The immune system is much less about exercising power than it is about finding balance. You can help train and maintain it. Here’s how.
It seems like every day we learn more about the importance of a full night of beneficial and restorative sleep; we understand that it impacts every portion of our lives and without it, we are vulnerable to a myriad of diseases and chronic conditions. Yet, for many of us and for many reasons, that type of sleep is so very difficult to come by.
Unfortunately, as we age it becomes even harder. Older adults face a reduction in the quantity and quality of deep sleep, the stage that beneficially overhauls our cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems and refreshes learning and memory abilities. Beginning in our 30s, each decade represents a significant decline in the restorative deep sleep we experienced when young.
In addition, our sleep also becomes more fragmented; we wake up more during the night, perhaps because of a weakened bladder or aches and pains.
Scientists also have determined that the circadian rhythms (the body’s internal wake/sleep clock) of older people change, resulting in our bodies calling for earlier bedtimes and earlier risings which can disrupt our sleep cycles.
Ageing in general can cause a deterioration in our health, but we are learning that the deterioration of our sleep may be more in play than we previously thought. As we age, we should continue to pay attention to our sleep patterns and discuss them with our doctors. There are steps that can and should be taken to improve and maintain a better night’s sleep….learn about them
Feeling stressed? Don’t let it get the best of you! Here are some tips from WEBMD for some quick stress relief:
Listen to music
Focus on breathing
Be kind to yourself
Jot down your thoughts and feelings
Talk to a friend
A new report issued earlier this month by the Governors Highway Safety Association identifies drowsy driving as the factor in crashes that claimed 5,000 lives in 2015. It is estimated to cause 20 percent of all traffic deaths which increased by 8 percent last year. The annual cost of fatigue related accidents that cause injury or death is $109 billion, not including property damage!
Because nearly 84 million sleep deprived Americans are on the road each day, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) has expanded its definition of impaired driving to include drowsy driving, in addition to drunk, drugged and distracted driving. The drivers who are at greater risk of driving while tired are teens and young adults, shift workers and those with sleep disorders. Too little sleep causes drivers to react more slowly, resulting in injuries and death.
The report recommends Americans change their view of sleep; it should be considered an essential element of a healthy life, along with eating right and exercising.
Naps…they really are not just for kids! Dr. Damien Leger, a French sleep researcher, writes that napping should be considered a basic right, not a luxury or an activity to be hidden or derided. He stresses how important they are for those who work nights and/or for those who routinely sleep six or less hours per day, since studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation is associated with diabetes, depression, cancer, obesity and even an increased risk of death.
Dr. Leger does note there are conditions for taking an effective and successful nap. He advises that it should be limited to 20 minutes (set your alarm!) as anything more might leave you with “sleep drunkenness”, rather than the rejuvenation which is sought. Also, find a safe place to sleep whether it is your desk (it is not necessary to lay down), car or an empty office or workspace.
Research has shown that naps or short periods of sleep increase cognitive performance, reaction time and mood, so take the time and try a nap; you may be thrilled with the results!
An influential of panel of experts gathered by the World Health Organization (WHO) have concluded that drinking coffee regularly could protect against two different types of cancer, uterine and liver, although it is not clear why. As recently as 1991, researchers described coffee as ‘possibly carcinogenic’ with links to some cancers. But since then a large body of research has portrayed coffee (for those who drink it regularly) as a surprising elixir, finding lower rates of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, neurological disorders and several cancers.
This is very good news since it is estimated that 64 percent of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee per day. Last year a panel of scientists working on the government’s 2015 dietary guidelines said there was “strong evidence” that three to five cups of coffee daily were not harmful and might reduce chronic disease.
A note of caution…the WHO’s cancer agency has announced that drinking extremely hot (150 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, really too hot to drink) coffee or tea may promote esophageal cancer, so do wait a few minutes before taking that first sip.
So go ahead and enjoy that cup or cups of coffee…..
So many of us experience fatigue as we try to keep up with and balance our work and home lives; if ignored, it can become chronic and put us at an increased risk for disease. By eating the right foods (those that release energy more slowly, giving us more long-lasting energy), we can fight fatigue!
Here are some foods that can do the job:
- Oatmeal (old-fashioned, steel-cut) and whole grain foods
- Nuts and Seeds, especially chia seeds
- Yogurt (Greek)
Be creative; mix these foods with other foods in your diet or with each other: add nuts and seeds to your yogurt or spinach salad, include spinach in your omelet or on your sandwich instead of lettuce.
Do try to stay away from those foods containing sugar and caffeine:
- Junk Food
- Energy Drinks
- White Bread
They may provide you with a quick burst of energy but that will be followed by a major slump.
Chronic insomnia is defined as at least three restless nights per week for at least three months. Have you been experiencing this? If yes, you are not alone! The American College of Physicians (ACP) reports that 6-10 percent of people in the United States have insomnia; this percentage may be even greater among the shift work population.
Often figuring out what to do about it causes even more sleeplessness. A new report issued by the ACP suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) might be worth a try. The physicians acknowledge that, while it may not have better results than sleep medications, it does have far fewer side effects.
Learn more about CBT and how it may work for you at the Huffington Post…..
Welcome to National Nutrition Month! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics created this annual campaign in 1973 to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. It began as a weeklong event and grew to a month in 1980 as interest in nutrition and healthy eating grew.
March is a good time of year to reexamine our eating habits, as many of us may have abandoned our original New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and better. Some of the many suggestions that the Academy offers are to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, cut back on sugar, watch portion sizes and drink more water.
Knowledge is power…learn about the foods that are good for you and why, try them and choose the ones you like. Gradually incorporate them into your diet to make the changes necessary for a long and healthy life. Go to the Academy’s website to get started…..
At Working Nights we often discuss the importance of sleep and the obstacles shift workers face in trying to get enough of it. Lack of sleep is not only a major issue for shift workers but for many adults (and unfortunately, a growing number of children) in the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that, according to a new sleep study, more than one third of adults in America are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. This study is the first to document estimates of self-reported healthy sleep duration (identified as 7 hours or more) in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
To learn more about the study and about some steps you can take to increase the quantity and quality of your sleep, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
The new year often begins for many of us with gym memberships and mighty resolutions for getting and staying in shape. But as the days pass, those plans may get pushed aside as cold and dismal weather and numerous obligations and/or excuses get in the way. We know how important it is to keep active but it certainly is not easy.
Here is something that may help…the 7 Minute Workout! This short but effective workout does not require special equipment or a lot of time; the exercises are easy to learn and just might be the best way to get and stay in shape as we look forward to the warmer, longer days of spring. You can find this workout at WebMD……get started today!
Ask yourself how often you get a full uninterrupted night’s sleep… do you ever? If your answer is sometimes, rarely or never, you are not alone!
We now know that sleep impacts EVERY part of our mental, physical and emotional lives and that it is the number one ingredient for optimum health. Knowing that, we usually worry about the number of hours of sleep we get and do not as often consider the quality of those hours. A recent study suggests we should….read about the impact of disrupted sleep at (e) Science News.
Sleep is a subject being studied by researchers more than ever as they continue to learn how it impacts every part of our mental, physical and emotional lives. Working Nights discusses it often since shift workers, due to their unique hours and the disruption of their circadian rhythms, get less sleep than the day working population.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call insufficient sleep a public health epidemic. The National Sleep Foundation reported in their 2013 survey that one in five Americans get less than six hours of sleep on an average work night.
As we approach winter and cold and flu season, we need to try even harder to get more undisturbed quality sleep (we are turning the clocks back this Sunday, November 1st, so there is an extra hour!). Working Nights looked at the results of a new UC San Francisco study on the relationship between shortened sleep and catching a cold or virus. Those results show that those who slept less than six hours a night were 4.2 times more likely to catch a cold; the odds increased for those who slept even less!
Learn more about the study and its results at (e)Science News.
In recent years there have been numerous articles written about the physical toll of being sedentary. Excessive sitting is associated with 34 chronic diseases and conditions! Studies show that sitting too much has been linked to cardiovascular events like heart attack, heart disease death, overall death and death from cancer. It has also been associated with high blood pressure, obesity, bad cholesterol and too much belly fat.
Dr. David Alter, the senior scientist of a new study on sitting at the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto said, “More than one-half of an average person’s days is spent being sedentary — sitting, watching television or working at a computer.” Studies have reported that people who sit for long periods were 24 percent more likely to die from health problems during the studies, which lasted between 1 and 16 years, compared to those who sat less.
And now the results of a new study in Australia indicate there is yet one more reason to get up from your chair….in addition to the physical impacts, there is evidence that there is a link between too much sitting and emotional stress; that is the more sedentary a person was, the more likely he or she was to feel anxious. Only nine studies have so far examined this link, so additional research is needed.
However, ultimately, the bottom line is sitting for a long period of time is bad for you, even if you are active and exercise regularly. Knowing this, make a point of getting up every hour or so….grab a drink, walk over to a co-worker’s desk, choose to stand more when you have a choice…it is worth it!
…and in this case, also easily accessible and good for us. What could it be you ask? The answer is water, which is essential to keeping us alive since all the systems of our body require it to function properly, but which also has so many other benefits.
Simply by drinking water and staying hydrated, shift workers can lose weight, feel less stressed and get sick less, maintain optimum body temperature and regulate blood pressure. It almost seems too good to be true, but it is. Because the body is more than fifty percent water, even a slight reduction in hydration has a significant impact on all parts of it. Sipping on water during a stressful shift can ease tension, reduce the strain on your heart and increase your energy level which is especially needed when working shifts.
Studies show that people who drank two 8 ounce glasses of water before each meal lost weight, while the control group who did not drink before eating but had the same diet, did not. Water fills you up, resulting in eating less and drinking fewer high calorie beverages. Staying hydrated also keeps your mucus membranes moist; when they are dry, flu and virus germs can more easily enter your body.
The amount of water needed to stay properly hydrated is based on your age, health and weather conditions; it differs for everyone. Keep in mind that when you exercise in hot humid weather, you can become dehydrated within 30 minutes. Take regular breaks, wear appropriate clothes and drink water approximately every 20 minutes.
Try to make taking a water bottle with you part of your daily routine….maybe add some lemon or lime juice for some added flavor!