|“No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.” — Carrie Snow|
With the hectic pace of day-to-day life, many people don’t get the recommended amount of sleep each night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults typically need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night in order to function at their best. Getting a few less hours for even a few nights in a row can have the same effect as staying awake for 24 hours straight. And, over time, chronic sleep debt can contribute to fatigue, increased stress levels, reduced attention span, and declined cognitive performance.
One way to combat the effects of sleep deprivation—and repay some sleep debt—is to incorporate daytime napping into your schedule. The length of the nap and type of sleep you get during that nap help determine its potential health benefits. The table below identifies these benefits.
Nap Duration and Potential Health Benefits
Reduces sleepiness; improves cognitive performance; increases alertness, attention, and energy levels; improves mood; improves motor performance; reduces stress levels
Enhances creativity; sharpens memory
Sharpens decision-making skills, including memorization and recall; improves memory preservation
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is critical for problem solving; helps make new connections in the brain; enhances creativity; reduces negative reactivity; promotes happiness
The following is a list of tips and tricks to help you make the most of naptime:
Choose a dark, quiet, comfortable place where you can relax. Try to limit the amount of noise and light in the room, and make sure the temperature is comfortable. Choose a time that works for you, and aim to nap at that time each day to establish a routine. You may find that restricting your naps to early afternoon (between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, or an hour or two after lunch) is less likely to interfere with your nighttime sleep patterns. Set an alarm on your cell phone, watch, or computer so you don’t sleep for too long. If you’re napping at the office, try closing your door and hanging a sign that says, “will return in 20 minutes.” Alternatives to this are napping in your car or on an outdoor bench.
Wherever you nap, bring along something that you associate with sleep. Some ideas include a sleep mask, neck pillow, relaxing playlist and headphones, cozy blanket, warm socks, and lavender essential oil to dab on your pulse points.
Keep in mind that longer naps may be accompanied by sleep inertia, or a period of grogginess that sometimes follows sleep. Give yourself time to wake fully before returning to any activity that requires a quick or sharp response.
Your Partner In Health!
Susan D. Denny, MD, MPH
Top 5 Heart Healthy Fats
It is a very common fat that everybody has (or should have from now on) in their fridge. As opposed to industrial trans fat, which increases the the risk of heart disease, the trans-rumenic acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is thought to decrease the risk for cardiovescular disease. CLA along with other natural trans fats as well as vitamin K2 are abundantly found in grass-fed meat and dairy products, which is why butter is a great source to maintain cardiovescular health and to prevent heart attacks.
2. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil currently has gained in popularity for all kinds of health remedies and benefits. The hype is justified and it definitely belongs in the kitchen and on this list! First of all, coconut oil is one of the best oils to cook with as it is with more than 90% almost entirely saturated. Its chemical structure stands out to other fats and oils in our diet, which has a significant effect on the body and the heart. Coconut oil is composed of a special type of saturated fat called medium chain triglyceride (MCT). This structure makes the oil special because the vast majority of fats and oils we consume are composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). In fact, both the saturated and unsaturated fat found in meat, eggs, milk, and plants consist of LCFA.
That means that most of the western world gets way too much of these fats and not enough of the MCFA’s that are found in coconut oil.
Why does that matter? Because of its shorter chemical composition, MCFA’s are absorbed with ease without requiring pancreatic enzymes to break them down. This means less work for the pancreas and the fatty acids can go directly to the liver from where they go into the mitochondrias and are immediately utilized for energy. The best part is that coconut oil makes our heart happy by protecting it from heart disease as well as lowering the risk of atherosclerosis.
3. Duck Fat
Just like butter, duck fat is packed with the favorable CLA’s and natural trans fat that were found, in animal studies, to prevent fatty streaks and plaque formation in the arteries of rodents by changing macrophage lipid metabolism.
Another statistic, however, shows that the same effect seems to apply for humans as well. According to the World Health Organization’s Multinational Monitoring of Trends and Determinants, in the United States, of every 100,000 middle-aged men, 315 die of heart attacks each year. However, in the Gascony region, where duck liver is a steady part of the diet, this rate is only 80 per 100,000. A great statistic for the consumption of duck fat and the relation to a healthier heart!
4. Leaf Lard
This fat is a highly popular fat in the kitchen of every celebrity cook. For good reason! Lard is a very stable fat which makes it an excellent choice for frying. Morover, it has a higher smoking point than other fats therefore it is excellent for cooking in general. It is gained from the visceral fat deposit that surrounds the kidney and loin and because of its little pork flavor, leaf lard is considered the highest grade of lard.
Nutritionally speaking, lard is composed of more than twice the monosaturated fat and nearly one-fourth the saturated fat than butter. In addition to that, it is also low in omega-6 fatty acids, known to promote inflammation, which is good news for a healthy heart.
Ghee, a great fat for cooking, taste, and cardiovescular health. It is made from butter, however, the milk solids and impurities are removed, which makes it consumer friendly for everybody, including people who are lactose or casein intolerant.
Just like coconut oil, it is composed of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), which are directly absorbed to the liver and burned as energy. Besides of being a fabulous energy source, it contributes to a healthy heart as it protects the arteries from hardening. A study from 2010 found that people in India, where ghee is originated from and thus has the highest population of consumers, had fewer cases of heart disease than our western world.
New Study Shows Mold Triggers Brain Inflammation
Landlords dismiss it, friends and family think you’re making it up, and doctors have no idea what you’re talking about — but mold illness is often an unsuspected trigger of chronic health problems. The recent revelation of a string pediatric deaths at a Seattle hospital due to mold in the air system brought national attention to the gravity of mold illness.
Newer construction methods and materials, water damage that was not properly addressed, high indoor humidity levels, and genetic susceptibility are all factors that play a role in whether a person becomes sick from mold. Estimates vary, but some research shows up to 85 percent of building inspected had past water damage.
A new study found that people affected by mold illness experienced:
- Brain inflammation in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that governs memory, learning, and the sleep-wake cycle.
- Decreased neurogenesis, or the formation of new brain cells.
- Impaired memory.
- Increased sensitivity to pain.
- Increased anxiety.
The study also noted that the mold spore alone is not necessary to trigger mold reactions and mold illness. We’ve long known that mycotoxins, toxic compounds produced by mold spores small enough to pass through most materials, are the primary trigger in mold illness.
The study also found that mold spore skeletal elements and other mold metabolites also cause symptoms of mold illness.
Researchers link mold-triggered immune activation with these symptoms in the brain and the body, concluding that mold causes symptoms and illness through its inflammatory effects.
Symptoms of mold illness
Symptoms of mold illness vary from person to person, although mold has been correlated with a significant increase in asthma.
People who live, work, or go to school in moldy buildings complain of pain, fatigue, increased anxiety, depression, and cognitive defects such as memory loss. Researchers say the symptoms are similar to those from bacterial or viral infections, due to the inflammatory cascades mold triggers.
The effects of mold illness on the brain have gone largely dismissed by the standard health care model due to insufficient research on the neurological effects of mold illness.
However, this study demonstrates what people with mold illness already know — it messes with your brain. Hopefully similar studies will follow.
In the study, researchers observed that mice inoculated with mold spores showed increased inflammation in the hippocampus, causing notable losses of memory, increased pain, and more anxious behavior compared to mice inoculated with saline.
Addressing mold illness
If you suspect you suffer from mold illness, a variety of in-home tests can show whether the building has high levels of mold and which kinds. Lab testing can show whether you are dealing with high mold mycotoxin levels and if so, which molds are the culprits.
It’s important to have this information because the type of mold you’re dealing with will help determine the best course of action for recovery.
You must take action to deal with mold illness. Sometimes this can mean dramatic changes, such as moving or leaving a job. If the mold contamination is advanced, it can also mean getting rid of all your belongings. However, without action, the inflammation will continue to ravage your system and progressively damage the brain and body. Mold can also trigger or exacerbate autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, vitiligo, and more.
Ask my office how we can help you address possible mold illness.