TIME Diet/Nutrition

Kids Overeat When They’re Stressed, Study Says

Especially if their parents use food as a reward

Next time you watch Bambi with your kids, you may want to hide the ice cream: A new study shows that 5-to-7-year-old children tend to eat more when they’re sad.

According to a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, kids are more likely to overeat when they are upset, especially if their parents have used food as a reward in the past. The study notes that stress eating is a learned and unnatural behavior, since stress and emotional turmoil usually reduce appetite, rather than increasing it. The fact that children were found to have stress eating tendencies at this age suggests that emotional overeating is something children learn in early childhood, perhaps because of the way their parents feed them.

The researchers divided the kids into two groups, asked them to color a picture, and then told them they would get a toy once the coloring was done. With one group of kids, the researchers withheld a crayon that was needed to complete the drawing, which meant the kids couldn’t get their prize. This was a “stressful situation” for the children. While the researchers pretended to look for the crayon so the kids could complete the drawing, kids snacked on a few different items around the room. Afterwards, the researchers found that the kids in the “stressful” situation ate more than the kids who were able to finish their drawing and get the toy, especially if their parents said they had used food as a reward in the past.

The study found that children were much more likely to stress eat if their parents over-controlled their eating, by doing things like using food as a reward or withholding food for health reasons. According to the researchers, these practices can override children’s natural hunger instincts, instead making food into a reward or an emotional comfort.

But because the sample size is relatively small (41 parent-child duos) more research is needed before we’ll get a clearer picture of how exactly parents’ feeding practices affect the way kids think about stress eating.

 

 

TIME Boxing

Why Models Are Addicted to This Fitness Trend

Adriana Lima spotted at the gym today in NYC boxing with her trainer.
Lenny/Max—Splash News/Corbis Adriana Lima spotted at the gym today in NYC boxing with her trainer.

Experts agree that boxing benefits the body and mind

Nine out of 10 people who learn that boxing is part of my fitness regimen find it strange. Why would someone my size—I’m 5 feet—put on sweaty Everlast gloves and throw punches at a bag? Boxing, despite the stereotypes, isn’t just a man’s game, and as the world buzzes about boxing’s big night in Vegas this weekend, as Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally face each other in the ring, many women who like to box will be watching.

Some will even be in attendance. The model Adriana Lima, for one, fell in love with boxing 13 years ago after hating most other exercise, and she will be at the match with her trainer Dino Spencer. “It’s very empowering because you learn how powerful and strong you can be,” Lima says. “It’s the best exercise that exists because you can get really ripped, but not too big.”

Models like Karlie Kloss, Gigi Hadid, Chanel Iman and Joan Smalls have all been seen throwing jabs and crosses with trainers, and Gisele Bundchen joined Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign with a fierce video of her training with a punching bag.

And all for good reason. Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine doctor at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, says one boxing class could burn around a thousand calories. “Boxing builds full-body strength, which is super helpful for both genders, but especially for women who want to do other sports,” he says. For instance: “The risk of a woman tearing her ACL is six times more than a man doing the same sport because the angle between the hip and knee is wider in a woman. Boxing can help counter balance that by building strength to protect the knee.”

Another benefit is building up bone mass, as women have a bigger risk of osteoporosis and bone density issues than men. Sports with repetitive pounding can build bone mass, Metzl says.

Jonathan Fader, a sports psychologist who works with professional athletes, says this: “It’s super helpful for women in this sport to overcome whatever adversity they’re facing,” he says. “There’s even a benefit when you’re defeated—if you have the resilience to overcome that defeat because so much of life in anything we pursue is about how we come back.”

Women may bring some innate advantages to the sport, too. Daniel Glazer, founder of New York’s boutique boxing gym Shadowbox—which has been called the SoulCycle of boxing—says he’s noticed women are much more loyal and dedicated to fitness as a part of their daily lives. “Women have so much passion when it comes to the way they exercise, and boxing is a very passionate sport,” he says.

The model Smalls tells TIME that what sold her on it is the fact that it’s fun, too. “It’s fun to feel your own strength,” says celebrity trainer Lacey Stone, who thinks Hilary Swank’s role as boxer Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby jumpstarted the craze for women.

“I’ve had two children and I’m almost 34 years old, and I believe that thanks to boxing, I’m still a model,” Lima says. She mentions her trainer’s 70-year-old mother, who hits the gym every single day doing the same exercises as Lima. “Boxing, it’s just perfect.”

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Here’s Your Health Excuse to Have a Mint Julep

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Getty Images

Mint is one healthy herb

The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, and that means mint juleps will be on the menu. While there’s really no great health benefit imparted by bourbon, mint certainly has its qualities. If nutrition is what your after, mint soaked in booze may not be the best source, but if you need an excuse for a second mint julep, we’ve got a few.

“Without a doubt, the mojito is my favorite way to enjoy the fresh flavor of mint, but it’s mint in its natural state that I truly love,” says registered dietitian Tina Ruggiero. “Mint is available as a tea; you can buy peppermint oil and, of course, there’s the mint leaf itself.”

Ruggiero says that used in all these forms, mint has the ability to calm an upset stomach, relieve nasal symptoms from cold or allergies, and it’s a good source of Vitamins C and A. Some studies have even found that peppermint oil can be an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

“While mint has trace amounts of potassium, magnesium and calcium, you’d have to eat quite a bit of it to garner any particular benefit,” says Ruggiero. “Instead, use it liberally as an ingredient where appropriate, since it doesn’t add fat, calories or sodium to your meals.” (That probably means mint crushed in your Derby drink isn’t doing you much good).

Besides mint juleps or mojitos, mint can add an extra kick in the kitchen. Try adding some chopped mint to salads or smoothies, or as Ruggiero suggests, infuse cold water with mint for a refreshing and healthy drink.

Gardening enthusiasts also take note: mint is also a great addition to an herb garden.

MONEY Food & Drink

10 Beloved Foods That Are Getting a “Natural” Makeover

Diet Pepsi, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Nestle candies, Newcastle Brown Ale, and McDonald's chicken are among the foods whose ingredients are being tweaked to appease consumers concerned about health.

Vani Hari, a.k.a. the Food Babe, a blogger and food activist, has come under fire lately for some of the campaigns she’s led pressuring big restaurant chains and food manufacturers to eliminate artificial or just hard-to-pronounce ingredients from their products. This nutrition “guru,” many critics have pointed out, has no background in nutrition or food sciences. She’s been described by scientists and nutritionists alternately as a “quack,” a “fear mongerer,” “food terrorist,” and just plain “full of s***.”

“She’s well intentioned, but there’s a problem when she scares her readership by giving them misleading information,” Joseph Perrone, PhD, chief scientific officer for the Center for Accountability in Science, said recently in a Health.com post revealing a handful of “Food Babe Myths You Shouldn’t Believe.” “Almost every chemical sounds dangerous when you pronounce it.”

Still, data collected in the 2015 global Nielsen survey about healthy eating trends points out that consumers are increasingly seeking “fresh, natural and minimally processed foods.” For instance, more than four in 10 consumers say that it’s “very important” that the food they eat use all-natural ingredients, free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and containing no artificial flavors or colors.

Lately, Big Food seems to be getting the message and is making changes dictated by shifting consumer concerns. Players ranging from McDonald’s to Kraft to Heineken have recently announced changes in the ingredients of their products—sometimes with tweaks to their most iconic and successful foods.

And this is a trend that appears to be picking up steam. “I think it’s really just the beginning. It’s only going to get more intense,” Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy group focused on health and the environment, told the Des Moines Register. “This is still the country where the customer is always right. I think companies rushing to clean up their labels to respond to consumer demand, like McDonald’s and others, that’s an indication of the direction.”

Here are 10 examples of changes, or planned changes, to ingredients in well-known foods:

  • Diet Pepsi

    Diet Pepsi cans
    Kristoffer Tripplaar—Alamy

    PepsiCo recently decided to drop a low-calorie sweetener called aspartame from Diet Pepsi—not because it’s unsafe, but because consumers have been showing a preference for soft drinks that are free of artificial sweeteners.

  • Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

    Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
    B. Christopher—Alamy

    What’s inside the iconic blue box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is changing as of 2016. Synthetic coloring and artificial preservatives will no longer be used, leading some to worry the removal of yellow dyes might also change the product’s distinctive taste and freakish orange appearance. The Food Babe and others who petitioned Kraft to make such changes declared victory when the company announced the move.

  • Newcastle Brown Ale

    Newcastle Brown Ale
    David Cooper—Toronto Star via Getty Images Newcastle Brown Ale

    Both the European Food Safety Authority and the USDA have ruled that there’s nothing unsafe about using caramel coloring in foods and drinks. Nonetheless, after receiving widespread “consumer concerns that have been expressed, particularly in the USA,” about the ingredient being carcinogenic, Heineken decided earlier this year that it would no longer use caramel coloring in its Newcastle Brown Ale. A switch to roasted malts will allow the ale to maintain is distinctive brown appearance.

  • Chipotle

    Chipotle restaurant workers fill orders for customers on the day that the company announced it will only use non-GMO ingredients in its food on April 27, 2015 in Miami, Florida. The company announced, that the Denver-based chain would not use the GMO's, which is an organism whose genome has been altered via genetic engineering in the food served at Chipotle Mexican Grills.
    Joe Raedle—Getty Images

    In a groundbreaking move in April, Chipotle became the first major restaurant chain to pledge to only serve food that contains no GMOs (genetically modified organisms) whatsoever.

  • McDonald’s Chicken

    Chicken McNuggets and McWings at a McDonald's restaurant
    Yoshikazu Tsuno—AFP/Getty Images

    In March, Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s new CEO, said that the fast food giant would no longer sell chicken treated with antibiotics that are also used as prescription drugs for humans. McDonald’s is also eliminating sodium phosphates, maltodextrin, and a few other ingredients from its grilled chicken recipe.

  • Tyson Chicken

    Tyson Chicken
    John Holland—Modesto Bee/Zuma Press, Inc./Ala

    Tyson, which is a big supplier for McDonald’s and one of the world’s largest producers of chicken, recently said it would stop using human antibiotics on all its chicken flocks by the fall of 2017. Critics have said that overuse of such antibiotics has helped usher in antibiotic-resistant bacteria sometimes dubbed as “superbugs,” which have been blamed for a rise in illness and death. Critics have also said that Tyson’s change doesn’t go far enough to improve health safety and food sustainability.

  • Costco Meats

    Costco worker cooks chicken at Costco in Mountain View, California
    Paul Sakuma—AP

    The warehouse membership club retailer sells some 80 million rotisserie chickens per year—sales are boosted by the bargain $4.99 price for the cooked birds—and it too recently announced it is moving toward eliminating human antibiotics in the poultry and other meats it sells.

  • Hershey Candy

    Almond Joy candy bar
    Stanley Marquardt—Alamy

    While Hershey’s plans are somewhat vague, the company said late last year that it was “moving more toward sugar” and away from high-fructose corn syrup as a key ingredient in some of its candies. Classic Hershey chocolate bars are already made with sugar, but Hershey products such as Almond Joy use corn syrup—at least for the time being.

  • Nestle Candy

    Nestle Butterfinger candy bars
    Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

    Earlier this year, Nestle announced it was removing artificial flavors and colors from Butterfinger, Crunch, and other chocolate candies. For instance, instead of using something called vanillin in Crunch bars, Nestle will sub in natural vanilla flavor.

  • Subway Bread

    Subway BMT sub sandwich on italian roll with Genoa Salami, Black Forest Ham, Pepperoni, lettuce, tomato, red onion on roll.
    Michael Neelon—Alamy

    Hundreds of foods contain azodicarbonamide, which is described by the FDA as “a chemical substance approved for use as a whitening agent in cereal flour and as a dough conditioner in bread baking,” and “a safe food additive when used for the purposes and at the levels specified in the FDA regulations.” At the start of 2014, Subway bread was among the foods that contained this ingredient. But after tens of thousands of consumers signed an online petition pushing Subway to remove the chemical—which is also used in yoga mats and shoe rubber—the sandwich chain agreed to stop using azodicabonamide in bread.

TIME Excercise/Fitness

Two Minutes of Walking Each Hour Drastically Improves Health, Study Says

Tiny Owl employees work on laptop computers as pair of sandals sit on the floor inside the company's head office in Mumbai, India, on Monday, March. 9, 2015.
Dhiraj Singh—Bloomberg/Getty Images Tiny Owl employees work on laptop computers as pair of sandals sit on the floor inside the company's head office in Mumbai, India, on Monday, March. 9, 2015.

Water cooler gossip talk may actually help you live longer

Workers who take a deliberate two minutes out of every hour to walk around the office may live longer than their colleagues who remain seated, a new study suggests.

In recent years, the theory that long periods of sitting contribute to adverse health effects has gained significant backing, reports Science Daily. However, researchers from the University of Utah School of Medicine found that simply standing for a few minutes every hour did nothing to counteract the negative effects, but that engaging in “low intensity activities” — like walking — was 33% more likely to extend the lifespan of people who live a generally sedentary lifestyle.

“It was fascinating to see the results because the current national focus is on moderate or vigorous activity,” said lead author Dr. Srinivasan Beddhu. “To see that light activity had an association with lower mortality is intriguing.”

The study analyzed data from 2003-2004, when the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey attached an accelerometer to 3,243 participants and measured their physical activity. They were followed for three years to collect the data, during which 137 people died.

“Exercise is great, but the reality is that the practical amount of vigorous exercise that can be achieved is limited. Our study suggests that even small changes can have a big impact,” said senior author Dr. Tom Greene.

TIME Paraguay

Rights Group Urges Paraguay to Allow Abortion for 10-Year-Old Rape Victim

The girl was allegedly raped by her stepfather

(ASUNCION, Paraguay) — Amnesty International is calling on Paraguay’s government to allow a 10-year-old girl to get an abortion for the sake of her health.

Rosalia Vega, director of the international rights group in Asuncion, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the request had been made to the Health Ministry and Justice Department.

Authorities allege the girl was raped by her stepfather, who has fled. She was taken to a public hospital April 21 complaining of abdominal pains and found to be 22 weeks into the pregnancy.

Her mother’s request to abort the child was not granted. Abortion in the poor South American country is illegal.

Domestic abuse makes young pregnancies a big problem. According to health statistics, 680 Paraguayan girls between 10 and 14 years old gave birth in 2014.

TIME Health Fad

These 3 Trends Are Changing the Face of Plastic Surgery

The hottest thing in plastic surgery might be adding fat instead of getting rid of it

A new drug designed to erase a patient’s double chin is getting a lot of attention this week, but plastic surgeons say the biggest trends in the field are actually in other parts of the body.

While the focus this week was on Kybella—an injection that destroys fat cells beneath the chin and was just approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday—doctors who spoke to TIME on Thursday said women are focusing on three other goals: bigger butts, smaller labia and a smoother, fattier face.

Liposuction and breast augmentation are still the most commonly done procedures, but plastic surgeons said that cultural shifts and breakthroughs in science have recently boosted the popularity of some less well-known procedures.

MORE The FDA Just Approved a Drug to Get Rid of Your Double Chin

The biggest jump in 2014 was in buttock augmentation, which spiked 86% compared to the previous year, according to statistics compiled by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The total number of such procedures was 21,446 in 2014, according to an estimated projection based on questionnaires collected from 786 practicing plastic surgeons, otolaryngologists and dermatologists (a fraction of the 342, 094 liposuctions performed.) Dr. Michael Edwards, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, attributes the trend to high-profile celebrities like Kim Kardashian, who nearly broke the Internet with her butt last November, but he predicts it will be more of a “blip” than a long-term trend.

More surprising perhaps, was the 49% increase last year in labiaplasty, a procedure to reduce the size of or repair the labia minora, the inner labia of female genitalia. The same data from the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Society put the number of these procedures done in 2014 at 7, 535, a trend Edwards attributed to rising awareness that the procedure is available. Edwards said women can be very self-conscious if their labia are big enough to appear as a bulge when they are wearing a swimsuit, and may also find it more comfortable to do activities such as running if the size is reduced. Some women with pronounced labia can be “devastated” by how bad it is, but when women ask for only a minimal change, he said, “I try to talk them out of it.”

For all the hype this week over a treatment designed to destroy fat cells under the chin, in the future, doctors said that the hottest thing in plastic surgery will involve adding fat to certain parts of the body, like the face. As people age, they lose volume in their face and adding back a little fat, either in addition to a face lift or on its own, will be a popular procedure, said Dr. Edwin Williams, president-elect of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Physicians are just starting to learn why the process, called fat grafting or volumetric restoration, works. “I’ve talked about it for a long time,” says Dr. Sydney Coleman, a plastic surgeon in New York City, “but we are now just beginning to scientifically understand it.” What doctors have learned is that adding fat grafts reorganizes the elastic fibers under the skin, making the patient look more youthful.

Whatever the procedure, it’s clear that Americans can’t quite get enough of plastic surgery. The number of cosmetic procedures done in America has grown six-fold since 1997, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, from 1.7 million to 10.6 million (a slight dip from 2013), costing Americans $12 billion.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

These Charts Show Every Genetically Modified Food People Already Eat in the U.S.

See all the GMOs you may already be eating

Chipotle announced Monday that the chain will no longer serve food containing genetically modified organisms (GMO), raising the bar for transparency in the United States, where there’s no requirement to indicate the presence of GMO ingredients on food labels or in restaurants. Likewise, biotechnology companies aren’t required to report which genetically modified seeds are used in production.

Yet the use of GMOs is undoubtedly widespread. Since GMOs were approved for commercial use, and then first planted into U.S. soil in 1996, their production has increased dramatically. More than 90% of all soybean cotton and corn acreage in the U.S. is used to grow genetically engineered crops. Other popular and approved food crops include sugar beets, alfalfa, canola, papaya and summer squash. More recently, apples that don’t brown and bruise-free potatoes were also approved by the FDA.

 

 

Methodology

GM crops produced in the U.S. are listed at the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech. Deregulated crops are tracked at the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

TIME health

Americans Are Crowdfunding Health Care. They Shouldn’t Have To.

Darlena Cunha is a Florida-based contributor to The Washington Post and TIME among dozens of other publications.

Health care costs are the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy in the United States

Would you ask Internet strangers for financial help if it meant saving your child?

Owen Provencher has everything an infant could want, including two loving parents with modest income, an extended family close by, and above average motor skills. But he also has a condition called Metopic Synostosis, and if left untreated it could result in blindness, seizures, brain damage, or even death. His parents, Michael and Amber Provencher, have health insurance through Michael’s employer, but after the surgery they were left with thousands of dollars of medical costs. They decided to ask for help — online.

Nearly two million people a year file bankruptcy due to unpaid medical bills, making health care costs the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy in the United States. According to the National Bureau of Economics Research, half of all Americans could not afford an extra $2,000 should an emergency crop up. With insurance deductibles for the middle class anywhere from $500 to $7,000, an unforeseen downturn in health could toss nearly anyone into financial distress. People are turning in droves to the do-it-yourself answer: They are crowdfunding their medical bills, hoping their stories will touch the hearts and minds of their friends, families, and strangers alike.

Based on the old church-basement fundraising model, crowdfunding sites act as central hubs for people in need to match with people wanting to donate. With the streamlined use of professional fundraising coaches and social media platforms, these pleas can be heard around the world—if you’re lucky.

Recently, “Success Kidput out a call for help. His father needed a kidney. But he didn’t leverage his Internet fame, and as just a regular family looking for help, the campaign was vastly underfunded. After a Buzzfeed story last week about it, the Internet recognized the meme, and donations came pouring in. The family has now raised more than $100,000, well over what they needed. A viral picture saved a father’s life.

GoFundMe is one of the most successful crowdfunding options, and “Medical, Illness, and Healing” is its most popular section, bringing in 26% of all donations. More and more people are using the site for health-care funding: Last year, it helped raise $147 million for medical costs, up from $6 million in 2012. Still, most campaigns go unseen by the masses, and so thousands of people struggle with the shame of having asked for money and the disappointment of not being able to raise it on their own.

The average amount raised on the site is $1,126 across all categories. That’s almost exactly how much the Provenchers have raised, not enough. “We absolutely raised money that we never would have otherwise, and we’re much better off than we would be without it,” Michael said. “So in that sense, it worked, but we’ve had ours ups for about a month and a half now, and donations stalled out. It seems very unlikely we will actually reach our goal.”

Like many, the Provenchers said they felt embarrassed asking their social network for money, even for a life-saving cause. The majority of donations came from people they knew. Crowdfunding that doesn’t go viral can still help people raise money by alleviating the stress involved in asking individuals directly to give you funds. Families can post a donation call, and those scrolling by can choose to stop and donate or to keep right on going, no questions asked.

What is wrong with our health-care and insurance systems that even people who pay for coverage through their employer or through the marketplace still face staggering costs when they’re most vulnerable? In true American fashion, we are finding our own ways around this issue, but crowdfunding doesn’t address the core problem, which is that these expenses should not be levied at the common working person who has health insurance. And they are.

Crowdfunding is helping thousands of people alleviate their massive medical debts through kindhearted philanthropy. But it shouldn’t have to.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME health

How to Fall Asleep in Under a Minute

woman-sleeping-bed
Getty Images

The simple method takes hardly any time, and can be done pretty much anywhere

Tech savvy. Culturally aware. Underemployed. Spiritual but not religious.

These are all words and phrases that have come to be associated with the “Milliennial Generation,” which is also sometimes referred to as Generation Y. Recently, however, two additional adjectives have worked their way into the Millennial description pool: stressed and sleepless.

The correlation between stress and sleep deprivation is becoming increasingly apparent in American society. NPR maintains that 60 million Americans are currently battling insomnia.

According to an American Psychological Association study titled Stress in America, more than 50 percent of Millennials report to having been kept awake at least one night over the course of the past month due to stress. This is comparable to only 37 percent of Baby Boomers and 25 percent of Matures.

Why does stress affect sleep? Stress is widely recognized as the body’s response to potentially harmful situations, whether real or imagined. Although the effects of stress most certainly vary from person to person, general reactions include quickened breathing, tightened muscles, spiked blood pressure, and an increased heart rate.

Fight or Flight or… Sleep?

These are, in short, all individual components of the body’s intrinsic and universally acknowledged “fight-or-flight” response. Many stressed out people have trouble falling asleep because they feel the weight of these symptoms most heavily at night.

Best-selling author Dr. Andrew Weil, who received his M.D. from Harvard University in 1968, is a huge advocate of the benefits of holistic breathing practices in combatting stress and anxiety. On his website, Dr. Weil writes:

“Breathing strongly influences physiology and thought processes, including moods. By simply focusing your attention on your breathing, and without doing anything to change it, you can move in the direction of relaxation.”

Because the effects of stress include quick and shallow breaths that stem almost exclusively from the upper chest, perpetually stressed and anxious people are actually in the detrimental habit of under-breathing. Many stressed people are even known for subconsciously holding their breath.

That being said, mindful breathing practices are noticeably absent from the vast majority of Western medicine. Those most familiar with the relationship between breathing and the body tend to be yogis and practitioners of Eastern wellness methodologies.

How to Do The “4-7-8″ Exercise

Dr. Weil is an influential public supporter of a previously little-known breathing technique known as the “4-7-8 exercise.” This trick, which began to capture national attention several years ago and has since been the subject of innumerable headlines, including one on Oprah.com, is shockingly simple, takes hardly any time, and can be done pretty much anywhere.

Here is how you do the exercise:

  1. Place the tip of your tongue against the tissue ridge right above your upper front teeth. Keep it there for the remainder of the exercise.
  2. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound as you do so.
  3. Close your mouth and inhale slowly through your nose while mentally counting to four.
  4. Hold your breath for a mental count of seven.
  5. Exhale completely through your mouth for a mental count of eight. Make the same whoosh sound from Step Two.
  6. This concludes the first cycle. Repeat the same process three more times for a total of four renditions.

In a nutshell: breathe in for four, hold for seven, and breathe out for eight. You must inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. The four-count inhale allows chronic under-breathers to take in more oxygen. The seven-count hold gives the oxygen more time to thoroughly permeate the bloodstream, and the eight-count exhale slows the heart rate and releases a greater amount of carbon dioxide from the lungs.

Alina Gonzalez, who wrote “How I Learned to Fall Asleep in Under 1 Minute” for Byrdie.com, says that 4-7-8 helped her fall asleep amid her nerves and severe anxiety the week before she was scheduled to give the bridesmaid speech at her best friend’s wedding.

When Gonzalez told her friend that she was having trouble getting to sleep due to a combination of stress and pre-wedding jitters, the bride-to-be, who was a licensed wellness practitioner, told her that the 4-7-8 technique would change her life. It did. Like so many others who swear by this method, the originally skeptical Gonzalez wakes up each morning to the incredulous realization that she does not even remember completing the final 4-7-8 cycle because it put her to sleep so quickly.

The 4-7-8 exercise certainly has the potential to help overly stressed, anxiety-ridden Millennials (as well as members of the general population at large) fall asleep more quickly. It is also known to have positive effects when implemented throughout the day during times of stress, anger, guilt, frustration, or internal tension. When weighing the painlessness of this completely free method against the irritability, headaches, distractedness, impaired cognitive skills, weight gain, and even heart disease that can result from the “performance killer” known as sleep deprivation, it seems worth a shot.

This article originally appeared on Bit of News.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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