The Surprising Benefits of Training in the Heat

One of the highest sweat rates ever recorded was that of marathon runner Alberto Salazar at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. In the months leading up to the games, which were expected to be oppressively hot, the marathoner was put through a regimen of temperature acclimation training with the goal of helping him adapt to running in the heat.

While Salazar placed only 15th overall, the program was deemed a success, physiologically speaking—vitals taken after the race found that Salazar’s hormonal and thermoregulatory systems were completely normal. His body had compensated by causing him to sweat at an incredibly high rate—about three liters per hour, compared to the roughly one liter per hour for an average human.

Researchers have been looking at the effects of heat on athletic performance for decades, and their results have been consistently surprising. Studies have found that, in addition to an increased rate of perspiration, training in the heat can increase an athlete’s blood plasma volume (which leads to better cardiovascular fitness), reduce overall core temperature, reduce blood lactate, increase skeletal muscle force, and, counterintuitively, make a person train better in cold temperatures.

In fact, heat acclimation may actually be more beneficial than altitude training in eliciting positive physiological adaptations, says Santiago Lorenzo, a professor of physiology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and a former decathlete at the University of Oregon. “Heat acclimation provides more substantial environmental specific improvements in aerobic performance than altitude acclimation,” he says.

And in contrast to the live low, train high philosophy, we more quickly adapt to heat stress than we do to hypoxia. In other words, heat training not only does a better job at increasing V02 max than altitude, but it also makes athletes better at withstanding a wider range of temperatures.

Athletes can adapt to heat in one of two ways. The first is through incremental improvements in tolerance over time—work out in the heat a little bit every day, and eventually your body will dissipate heat more effectively. The second way is through thermotolerance, which is a cellular adaptation to an extreme heat experience, like suffering such severe dehydration after a run that you need an IV.

Essentially, if you shock your system, your body will be able to withstand greater temperature stresses later on. But successful heat adaptation is difficult—and clearly dangerous—to achieve outside of controlled settings. Lorenzo explains that performance gains are possible only when athletes elevate their core body temperature, and without careful monitoring, it’s possible to elevate your core temperature to lethal levels.

When performed safely, however, heat training can have extraordinary effects. This phenomena fascinates Chris Minson, a professor of human physiology at the University of Oregon, who studies heat acclimation responses in athletes. According to his research, heat training can expand blood plasma volume, but Minson says there also seem to be inexplicable changes to the heart’s left ventricle, which helps to increase oxygen delivery to the muscles.

In addition, he says that athletes who train in warm temperatures generally get better at regulating heat by sweating earlier, as Salazar did, or developing a colder resting body temperature.  A 2011 study by a group of researchers in New Zealand also found that overall volume of blood plasma increased at a greater rate when athletes did not drink water during exercise. While some coaches are carefully experimenting with dehydration, Minson and Lorenzo are not because it adds too much additional stress.

However, they do say that this type of training can be beneficial because it produces a higher number of “heat shock” protein cells. Ahead of Western States this June, ultrarunning coach Jason Koop worked on heat training with Amanda Basham and eventual winner Kaci Leckteig. Koop believes this type of acclimating is a good example of blending an academic concept with real-world training. But, says Koop, “at a certain level, you have to compromise training quality for the heat acclimation.

Acclimating to the heat is additional stress [on the body], just like more miles or intervals, so you can’t simply pile it on. Something on the training side has to give.” One method of heat acclimation that Minson uses with his athletes is to do hard workouts on colder days or earlier in the morning, and then start training in hotter conditions with less intensity. He is also looking into adding heat in ways that wouldn’t require an athlete to train in high temperatures at all—using hot tubs, for instance. 

All this being said, not everyone responds to heat at the same rate or with the same physiological gains, which makes it similar to altitude training in that it might make a high-performing age grouper, college athlete, or elite a little better, but it won’t compensate for intelligent, consistent training.

How to Incorporate Heat Acclimation into Your Training Schedule

When acclimating to heat, you’ll be forced to compromise training quality, says Koop. While he understands the benefits of heat acclimation, he still prioritizes smart, solid training. But if you want to incorporate heat into your workouts, here’s how he recommends doing it safely.

1. First, pick a protocol (sauna, hot bath, or exercising in the heat) that minimizes the impact on training, both physically and logistically.

2. Koop most commonly recommends that his athletes use a dry sauna immediately after running. “It doesn’t impact training nearly as much as running in the heat, and the effects are similarly positive,” he says. He often tells his athletes to not drink water during these sessions to enhance the effect. Koop recommends spending 20-to-30-minutes in the sauna, depending on tolerance.

3. Koop says that when he has his athletes exercise in the heat—either naturally or by wearing extra clothing to simulate the experience—it will be on a long, slow day for 60 to 90 minutes. The time completely depends on the athlete’s tolerance and previous experience. But he stresses to not do this on a recovery day, because heat training is an added stress on the body. Koop recommends drinking 30 to 40 ounces of an electrolyte drink per hour during these sessions  And for safety, he advises using low-traffic sidewalks and bike paths—not trails.

4. Despite the benefits of heat training, Koop reminds his athletes that running in the heat is extremely difficult and usually replaces a hard day. “You are substituting one potential gain for another one,” he says. In other words, use it carefully.

Source: The Surprising Benefits of Training in the Heat – Outside Online

Critics by issaonline

Although training in the heat offers some benefits, it does have drawbacks too.

The Mayo Clinic reports exercising in a high temperature environment can sometimes result in heat-related illness. The most common illnesses include:

Heat cramps – These are painful muscle contractions. Though caused by excessive heat, they can also occur when body temperature is normal.

Heat syncope – If the client feels lightheaded or faints due to high heat exposure, heat syncope may exist.

Heat exhaustion – This occurs when the body’s core temperature approaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea, vomiting, headache, and clammy skin.

Heat stroke – If the core body temperature exceeds 104 degrees, heat stroke can occur. This results in feelings of confusion, heart rhythm issues, and vision problems. Immediate medical attention is necessary to help preserve the brain and organs. If untreated, death can result.

Heat stress and heat-related illness are a major concern. Reduce this concern by helping clients acclimate to the heat and humidity common in summer training sessions. Research reveals that the human body goes through certain changes when exercising in a hot environment. Our core body temperature increases, first rapidly then at a slower rate. Metabolic rate increases as well, especially in heat stress conditions. Blood flow is altered to transfer the heat from our internal body to our skin, where it is released via our sweat. These changes are necessary to help prevent the body from overheating.

Though the human body is good at adapting to warmer climates, heat acclimation training improves this response. This enables clients to exercise more safely in hot environments. It also improves their performance. What does an effective acclimation program look like? A study on endurance athletes found that, for those not acclimated to the heat, high intensity exercise increased fatigue and weakened performance. Therefore, a lower-intensity workout regimen is recommended. At least until the client becomes used to the heat and humidity.

Another piece of research noted that 6-7 high-heat exposures are needed to improve adaptation. Each one should be at least 30 minutes in length. If you live in an area that is not particularly hot or it isn’t summer, there are a few ways to add heat to an exercise session. These include using a sauna or working out in heated water. Wearing multiple layers of clothing will also raise the body’s internal temp.

Some gyms and fitness facilities have an athletic chamber. This is a room that enables you to raise the heat and humidity to specific levels. You might also find these rooms at universities and colleges.

Yes, heat acclimation helps boost performance. But its number one goal is to help clients avoid heat illness, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. Here are a few more safety tips that will help too:

Drink lots of water. Dehydration occurs faster in hot environments because heat increases sweat rate. This makes hydration critical when exercising in hot weather. Harvard University suggests consuming 2-3 cups of water per hour if you’re sweating a lot.

But don’t overdo your water consumption. It’s also important to note that you can drink too much water. This is called water intoxication and reduces the sodium in the bloodstream. This can cause headache, nausea, and vomiting. In severe cases, blood pressure rises, it’s harder to breathe, and the client feels confused.

Consume sports drinks for lengthy trainings. During longer workout sessions, water may not be enough. Because your sweat contains many chemicals and salts, these need replacing. In this case, sports drinks can replenish the electrolytes lost via excessive sweat. Sports drinks also supply a limited level of carbohydrates. This gives your body the energy it needs to continue to work out.

Avoid exercise during extremely high temperatures. If you live in a place where extreme heat is common, exercise when it’s a bit cooler outside. This limits the likelihood that you’ll suffer a heat illness. What’s the best time of day to exercise in this type of environment? Either early in the morning or later in the day.

Pay attention to the humidity. When it is both hot and humid outside, the body responds differently than in dry conditions. Specifically, humidity increases your sweat rate, which impacts your hydration. The Cleveland Clinic suggest not exercising if the humidity is over 80 percent and it’s 80 degrees or higher.

Wear the right clothing. Your body must be able to sweat to better control its internal temperature. Lightweight clothing assists with this. Wearing clothing in lighter colors is preferred as well since they don’t absorb as much heat as dark colors.

Monitor your heart rate. Heart rate increases 10 beats per minute for every degree the body temperature rises. So, wearing a heart rate monitor helps clients better identify whether their cardiovascular system is experiencing heat stress. Heart rate monitors can also signal if dehydration exists.

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What Is Prosopagnosia, Brad Pitt’s Face Blindness Condition?

Brad Pitt fears he has created a false image of himself: one that is aloof, remote, inaccessible, and self-absorbed, he recently told GQ. But the reality is, he believes he struggles with undiagnosed prosopagnosia, also known as “face blindness.”

The problem is especially present when Pitt attends parties or social gatherings. “Nobody believes me!” he said. “I wanna meet another.” And he’s experienced the symptoms for years—in 2013, he told Esquire they discouraged him from leaving the house.

“So many people hate me because they think I’m disrespecting them,” he said at the time. “So I swear to God, I took one year where I just said, this year, I’m just going to cop to it and say to people, ‘Okay, where did we meet?’ But it just got worse. People were more offended.”

He continued: “Every now and then, someone will give me context, and I’ll say, ‘Thank you for helping me.’ But I piss more people off. You get this thing, like, ‘You’re being egotistical. You’re being conceited.’ But it’s a mystery to me, man. I can’t grasp a face and yet I come from such a design/aesthetic point of view. I am going to get it tested.”

He hasn’t been evaluated yet, he told GQ, but diagnosis usually requires a series of face recognition tests conducted by a neurologist.

So, what is prosopagnosia?

The condition, also known as “face blindness,” is characterized by abnormalities, damage, or impairment in the right fusiform gyrus, a fold in the brain that contributes to facial perception and memory, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). It affects a person’s ability to recognize faces. The severity of the condition varies, from not being able to recognize the faces of friends and family members to the inability to distinguish any face at all.

What causes prosopagnosia?

There are two types of prosopagnosia, each with its own cause.

  • Developed prosopagnosia: Some people are born with prosopagnosia without having experienced any brain damage, which is a type also known as developmental prosopagnosia, per the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. This type often runs in families and is believed to be the result of genetic mutation or deletion, per the NINDS.
  • Then there’s acquired prosopagnosia or the onset of it after brain trauma. It can result from stroke, traumatic brain injury, or certain neurodegenerative diseases, per the NINDS.

Prosopagnosia treatments

While there’s no one universal treatment for prosopagnosia, therapy often involves learning compensatory strategies to enact in social situations where facial recognition is needed. Treatment often involves learning strategies to turn to in social situations. The NINDS says adults whose condition followed a stroke or brain trauma, however, can be retrained to use other clues for recognition with the help of various therapies.

By

Source: What Is Prosopagnosia, Brad Pitt’s Face Blindness Condition? – The New York Times

Critics:

Reports of prosopagnosia date back to antiquity, but Bodamer’s report (1947) of two individuals with face recognition deficits was a landmark paper in that he extensively described their symptoms and declared it to be distinct from general visual agnosia. He referred to the condition as prosopagnosia, which he coined by combining the Greek word for face (prosopon) with the medical term for recognition impairment (agnosia).

Prior to the 21st century, almost all cases of prosopagnosia that were documented resulted from brain damage, usually due to head trauma, stroke, or degenerative disease. Cases due to brain damage are called acquired prosopagnosia: these individuals had normal face recognition abilities that were then impaired. Acquired prosopagnosia is often (though not always) apparent to people who suffer from it, because they have experienced normal face recognition in the past and so they notice their deficit.

If you have experienced a noticeable decline in your face recognition abilities, you should contact a neurologist; any sudden decline may indicate the existence of a condition that needs immediate attention. In cases of developmental prosopagnosia (sometimes called congenital prosopagnosia), face recognition problems are present early in life and are caused by neurodevelopmental impairments that impact face processing mechanisms. Face recognition ability varies substantially in people with normal abilities; some people are really good, others are poor, and most people are somewhere between these extremes.

People with developmental prosopagnosia appear to make up the low end of the distribution of face recognition abilities. On the opposite end of the distribution are super recognizers, who have extraordinarily good face recognition. If you think you’re a super recognizer and you’re interested in research participation, please contact us. Developmental prosopagnosics have never recognized faces normally so their impairment is often not readily apparent to them.

As a result, many developmental prosopagnosics are unaware of their prosopagnosia even as adults. Developmental prosopagnosia in children can be especially difficult to identify. For more information on developmental prosopagnosia in kids, please visit this website.

Many people with developmental prosopagnosia report family members with face processing deficits, and several families with multiple developmental prosopagnosics have been documented. A genetic contribution to many cases of developmental prosopagnosia fits with results from twin studies in the normal population that indicate that differences in face recognition ability are primarily due to genetic differences.

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FatBlaster Max Has Just Been Banned Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Diet Supplements

Australia’s regulator has banned FatBlaster Max, an over-the-counter pill that claimed (with no evidence) to be able to help you lose weight. FatBlaster Max can no longer be purchased, after the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) found the company behind the pills registered the medicine with no mention of weightloss properties and failed to produce any evidence substantiating its advertised claim it led to weight loss.

The ban has put over-the-counter weightloss pills back in the spotlight, shining light on an unregulated area that is immensely popular. Studies show one in seven people have tried an over-the-counter weightloss pill, undoubtedly enticed by their promises of helping people lose weight easily and rapidly. But do over-the-counter weightloss pills really work? Here’s everything you need to know about the weightloss supplements currently claiming a big share of Australia’s billion-dollar weight-loss industry.

What exactly are over-the-counter weightloss pills?

Broadly speaking, over-the-counter pills are anything you buy from a pharmacist without a prescription, like cold and flu remedies and paracetamol. Some over-the-counter medications are also available at retailers like supermarkets, service stations and health food stores. Over-the-counter weightloss pills are essentially dietary and herbal supplements marketed and sold with claims of assisting with weight loss.

The important distinction between over-the-counter weightloss pills and weightloss medications prescribed by a doctor is that prescription weightloss drugs – like all pharmaceutical drugs – must go through clinical trials and provide Australia’s drug regulator with evidence of their effectiveness and safety. Worryingly, the distributors of over-the-counter diet pills and supplements are not required to produce any evidence of their products’ efficacy and safety before they hit the Australian market. The TGA only requires them to hold, but not necessarily make freely available, evidence substantiating their claims.

How do over-the-counter weightloss pills help you lose weight?

Over-the-counter weightloss pills usually claim to have several herbal or natural ingredients that help you lose weight in one of four ways:

  1. by suppressing your appetite or making you feel full using ingredients like a tropical fruit called Garcinia cambogia or glucomannan, a dietary fibre made from the root of the konjac plant
  2. by speeding up your metabolism and your body’s ability to burn fat using components like the herb Ephedra sinica or a fatty acid (conjugated linoleic acid) found in meat and dairy products
  3. by blocking your body’s ability to digest things like carbohydrates and fat using Phaseolus vulgaris (also known as the common bean) or a variety of green tea leaf called Camellia sinensis
  4. by absorbing fat in the foods you eat, relying on ingredients like chitosan, a product created using the shells of crustaceans and insects.

Do these weightloss pills work?

In a word: no.

Most advertising for over-the-counter weightloss pills and dietary supplements will proudly claim a product’s results are backed by “clinical trials” and “scientific evidence”, but the reality is a host of independent studies don’t support these claims.Two recent studies by the University of Sydney examined data from more than 120 placebo-controlled trials of herbal and dietary supplements for weight loss, including products featuring the ingredients described above. None of the supplements provided clinically meaningful weight loss.

If they don’t work, why are they allowed to be sold?

Given there are few to no checks and even less accountability when compared to prescription weightloss drugs, the researchers’ findings should come as no surprise.

Recent studies suggest weightloss supplement companies have conducted very few high-quality studies. Many trials are too small, poorly designed and don’t accurately report the composition of the supplements being investigated. This is because there are no guidelines currently covering how these types of trials should be conducted.

The good news is the Australian regulator is taking some action on the claims made by distributors of these weightloss supplements, with the TGA recently banning the sale of FatBlaster Max. While the reality is the most likely thing to be damaged by over-the-counter weightloss pills is your hip pocket, the TGA’s action also serves as an important reminder that the safety of over-the-counter weightloss supplements can never be guaranteed.

Several products have been banned from sale around the world after causing serious health problems. This includes the TGA and America’s Food and Drug Administration banning dietary supplements containing ephedra in 2018, when supplements containing this stimulant herb were associated with cases of heart attack, seizure, stroke and sudden death.

Real harm is also caused by the over-the-counter weightloss industry feeding on people’s desire for a quick fix to achieve rapid weight loss. The reality is there is no wonder pill. Losing weight and achieving lasting results comes down to: following evidence-based care from health-care professionals and making meaningful changes to your diet, exercise and lifestyle that you can sustain for life. A spokesperson for FatBlaster said the company is disappointed with the TGA’s decision and it is evaluating options for next steps.

It said the TGA’s requirements had changed during the years that FatBlaster Max Tablets have been on the market and the company has taken great care to update all packaging, advertising and claims to ensure compliance with these requirements. The listing cancellation does not impact the wider FatBlaster range.

By :

Source: FatBlaster Max has just been banned. Why? Here’s everything you need to know about diet supplements

Critics  Mayo Clinic Staff

Are you an adult who has serious health problems because of your weight? Have you tried diet and exercise but haven’t been able to lose enough weight? If you answered yes to these questions, a prescription weight-loss drug may be an option for you. You should know, however, that prescription weight-loss drugs are used in addition to — not instead of — diet and exercise.

Who is a candidate for weight-loss drugs?

Your doctor may consider a weight-loss drug for you if you haven’t been able to lose weight through diet and exercise and you meet one of the following:

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is greater than 30.
  • Your BMI is greater than 27 and you have a serious medical problem related to obesity, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Before selecting a medicine for you, your doctor will consider your history and health challenges. Then your doctor will talk with you about the pros and cons of prescription weight-loss drugs. It’s important to note that weight-loss drugs aren’t for everyone. For example, prescription weight-loss drugs shouldn’t be used if you’re trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or are breast-feeding.

How well do weight-loss drugs work?

Prescription weight-loss drugs approved for long-term use (more than 12 weeks) produce significant weight loss compared with placebo. The combination of weight-loss medication and lifestyle changes results in greater weight loss than lifestyle changes do alone. Over the course of a year, that can mean a weight loss of 3% to 7% of total body weight above that achieved with lifestyle changes alone. That may seem like a modest amount. But a sustained weight loss of 5% to 10% can have important health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, blood sugar and triglyceride levels.

What you should know about weight-loss drugs

Mild side effects, such as nausea, constipation or diarrhea, are common. They may lessen over time. Rarely, serious side effects can occur. For this reason, it’s important to thoroughly discuss treatment options with your doctor.Weight-loss drugs can be expensive and aren’t always paid for by insurance. Ask your insurance company about coverage. Many people gain back some of the weight they lost when they stop taking weight-loss drugs. However, adopting healthy lifestyle habits may help limit weight gain.

How long does drug therapy last?

How long you’ll take a weight-loss drug depends on if the drug helps you lose weight. If you’ve lost enough weight to improve your health and you haven’t had serious side effects, your doctor may suggest that you take the drug indefinitely. If you haven’t lost at least 5% of your body weight after three to six months on the full dose of a drug, your doctor will probably change your treatment and may switch you to a different weight-loss drug.

What drugs are approved for weight loss?

Four weight-loss drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for long-term use:

  • Bupropion-naltrexone (Contrave)
  • Liraglutide (Saxenda)
  • Orlistat (Xenical)
  • Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia)

Most prescription weight-loss drugs work by decreasing appetite or increasing feelings of fullness. Some do both. The exception is orlistat. It works by interfering with absorption of fat.

Bupropion-naltrexone

Bupropion-naltrexone is a combination drug. Naltrexone is used to treat alcohol and opioid dependence. Bupropion is an antidepressant and quit-smoking aid. Like all antidepressants, bupropion carries a warning about suicide risk. Bupropion-naltrexone can raise blood pressure, and monitoring is necessary at the start of treatment. Common side effects include nausea, headache and constipation.

Liraglutide

Liraglutide is also used to manage diabetes. Unlike other weight-loss drugs, liraglutide is given by injection. Nausea is a common complaint. Vomiting may limit its use.

Orlistat

Orlistat is also available in a reduced-strength form without a prescription (Alli). Orlistat can cause bothersome gastrointestinal side effects, such as flatulence and loose stools. You need to follow a low-fat diet when taking this medicine. Rare cases of serious liver injury have been reported with orlistat. However, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established.

Phentermine-topiramate

Phentermine-topiramate is a combination of a weight-loss drug (phentermine) and an anticonvulsant (topiramate). Phentermine has the potential to be abused because it acts like an amphetamine. Other possible side effects include an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, insomnia, constipation, and nervousness. Topiramate increases the risk of birth defects. Phentermine by itself (Adipex-P, Lomaira) is also used for weight loss. It’s one of four similar weight-loss drugs approved for short-term use (less than 12 weeks). The other drugs in this group aren’t widely prescribed.

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What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

We’ve all been there before: You promise yourself just a few more minutes—and suddenly, it’s 2 a.m. and you’re still wide awake. Perhaps you’re binging a new favorite Netflix series or fretting over a morning meeting— whatever the root cause, you’re tossing and turning in bed all night, instead of getting the shut-eye you so desperately need.

What most of us don’t understand, however, is what really happens to our bodies when we don’t achieve that optimal level of sleep, which for most adults clocks in between seven and eight hours. Ahead, we asked a few doctors to explain how are bodies react to too-little sleep—and their answers might surprise you.

It becomes more difficult to focus on mental and physical tasks.

According to Dr. Jan K. Carney, MD, MPH, the Associate Dean for Public Health & Health Policy, and Professor of Medicine at Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and the National Institutes of Health, sleep is essential for health at every age. “When we don’t get enough sleep, it is harder to stay alert, focus on school or work, and react quickly when driving,” Dr. Carney says.

Your memory and mood suffers—and your appetite increases.

Sleep physician Dr. Abhinav Singh, MD, FAASM, the Medical Director of the Indiana Sleep Center, and Sleep Foundation Medical Review Panel member, says that, believe it or not, losing precious hours of sleep and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol have similar physical consequences. “Sleep loss is linked to memory impairment, poor mood, increased appetite (think obesity and diabetes), and reduced reflexes,” he says. “Increased reaction time and some studies have compared it to being worse than being intoxicated with alcohol.”

Long-term sleep shortage could lead to chronic physical and mental health concerns.

While Dr. Carney says the short-term risks of sleep loss are things we’re all familiar with—feeling drowsy and having trouble concentrating—the real risk is what a compounded lack of sleep can do over time. “Longer-term sleep shortage is associated with increased risks for chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, stroke, and depression.”

You can’t make up for lost sleep.

Unfortunately, you can’t “catch up” on sleep—once those hours are gone, they’re gone for good. “It is best to develop and keep regular sleep habits over the long term,” shares Dr. Carney, adding that you also can’t “learn to live” with less sleep. “The best way to ensure both adequate sleep and high-quality sleep is to develop good sleep habits.”

This means implementing a routine with a consistent bedtime and wake time each day—even on weekends. “Regular exercise helps, as does avoiding caffeine or alcohol near bedtime,” Carney says. “Our environment is essential—we need a calm, quiet, dark, and cool location where we sleep regularly.”

By:

Source: What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

These guidelines serve as a rule-of-thumb for how much sleep children and adults need while acknowledging that the ideal amount of sleep can vary from person to person.

For that reason, the guidelines list a range of hours for each age group. The recommendations also acknowledge that, for some people with unique circumstances, there’s some wiggle room on either side of the range for “acceptable,” though still not optimal, amount of sleep.

Deciding how much sleep you need means considering your overall health, daily activities, and typical sleep patterns. Some questions that you help assess your individual sleep needs include:

  • Are you productive, healthy, and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or have you noticed that you require more hours of sleep to get into high gear?
  • Do you have coexisting health issues? Are you at higher risk for any disease?
  • Do you have a high level of daily energy expenditure? Do you frequently play sports or work in a labor-intensive job?
  • Do your daily activities require alertness to do them safely? Do you drive every day and/or operate heavy machinery? Do you ever feel sleepy when doing these activities?
  • Are you experiencing or do you have a history of sleeping problems?
  • Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day?
  • When you have an open schedule, do you sleep more than you do on a typical workday?

Start with the above-mentioned recommendations and then use your answers to these questions to home in on your optimal amount of sleep.

How Were the Recommendations Created?

To create these recommended sleep times, an expert panel of 18 people was convened from different fields of science and medicine. The members of the panel reviewed hundreds of validated research studies about sleep duration and key health outcomes like cardiovascular disease, depression, pain, and diabetes.

After studying the evidence, the panel used several rounds of voting and discussion to narrow down the ranges for the amount of sleep needed at different ages. In total, this process took over nine months to complete.

Other organizations, such as the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and Sleep Research Society (SRS) have also published recommendations for the amount of sleep needed for adults2 and children3. In general, these organizations closely coincide in their findings as do similar organizations in Canada.4

Improve Your Sleep Today: Make Sleep a Priority

Once you have a nightly goal based on the hours of sleep that you need, it’s time to start planning for how to make that a reality.

Start by making sleep a priority in your schedule. This means budgeting for the hours you need so that work or social activities don’t trade off with sleep. While cutting sleep short may be tempting in the moment, it doesn’t pay off because sleep is essential to being at your best both mentally and physically.

Improving your sleep hygiene, which includes your bedroom setting and sleep-related habits, is an established way to get better rest. Examples of sleep hygiene improvements include:

If you’re a parent, many of the same tips apply to help children and teens get the recommended amount of sleep that they need for kids their age. Pointers for parents can help with teens, specifically, who face a number of unique sleep challenges.

Getting more sleep is a key part of the equation, but remember that it’s not just about sleep quantity. Quality sleep matters5, too, and it’s possible to get the hours that you need but not

feel refreshed because your sleep is fragmented or non-restorative. Fortunately, improving sleep hygiene often boosts both the quantity and quality of your sleep.

If you or a family member are experiencing symptoms such as significant sleepiness during the day, chronic snoring, leg cramps or tingling, difficulty breathing during sleep, chronic insomnia, or another symptom that is preventing you from sleeping well, you should consult your primary care doctor or find a sleep professional to determine the underlying cause.

You can try using our Sleep Diary or Sleep Log to track your sleep habits. This can provide insight about your sleep patterns and needs. It can also be helpful to bring with you to the doctor if you have ongoing sleep problems.

By: Eric Suni  – SleepFoundation

Covid Year Three Will Be Better, Experts Agree, Unless Rich Countries Ignore The Pandemic Elsewhere

It was March 2020 when the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic hit home in the U.S. When the NBA suspended its season, it seemed to give permission for other closures and stay-at-home orders, and they quickly followed. At that point, there had only been around 3,000 confirmed cases of the disease and about 60 confirmed Covid deaths.

Fast-forward two years, and the numbers are staggering. According to estimates from Johns Hopkins University, as of Wednesday there have been over 79 million confirmed Covid cases and over 960,000 deaths. Several million have been hospitalized and millions more have reported symptoms that linger for weeks or even months, with unknown consequences moving into the future.

“It’s massively higher than I thought,” says Robert Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “Particularly when in November 2020 the announcement came out that we had a vaccine that was 95% effective.”

Amanda Castel, a professor of epidemiology at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, said in an email that she’s also surprised that the pandemic is still going, compared to her initial expectation. “In retrospect, I think I was hopeful that it would be more self-limited, like the SARS pandemic.”

The worst of the pandemic is behind us, experts told Forbes, in part because the first two years provided valuable tools for the continued fight against both Covid and future disease epidemics. Ignoring the pandemic in lower-income countries, they say, could mean new variants making their way back to the U.S.

One lesson the experts didn’t expect to learn was how polarizing the response to the pandemic could be, especially as time went on. “I was surprised and alarmed to see how politically polarized Covid-19 responses have become, with some U.S. states (most recently Florida) promoting public health policies that directly oppose the science (and common sense),” Steffanie Strathdee, associate dean of global health sciences at the University of California, San Diego, said in an email.

The depth and intensity of political anger against public health officials was also jarring, says Castel. “To think that many public health leaders at the local, state and national level received death threats and lawsuits because of the evidence-based guidance they issued is appalling.”

“It’s tragic, because the outcomes of that were that hundreds of thousands of people died, who would not have died, if the response had been less political and more governed by the best science,” Wachter adds.

Wachter also says it’s hard to fathom the size of anti-vaccine sentiment based on what things looked like before the pandemic. “The anti-vax movement was previously pretty small and fringe,” he says. “And it was as likely to come from the left as the right—maybe even more likely to come from the left.”

The worst of the pandemic is (probably) behind us

“Years three and four will, hopefully, see a transition of Covid-19 from an emergent condition to an ongoing public health challenge with significantly less morbidity and mortality,” Anand Parekh, chief medical advisor for the Bipartisan Policy Center, says in an email. But not if it’s left to itself, he’s quick to add. “This would require easy access to prevention, testing and treatment.”

“I think the likeliest path will be a version of where we are now,” says Wachter. “With small surges that will not be overwhelming and be regional, partly related to seasonality, maybe partly related to vaccine status in different regions.”

The biggest unknown about this prediction, of course, is whether a new Covid variant emerges, which Strathdee warns is an increased risk if high-income countries choose to ignore the pandemic in the rest of the world. “If we don’t ensure that new medical advances such as vaccines and therapeutics reach the lower- and middle-income countries, new variants will emerge that threaten us all.”

Long Covid will have a potentially long impact

A potentially bigger challenge than surges of new infections in pandemic year three, says Wachter, are the still mostly unknown impacts of long Covid. If it turns out that, as some preliminary estimates suggest, as many as 10% to 20% of people experience lingering symptoms, “that’s tens of millions of people, and that’ll have an impact on the workforce and that’ll have an impact on economic performance.”

Long Covid will take a potential toll on the healthcare system as well, adds Castel. “Until we learn more about how to prevent and treat long Covid, we can anticipate a large burden on the healthcare system for the near future.”

“The high prevalence of long Covid stands to cause significant disability,” Strathdee says. “which affects both mental and physical health, including quality of life. I don’t think we’ve got a good handle yet on how big this problem may be.”

One major concern, says Wachter, is that unlike most respiratory diseases, early studies are warning that Covid may cause long-term health problems. A recent study said that people with even mild Covid showed more incidents of brain damage compared with those uninfected. Another finding: People infected with Covid have higher rates of heart attack and strokes. “If that turns out to be real, you’re talking about a new risk factor in almost 40% of the population,” he says. “A risk factor that may be as potent, as if people have high blood pressure or if they smoke. And that’s a very big deal.”

The tool kit for the next disease surge

Health experts agree that Covid-19 is likely to be around for a long time, and it’s also not going to be the last pandemic. The past two years, they say, have provided a lot of insight into what needs to be done to prepare for the next deadly disease surge.

When it comes to respiratory viruses like Covid, “We need to keep good-fitting N95 face masks, HEPA filters and good old soap and water,” says Strathdee.

“Masks should have been consistently recommended early on in the pandemic, as other countries did,” Parekh agrees. Castel concurs. “Masks are simple to use, relatively easy to obtain, and have proven to be effective in both protecting the wearer and those around them.”

Another key tool for combating future epidemics is testing, Wachter says. “We clearly made a terrible error early on in not working hard to get good tests out there more quickly,” he says. “And particularly, I think we were very late on home testing, both developing them and distributing them.”

One crucial factor that emerged to combat Covid, says Esther Krofah, executive director of FasterCures and the Center for Public Health at the Milken Institute, was research collaboration between scientists, companies and governments to produce vaccines and therapeutics quickly. That’s something she hopes doesn’t go away. “We need to ensure we build sustainable infrastructure to continue such collaboration,” she says, “and move forward efforts to change the culture in medical research to align with the urgent needs of patients.”

Experts do suggest rethinking one of the most contentious aspects of the pandemic response: school closures. “One of the real lessons learned is the negative impact of school closures on kids,” says Wachter. “And I think it will influence our response the next time.”

“Virtual schooling, while necessary intermittently, will need to be more closely considered in the future taking into account the virus’ epidemiology, risk to students and staff, and considerations for childcare/parental workforce,” says Parekh.

Hospitals need to be better prepared for future surges

Covid-19 hit hospitals extremely hard, overworking doctors and nurses to the point of burnout during pandemic surges, as intensive care units and other departments were pushed to capacity and beyond. This means that hospitals will need to work on building their surge capacity, experts say.

“Stockpiling and distributing critical medical material, deploying surge medical staff and ensuring that healthcare systems through federal grants are exercising their response plans are all critical,” Parekh says.

A major challenge for hospitals, says Wachter, will be getting extra capacity in place without breaking the bank. “Nobody’s going to be able to afford to keep a lot of excess bed capacity available, or a lot of excess nursing and doctor capacity,” he says. However, what hospitals can do is better stockpile equipment and protective clothing for healthcare workers. “The things that are not wildly expensive but you do want to have in the basement.”

In addition to better preparing for surges, hospitals also need to be better at identifying threats early so public health measures can be put in place, says Strathdee. “Public health departments and hospitals need to be better equipped to conduct surveillance, which includes systems for timely reporting.”

Castel encourages closer communication between hospitals and public health officials. “Hospitals are often sentinel sites and the first place that persons infected with these illnesses seek care, therefore they must have the capacity to work closely with public health to assist in the timely detection of emerging infectious diseases.”

Rebuilding trust and fighting apathy is critical

“An effective response to a pandemic requires three things: political leadership, national unity and timely resources,” says Parekh. Those first two have been hard to come by since 2020, with one expert confiding to Forbes their concern that political polarization “has significantly impaired the ability of public health authorities to enact countermeasures in the future.”

Another challenge that health experts have seen during the course of the pandemic isn’t just politics but also apathy. “On May 24, 2020, the New York Times covered its whole front page with a story headlined: ‘U.S. Deaths Near 100,000, An Incalculable Loss.’ It listed names of the dead, as the paper did after 9/11. In December 2020, shortly before vaccines became available, we approached 300,000 dead, though the Times did not (and still has not) run a similar story,” Krofah says. “I’m afraid we have become numb to these numbers.”

Wachter notes that if a new surge of Covid comes in the next few months, it may be hard to galvanize a public response. “Everybody is so cognitively over this,” he says. “And the idea that you would have to hunker down again? It’s going to be awfully hard to convince people to do that.”

Other experts agree that separating politics from public health is going to be essential in order to move forward in combating future epidemics. A crucial aspect of that is rebuilding trust in institutions, repaid in kind with clear communication rooted in science. But it’s also, several say, something that has to happen between people’s everyday interactions with each other.

For Castel, what’s needed is that sense of community seen early in the pandemic when “neighbors volunteered to help older, more vulnerable people get groceries, or to make masks, or to donate food to overworked medical personnel,” she says. “Without this sense of community, we would not be where we are today and I can only hope that if faced with another pandemic, that we would all come together again in a united effort to protect and support each other. “

I’m a senior editor at Forbes covering healthcare, science, and cutting edge technology. 

Source: Covid Year Three Will Be Better, Experts Agree, Unless Rich Countries Ignore The Pandemic Elsewhere

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