suggests that sleep is essential for proper memory function, there are unanswered questions, as in any area of active scientific inquiry. For example, certain medications will significantly, if not entirely, suppress REM sleep. However, patients taking these medications do not report any memory impairment. Similarly, injuries or disease causing lesions to the brainstem (and subsequently eliminating a person’s REM sleep) have not resulted in any obvious loss of the ability to form new memories. Exploration and debate continue.

Mice exhibit an increase in REM sleep after completing a new course through a maze.

© Tetra Images/Corbis

Not all researchers are convinced that sleep plays as prominent a role in memory consolidation as others believe. In experiments in which animals completed a course through a complicated maze, the animals’ amount of REM sleep increased after performing the task. Some researchers believe that the increase in REM sleep reflects an increased demand on the brain processes that are involved in learning a new task. Other researchers, however, have suggested that any changes in the amount of REM sleep are due to the stress of the task itself, rather than a functional relationship to learning.

Researchers are likewise split with regard to the impact of sleep deprivation on learning and memory. For example, rats often perform much worse on learning tasks after being selectively deprived of REM sleep. This suggests that REM sleep is necessary for the animals’ ability to consolidate the memory of how to perform the task. Some scientists have argued that the observed differences in learning are not actually due to the lack of REM sleep, but may be due to the animals not being as well rested because they were deprived a portion of their sleep.

Bookshelf

  • Ellenbogen JM, Payne JD, Stickgold R. The role of sleep in declarative memory consolidation: passive, permissive, active or none? Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2006 Dec;16(6):716-22. Epub 2006 Nov 7.

Summary

In the view of many researchers, evidence suggests that various sleep stages are involved in the consolidation of different types of memories and that being sleep deprived reduces one’s ability to learn. Although open questions (and debate) remain, the overall evidence suggests that adequate sleep each day is very important for learning and memory.

 

 

NORA, THE SMART, NON-INVASIVE SNORING SOLUTION

By: JEFF MANN

Snoring is no joke. As well as being a symptom of conditions such as sleep apnea, sharing a bed with a heavy snorer can seriously compromise the health of your relationship.

Whilst the snorer often sleeps soundly, their partner has to endure repeated awakenings in the night; a recipe for frustration, resentment and lots of sleep deprivation.

Snoring is caused by the relaxing of the soft-tissue in the breathing airways at night, so finding a permanent cure isn’t easy. Solutions run the gamut from herbal sprays, nasal patches, lozenges, to mouthguards, nasal strips, and even surgery.

But there hasn’t been a really ‘smart’ way to beat snoring yet. Until now, that is. Because Smart Nora Inc, a small company from San Francisco have invented a unique solution that promises to bring peaceful nights to long-suffering partners of snorers.

Having just completed a successful campaign on Kickstarter, Nora promises to be the “first smart and non-invasive snoring solution that’s designed specifically to stop snoring before it wakes your sleeping partner“.

Like all good ideas, the concept behind Nora is simple and elegant. Instead of attempting to ‘cure’ or prevent snoring, Nora instead detects the very first signs of snoring, and attempts to stop it before it wakes up the partner.

It does this with a clever 2-part apparatus; a pebble-shaped bedside device which contains a microphone, and a small inflatable pad that slips into your pillow.

Nora Smart snoring pillow solution

How Nora works

When you fall asleep the pebble listens out for any signs of snoring in the room. As soon as snoring is detected, a small pump inflates the pillow pad, elevating your head slightly.

This is just enough to stimulate the relaxed throat muscles, after which the airway assumes its natural position allowing you to breathe normally again.

Nora comes with an iOs smartphone app which can monitor your night’s sleep and potentially identify if your snoring indicates medical problems. The makers also hope to integrate Nora with Apple Health in the future.

So if you or your partner is struggling with snoring, it’s well worth checking out Nora. We think it’s an interesting and innovation solution to a problem that affects lots of people.

12 Foods That Kill Sleep

Looking to get a great night’s sleep then stay away from these foods before bedtime.

Celery

Steer clear of celery just before bed. Celery and other foods with a high water content (cucumbers, watermelon, radishes and such) are natural diuretics that may cause you to wake in the middle of the night with a full bladder.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are rich in tyramine, an amino acid that triggers the brain to release norepinephrine, a stimulant that boosts brain activity and delays sleep. Other tyramine-rich foods include eggplant, soy sauce, red wine and aged cheeses, such as Brie and Stilton.

Cheese Pizza

Foods high in fat and fried foods take longer to digest and can cause discomfort that interferes with sleep. They can also reduce the effectiveness of some medications taken at night, says Alon Avidan, a neurologist and director of UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine Sleep Disorders Center.

Alcohol

Although a nightcap or a glass of wine before bed may help you doze off quicker, it disrupts sleep later in the night and robs you of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Lack of REM sleep harms concentration, memory and motor skills.

Black-bean chili

This dish could be a disaster if you eat it close to bedtime. The body has a hard time digesting beans, so stomach-rumbling gas pains will keep you from a good night’s sleep, says Helen Rasmussen, a research nutritionist at Tufts University.

Dark chocolate

A small piece of dark chocolate each day helps keep your heart healthy — but don’t nibble it right before you go to bed. Dark chocolate (though not white chocolate), hot cocoa and tea all contain caffeine, and if you’re caffeine-sensitive, you may find yourself staring at the ceiling instead of snoozing.

 Gumdrops

A handful of gumdrops (or any candy) may cause your blood sugar levels to spike and then fall rapidly as the body releases insulin to bring them under control. You may fall asleep easily, but these fluctuations make it difficult to stay asleep.

Tacos

A taco liberally sprinkled with hot sauce may set your taste buds tingling, but eating it within a few hours of lights-out can set you up for a bad case of heartburn and a restless night. Ditto for other spicy foods.

Steak

Save the leftover slice of steak for lunch tomorrow. Foods high in protein and marbled fats, such as steak and roast beef, are slow to digest. If your body is busy digesting food, there’s more of a chance that you’ll have a restless night.

Carbonated soft drinks

Caffeine, that sneak thief of sleep, can turn up in unexpected places, including root beer and lemon-lime soda. Added to a food or beverage, caffeine must be listed as an ingredient; if it occurs naturally (coffee, tea, chocolate), it doesn’t. Check the label.

Dagwood sandwich

A heavy meal just before bed can rob you of the shut-eye you need. Allow at least three hours post-meal before you turn in so your body has a chance to digest the food and you don’t feel too uncomfortable to sleep.

Broccoli

Broccoli is a nutrition powerhouse, but its slow-to-digest fiber will keep your body working hard into the night. Broccoli and its relative’s cauliflower and Brussels sprouts also contain an indigestible sugar that will produce large amounts of gas.

Thanks to AARP for such a great article.