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How much sleep do you need?


Why is sleep important

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Many believe they can function at peak performance with only 5 hours of sleep. While there might be a range of optimal sleep, few of us can be at our best with that little sleep. Sleeping allows the body to recover and perform restorative activities. While we sleep, our body produces signaling molecules such as cytokines that may impact immune system functions; cell and tissue repair take place; and heart rate decreases, allowing our heart to rest. 

These are the guidelines for the healthiest sleep duration from the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Newborn to 3 months: 14-17 hours
  • 4 to 11 months: 12-16 hours
  • 1 to 2 years: 11-14 hours
  • 3 to 5 years: 10-13 hours
  • 6 to 13 years: 9-12 hours
  • 14 to 17 years: 8-10 hours
  • 18 to 25 years: 7-9 hours
  • 26 to 64 years: 7-9 hours
  • 65 years or more: 7-8 hours

A study conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) found evidence that children achieving these sleep goals have better attention, behavior, learning, and memory. Younger people need more sleep, particularly when the brain is still developing, as sleep plays a role in vocabulary acquisition and emotional control. 

Fewer than 6 or 7 hours of sleep a night may be associated with fatigue, drowsiness, mood changes, forgetfulness, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression. For example, a study conducted by the AASM found that sleeping less than recommended may be associated with greater suicidal thoughts in teenagers. A Stanford study found that 10 hours of sleep were associated with better mental and physical performance in high-performance athletes.

Studies show that sleep quality also matters. If your sleep is frequently interrupted, you may still feel groggy even after meeting the sleep time requirements for your specific age group. For better rest, try prioritizing sleep. Some tips are to remove distractions like electronic devices, adjust room temperature, and avoid caffeine intake before bedtime.

Sweet dreams!


Should You Whisper After Losing Your Voice?

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How many of us have lost our voice after a live concert, sports game, or a medical illness like laryngitis? The answer is likely the majority of us. Therefore, we are familiar with the struggle of trying to communicate with a hoarse voice.  Without vocal cord function, one can only whisper.  And some people might think that whispering rather than trying to make use of our vocal cords might speed recovery. It might feel like we need to exert less force and strain on our vocal cords. Does this idea stand up to the facts? Research shows that whispering can actually be as hard on your vocal cords as shouting. 

Our vocal cords consist of three layers, and we experience hoarseness when the middle, gel-like layer becomes swollen or inflamed. When we whisper, we squeeze our vocal cords more tightly, which might contribute to strain, especially when they are inflamed. This squeezing, combined with the fact that whispering does not vibrate our vocal cords, can also lead to vocal cord irritation from dryness.

The idea is that resting your voice and vocal cords helps speed resolution of the inflammation. One to three days of not talking can help you regain your voice a little more quickly. Some other things that can help your vocal cords are drinking plenty of water and using a humidifier to moisten the air you breathe. Alcohol, caffeine, and smoking all have drying effects and might delay recovery.

We use our vocal cords frequently in our everyday lives, for working and socializing. To speed recovery, limit attempts to communicate vocally, including whispering, and keep your body hydrated and your vocal cords moist!’s%20not%20true%3A%20Studies%20have,they%20actually%20cause%20more%20damage.

Is Organic Food Really Healthier?

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Organic and non-GMO foods make up an increasing proportion of food sales each year. One possible reason for this growth might be the perception that organic food is healthier. But is that really the case?

The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown. It includes not using synthetic fertilizers to add nutrients to the soil, synthetic pesticides for pest control, genetic engineering to improve disease resistance and increase yield, or antibiotics/growth hormones. Any product that is organic has a USDA label. Organic food is usually more expensive because the physical means of managing pests and weeds without pesticides or fertilizers can be more time-consuming and associated with  a lower yield. 

“Natural” is another term often associated with healthier, safer foods. However, it’s important to know that  “Organic” and “natural” are interchangeable. Natural products don’t have preservatives or artificial flavors, but can still be produced with fertilizers and non-organic means. 

Organic products aren’t more nutritious than non-organic ones. There isn’t concrete research to conclude that organic food consumption leads to health benefits. However, pesticides common in agriculture such as phorate may potentially overstimulate the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness, and confusion. Other classes of pesticides like triazenes may be linked to endocrine-disrupting effects and reproductive toxicity.  However, the health risks of these pesticides from food alone do not exceed the EPA’s level of concern. The effects of exposure to a combination of such pesticides is uncertain and requires more research. 

Given the lack of evidence on the long term effects of eating foods not produced according to organic standards, and the knowledge that organic food can be expensive, it makes sense to weigh the potential benefits. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables under running water to remove dirt, bacteria, and traces of chemicals. You can also peel fruits and vegetables (although this may also remove some nutrients). Buy produce in season if possible because this is more likely to be fresh, with less use of preservative chemicals. In addition, not all produce is created equally; avocados, cantaloupe, pineapple, broccoli, cabbage and corn have low levels of pesticides. In contrast, strawberries, spinach, grapes, apples, tomatoes, peppers and celery have high levels of pesticide residues. 

People consider organic food when they have concerns about the uncertain effects of chemicals and they are willing to spend more. When purchasing produce for yourself and your family, make sure to understand what’s known and unknown so that you can make the best choice for you!