Archive for March, 2017

A woman is in bed, sleeping at night to maintain her sleep health.

Maintain Better Sleep Health and Reduce Stress

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A woman is in bed, sleeping at night to maintain her sleep health.

Maintaining your sleep health equals better living.

The stresses of life often weigh on our minds. What is even worse is that they travel with us from work and to our homes. Certain factors influence how much stress we deal with on a daily basis. It’s important to not let your mental health deteriorate. Two of these factors are in your control. That includes your sleep health and daily exercise.

Maintaining Your Sleep Health With Exercise

Great exercise leads to better sleep and good sleep health leads to less stress. With that in mind, you have to remember the following:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Make sure you sleep at least 7 to 8 hours a day.
  • Regulate your time in bed to sleeping only.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable and your room is relaxing enough to sleep.
  • Try not to eat before going to sleep.

These steps will help keep the body recharged and relaxed, which helps you avoid stress. However, sometimes it is not so easy to sleep. That’s why exercise is recommended as well because it exerts the body. After a rigorous workout, your body will crave rest, making falling asleep easier.

Avoid Taking Stress With You

In a recent study by the University of Florida, they found that people were more likely to bring stress from work into their homes. “Research shows employees who are mistreated at work are likely to engage in similar behaviors at home,” said University of Central Florida’s College of Business management professor Shannon Taylor, who teamed up with researchers from Illinois and Wisconsin for the study.

Without sleep and exercise, their body could not properly regulate their behavior. They found that people who moved less than 7,000 steps were more likely to carry stress with them than those who moved more than 10,000 steps a day.

Taylor concludes that “The study gives us a new perspective on the importance of getting an adequate amount of sleep and exercise. It’s not just good for you, it’s good for your spouse, too.”

An exhausted couple who is suffering from a lack of sleep.

How a Lack of Sleep Affects the Immune System

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An exhausted couple who is suffering from a lack of sleep.

How is a lack of sleep affecting your body’s ability to fight infection?

It’s important to take care of the immune system. After all, it’s function is to protect your body from infection and disease. If you have any unhealthy habits, you’re making the immune system’s job even harder. What people fail to realize is that a lack of sleep is one of those unhealthy habits. It causes the immune system to become weaker, inviting disease into your body. Scientists are now proving how a lack of sleep is making us sick.

What people fail to realize is that a lack of sleep is one of those unhealthy habits. It causes the immune system to become weaker, inviting disease into your body. Scientists are now proving how a lack of sleep is making us sick.

A Lack of Sleep and the Immune System

The study performed by the University of Washington has taken a unique approach. By testing 11 identical twins, they were able to find the answers they needed. Each twin had different sleep patterns and through blood samples, researchers were able to determine that the twin who slept less had a weaker immune system.

“What we show is that the immune system functions best when it gets enough sleep. Seven or more hours of sleep is recommended for optimal health,” said lead author Dr. Nathaniel Watson, co-director of the UW Medicine Sleep Center at Harborview Medical Center.

There is a special reason why Dr. Watson and his team used several groups of identical twins to help them in their study. Genetics, combine with environmental factors, determine how long we are able to sleep for. The twins’ similar genetic structure help them form a better control group and see how a lack of sleep affects the body in similar subjects.

While the immune system usually responds when the body has not received enough sleep, chronic short-term sleep may be different. If short-term sleep becomes a frequent occurrence, the immune system may not respond at all. Hopefully, this study will show more people the importance of maintaining sleep health. Without enough sleep, you leave yourself vulnerable to viruses and illness.

A doctor examining a little boy's throat for infection, which many patients solve with tonsillectiomies.

Tonsillectomies: Are They as Effective as We Think?

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A doctor examining a little boy's throat for infection, which many patients solve with tonsillectomies.

Do tonsillectomies get the job done?

More common in children than adults, tonsillectomies are performed to resolve tonsillitis or strep throat. The procedure also helps with breathing problems like snoring and sleep apnea. However, it’s a costly, as it removes the tonsils. Patients often undergo a tonsillectomy after dealing with several bouts of tonsillitis or throat infections. However, are they as effective as we think?

Why Are Tonsillectomies Are Being Called Into Question?

The Vanderbilt University Medical Center conducted an in-depth systematic review of four papers on the subject regarding tonsillectomies. This study focused on how effective the procedure was towards helping children with sleep-disordered breathing and throat infections.

“It’s probably the most comprehensive study in tonsillectomy literature ever done,” said investigator David Francis, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of Otolaryngology. “We determined the lay of the land of what’s known and what’s not known about this extremely common procedure.”

After a thorough review of the illness rates in children who have had tonsillectomies versus those who waited for the infection to resolve itself, they found that the benefits of this surgery may not be long term. Schools experienced a reduction in absences due to throat infections during the first year after most kids underwent surgery, but that benefit did not last over time.

More studies found that the surgery was effective at treating sleep-disordered breathing, the risk was minimal and only a small amount of patients needed readmission overtime. However, what the researchers could not find is if these benefits were long-term. Most of the studies that do research into tonsillectomies do not follow patients after a long period of time.

There were too many questions left unanswered for the researchers to make a defined conclusion. Still, this procedure is the best course of action for children who suffer from tonsillitis frequently. See an otolaryngologist to learn more about the procedure and if it is right for you or your children.

Gestational diabetes mellitus equipment, including an insulin pen and glucose level blood test.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: The Link to Pregnancy and Insufficient Sleep

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Gestational diabetes mellitus equipment, including an insulin pen and glucose level blood test.

Gestational diabetes mellitus is a serious problem within the Asian population.

According to the CDC, “Research has found that insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes.” For years, scientists have worked tirelessly to find out what that link is. New research is done every year, and every they become closer to finding the answer. In a recent study, scientists in Singapore have discovered the association between a lack of sleep during pregnancy and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) Among Asians

Unfortunately, Asians are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people with European ancestry. Even worse, 60% percent of the world’s diabetic population are Asians and more than half of them go undiagnosed.

Singapore is especially a problem area. The country has the second-highest proportion of diabetes and one of the highest rates of gestational diabetes mellitus among developed nations. For this reason, scientists decided to conduct a study on the disease in this country.

GDM in Pregnancy

Gestational diabetes mellitus is a common problem among women who are pregnant. It can lead to pre-term labor, obstructed labor, birth trauma, high blood pressure for mothers, and increased risk of mother and fetal deaths. This is due to GDM causing high and unhealthy blood glucose levels.

In an extensive study that involved 686 women, Associate Professor Joshua Gooley from Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS) and Dr. Cai Shirong from the National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, were able to find answers. The women all took sleep questionnaires and had their glucose levels measured.

What they discovered was that women who received less than six hours of sleep were more likely to have GDM than those who received the standard eight recommended by the CDC. This proves that getting the necessary sleep you need lowers your risk of developing GDM and eventually Type 2 Diabetes. Hopefully, scientists can develop better methods to prevent this and reduce the disease among the Asian population.

A young woman touching her ear (which is red) because she it dealing with severe tinnitus.

New Training Program May Help With Severe Tinnitus

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A young woman touching her ear (which is red) because she it dealing with severe tinnitus.

Severe tinnitus may have a solution.

If you often hear a sound that isn’t there, then you may have tinnitus. This condition affects millions of Americans. In fact, the CDC estimates over 50 million Americans are dealing with this troubling health condition. Of those 50 million, 2 million suffer from severe tinnitus. There is no cure, but new technology seems to be helping patients.

The Brain Fitness Program – Tinnitus (BRP-T)

Unfortunately, tinnitus comes with cognitive issues. This causes a decline in reaction times and the ability to pay attention. It can even interfere with a patient’s ability to process and remember certain situations. Researchers believe that the answer to this problem is to strengthen the brain. Through neuroplasticity, they hope to heal the mind by forming new neural connections.

One attempt at “working out” the brain is a training program called the Brain Fitness Program – Tinnitus (BRP-T). Through an online interface, the program uses 11 interactive exercises. It seeks to improve simple acoustic stimuli, continuous speech, and visual stimuli.

Fixing Severe Tinnitus

Through testing a group with severe tinnitus and a control group, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis were able to find out if the BRP-T actually worked. Randomly selected individuals from both groups used the program an hour every day, five days a week for two months.

As predicted, the tinnitus patients showed improvements. After thorough testing, their perception, memory, attention, and concentration showed better results than those who did not undergo the training.

Researchers say this about the results: “We believe that continued research into the role of cognitive training rehabilitation programs is supported by the findings of this study, and the role of neuroplasticity seems to hold a prominent place in the future treatments for tinnitus,” the researchers write. “On the basis of our broad recruitment and enrollment strategies, we believe the results of this study are applicable to most patients with tinnitus who seek medical attention.”

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