Students at Colorado College were hooked up to equipment that supposedly showed how much time they spent in rapid eye movement (REM), the “high-quality” sleep that makes you feel rested. In reality, the machine did nothing.

One group of students was told they had gotten very good sleep, and the other group was told they had gotten below-average sleep. Then both groups were given a test.

Regardless of how well they had actually slept, those who were told they got very good sleep performed better on the test than the students who were told they slept badly.

So, can we trick ourselves into channeling the power of the placebo effect? Here are a few approaches to consider…..
* Try reframing how you look at your sleep by focusing on how much rest you did get, rather than stressing about the hour you laid awake.
* Telling yourself that you feel rested – rather than worrying about how tired you feel – may make for a more productive day. Try “Lying to yourself for the win!”

A study on the placebo effect and fitness found that people who were told they were getting exercise daily, outside of work, in this case, a group of hotel maids, actually became healthier without increasing their activity levels.
In just one month, the subjects lost an average of 2 pounds, and lowered their blood pressure.

While this is not an excuse to ditch working out, your health may benefit from making a list of all the ways you stay active during the day, like playing with your kids, taking the stairs, or walking the dog.

“Thinking positively, which is an extension of the placebo effect, is related to a whole host of good health outcomes,” says Kristi Erdal, study co-author.   4/7/14

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