Health

What Kind of Sleeper Are You?

We each have an inner clock that influences when we feel like sleeping and waking and how tired we are. This clock in the brain tends to run slower than the 24-hour clock tied to the solar day — in fact, depending on genetics, it could be off by an hour or more. The inner, or circadian, clock controls the production of the hormone melatonin, which promotes sleepiness. When melatonin is delayed, you may suffer from insomnia. It also means the hormone may still be in your system when you want to start your day. This can cause fatigue and poor concentration, and leave you at risk for depression.

Take the 10 question quiz to see what kind of sleeper you are. (NYTIMES)

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Photo credit: Expertrain

Eat your Breakfast and Chocolate – Preferably in Prison

Curated by CLAI

EAT BREAKFAST: For students, especially, eating a healthy breakfast leads to improved cognition and memory, helps reduce absenteeism and generally improves mood. A 2008 study in the journal Pediatrics found that teenagers who ate breakfast regularly had a lower body-mass index than those who did not.

The logic about mood holds true for all: Eat breakfast and you’ll have a better morning. Perhaps you’ll eat less at lunch. You’ll have a better afternoon. Which leads to a better evening and better sleep. And a better breakfast the following morning.

So: Whole-grain muffins. Orange slices. A sausage or two. Everyone wins. It is all good cooking, if you serve it with care. And it gets better, easier, even more delicious, every time you do.

Start making breakfast every day. Make breakfast all the rage.

Credit: Gretchen Roehrs (NYTIMES)

EAT CHOCOLATE: Eating chocolate was significantly associated with superior “visual-spatial memory and [organization], working memory, scanning and tracking, abstract reasoning, and the mini-mental state examination. These functions translate to every day tasks, “such as remembering a phone number, or your shopping list, or being able to do two things at once, like talking and driving at the same time.

Nutrients called cocoa flavanols, which are found naturally in cocoa, and thus chocolate, seem to have a positive effect on people’s brains. Eating the nutrient increases blood flow to the brain, which in turn improves a number of its functions.

Credits: Amy King (WAPO)

FINE DINING in PRISON: InGalera, a restaurant that opened recently to rave reviews. It is inside the Bollate penitentiary, a medium-security prison with 1,100 inmates on the outskirts of Milan. The waiters, dishwashers and cooks have been convicted of homicide, armed robbery, drug trafficking and other crimes.

Dinner reservations are almost fully booked for March, and the Milanese elite have taken note. A former bank president came a few weeks ago. So did a former Miss Italy. Families come on weekends.

The restaurant may bother some people but prisons must train inmates to become responsible citizens capable of re-entering society. The recidivism rate of inmates in similar programs is far lower than average. Prices are more reasonable than most Milanese restaurants – “To have honest prices you have to come to jail.”

Credits: Gianni Cipriano (NYTIMES)

Guns & Marriage

Curated by CLAI

POLICE OFFICER WITH NO GUNS? In Britain, Ireland, Norway, Iceland and New Zealand, officers are unarmed when they are on patrol. Police are only equipped with firearms in special circumstances. Police officers there have saved lives — exactly because they were unable to shoot.

Most of Ireland’s officers are not even trained in using firearms. Ireland’s police officers would not even know how to use a gun if they were threatened. Only 20% to 25% of Irish police officers are qualified to use firearms.

A member of the St. Louis County Police Department points his weapon in the direction of a group of protesters in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 13, 2014. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

A member of the St. Louis County Police Department points his weapon in the direction of a group of protesters in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 13, 2014. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

MORE REASONS TO GET MARRIED: Those who consider their spouse or partner to be their best friend get about twice as much life satisfaction from marriage as others.

  • Women benefit more from being married to their best friend than men do, though women are less likely to regard their spouse as their best friend.
  • The benefits of marital friendship are most vivid during middle age, when people tend to experience a dip in life satisfaction, largely because career and family demands apply the most stress then.
  • Those who are married have much shallower dips – even in regions where marriage does not have an overall positive effect.

Too Much Music for my Muscles. Beethoven’s Favorite Key – E Flat.

Curated by CLAI

GETTING BUFF BUT GOING DEAF? High-intensity fitness classes are even noisier than they were a decade ago, with indoor cycling classes topping the list of culprits, blaring tunes as loud as 99 decibels.

  • Adults can safely tolerate 85 decibels for up to eight hours.
  • The human ear can handle 91 decibels for two hours, and 94 decibels for just one hour.
  • A sign that it’s too loud: You experience ringing in your ears — tinnitus — after you’ve stepped out of the gym. You might also have temporary hearing loss.
Favorite Keys by Composer

Favorite Keys by Composer (http://vizual-statistix.tumblr.com)

Composers Favorite Keys of Classical Music: Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart all show strong preferences for a specific key. Haydn and Mozart most frequently wrote in major keys.

  • All three composers whose most-used key was minor were from the Romantic era (perhaps they were sad about the Industrial Revolution).
  • Rachmaninoff was the only composer to produce more pieces in minor keys than major keys.
  • The least used key across the board was g# minor, with Brahms using it most (in only 1.5% of his compositions).

Overworked? Take a Lunch Walk, Stop Drinking (Coffee) Alcohol

Curated by CLAI

TIP OF THE DAY: Take a lunchtime walk to buoy your spirits and keep you energy levels up.

WORK LONG HOURS? DRINK TOO MUCH? Those working between 49 and 54 hours a week had the biggest risk of starting to overindulge.

  • Alcohol could be used to relieve stress, that Type A workers could end up in jobs with longer hours, or that there could be an associated link between demanding jobs, alcohol use and people with existing depression or sleep problems.
  • CEOs who end the day with a few glasses of pricey scotch and minimum-wage workers who throw back a few beers after their second shift are both more likely to over-drink than those who work fewer hours.
Why So Jittery? (Nutritionaction.com; Center for Science in the Public Interest)

Why So Jittery? (Nutritionaction.com; Center for Science in the Public Interest)

WHY SO JITTERY? One 20 oz Starbucks coffee = 2 shots of 5-hour energy = 25 Monster drinks = 12 cans of Coca-Cola = 21 Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate