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(Not so) Sweet Dreams – When a Good Night’s Sleep Isn’t so Good

 A study out this week in BMJ Open found an association between the use sleep medications and significantly higher mortality and cancer risks. Even the use of sleep medications fewer than 18 times per year was found to carry more than three times the mortality risk compared with no use. The risk seemed to be increased independent of things like smoking and alcohol use, and was seen with many different sleep medications. Click here to read a summary of the BMJ Open article.

Got the Traveling Bug?

 

Bug

Well, if you’re taking a trip over the holidays, hopefully you’ve only got the figurative traveling bugs and not bed bugs!  It turns out that due to modern-day travel, bed bugs have been able to hitch rides on suitcases to almost every part of the globe.  Gross, right?  Well there are a few things you can do to avoid these yucky critters.

 

Bed bugs are little creatures about the size of apple seeds which feed on human blood while we sleep.  Their bites don’t hurt, but can create itchy welts that are more annoying than anything (like a mosquito bite).  The bugs can survive about a year without feeding, and females tend to lay about 300 eggs in their lifetime.  They don’t always discriminate when it comes to choosing where to take up residence, so unfortunately they can be an issue even at nice hotels.  With their rising populations, travelers have become more uneasy about bringing some home, so to help avoid that fate, here are some tips on preventative measures you can take while traveling:

 

1.      Keep your luggage in the bathroom–bedbugs don’t like the hard surfaces of bathroom floors

2.      Keep your clothes in bags and use the closets instead of the hotel’s furniture

3.      When you get to your hotel room, look around a bit.  Take the sheets off and check behind the headboards.  They’re sneaky but they aren’t too smart.  They usually hide in plain sight – if you just look for them.  If you find one, get a new room away from the one you had (they like to spread out a bit between the adjacent rooms).

4.    Lastly, when you get home from traveling, vacuum your luggage and wash your clothing in hot water.


A few simple steps and chances are you’ll have a pest-free trip!

Can you sleep fat away?

Interestingly the answer may be yes…sort of.  A small study published last month in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at the effects of sleep duration in patients who were on a calorie-restricted diet.  Although both groups successfully lost about the same amount of weight, the researchers found that the people who slept about 8.5 hours a night lost more than twice as much fat as did those that slept about 5.5 hours.