Sleep less, weigh more: 6 ways lack of sleep is making you pile on the weight. LOTS of weight.

What if I told you there’s a super-effective weight loss technique that costs nothing and doesn’t need a single change in your diet? Yes, it’s true. No, it’s not a magic potion.

It is – wait for it – SLEEP. Yes, saying that that people who sleep more end up eating less (and being less hungry) might be oversimplifying a little too much, but in essence, that’s what multiple studies have found. Along with a host of other facts that have a massive impact on your weight. Read on.

Sleep controls your hunger levels

Constantly feeling a niggling hunger? That doesn’t go away even with proper meals? It may be down to your sleep cycle. Cortisol levels start rising when you’re short on sleep. This shuts down the regions of your brain that make you feel satisfied after a meal, meaning you feel hungry all the time – even if you just ate mammoth portions.

And that’s not all. Cortisol doesn’t just make you crave any food – it specifically makes you crave high calorie foods, adding insult to injury. Research by the American Heart Association shows the sleep deprived usually end up gorging an extra 500 calories a day. This roughly translates to two pounds of weight gain over a month.

All because of simple lack of sleep.

sleep and weight2You can’t shift the weight

Working out, eating right and still can’t budge those pounds? Poor sleep literally changes your fat cells, making it near-impossible to lose weight. The American Health Association steps in again, with statistics that prove those on a sleep-deprived diet experience a 55% reduction in fat loss compared to their well rested counterparts.

How? Why?

According to researchers at the University of Chicago, when your body is sleep deprived, it suffers from “metabolic grogginess”. This basically means your fat cells become exhausted, dazed and confused when you’re short on sleep – just like the rest of your mind and body. Unfortunately, they can’t be revved up by multiple shots of espresso and within just four days of sleep deprivation, your body’s ability to properly use insulin drops by more than 30%.

Why’s that bad?

Insulin instructs fat cells to flush away the fatty acids and lipids from your blood stream. When it’s disrupted, these fats keep circulating in your blood, ultimately getting stored away in all the wrong places – such as your liver. And that is exactly how you become fat and suffer from diseases like diabetes.

You have inane food cravings

Contrary to popular belief, hunger and cravings are not a function of willpower. They are actually controlled by two hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells you, “Put down the fork, I’m full”. So, high levels of leptin keep hunger at bay. Ghrelin, on the other hand, makes you feel hungry, while slowing down your metabolism (hence reducing your calorie-burn) and increasing the amount fat you store.

It’s a cinch to figure out why throwing leptin and ghrelin out of balance is the last thing you need. But sleeping less than 6 hours makes leptin levels plummet and ghrelin levels rise, setting the stage for high calorie feasting after a restless night. QED.

sleep weight lossSleep deprivation sabotages gym time

To make a bad situation worse, lack of sleep doesn’t just affect your diet – it also sabotages your workouts. And it’s not just that when you’re suffering from slept debt, everything you do feels tougher. Scientists from Brazil have found that sleep deprivation decreases your body’s protein synthesis, causing muscle loss and creating a higher potential for injuries.

Plus, lack of sleep also slows down the production of growth hormones, which makes it harder for your body to recover from exercise, lowers the fat burn and leads to premature ageing.

Sleep (literally) helps you burn more calories

Another inducement to sleep on time? Your body will burn more calories throughout the day. How? According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, normal sleepers’ resting energy expenditure (the amount of calories burned when you’re not moving) was 5% higher than their tired counterparts. Plus, the former also burned 20% more calories after a meal.

Sleeplessness leads you to poor decisions

Skimping on sleep dulls your brain’s frontal lobe – the region that controls decision-making and impulse control – thereby setting you up for bad decisions. Plus, when you’re overtired, your brain’s reward centers rev up, looking for something that feels good, aka energy-dense, high-carb junk foods. In short, while you might be able to squash comfort food cravings when you’re well-rested, your sleep deprived brain may have trouble saying no to that third doughnut.

Skip the booze, try these fabulous Irish beauty recipes for St. Patrick’s Day!

Between St. Patrick’s Day, Kendall Jenner and Jamie Dornan, it seems the Irish are taking over our world. Which is not surprising, considering the beauty of the Irish has been renowned across continents for centuries. Which is why we’ve dug up some of the most unusual Irish beauty secrets ladies have kept to themselves for generations… after all, why should the wee little technicality of not being born in Ireland stop you from looking like a bonnie lass!

Irish-beauty-secrets-2Irish beauty recipe #1: Have an oatmeal facial

Not only is oatmeal healthy, delicious and filling, it also has proven skincare benefits. That’s because oats are a terrific source of skin nurturing avenanthramides and beta-glucan, which relieve itching, tackle acne, lower redness and inflammation, firm and moisturise – all in one go. Plus, finely milled oatmeal sticks to skin’s surface irritants, which can then be gently rinsed away for thorough cleansing sans the dryness.

So, try this popular Irish face mask: Take a quarter cup of very fine oatmeal and combine it with a beaten egg white. Spread this paste over your face, leave it to dry (15-20 minutes) and remove with a towel soaked in warm water.

Added points for authenticity: Use McCann’s oats, which have been an Irish staple since the early 1800s.

Irish beauty recipe #2: Drink barley water

My taste buds are not too fond of barley water but even science swears by its health and skincare quotient. Drinking a cup everyday will cool down your body, control acne breakouts, sort out urinary tract infections, digestive problems and sore throats, while boosting energy levels. So, go ahead and guzzle up some barley water like the Irish do. Right NOW.

Irish beauty secrets 3Irish beauty recipe #3: Try a beer rinse

Ireland = beer = Ireland. And even if it’s bad for the waistline (though see if I care!), beer makes for a phenomenal beauty product. The delish brew is chock-full of proteins from its malts and hops, which bind to the hair shaft to restore its strength, shine and suppleness. Plus, it couldn’t be easier: Shampoo you hair, then douse the wet strands with enough beer to coat the tresses from root to ends. Let sit for a minute, then rinse and condition as usual.

Added points if you go for Guinness – it’s the Irish cult classic, after all.

Irish beauty recipe #4: Indulge in a seaweed soak

The Irish have known for centuries what global spas are just discovering: seaweed is brimming over with alginic acid, a silky compound of essential oils that helps purify, firm up, nourish and rehydrate the skin. Plus, it also has a potent combo of vitamins and minerals that are easily absorbed as this gelatinous substance’s unique molecular structure is very close to that of human skin. It also slows down ageing and boosts cell generation, all while improving skin texture and tone. Plus it makes tresses super shiny and stimulates blood circulation to promote hair growth.

Traditionally in Ireland’s bath houses, seawater was pumped directly from the ocean into large cast iron tubs, into which piles of locally harvested seaweed were added. Today, you can bring a close enough copy of this experience right into your own bathtub. Simply fill up the tub with warm water, add a cup each of sea salt and dried seaweed. Mix and soak till the water runs cold.

Irish beauty #5: Comforting Comfrey

Time to hunt out the comfrey – a plant native to the British Isles and Ireland that’s famous for tackling everything from super-sensitive skin to muscle aches. Ireland is not in your backyard and you can’t find fresh comfrey anywhere? Don’t fret: over-the-shelf organic comfrey salves work just as well. But do remember: While comfrey is super-safe when used topically, doctors warn against ingesting or applying it on open wounds.

Irish beauty #6: Soak up the showers

Trust the laid-back, happy going Irish to find the easiest, most chilled out way to look fab! Simply walk out into a rain shower and allow your hair and skin to soak up the soft natural moisture. What could be easier? Or more refreshing?

Beer or beauty? Which Irish traditions are inspiring you on St. Patrick’s day?

Parfum vs EDP vs EDT: What the brands will never tell you (it’s more than just concentration levels!)

This time in Paris, I had an epiphany. A huge one: All these years, I have been wearing a false Chanel No. 5. Not fake, just false. That’s because what we know as Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum is not really the legendary fragrance created by Ernest Beaux for Mademoiselle Chanel in 1921.

It is, in fact, Beaux’s parfum, as re-imagined for a more contemporary audience by Chanel nose Jacques Polge in 1986. And the difference, contrary to common belief, lies not just in the concentration of oils. In fact if, like me, you are only familiar with Chanel No 5 EDT or EDP, discovering the parfum will be like finding a completely different fragrance.

parfum vs edt vs edpIsn’t it just about the proportion of oils to alcohol?

No, it’s not. Definitely and absolutely not. As you go up the fragrance ladder, it’s not just the concentration that changes but also the materials and their quality. The EDP and Parfum versions might, in fact, have additional notes that are left out of the EDT altogether because of their price and “heaviness” (EDTs are typically fresher and lighter).

For example, it’s believed that only the Chanel No. 5 parfum contains jasmine from Grasse – the EDP is crafted with flowers from other, lesser sources. Impossible to say for sure but when you smell the two simultaneously, the parfum does deliver a fresher, more rounded jasmine story.

The second thing you notice is that Polge has underlined the original’s bright citrusy top notes and made the vanilla drydown much warmer in order to create a modern twist. The creamy notes of peach that lace the rose, lily of the valley and jasmine heart are also more prominent, while the amplified voluptuousness of sandalwood and the darkness of leather and incense replace the plush, rich muskiness of the original.

The EDP sillage itself is beautiful and long lasting but definitely less powerful. I would say that if the parfum is haute couture, the EDP is the Little Black Dress – both are thrilling in their own right but the former is definitely more majestic.

While I use Chanel No. 5 as an example, the same story runs across all perfume houses, from Dior to Van Cleef & Arpels.

And that’s why, price matters…

  • Chanel Parfum: $260.00 per ounce
  • Eau de Parfum: $33.82 per ounce
  • Eau de Toilette: $26.47 per ounce
  • Body Spray: $13.10 per ounce

What’s you take? Do you wear Chanel No. 5? Which one? And would you rather buy a Parfum, an EDP or an EDT?

Gypsy beauty recipes: Secrets to looking mystical, exotic and bohemian-glam

Long, glossy, carefree hair, skin that glows like smooth marble touched with warm gold, exotic kohl-lined eyes that seem to peer into your very soul, a haunting fragrance that wafts around like the most mystical incense… gypsy women are some of the most beautiful in the world, aren’t they? Are they born beautiful? Many are, yes, but not all. And for those who are not, here are some closely held beauty secrets that will transform the plainest of Janes into magnificent beauties who can tempt and trap with a flutter of their eye lashes.

the beauty gypsy, gypsy beauty, gypsy beauty secrets, beauty, skincare, beauty DIY

  • Dry hair? Warm some olive oil and apply it to your tresses, using cotton balls. Go slowly all over the head, working in the oil right to the ends. Then dip a towel in hot water, wring it out, and wrap it around your hair. When the towel has cooled, reheat it and wrap it around again. Keep your hair under wraps for an hour, then shampoo thoroughly. 
  • To keep the complexion clear, wash your face with dew every morning. Gypsies of centuries past also used rain water but in these days of acid rain, I wouldn’t advice going down this route.
  • A gypsy skin freshener is made up of one part malt vinegar (apple cider vinegar will do) to eight parts of water. This can also do double duty as a great hair rinse.
  • Looking for that supple, pore-less, alabaster-like complexion that seems to glow from inside? Try this 19th century Romani gypsy beauty recipe: Mix one egg with one tablespoon each of honey and milk. Beat together and apply the pack to face and neck. Leave it on for 15 minutes, then wash off with warm water followed by cold water.
  • Blend equal parts olive oil, rose water and powdered oatmeal and apply this concoction on your face. Wash off after 20 minutes for skin that glows like silvery marble in moonlight.
  • the beauty gypsy, gypsy beauty, gypsy beauty secrets, beauty, skincare, beauty DIYSage tea can bring back the hair’s natural colour when it is starting to grey. Prepare a strong concoction by boiling loose sage leaves in water, let it cool and apply all over your hair. Repeat once a week.
  • Looking for something more enchanted? Take a lock of your hair and bury it at the foot of a willow tree. This is said to promote luxuriant growth, making the hair glossy and smooth.
  • Bring out that moon-phase watch – cutting tresses at New Moon will make them grow rapidly and richly. On the other hand, if you cut your hair during the waning cycle, it will grow very slowly.
  • Yes, you can make your hair grow faster – by never brushing it in artificial light. Gypsy women will either do it in the daylight or sit outside by the light of the moon.
  • And it’s not just about the women: men seeking luxuriant hair should regularly apply a tea made from wild cherry bark. A strong mixture worked into the scalp over a period of time is said to grow hair on a bald man.

So there you have it: gypsy beauty. What do you think? Corny or glam? Which of these enchanted potions will you be trying?