Sleep, Drink and Gossip Your Way to HealthPosted on Mar 22nd 2011 1:00PM by Blisstree
So you didn't hear your alarm and woke up a full 47 minutes after it went off? Here's some good news: You'll be more refreshed than someone who pressed the snooze button. In fact, whoever came up with the old "you snooze, you lose" saying must have been a reformed snooze-button addict, because it is scarily spot-on. When you hit "snooze," you lose out on quality sleep, which, according to sleep researchers, is just as important as quantity. Hitting "snooze" every seven to nine minutes means that the sleep you're getting isn't providing much benefit, because it's not enough time to get in and out of recharging REM sleep. So staying in bed for that extra hour doesn't help refresh you. At all.
"You waste hours and hours a week by hitting the snooze button," said Dr. Edward Stepanski, a sleep specialist and COO of Acorn Research. "Instead, set your alarm for 20 minutes later -- that's how much usable sleep you actually get when you abuse the snooze button for an entire hour."
Most of us love coffee for its revered wake-up benefits. But new research has shown that coffee may have other good-for-your-health tricks up its tasty caffeinated sleeve. One study of more than 90,000 people found that those who drank coffee daily -- from one to four cups -- had half the liver cancer risk of those who didn't drink any coffee at all. And another study found that the more coffee participants drank -- we're talking four cups and beyond here, caffeinated or not -- the lower their risk of Type 2 diabetes.
"Coffee contains chlorogenic acid, which may play a role in the prevention of diabetes and Parkinson's disease," said Sari Greaves, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Just don't order a venti Frappuccino with a mountain of whipped cream or the coffee's benefits will be washed out with fat and sugar. "Stick to one or two 8-ounce cups of brewed coffee with skim milk or soy milk and just one teaspoon of sugar or a zero-calorie sweetener to satisfy your sugar craving," Greaves said.
You know that one way-too-funny site you like to sneak peeks at during work -- the one that makes you snort the aforementioned coffee out your nose? Yuk it up! Laughter just might help your heart. A study at the University of Maryland measured the blood flow of participants who'd watched "Saving Private Ryan" and "Kingpin." You can probably guess at least some of the results here (do you know anyone who laughed during "Saving Private Ryan"?). After watching the jokes-aplenty "Kingpin," blood flow increased by 22 percent, which is about equal to a 15-minute, 50 calorie-burning workout. (Duh alert, but it must be said: Don't think you can skip workouts and just sit around streaming Netflix's entire comedy section instead.) Studies have also pointed to laughter helping lower blood sugar, improve sleep and relaxation levels, and boost immunity.
You head to the water cooler for a refreshing cup of ice-cold, well, gossip. But don't feel too badly about the dishing session: Studies have found that sharing stories with others can actually be therapeutic. After all, we're social creatures: Chitchat helps cement our social bonds. According to a study in the Review of General Psychology, it also helps us let off steam, feel supported and get feedback from others. Just make sure your gossip stays low key without veering into the dangerous land of rumor-spreading. If you're purposely ruining someone's rep, no one's really going to care that you were doing it only for the good of your health.
You already know that the antioxidants in red wine might help ward off heart disease and improve the levels of "good" cholesterol in your body. But here's another way that having a drink tonight might help your health: It could ward off food poisoning. A 2002 study on a salmonella outbreak found that people who'd had beer, wine or cocktails while eating contaminated meals were less likely to get sick, because alcohol may stimulate gastric acids in the stomach, which help protect against food-borne illnesses. And wine might be even more helpful, because its grape-y ingredients have antibacterial properties that could knock out sickness even more quickly. But remember, more drinks don't translate to more benefits. When it comes to alcohol, it's pretty much the opposite. Cheers.
More From Blisstree.com:
Nutrition: 26 Ways to Lower Your Bad Cholesterol -- Including Alcohol!
Smoking, Overeating, Not Sleeping or Exercising? 4 Health Do-Over Solutions
Fitness for Lazy People: 10 Workouts You Can Do in Bed