Late Night Reading and Sleep

Many people enjoy a good book before going to bed. Some enjoy the news, some enjoy a game and some just enjoy a story. With so much available on tablets and laptops, all from the comfort of your own bed or couch, it’s no wonder that many can be found on devices when the sun goes down.

Having a hard time falling asleep or getting good rest from sleeping? Screens might be the problem

Having a hard time falling asleep or getting good rest from sleeping? Screens might be the problem

Is it all that good though?

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital released a study they conducted with subjects and electronic readers. You can find it here:

http://www.brighamandwomens.org/about_bwh/publicaffairs/news/pressreleases/PressRelease.aspx?sub=0&PageID=1962

During a two week period, subjects read on an iPad for 4 hours before bed. When I initially read this I thought, “Man that is a long time” but then realized that I have been on the computer for several hours before bed and while it doesn’t happen every night, it does happen.

According to the study participants on the iPad, “took longer to fall asleep, were less sleepy in the evening, and spent less time in REM sleep.”

Less REM sleep is no bueno. Also from the study, “Participants who read from the iPad were less sleepy before bedtime, but sleepier and less alert the following morning after eight hours of sleep.” They also stated that this type of light is emitted can come from just about any electronic device including phones, computer screens etc. It is the blue light causing the problem.

Lack of good sleep can increase chance of sickness like the flu and common cold by decreasing the strength of the immune system. It also contributes to cardiovascular disease and just makes life plain miserable if left unchecked.

One software maker, f.lux, has compiled a list of studies that you can visit for yourself if you want to see the effects of blue light on people. You can find it here:

https://justgetflux.com/research.html

f.lux is a program that lowers the amount of blue light coming off a screen and makes everything appear warmer, or with more reds.

Another thing a person could do is snag a pair of orange glasses that filter out the blue light. Here is such a pair:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000USRG90/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000USRG90&linkCode=as2&tag=herbkati-20&linkId=ICGPJMPHTSBXIKE6

The other option is just turn off screens at night. I know personally getting on screens anymore than what I do at work contributes to eye strain and gives me headaches. Some of these headaches can last a few days if I don’t peel my eyes from the screen.

The most common sense answer is stop looking at screens late at night. Reading an actual book seems like a better alternative or dare I say actually go to bed. I know too often I stay up wasting time on things that don’t need time wasted on and if I find myself doing that I try to turn it off and sleep. Falling asleep on the couch or computer chair isn’t as comfortable as my bed anyway.

Merry Christmas

CIAO

What is Your Health Worth?

The answer to the above question really is priceless. Your health is one of the few things that truly affects you directly every single day. No one escapes it. Whether you feel like a million bucks or feel like someone just stomped a hole in you, you get to deal with your health and only you have the power to change it.

That’s right, only you have the power to change it. No one else can.

Sure you can visit a doctor to seek out treatment or advice, but it is you that made the decision to go, not the doctor. It is you that made the decision to take the prescribed medication. It’s you that decided to eat or not to eat something. It’s you that has control.

I thought it’d be fun to put some numbers up to look at this question. They won’t be exact, especially since everybody’s situation is different, but it will give an idea of money attached to healthcare.

Without any major hospitalizations here are a few things to consider:

If you have been diagnosed with hypertension at the age of 35 (something that isn’t uncommon) you can expect to be taking something for that, usually lisinopril is one of the first choices. You can get a 90 day supply at your local WalMart for $10. That’s $40/year. At first you’ll have a couple visits to the doc from the time you’re diagnosed as follow up to make sure you’re doing well on the medication. If you have a $35 copay that’s between $70-$105 total visits for the year, at least for the first year and assuming you go to the doctor for nothing else that year.

3 visits = $105

1 year of meds = $40

Total = $145

Subsequent years would look like this:

1-2 follow up visits/year = $35-$70

1 year of meds = $40

Total = $75-$110

Over 20 years ~ $1500-$2300

Now this is assuming a few things. First you don’t ever have problems keeping your blood pressure from going up after the initial diagnoses and treatment, which is rarely the case for most. This also assumes you have no problems with the initial medication and have to get it changed, although this wouldn’t add a whole lot.

If you’re on two blood pressure medications, this jumps to $2300-$3000 over 20 years. This of course is no mortgage but still it adds up. If you happen to be taking a beta blocker like metoprolol as one of those blood pressure medications your cholesterol might go up just enough to trigger a prescription for something like simvastatin. Add another 10 dollars a month for that one.

Simvastatin $120/year

Metoprolol (assuming the cheap immediate release) $40/year

Lisinopril $40/year

2 visits/year $70

Over 20 years ~ $5400/20 years or $270/year

If you become borderline diabetic because of the simvastatin and the metoprolol in combination or were already there and these push you over you might add some metformin into the mix for blood glucose control. Three months of twice daily metformin will run you another $40/year.

Total ~ $6200/20 years or $310/year

We’re still not even close to a mortgage, but we’re increasing.

Now we’ve only discussed the financial part of all of this. Metoprolol is also going to sap some of your energy because it prevents chemicals like epinephrine and norepinephrine from having their full phsyiological effect. What does this mean? Well as I said it will probably sap some of your energy depending on the dose. It won’t necessarily make you drowsy, but it will make you tired easily.

Simvstatin as well as others have the tendency to cause muscle pain and weakness. I’ve had members of my family experience this, and I’ve experienced it myself. Many older folks attribute this to older age. I call nonsense. Yes we do degenerate as time goes on but my own grandmother was able to walk again in her 80’s after stopping simvastatin. It really can be that bad for some.

I’ve talked to others who’ve told me about lisinopril or losartan (angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor and angiotensin receptor blocker respectively) who describe feeling like people who are on metoprolol do, with a lack of energy. Not enough to keep them from being out and about, but enough to make a few dread having to do anything because they have no energy to do it with.

Instead of medications doing some physical activity 2-3 times per week and backing off on total calories every day will likely achieve what most medications are seeking to achieve. Going on a brisk walk and having only one plate at dinner are two things that go a long way in improving health.

Think about it for just a moment; if you have only 1 plate, or maybe a smaller portion, you save on food and caloric intake. Eating till you have to undo your pants button is ok on Thanksgiving, Christmas and your birthday,…ok and maybe 1-2 other times/year but that’s it. If having to loosen your belt regularly after eating is a habit I can tell you that the belt is only going to get tighter and tighter.

Taking a brisk walk or going on a hike or riding the bike or whatever it is you might find joy in will get your heart pumping and muscles working. Blood pressure will go down as some of the fat comes off and you will feel more energized and not get out of breath while doing things you love.

I personally wish I could go back to Tahiti now that my heart is conditioned better to be able to stay underneath the surface while snorkeling with the fish longer.

Having a plan and sticking to it will pay off dividens in the long run. It’s sad to see people who take their medications exactly as the doctor directs and have been doing so for a long time only to see them deteriorate. Don’t be a statistic. Change now! Plan for the future, however long that may be, and make a difference in your life.

I know the amount of money that we went over above isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things, but that’s assuming you take the meds and nothing ever happens and you never deteriorate any further than where you are. Not having to deal with the side effects and not having to visit the doctor is worth going biking and feeling awesome at the same time.

CIAO