HEADLINES / TRENDS l STATS l RESEARCH l MEDIA l PEOPLE

March 2015

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

Can’t Sleep?

Turn Off Your Computer

Do you read, work or play games on your laptop or tablet before bedtime at night? Is your smartphone waiting on the nightstand for an email check before lights out?

If you’re in the habit of bringing electronic devices to bed, they could contribute to difficulty sleeping and other health problems. Researchers are discovering that night time use of LED screens affects a person’s circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) and could also be related to depression and obesity because of the disruptive effects on metabolism.

Recent studies have focused on the short-wavelength “blue light” emitted from the energy-efficient screens of various devices as well as that given off by energy-saving fluorescent bulbs. Randy J. Nelson, PhD, chair of the neuroscience department of Ohio State University, explains it this way: “Three billion years of evolution have established wake and sleep cycles in humans related to daytime light and nighttime dark. During the last 135 years, artificial lighting has altered the cycles.”

“Light of all intensities and colors is a stimulant,” adds Harvard Medical School sleep researcher Steven Lockley, PhD. “Any light after dusk could be considered unnatural and would tell the brain that it is still daytime.”

The brain responds to light by keeping us alert and suppressing melatonin, the sleep hormone that is produced during darkness. “Because this effect can persist after the light is switched off, we are concerned about the impact of light on sleep,” Lockley says. “Electronic devices often emit high intensity and high blue-content light, which is better at alerting the brain and shifting your body clock than other colors. These are also used close to the face, which means more light gets into the eye.”

If you’re having sleep problems, avoid using electronic devices with LED screens or other light-emitting devices, including television, close to bedtime. It may be possible to lower the illumination rate on hand-held devices, or get an app that applies a red or orange background, since red light doesn’t inhibit melatonin production. “Other light sources such as bedside lamps and nightlights should also be turned off, dimmed or red-shifted,” Lockley says.

Special amber-tinted glasses that block blue light are available, although there’s no clinical evidence that these improve sleep. Blackout curtains or a sleep mask can help darken the bedroom.

A low dose of melatonin, taken occasionally at bedtime, may help improve sleep. Other potentially useful remedies include the minerals calcium and magnesium; GABA, a calming neurotransmitter; and herbs such as ashwagandha, chamomile, hops, lemon balm, passionflower and valerian. —Beverly Burmeier


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

Multivitamins May Protect

Women’s Hearts

Women who took multivitamin/minerals over the long term saw their cardiovascular death risk drop by 35% in a study conducted by the Office of Dietary Supplements, a divison of the National Institutes of Health.

This study, led by ODS nutritional epidemiologist Regan Bailey, PhD, RD, analyzed data from 8,678 participants in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), an ongoing effort to monitor Americans’ health and nutritional status. The data included medical histories, such as the presence of coronary heart disease and previous heart attacks or strokes. Other lifestyle factors, including alcohol usage and smoking history, were also assessed.

About 45% of the participants had taken dietary supplements. While short-term usage showed no effects, taking multivitamin/minerals for at least three years was linked with “a significant inverse association” with cardiovascular deaths in women, according to results published online in the Journal of Nutrition.

“Our findings suggest longer term use of multivitamin/minerals and cardiovascular disease mortality may have a protective relation in US women who lack a history of CVD,” the research team concluded, although they did call for followup investigations to confirm the link.

Heart disease kills one in every four American women, according to the Centers for Disease Control. (This makes it the leading cause of death, just as it is for men.) Almost two-thirds of them—64%—had no heart attack symptoms, which besides chest pain and discomfort can include indigestion, nausea, heartburn, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and extreme fatigue.

Besides increasing age, risk factors include hypertension, high LDL cholesterol, smoking, overweight/obesity, physical inactivity and diabetes.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

U P D A T E

C E N T R A L

 

Stress May Hinder

Heart Attack Recovery

Speaking of women’s hearts: We learned in last month’s story “The Angry Heart” that anger and other stressful responses are hard on cardiovascular health, and that women may be particularly vulnerable. Now it turns out that stress may impede recovery among young women who suffer heart attacks.

A Yale research team analyzed data from approximately 2,400 women and 1,200 men between the ages of 18 and 55 who had heart attacks. Besides having more medical issues in general, such as diabetes and depression, the women who rated their lives as being stressful were more likely to experience a poor recovery.

Study results were published online in the journal Circulation.

 

The High Cost of

Treating Lyme Disease

Last summer, we learned in “Tiny Threats” (Malady Makeover) about the controversy surrounding Lyme disease and its treatment. Some doctors believe this tick-borne infection to be of generally short duration, amenable to short-term antibiotics, while others believe Lyme can become a chronic disorder that requires more extensive therapy.

A study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health appears to support the second point of view. It found that the US spends as much as $1.3 billion a year in direct healthcare costs alone to treat Lyme.

“Our data show that many people who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease are in fact going back to the doctor complaining of persistent symptoms, getting multiple tests and being retreated,” the authors wrote online in the journal PLOS ONE.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

Search our articles:

ad

ad

adad

ad

ad
ad

ad

ad

ad

ad

ad

ad

ad

ad

ad

ad

ad

ad

ad

ad

ad

ad