More sex won't make people happier, but how much do they need?

If you have sex more than once a week, you stop associating the act with personal happiness, four-decade study of 30,000-plus Americans shows

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 November, 2015, 11:17am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 November, 2015, 11:07pm

More sex may not always make you happier, according to new research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. In fact, any more than once a week and the association between sex and happiness is no longer significant, says lead researcher Amy Muise. “Our findings suggest that it’s important to maintain an intimate connection with your partner, but you don’t need to have sex every day as long as you’re maintaining that connection,” says Muise, a social psychologist and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto-Mississauga in Canada. The study was based on surveys of more than 30,000 Americans - married heterosexual couples or people in established relationships - collected over four decades. One survey involved a nationally representative sample of more than 25,000 men and women, and found that established couples tend to have sex about once a week on average. There was no difference in the findings based on gender, age or length of relationship.

Weekday sleep changes may raise risk of diabetes, heart disease

Shift work is well known to raise one’s risk of developing metabolic problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease because of the continual disruption to the circadian system. But a new study has found that even healthy, working adults who experience less extreme disruptions to their sleep schedule may be at risk of the same health problems too. Published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, the study examined sleep patterns and cardiometabolic risk in a group of 447 men and women between the ages of 30 and 54, who worked at least 25 hours a week outside the home. Participants wore a wristband that measured their movement and sleep 24 hours a day for a week. Questionnaires were used to assess the participants’ diet and exercise habits. Participants who had a greater misalignment between their sleep schedules on free and work days tended to have poorer cholesterol profiles, higher fasting insulin levels, larger waist circumference, higher body mass index and were more resistant to insulin than those who had less misalignment.

Different foods count as ‘healthy’ for different people

Ever wonder why that diet didn’t work? A study by the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel tracking the blood sugar levels of 800 people over a week suggests that even if we all ate the same meal, how it’s metabolised would differ from one person to another. Participants’ data were collected through health questionnaires, body measurements, blood tests, glucose monitoring, stool samples, and a mobile app used to report lifestyle and food intake (a total of 46,898 meals were measured). As expected, age and body mass index were found to be associated with blood glucose levels after meals. However, the data also revealed that different people show vastly different responses to the same food, even though their individual responses did not change from one day to another, due to differences in people’s gut microbiome. In one case, a middle-aged woman with obesity and pre-diabetes learned that her “healthy” eating habits may have actually been contributing to the problem. Her blood sugar levels spiked after eating tomatoes, which she ate multiple times over the course of the week of the study. “In contrast to our current practices, tailoring diets to the individual may allow us to utilise nutrition as a means of controlling elevated blood sugar levels and its associated medical conditions,” says researcher Eran Elinav.