Here's Why Eating What You Want 20 Percent of the Time is Good for You (Plus 3 Other Weird Scientific Findings)

If you want to sleep better, make space in your day to be bored.

There’s a reason so many people have trouble falling and staying asleep. Before the internet and Facebook existed a person’s day naturally had periods of downtime and boredom, such as waiting in line at the grocery store or the bank. Today, most people have a mobile device in-hand at all times and avoid these minutes of looking around at nothing by zoning in on the apps on their phone. Sleep psychologist Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan explained to The Guardian that the human brain actually needs breaks in concentration and if it’s constantly focusing on something it becomes overloaded. As a result, adrenaline levels rise and it becomes increasingly more difficult to shut down at night. Are there times in your day when you can shut off your phone, computer and television to get comfortable doing and thinking nothing for a few minutes?

If you want to be less constipated, sit up straight.

According to Harvard Medical School, slouching in front of a computer, while looking down at your phone or watching TV on the couch leads to physical problems. In addition to back and neck pain, headaches, poor balance and breathing problems, poor posture can contribute to incontinence, constipation, heartburn and slowed digestion. If constipation is your problem, don’t hunch over when seated on the toilet, but straighten your back and lean forward at the hips. And if you can put your feet on a footstool so your knees are higher than your hips, even better. Apparently, this position is similar to squatting which makes it easier to do your business.

If you want to lose weight, eat whatever you want 20 percent of the time.

Serdar Tuncali, author of the blog Nerd Getting Fit, charts the waning interest in several popular diets over time (Atkins, Dukan, Paleo and Keto). While they may produce good results initially, they’re difficult to maintain in the long term, which is why people ending up moving on to a different trend. Instead, Tuncali suggests what he calls “flexible dieting,” which involves eating clean, unprocessed whole foods 80 percent of the time, and whatever-the-heck-you-want the other 20 percent of the time. If you really want to lose weight, though, you’re going to have to track your macronutrients (meaning how many grams of carbs, protein, fat you’re ingesting and how those numbers translate into calories). Then you need to know what your total daily calorie expenditure (TDEE) is (which you can calculate according to your weight and how active you are). For most people, Tuncali writes, eating 20-30 percent less calories than your TDEE will result in weight loss. Just read his fantastic post on the subject, which explains everything.

If you want a better memory, exercise.

That’s according to Dr. Gary Small, professor of psychiatry and ageing, and director of the Longevity Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California in Los Angeles, who recently penned a piece on the subject for The Guardian. He says it only takes 20 minutes a day of brisk walking to improve your health and reduce your chance of getting dementia. “Exercise produces proteins that stimulate brain cells to sprout branches and communicate more effectively,” he writes. “Workouts boost endorphins, which lift mood. Exercise will make your brain bigger, and a bigger brain is a better brain.”