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The Takeaway: Insomnia Sabotages Our Productivity, Gut Bacteria Sabotage Our Diets

Counting Sheep (and $$ Lost): Heading into this long weekend, I have one piece of advice for you: Get some sleep. Lost sleep costs the average American worker 11.3 days in lost productivity, a new study from Harvard Medical School reports.

Of the 7,428 workers who took part in the study, nearly a quarter had a hard time falling or staying asleep.

It's an underappreciated problem," said lead author Ronald C. Kessler. Americans are not missing work because of insomnia. They are still going to their jobs but accomplishing less because they're tired. In an information-based economy, it's difficult to find a condition that has a greater effect on productivity."

Those over 65 can rest easy, though (pun intended): The insomnia rate for workers age 65+ hovered at around just 14 percent. Of course, the same journal that published the Harvard study yesterday also published research on how age-related yellowing of a certain portion of the eye lens can lead to sleep problems. Since science is contradictory here, let's take a (highly unscientific) poll: Do you sleep better or worse now than when you were younger?

When *Not* to Listen to Your Gut: Today's funniest headline may be 'Gut bacteria picky about what we eat.' But it's no joke-colonies of bacteria that live in our digestive tracts may influence our food preferences as much as our taste buds. Earlier this summer, scientists found it's not just our tongues that crave certain tastes-our gut bacteria want sugary and savory things, too. In this study, researchers-who, bless their hearts, went through other people's poo in the name of science-found two distinct groups of gut bacteria: One that prefers savory and fatty tastes, and another that prefers fiber and carbs. They had a little success shaking up the gut bacteria by changing folks' diets, but say it would take long-term dietary change to really alter these bacteria types.

Bonus Calorie Burn: A hard workout keeps you burning calories harder for the rest of the day. In addition to the calories burned while working out, men who biked intensely on a stationary bike for 45 minutes burned an extra 190 calories over the next 14 hours. Moderate-intensity activities such as walking, however, had no post-activity calorie-burn boost.

Quick hits: Carrie Underwood, Diana Krall, John Mayer and Stevie Wonder are slated to join singer Tony Bennett at AARP's 'Drive to End Hunger' benefit concert in Los Angeles later this month ... 'More beans, less rice' linked to better health, Costa Rican researchers say ... Scientists  infused older mice with blood from younger mice, and the older mice ramped up production of nerve cells (researchers say it could be a step toward slowing the aging process in older brains) ... Heavier women over 60 have fewer hot flashes than younger, leaner menopausal counterparts ... And, lastly: This is not your grandmother's Sears ad.

(Photo: Moment/Cultura/Aurora)

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