Every day, we scour the Web looking for compelling wellness stories that provide the information — and inspiration — you need to make good choices. Here are this week’s must-read wellness articles.
Lack of Sleep Costs U.S. More Than $400 Billion a Year
Too little sleep costs the United States economy as much as $411 billion annually. That’s the word according to a new report released by the RAND Corporation, which linked sleep deprivation to reduced work productivity and an increased risk of death. “Sleep deprivation not only influences an individual’s health and well-being but has a significant impact on a nation’s economy, with lower productivity levels and a higher mortality risk among workers,” noted lead author Marco Hafner. “Improving individual sleep habits and duration has huge implications, with our research showing that simple changes can make a big difference. For example, if those who sleep under six hours a night increase their sleep to between six and seven hours a night, this could add $226.4 billion to the U.S. economy.” Of the five countries studied in the report, the U.S. had the largest economic toll. Japan was second, with a $138 billion annual cost linked to sleep deprivation, followed by Germany ($60 billion cost), the United Kingdom ($50 billion cost), and Canada ($21 billion cost). (HealthDay)
The United States of Diabetes
It’s no secret that the U.S. is in the midst of a diabetes epidemic, but some states fare far worse than others, according to new research from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Alabama and West Virginia have the highest rates of diabetes in the country — more than 16 percent of each state’s residents have diabetes — while Utah, Rhode Island, and Colorado have the lowest incidence of diabetes (less than 8 percent of adults have diabetes). (Time)
6 Books to Build Resilience
Looking for thoughtful holiday gifts? Check out this intriguing list of books that covers everything from mindful eating to coping with PTSD to bringing together mindfulness and creativity. (Mindful)
Step Away from the Energy Drink
Yet another study is raising concerns about energy drinks, especially when consumed by adolescents. Researchers surveyed young people who said they frequently drank energy drinks and found they were more likely to report headaches, anger issues, and difficulty breathing in the past six months. Although the researchers could not confirm a causal link between the energy drinks and these symptoms, the evidence against energy drinks is mounting, says study co-author Amelia Arria, director of the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Center for Young Adult Health and Development. “While more research is needed, accumulating evidence exists to suggest that energy drink consumption is linked to adverse cardiovascular events, sleep disturbances, and other substance use among adolescents,” she says. (Time)
When it comes to chronic disease, good old exercise can deliver so many of the benefits of drugs and surgery with almost none of the side effects. Unfortunately, many docs underprescribe exericse. “If a pill could give you all benefits of exercise, it would be the best pill around,” says Edward Laskowski, co-director of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine and a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation. (The Washington Post)
Having Trouble Sleeping? Drugs Aren’t the Answer
Although a third of Americans have trouble sleeping, popping a pill is not the answer, say a growing number of experts. Instead, they say, cognitive behavioral therapy along with a host of lifestyle-based changes, including avoiding caffeine and alcohol, taking up yoga and sleeping in a cool, dark room, can help. “Drugs don’t provide a natural sleep, and the side effects are significant,” says Nitin Damle, an internist and president of the American College of Physicians. “It’s true in all age groups, but even more problematic for older adults.” (The Wall Street Journal)
French Lessons: Is Taking Pleasure in Food the Key to Not Overeating?
When it comes to losing weight, most Americans think of dieting, restriction, and sacrifice. But, we should learn from the French who take real pleasure in their food, notes Marie-Anne Suizzo, an American professor who spent eight months researching French parenting styles in Paris. According to Suizzo, the cultivation of culinary pleasure starts very early in French families and is supported in childcare centers where even 2-year-olds are served four-course lunches of real, i.e., adult, food. Suizzo thinks the cultivation of pleasure leads to an overall healthier attitude towards food. “What if we could have it all? Keep the pleasure and stick to our resolution?” Suizzo asks. “In the US, people tend to compartmentalize pleasure, separating it from our daily chores and relegating it to special times. They have happy hours, not happy days. They have guilty pleasures, as if enjoying chocolate or a favorite movie is a moral failing.” (Quartz)