Health Watch - Interesting bits of news on health
If you snooze ... you win
An afternoon nap can be good for you.
Experts at the University of Surrey have confirmed what Europeans have always known: an afternoon nap can be good for you. The researchers found older people who take an occasional afternoon nap are more able to lead an active life.
Susan Venn, from the Department of Sociology, said:"Sleep is central to health and wellbeing, but as people get older, the quality of their sleep can deteriorate. They shouldn't feel guilty or think themselves lazy for having a nap.
The new research found many older people need a nap in the afternoon because they have disturbed sleep patterns at night. Venn said: "Many older people are prescribed medications to help them sleep, but research has shown that sleeping medication may impact on the lives of older people, such as increasing the risk of falls."
News Bites. Herald Sun, 14 November 2010
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
If you have persistent insomnia, consider consulting a cognitive behavioural therapist. Such therapy involves not only changing your behaviour, but also the way you think. For insomnia, the goal is to change thoughts and feelings about sleep that elevate stress levels and thus cause or worsen sleeplessness. Studies, including a Canadian trial in the Journal of the American Medical Association in May, 2009, show that such therapy is often more effective in the long term than sleeping pills. Online cognitive behavioural programs for insomnia can help, too, according to another recent Canadian study, in the journal Sleep.
UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, August 2009
Don't count on back belts to protect your back. Lumbar supports — those large belts worn around the waist when lifting or carrying heavy objects do little or nothing to prevent back pain, according to a new review by Dutch researchers.
UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, July 2008
Exercise & Arthritis
It's not true that exercise makes arthritis worse. In fact, exercise stimulates cartilage to take up more nutrients and repair itself, and physical activity thus helps people with osteoarthritis reduce pain and stiffness and cope better with daily activities.
UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, July 2008
Sleep it off
We're always told that being more active will help us lose weight, but the message might now also be lie back, shut your eyes and snooze. A recent study of more than 1000 men - led by J. Catesby Ware, a director of the sleep disorder centre in Virginia, USA - found that those who reported sleeping less, weighed more. "There are hormonal secretions that are affected by sleep loss that apparently affect appetite and eating." reveals Ware.
So how much sleep do we need? According to professor of neurology Dr Phyllis Zee: "People who report, on average, getting between seven and eight hours of sleep are the ones who appear to have the lowest risk of weight gain.
To reduce heartburn at night, try to sleep on your left side, not on your right side or back. This reduces the backup of food and acid in the oesophagus that causes the burning sensation. Raising the head of the bed about 15cm / 6" can help or use a Bed Wedge to elevate your torso.
Sweet dreams made in the lab
Insomniacs will soon be able to take a pill to help them sleep without the drowsy side effects.
Australian researchers are developing a new generation of drugs that specifically target receptors controlling the sleep-wake cycle rather than sedating the whole brain.
The treatment works by temporarily suppressing orexin, a protein that keeps people awake.
Prof Ron Grunstein, head of sleep research at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, in Sydney, and early finding were "quite exciting".
They seem to cause people to wake up refreshed and they don't seem to have the "hangover" effects that some of the others (sleeping pills) do," he said.
Snooze your way to good health
Several studies have shown negative consequences to not getting enough sleep but the newest research now shows that people who get less than six hours of sleep per day are prone to abnormal blood sugar levels. the US study found that short sleepers were far more likely to develop impaired fasting glucose - a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes - than those who slept for six to eight hours.
Does waking up early have any more benefit than sleeping in?
The quality of sleep and its duration are the two most important factors in obtaining adequate rest. It is important to keep a routine when sleeping, as sticking to a schedule helps to reinforce your body's sleep wake cycle. If you sleep later, say, on weekends, this may interrupt your regular schedule, making it harder to fall asleep. Eight hours per day is suggested as the appropriate amount of sleep for adults but it can be influenced by various factors, such as illness, noise, light and temperature. If eight hours of quality sleep can be obtained, it does not really matter when they are taken but there is often a greater risk of interruption to the last hours of sleep when people endeavour to sleep in later. daylight, traffic and other noise may all disturb the final sleep stages. Getting to bed at a reasonable hour will mean you are more likely to awaken naturally with the onset of daylight, ensuring you gain the benefits of REM sleep, which is when our bodies release the majority of growth and maturation hormones.