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Want to Eat Healthier? Listen to Your Biological Clock

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The jury’s still out on whether early birds are superior to night owls, but they may have an easier time maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As The New York Times reports, a new study published in the journal Obesity found that morning people may make better food choices, and eat earlier in the day, than those who function on an evening schedule.

Finnish researchers wanted to see whether a person’s chronotype—their personal biological clock—affects their eating habits. To do so, they examined data from 2000 men and women who participated in Finland’s national FINRISK and FINDIET studies in 2007. The first study monitored participants' health-related behaviors; the second, their dietary habits.

For the FINDIET study, the subjects logged their food and alcohol intakes for 48 hours, tracking their daily caloric intake and the types of macronutrients they consumed. They also recorded when they ate, both during the week and during the weekend. The FINRISK study looked at participants’ sleep habits; this helped researchers determine whether participants were morning or evening people, CBS News reports.

After crunching the numbers and controlling for various factors (age, sex, BMI, education, etc.), the researchers found that morning people and evening people consumed similar amounts of calories per day. However, the night owls tended to eat fewer calories in the morning—and when they did eat, they chose breakfast foods that were higher in carbs, fats, and sugars. The night owls also ate more sugars and fats during the evening.

This difference was even more pronounced during the weekend: Night owls consumed far more sugar and fat than the early birds, they ate more, and they also ate during irregular times, researchers noted.

"Early birds may have an extra advantage over night owls when it comes to fighting obesity as they are instinctively choosing to eat healthier foods earlier in the day," concluded Courtney Peterson, a nutrition sciences professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in a press release. "Previous studies have shown that eating earlier in the day may help with weight loss and lower the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease,” Peterson added. “What this new study shows is that our biological clocks not only affect our metabolism but also what we choose to eat."

You may be able to make better lifestyle choices if you know your chronotype, Peterson added. "Clinicians can help steer people to healthier options—and suggest the optimal time to eat these foods—based on what we now know about our biological clocks," she said.

[h/t The New York Times]

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Interactive Chart Tells You How Long It Takes to Get Frostbite
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For many people, winter means dry skin and high heating bills. But if you find yourself outdoors in the right conditions, it can also mean frostbite. Frostbite occurs when the skin and the tissue beneath it freezes, causing pain, loss of sensation, or worse. It's easier to contract than you may think, even if you don't live in the Siberian tundra. To see if frostbite poses a threat where you live, check out this chart spotted by Digg.

The chart, developed by Pooja Gandhi and Adam Crahen using National Weather Service data, looks at three factors: wind speed, air temperature, and time spent outdoors. You can hover your cursor over data-points on the table to see how long you'd need to be exposed to certain wind chills for your skin tissue to freeze. If the wind chill is -22°F, for example (10°F air temperature with 5 mph winds), it would take 31 minutes of being outside before frostbite sets in. You can also look at the time scale above the chart to calculate it a different way. If you bring your cursor to the 40-minute mark, a window will tell that frostbite becomes a risk after exposure to -17°F wind chill for that amount of time. You can play with the interactive table at Tableau Public.

Chart of cold weather conditions.
Adam Crahen, Pooja Gandhi

If you can't avoid being outside in extreme wind and cold, there are a few steps you can take to keep your skin protected. Wear lots of layers, including multiple socks, and wrap your face with a scarf or face mask before venturing into the cold. Also, remember to stay hydrated. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, drinking at least one glass of water before going outside decreases your risk of contracting frostbite.

[h/t Digg]

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REM-Fit
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Stop Your Snoring and Track Your Sleep With a Wi-Fi Smart Pillow
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REM-Fit

Everyone could use a better night's rest. The CDC says that only 66 percent of American adults get as much sleep as they should, so if you're spending plenty of time in bed but mostly tossing and turning (or trying to block out your partner's snores), it may be time to smarten up your sleep accessories. As TechCrunch reports, the ZEEQ Smart Pillow improves your sleeping schedule in a multitude of ways, whether you're looking to quiet your snores or need a soothing lullaby to rock you to sleep.

After a successful Kickstarter in 2016, the product is now on sale and ready to get you snoozing. If you're a snorer, the pillow has a microphone designed to listen to the sound of your snores and softly vibrate so that you shift positions to a quieter pose. Accelerometers in the pillow let the sleep tracker know how much you're moving around at night, allowing it to record your sleep stages. Then, you can hook the pillow up to your Amazon Echo or Google Home so that you can have your favorite smart assistant read out the pillow's analysis of your sleep quality and snoring levels the next morning.

The pillow is also equipped with eight different wireless speakers that turn it into an extra-personal musical experience. You can listen to soothing music while you fall asleep, either connecting the pillow to your Spotify or Apple Music account on your phone via Bluetooth or using the built-in relaxation programs. You can even use it to listen to podcasts without disturbing your partner. You can set a timer to turn the music off after a certain period so you don't wake up in the middle of the night still listening to Serial.

And when it's time to wake up, the pillow will analyze your movements to wake you during your lightest sleep stage, again keeping the noise of an alarm from disturbing your partner.

The downside? Suddenly your pillow is just another device with a battery that needs to charge. And forget about using it in a place without Wi-Fi.

The ZEEQ Smart Pillow currently costs $200.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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