Category: Health/Wellness

Cutting down on screen time helps solve sleep problems

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If you are in the habit of going to bed with your smart phone and keeping yourself glued to the screen until sleep takes over, you are likely not to get up early and refreshed, the next morning. Studies have suggested that blue light emitting from electronic devices can adversely affect sleep time as well as quality. For, too much exposure to blue light impacts the brain’s clock adversely affecting the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Hence, the feeling of fatigue, lack of concentration, and bad mood many of us experience during the day following a bad night sleep.

According to a new study, the findings of which were presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Endocrinology (ECE 2019) in Lyon, France, more than four hours of screen time can delay the onset of sleep as well as wake up time by 30 minutes. And reducing the screen time can help reverse the sleep problems.

The study involved a randomised controlled trial on a small group of smart phone users. Researchers examined the sleep patterns in participants vis-à-vis two measures – blocking blue light with glasses and abstinence from using screens during evening.

After a week it was found that both the measures resulted in early onset of sleep as well as wake up times by 20 minutes. There was also reduction in sleep loss in participants.

“Here we show very simply that these sleep complaints can be easily reversed by minimising evening screen use or exposure to blue light. Based on our data, it is likely that adolescent sleep complaints and delayed sleep onset are at least partly mediated by blue light from screens,” says study co-author Dirk Jan Stenvers from Amsterdam UMC hospital in the Netherlands.

The lack of sleep is also linked to serious health issues, including obesity, diabetes and heart ailments.


Walk faster to live longer

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Can the pace of walking indicate the longevity of a person? A new study suggests those who walk faster may live longer, regardless of their body weight. Incidentally, the level of fitness of an individual is normally reflected in the pace, with which he/she walks, rather than in the body mass index (BMI).

The study, published in the journal, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, involved examining the data of 474,919 people, participated in the U.K. Biobank study between 2006 and 2016. The participants were asked to identify their normal walking pace among three categories — slow, steady/average or brisk. At the same time, the participants’ BMI, waist circumference, and body-fat percentage were measured. On average, the participants were found overweight with a BMI of 26.7 for 58.2 years of age.

The study found those walked briskly had longer life expectancies than those with slower walking paces regardless of their BMI. At the same time those who moved slowly had lower life expectancies, even with a BMI of less than 20. The gap in the life expectancies in the two groups was more than 10 years for both men and women.

“Brisk walkers were found to have longer life expectancies, which was constant across different levels and indices of adiposity,” the researchers said.

“While there are likely to be multiple factors contributing to the strength of our findings, it is well established that increasing your fitness is one of the best things you can do for your health. Increasing your walking pace in everyday life is a good way to increase fitness levels, particularly in those who are slow walkers,” says, Tom Yates, the lead author and professor of Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior and Health at the University of Leicester

However, further studies are recommended to find out if boosting fitness can improve life expectancies in “high-risk” slowest paced low BMI people, and if walking pace could predict risk of disease in an individual.