How Forgetfulness Benefits Your Brain

You might think forgetfulness is a sign of a bad memory, but it could help you develop a stronger mind.

Welcome to the positive corner of the internet. Every weekday, we make sense of the confusing world of wellness by analyzing the headlines, simplifying the latest research, and offering quick tips designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes. If you were forwarded this message, you can get the free daily email here.

Today’s Health Upgrade

  • The silent killer of muscle

  • Eliminate the guesswork

  • Can you lose weight too fast

  • How forgetfulness benefits your brain

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The Silent Killer of Muscle

Diet and exercise get all the attention, but if you’re not recovering correctly, your results might not match your effort.

​Research suggests that sleep reduction causes muscle loss.

In the study, all participants followed a fat-loss diet, but one group also restricted their sleep by one hour per night during the week. Everyone lost a similar amount of weight, but those in the sleep reduction group held onto more fat and mostly lost muscle.

The study participants were allowed to catch up on sleep as much as they wanted on the weekends, but those who didn’t sleep enough still lost muscle instead of fat.

This isn't the first time sleep deprivation has been tied to muscle loss. In a different study, participants who slept 5.5 hours per night (compared to 8.5 hours) saw that nearly 80 percent of their weight loss was from lean muscle (instead of fat).

While some muscle loss is expected during a diet, you can help preserve your hard-earned muscle by training hard, eating enough protein, and getting enough sleep.

Eliminate the Guesswork

If you want to know the best way to apply all the research we share in these emails, running a little experiment on yourself is worth your time. Your specific needs are based on variables you can’t see. That’s why we recommend learning what’s happening inside your body so you can turn the dial for a healthier life.

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InsideTracker combines blood, DNA, and other data you provide to offer a holistic view of your health and discover how you can improve your healthspan. You’ll learn where you can improve, and InsideTracker also takes the guesswork out of being healthier by offering personalized recommendations. 

Stop guessing about what your body needs. As a member of the village, you get 20% OFF InsiderTracker. Discover the best plan for you and get the answers you deserve. 

Can You Lose Weight Too Fast?

Most diets highlight how quickly they make you lose weight, which might be why they fail. 

Research suggests that losing weight too fast with too many extremes might make it easier to regain weight (and harder to lose it again).

Scientists studied contestants from the show The Biggest Loser. They analyzed them after their weight loss and followed up six years later. Most participants (13 of the 14) regained the weight at the follow-up. But here’s what was most interesting. 

After regaining weight, their metabolism was slower than before, and they burned significantly fewer calories.

Despite what some people believe, you burn more calories the heavier you are. That’s because your metabolic rate is dependent on your body weight. The more you weigh, the more energy your body burns to power your body. So when people regain weight, their resting metabolic rate should have increased. 

On average, the group burned 2,600 calories per day before the competition. After the weight loss, that dropped to about 2,000 calories per day. However, once they regained their weight at the 6-year check-in, their calorie-burning slowed to just 1,900 calories per day. 

There are many potential reasons for the breakdown, but it’s another sign that doing too much too soon is not only unsustainable but could also test the boundaries of how quickly your body wants to lose weight and, therefore, make it harder to keep the weight off. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t be aggressive with weight loss, but it does mean that you must be mindful of promises that try to help you lose as quickly as possible at all costs. Instead, we’ve seen thousands transform their health by focusing on sustainable habits and routines. (We recommend these 5 tools.)

Healthy weight loss is typically one to two pounds per week at most. And the less weight you have to lose, the slower the process will go.

How Forgetfulness Benefits Your Brain

Do you ever wish you had a better memory? New research suggests that some types of forgetfulness are a feature and not a fault. 

Your brain is wired to hold some information for a short period of time and others for longer access. The combination can be exhausting and result in having trouble recalling what you value most.

Scientists now believe that forgetfulness helps you tune out useless information so you can spend more time on what’s relevant. It’s a form of learning that enables you to adapt to your changing environment and make better decisions. 

In other words, without forgetting, your brain would be overwhelmed, store endless amounts of information, and become fixated and weighed down. Some theories believe that PTSD occurs because the forgetting function is broken, and the brain struggles with the inability to let go of painful experiences. 

Disease like Alzheimer’s or dementia are not about forgetfulness, it’s a breakdown in your brains ability to access memories and process correctly. 

But, if you’re forgetting too much in the short term, the issue might be your sleep. Research suggests that even one night of sleep deprivation can harm short-term memory. Other studies found that poor sleep affects the regions of your brain that help you in short-term processing and decision-making. It’s so bad that researchers estimate poor sleep can reduce your learning capacity by 40 percent. 

To stay sharp and improve your sleep, remember to try to go to sleep and wake up at similar times each day, cut off eating within 2 to 3 hours of sleep, foam roll or stretch before sleep, journal your thoughts, or read a book. Overall, try to sleep at least 6 hours every night, as that’s the cutoff when the breakdown occurs. 

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell