Category Archives: health

sleep-deprivation

Can sleep deprivation kill?

Sleep deprivation is an issue affecting millions of people across the globe. We consistently put work and school priorities over our bodies’ most essential activity. And most of us are so used to being sleep deprived that we remain oblivious to how impaired we really are.

In actuality, long-term sleep deprivation can wreck both physical and mental health. Here are just a few reasons why you should always try to hit the hay for the right amount of time:

Stroke risk quadruples: Research suggests that getting fewer than six hours a night can elevate stroke risk for middle and older-aged people.

Heart disease risk increases: Harvard Health Publications reports that chronic sleep deprivation has been associated with high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (or cholesterol-clogged arteries), heart failure and heart attack.

More likely to catch a cold: Proper rest is one of the building blocks of a healthy immune system. In fact, one Carnegie Mellon University study found that sleeping fewer than seven hours a night was associated with a tripled risk of coming down with a cold.

More likely to have an accident: Getting six or fewer hours of shut-eye a night triples your risk of drowsy driving-related accidents, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsydriving.org. 

Less focused and memory problems: Can’t remember where you placed your cell phone? Exhaustion may be to blame. In addition, exhaustion destroys the focus you’ll need to properly complete those important tasks at work.

 – Penny Kokkinides

Misconceptions of the Flu Shot

The leaves are starting to change colors and the air feels a bit cooler. Winter is almost upon us, and whether we like it or not, we will soon be pulling out our parkas, scraping our windshields and regretting that we ever prayed for cooler weather.

This cold weather, though, also means that we better prepare our immune systems for yet another flu season. The flu shot, although sometimes not as effective as it should be, comes with some misconceptions: Can’t the flu vaccine actually give me the flu? If I haven’t received the flu this season, shouldn’t I wait to get vaccinated to strengthen my immunity? The following addresses some of these common questions to set straight what is fact from fiction:

  • Fact: While flu vaccines can be made with a flu virus, this virus is “inactivated” meaning that it is not infectious.  This can sometimes cause misconceptions of believing that the flu shot actually causes a person to have the flu. 
  • Fiction:  If I haven’t received the flu shot this season and still have not become infected, I should hold off on getting the flu shot to strengthen my immunity. Flu activity typically peaks between December and February and can sometimes last until May. Even if you haven’t contracted the flu yet, the CDC still advises getting the vaccine. It’s recommended to get the flu shot in October, but receiving the vaccine in January or February can still protect against infection if the virus is still lurking around.
  • Fact: Those who are six months and older should be vaccinated every year. According to the CDC, a person’s immunity from the flu tends to decline over time. It is recommended that vaccinations should occur every year for optimal protection.

Still not sure if you should get vaccinated? Visit the CDC’s website for more answers to your flu vaccine questions.

– Penny Kokkinides

Veganism: More Than a Fad

More than a simple diet, veganism is a lifestyle – and, in fact, it’s one that can significantly improve health and extend lifespan. The misconceptions (and, admittedly, stereotypes) of a plant-based diet have led the public to overlook the many health benefits.

Here are a few examples of how a vegan diet may help improve health:

1.      Anti-inflammatory: Disease, infection and chronic pain can all be caused by uncontrolled levels of inflammation throughout the body. A meat-based diet is highly inflammatory, while a plant-based diet is naturally alkaline-forming. The high levels of alkaline in the blood can prevent inflammation and protect you from a plethora of ailments.

2.      Better digestion: Red meat, dairy and eggs can all linger in your digestive tract for up to a week, while most plant-based foods are fully digested within hours. For the millions of Americans suffering from constipation, a vegan diet may serve as a better alternative to stool softeners and laxatives.

3.      Weight loss: One of the greatest benefits of a vegan diet is the potential for weight loss. The amount of fiber in plants allows the body to feel full for a longer period of time without a heavy serving of calories and fat. And, there are so many different ways to cook plants, you don’t have to worry about bored!

 

How to become an early riser

We’ve all heard someone say, “The early bird gets the worm.”

It’s a cliche, sure, but it may be onto something. Company executives around the world are emulating this phrase and tout the benefits of waking up early. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, wakes up every morning at 3:45 a.m. to start his day, and the Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article on how 4 a.m. is the most productive hour of the day. Advocates of early mornings say it helps them jump start their day, and get ahead of the chaos.

Here are some simple tips for becoming an early riser:

1)      Go to bed early. Night owls typically don’t make great early risers. Make sure you stop drinking caffeine early in the day and try reading a book in bed to fall asleep.

2)      Slowly transition into the routine. If your morning typically starts at 7 a.m. it isn’t realistic to think that habit will change overnight. Start setting your alarm 10-15 minutes earlier, and work your way up to the goal.

3)      Plan your morning the night before. Having an outfit set out and breakfast prepared the night before will help you ease into your morning routine without added stress.

4)      Don’t hit snooze. As tempting as the snooze button can be, it interrupts your body from REM sleep. Set your alarm and stick to it, once you’re awake and out of bed you’ll be glad you resisted the urge to snooze.

How to Avoid Death By Sitting

In the past several years, more and more studies have suggested that too much sitting is associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death. Some have even gone so far as to say sitting is the new smoking. So, what does that mean for the typical employee who spends roughly eight hours a day sitting at their desk? It’s time to start shopping around for a non-traditional desk/chair combo that won’t leave you worried your office chair may actually be killing you.

A standing desk allows you to ditch the chair altogether and work comfortably on your feet. If you get tired of standing, no worries – most standing desks are adjustable to allow for sitting. An even more innovative approach to an upright working station is the treadmill desk. Advocates for the treadmill desk claim it has several health benefits, including: improving mood, reducing the risk of type-2 diabetes, lowering blood pressure and reducing stress.

Not quite ready to say goodbye to your office chair? There are several alternatives to a traditional office chair that don’t require replacing it with a treadmill. Swapping your chair for an exercise ball will help you improve your balance, circulation and you’ll have a mini-workout available at your desk at all times. Buoy’s office chair alternatives are inspired by the rocking motion of an ocean buoy and are designed to engage your core and keep you moving throughout the day.

 

Resources for Healthcare Research

With its ever-evolving landscape, today’s healthcare industry has grown to encompass much more than just the physicians, clinicians and hospital executives most people think of when they hear the words, “healthcare industry.” Now, with anyone from accountants to web developers able to find work in healthcare, it’s more important than ever to stay in the know about an industry that affects everybody. Here are four resources that can help you stay up-to-date on the latest landscape.

1.       Advisory Board Company (ABC)
Using a combination of research, technology and consulting, ABC is a best practices firm that finds the best new ideas and proven practices from healthcare leaders across the world. get you started, their C-Suite Cheat Sheet Series provides all the basics you need to know about working in healthcare.
Website: www.advisory.com

2.       Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
The AHRQ works within the US Department of Health and Human Sciences to produce evidence to make healthcare safer, higher quality and more accessible, equitable and affordable. The organization’s website is filled with research and data about many different aspects of healthcare, including (but definitely not limited to) children’s health, mental health and primary care.
Website: www.ahrg.gov
 

3.       Becker’s Hospital Review
Tailored for hospital executives and C-Suite level employees, this site broadcasts up-to-date health system and hospital news, provides legal guidance and shares best practices. They even have a weekly e-newsletter that provides a summary of the week’s most relevant and popular news.
Website: www.beckershospitalreview.com

4.       Kaiser Health News
Your one-stop shop for all of the latest news involving healthcare politics and policy. Not only does the site publish original articles, it also provides you with daily summaries of major health news topics from other publications.
Website: www.khn.org

zika mosquito

Zika: Not over yet

A few weeks ago, you couldn’t turn on the news without hearing a story on Zika Virus. While other newsworthy stories have started to take over the news cycle, many in the medical community are keeping their attention focused squarely on this infection. Here’s a short summary of why people shouldn’t be ready to stop talking about Zika quite yet:

  1. An infected person may not even know they’re infected. People very rarely die from Zika. In fact, according to the CDC website, most people don’t even get sick enough to go to the hospital and some won’t show any symptoms at all. This means that these infected people can unknowingly spread the virus.
  2. There is no vaccine. You can’t protect yourself from Zika the same way you would from the flu or chicken pox. The only way to ensure that you won’t get Zika is to avoid being bitten by a mosquito.
  3. It can spread through sexual contact. Zika virus can be spread from a man to his sexual partner. According to the CDC, this is because the virus is present longer in semen than in blood. From the cases of sexual transmission, doctors have learned that the virus can spread through semen before the man has symptoms, while he is displaying symptoms and after symptoms resolve.
  4. Zika affects unborn babies the most. The virus causes birth defects in newborns. The most frequent defect of children born to a mother with the virus is microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where a newborn’s head is not as large as it should be because the brain is underdeveloped.
  5. This year’s summer Olympics are in Brazil. Zika spreads to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, and Brazil’s humidity and hot temperatures foster the kind of environment where mosquitos typically thrive.

Five Ways to Protect Your Skin at the Beach

With summer in full swing, it’s time to start prepping for your highly anticipated beach time. Hopefully you’ve already scheduled a week off work, booked an oceanfront room and stocked up on flip flops and bathing suits.

So, what’s next on your to-do list? One thing that may not stand out as a priority, but most definitely should be one, is arming yourself with the necessary tools to protect your skin from the blistering heat of the summer sun. Too much sun exposure could ruin your vacation with an unpleasant sun burn, and in more serious cases contribute to skin cancer. Here are five ways to protect your skin on your next beach vacation:

1.       Apply Sunscreen. The American Academy for Dermatology recommends using a SPF 30 or higher, and reapplying approximately every two hours. Don’t forget to apply it to your ears, hands and feet too.

2.       Check the UV index. Before heading out for a day at the beach, check the predicted UV index for the area. The UV index provides information on the strength of the sun’s UV rays. If it is too high, take extra precautions with a higher SPF or consider an inside activity that day.

3.       Bring an umbrella. An umbrella can provide some much needed refuge from the hot sun. Don’t rely on the umbrella for complete protection, though, and continue to apply sunscreen regularly.

4.       Cover up. Bring a tee-shirt or a trendy cover up to slip on when taking a walk on the beach or wading in the water. Just remember: Stay away from dark colors that will attract the sun’s rays.

5.       Wear a hat. A floppy hat is the perfect all-in-one beach accessory. You’ll look stylish while protecting your scalp, face and eyes from damaging UV rays.

It’s Time for a Snack Down

Office kitchens often provide the obstacles that knock a person off the “straight and narrow” of healthy snacking. Between company-provided snacks and the box of doughnuts your coworker was kind enough to bring in, these treats can make it tough to stick to your weight goals.

There are ways to stay on the right path, however! Here are some pointers to consider when trying to block the pesky office snack cycle:

Don’t eat the same lunches constantly.

  • If you have the same sandwich or salad daily, it might be playing a role in your snack bar addiction. Switch it up and you might find that you are more satisfied!

Distract yourself.

  • If you’re craving a snack, but aren’t actually hungry, try waiting it out. It can typically take 20-30 minutes for the desire to pass, so try to do something productive that will make passing the time easier.

Bring your own snacks.

  • If you can’t stop the snacking, you will be able to control what you will be snacking on. This could help you stay away from the cheese puffs and closer to the carrots.

Get to the root of the issue.

  • It is likely that your snacking problem has less to do with an addiction to food and more to do with your job. It could be boredom, stress, lack of stimulation or fatigue. Whatever the issue is, tackling it may help lead to a reduction in your snack attacks.

Allow balance.

  • It is okay to occasionally eat a cookie or two from the snack bar. Don’t beat yourself up about it, even if you did happen to skip the celery and peanut butter. This isn’t a war against snacks, so don’t act like a failed general when you give into their allure.

What to do with an overweight pet

Whether you’re the owner of a cat, a dog, or some other lovable critter, it is often easy to say “I love you,” with food. However, if you own an overweight pet, the first thing to correct may be your behavior. How you think you are showing affection can actually be destructive to your best friend.

Once you have learned to say “I love you” in an alternate way (with playful physical activity, for example), remove the automatic feeder. Do not allow your pet to free-eat. Some animals are able to express self-control, but others often are not.

Next, talk with your vet about your pet’s ideal weight and how much it should consume. This varies from pet-to-pet and diet-to-diet. If your pet eats a wet and dry diet, it is best to consult with your veterinarian about how much of each your pet should be getting daily. It is also helpful to get your pet on a feeding schedule. This can help with metabolism, digestion and consumption rate.

And, when it comes to food, don’t let the “guilt” get to you. Humans allow guilt to linger, but other animals do not. If you can’t let go of the guilt, try thinking of it in a different way. You aren’t taking away food from your pet – you are providing him or her with a better life!

Taking these steps may not show immediate improvements, but the benefits will eventually shine through. It can sometimes take longer than a year, but your pet’s wellbeing is worth the dedication.