What you need to know about the sleep-gut connection, greens powder hacks and making perfectionism work for you.
The link between sleep and gut health is gaining attention. Like most relationships, it appears to be a two-way street. Sleep deprivation messes with the microbiome. In one study, when men slept four hours a night for just two nights in a row, the balance between different types of bacteria in their gut changed for the worse. Other research has shown some people with higher levels of certain “bad” bacteria in their gut have sleep issues. This raises the possibility that sleep doesn’t just affect gut health: an imbalanced gut microbiome may also fuel sleep problems. It’s too soon to say that certain bacteria will send you softly to sleep, or that consistently sound sleep ensures good gut health. But your daily probiotic is looking pretty good, right? And of course there are natural aids that are well studied for sleep disorders, like slumber superstar melatonin (a hormone that—surprise!—has also been linked to intestinal health).
Most of us are trying to eat more fruits and veg. Some of us have even gone next level by adding a superfood greens powder to our arsenal (insert raised hand emoji here). Here’s the good news: You don’t just have to mix this nutrient-dense supplement into a glass of water or a smoothie and slam it. People are getting very creative with slipping greens powder into some pretty surprising dishes. Some of our fave ideas? Add a scoop to your morning porridge, or blend it into hummus and other veggie dips, as well as vegan pesto. Whisk it into your salad dressing—just make sure you’re using some strong flavors like lemon, cilantro or tamari to balance the taste. Greens powder can even find a home in energy balls or brownies … so your 3 pm chocolate fix becomes a nutrient fix.
A new study says American millennials (along with Canadians and Brits) are more likely than previous generations to feel pressure to be perfect—and to apply that pressure to others. There are three types of perfectionism: self-oriented perfectionism (when we set high standards for ourselves), socially prescribed perfectionism (when we feel others expect us to be flawless) and other-oriented perfectionism (when we expect a whole lot of others). In the last 27 years, all types of perfectionism have increased among college students, but socially prescribed perfectionism has increased the most—by 33 percent. It’s also the most damaging type. It’s tied to depression and anxiety. Self-oriented perfectionism, however, can sometimes be healthy. It may even help protect you from job burnout. But it has to be injected with a little light-heartedness, and it has to be about the rush of achievement, not the terror of falling short. So go on: set that lofty goal. And don’t let others tell you whether it’s good enough.