All Sauce from Weekly Gravy:

It’s no surprise that many Americans are working overtime. Conservative estimates say that 19 percent of adults put in 48 hours or more a week and 7 percent log in 60 or more. But what you might not realize is that, after a certain point, extra hours could be hurting both your health and your productivity. In addition to a variety of medical issues and unhealthy lifestyle choices associated with long hours, a British study used cognitive tests to show that working 55 hours a week was associated with lower scores in vocabulary and reasoning, and can lead to cognitive problems as you get older. Adding insult to injury, research done at Stanford University found that, besides the personal toll that overtime takes, you probably aren’t working effectively. Productivity starts to fall considerably after the 50th work hour of the week and gets worse with every additional hour. So, if you put in 70 hours a week, you’re not likely to accomplish anything worthwhile during those last 15. One reason for this is that you might be too stressed or tired to function at peak level since working overtime usually results in your getting less sleep — and that in turn leads to making mistakes that can set you back at work. Take action to improve the balance between your personal life and your work…  read on >

A smokeless method of vaporizing and then inhaling pot packs a much more powerful punch than simply smoking weed, researchers say. That could raise safety concerns for users — driving, for example. Marijuana vaporizers heat pot to a temperature just below combustion, allowing people to inhale the intoxicating chemical THC from the plant material without breathing in any smoke. This method produced much more intoxication in a small group of test participants than smoking the same amount of marijuana through a typical pot pipe, according to the report published online Nov. 30 in JAMA Network Open. The study participants also had more adverse effects associated with their pot use when they used vaporizers, and had more pronounced impairment of their ability to think and control their movements, the researchers said. “It’s often a fine line between someone getting the drug effect they desire and having a drug effect that’s too strong, and maybe produces paranoia and adverse effects that are uncomfortable for the person,” said lead researcher Tory Spindle. “That sort of thing might be more likely with vaporizers,” he added. Spindle is a postdoctoral research fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore. These vaporizers aren’t to be confused with “vaping” — a term used to describe electronic cigarettes. Survey data has shown that vaporizing is becoming a more popular method of…  read on >

Driving under the influence and distracted driving are well-known hazards, but few people think twice about getting behind the wheel when feeling drowsy, a sleep expert warns. “Drivers can reduce the danger by being aware of risk factors and taking precautions,” said Dr. Praveen Rudraraju, who directs the Center for Sleep Medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y. Each year, nearly 100,000 traffic crashes can be attributed to drowsy driving, including more than 1,500 deaths and over 70,000 injuries, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Most drowsy driving accidents occur between midnight and 6 a.m. among drivers who are alone in their vehicle. Risk factors for drowsy driving include: sleep loss — even just one hour less than you need; use of sleep aids, anti-anxiety medications or alcohol; driving long hours with few or no breaks, driving alone or with sleeping passengers; and having undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders. There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of drowsy driving, Rudaraju said. Don’t consume alcohol and don’t take sedatives. If you feel drowsy when driving, find a safe place to pull over and nap. But even though a short nap can help, it’s best to get proper sleep. Talk to your doctor about problems falling or staying asleep, especially if you are tired after a…  read on >

Even when eating nutritiously, healthy aging depends on moderating the number of calories you take in. Surprisingly, studies show that if you follow a healthy diet, but eat more than an average number of calories, you won’t fare any better in terms of healthy aging than people who follow the traditional Western diet. You want a lifelong diet plan that provides micronutrients, fiber and antioxidants while still limiting calories. That means whether you count calories or portion sizes, it’s important to keep track of all high-calorie foods, even the healthful ones. Here are some examples. While plant oils — such as walnut, olive, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed and sesame oils — are better for you than butter with all its saturated fat, tablespoon for tablespoon, oils actually have more calories — 120 to 130 calories compared to butter’s 100. Use an oil spray to coat pans before cooking to conserve calories when you really need to use oil. When eating a rainbow of veggies, winter squash and sweet potatoes are great choices in the orange color range, but 4 ounces of squash have only 44 calories compared to 84 calories for the same amount of sweet potatoes. If you need a large portion to feel full, eating squash will allow you twice the volume for the same number of calories. Among the most nutrient-dense fruits, a…  read on >

In a finding that might come as a surprise, a new study suggests that people may stay in unfulfilling relationships because they feel they’re doing their partner a favor. People trying to decide whether to end a relationship consider not only themselves but also how important the relationship is to their partner, according to the researchers. “The more dependent people believed their partner was on the relationship, the less likely they were to initiate a breakup,” lead author Samantha Joel said in a University of Utah news release. Joel was an assistant professor in the department of psychology at Utah when the study was conducted and is now an assistant professor at Western University in Ontario, Canada. This the first evidence that altruism may play a role in decisions about disappointing romantic relationships, the study authors said. “When people perceived that the partner was highly committed to the relationship, they were less likely to initiate a breakup,” Joel said. “This is true even for people who weren’t really committed to the relationship themselves or who were personally unsatisfied with the relationship. Generally, we don’t want to hurt our partners and we care about what they want,” she added. In such cases, the unhappy partner may be hoping the relationship will improve. But if that doesn’t happen, then it just means a bad relationship is prolonged,…  read on >

Can your personality determine how good you are with money? The answer is yes, according to research by Jacob Hirsh, an assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resource management at the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Institute for Management and Innovation. Introverts often prefer to save money, banking bucks for a large purchase or a retirement nest egg, while extroverts often like instant gratification and will spend on immediate rewards, even if they’re smaller. That can mean impulse buying, high credit card debt and little savings for a rainy day. But you don’t have to dampen an outgoing personality. Just take steps to keep it from making you financially poor. First, set a financial goal, whether it’s to buy a house, start a retirement fund or get out of credit card debt. Then work on a plan to reach that goal. People who write out their plan are twice as likely to actually save money. Of course, to be able to put any funds aside, you need to create a budget. Include your income, how much you spend and on what. You can do this with an app, an Excel spreadsheet or an old-fashioned paper ledger. Now look for ways to fill the piggybank. You can start small. Pay off your credit cards with the highest rates and switch to a credit card that pays…  read on >

Feel yourself being pulled in a million directions and losing track of what’s really important? The meditative practice called mindfulness can help you get centered and re-focus on what’s meaningful to you. And it doesn’t take time that’s already in short supply on your busy schedule. You can reap the benefits in less time than it takes for a coffee break. Mindfulness shows you how to block out distractions and replace stress and other negative emotions with a sense of well-being. You accomplish this by focusing on the here-and-now — your present thoughts and feelings, not past concerns or future worries. You also learn to accept these thoughts and feelings without passing judgment on them, such as labeling them as good or bad, right or wrong. Practicing mindfulness is easier than you might think. At the start of each day, you might take 10 minutes to do a few yoga stretches — yoga incorporates mindfulness because it teaches you to focus on your breathing as you move through poses. Or spend 10 minutes at lunch or anytime during your workday to do a head-to-toe de-stress. Breathe in and out as you zero in on each part of your body, going from toes to the top of your head. To unwind at night, consider more formal “guided” mindfulness, maybe with a podcast you can listen to…  read on >

Developing lean muscle mass is important for everyone — it can keep you active and independent throughout your life. But to maximize the benefits of strength training, make sure you’re not making these common mistakes. Mistake number 1: Letting momentum drive your workout. If you power through repetitions at a rapid clip, chances are that you’re using momentum rather than controlled muscle movement to do those reps. To get the most out of each rep, take two to three seconds to lift the weight and three to four seconds to return to the starting position. Mistake number 2: Not moving through a complete range of motion. You’re shortchanging yourself if you’re also rushing through reps without carefully moving from your starting position to a full extension, no matter what the exercise. If you’re unable to do this, chances are you’re lifting too heavy a weight for your current ability. Mistake number 3: Not lifting enough weight. Some women still incorrectly believe that they’ll develop manly muscle mass if they lift more than a few pounds. But female hormones typically won’t allow that to happen. To get the benefits of strength training, you have to challenge yourself, and that means lifting the most weight you can while still maintaining proper form. Mistake number 4: Changing your routine too often. This can actually set you back because…  read on >

Next time you struggle to put a name to a face, go easy on yourself. You probably recognize thousands of people. Participants in a British study recognized 1,000 to 10,000 faces, with the average number being an astonishing 5,000. The faces included people they knew from their personal lives, as well as famous people. “Our study focused on the number of faces people actually know — we haven’t yet found a limit on how many faces the brain can handle,” said Rob Jenkins, a reader in the department of psychology at the University of York in England. “The ability to distinguish different individuals is clearly important — it allows you to keep track of people’s behavior over time, and to modify your own behavior accordingly,” he said in a university news release. The findings offer a baseline for comparing the “facial vocabulary” of people with facial-recognition software now used to identify people in airports and police investigations. Jenkins offered several possible explanations for the large range in number of faces people recognized. Some people may have a natural aptitude for remembering faces, he said. People also differ in how much attention they pay to faces, and how efficiently they process information. “Alternatively, it could reflect different social environments — some participants may have grown up in more densely populated places with more social input,” Jenkins…  read on >

When it comes to money, nice people really are more likely to finish last, a new study suggests. Researchers analyzed data from more than 3 million people and found that those who were nice were at increased risk for bankruptcy and other financial problems. Why? They just don’t value money as much as other people do, according to the study published Oct. 11 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “We were interested in understanding whether having a nice and warm personality, what academics in personality research describe as agreeableness, was related to negative financial outcomes,” said lead author Sandra Matz, an assistant professor of management at Columbia Business School in New York City. Other studies have linked agreeableness with lower income and credit scores, she said. “We wanted to see if that association held true for other financial indicators and, if so, better understand why nice guys seem to finish last,” Matz said in a journal news release. Researchers tied agreeableness to indicators of financial hardship, including lower savings, higher debt and higher default rates. Study co-author Joe Gladstone is an assistant professor of management at University College London. “This relationship appears to be driven by the fact that agreeable people simply care less about money and therefore are at higher risk of money mismanagement,” he said. But everyone who’s agreeable isn’t at…  read on >