Little Things Mean a Lot

Little things mean a lot. That there are lots of little things out there that we can do, adjustments we can make, that could prompt both immediate and long term benefits to our health.

The finding of a small, preliminary study recently conducted by researchers at the University of Auckland presents but one example — follow the age-old advice you may have heard countless times from your mother to sit up straight. Come to find, according to the study's preliminary findings, people with symptoms of depression may see at least some temporary improvements by doing just that.

Updated: Fri Feb 17, 2017

Resetting The Sleep Clock

"To sleep, perchance to dream" is an age-old saying. Have you ever wondered what the ultimate purpose of sleep is? Rest assured, science has pondered and probed the question for a long time and has come up with lots of ideas. Some have said it's to save energy, while others suggest that it goes back to a primal need to lie still at night to hide from predators. Now, two studies published in the journal Science are forwarding a new notion. Their thesis is that we sleep in order to forget some of the things we learn each day. They contend that we are constantly storing new memories in our brains and the sheer noise of all of this information can bog down its circuitry. We sleep so our brains can pare back the brain's overload in order to allow the circuitry to operate more quickly and efficiently over the noise.

While the debate over the fundamental purpose of sleep remains unsettled and is sure to keep researchers awake nights for years to come, the health consequences of a lack of sleep appears much clearer. The idea that lack of sleep can clog a person's thinking, spike their emotions and generally throw them off their game is commonly accepted. Multiple studies have shown that excessive sleepiness can hurt work performance, wreak havoc on relationships and lead to mood problems like anger and depression.

As noted in a recent article by Jane Brody of the New York Times, regardless of the reason for sleeplessness, it can become a learned response. The more one frets about a sleep problem, the worse it can get. "Insomnia is like a thief in the night, robbing millions — especially those older than 60 — of much-needed restorative sleep," Brody writes. And, while the causes of insomnia are many, they can be expected to increase in number and severity with age.

Updated: Fri Feb 10, 2017

The Chemical Imbalance of U.S. Regulation

You know something's up when the two largest discount retailers in the United States — Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated and the Target Corporation — take it upon themselves to direct their suppliers to remove or restrict the use of certain hazardous chemicals from the products they produce. But that's exactly what has been going on in recent years.

According to Reuters News, the Target Corporation said it is introducing a policy aimed at removing a number of harmful chemicals used in its personal care, beauty and textiles products. This action is on the heels of its move to abolish more than 1,000 chemicals from some of its products in 2015. The retailer also further plans to invest $5 million over the next five years in "green chemistry," a process which involves the reduction or elimination of hazardous substances in products.

Target's announcement comes six months after Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated said it was pushing suppliers to remove or restrict the use of eight hazardous chemicals from some of the products it sells.

Updated: Fri Feb 03, 2017