Category Archives: Wellness


How to Defeat the Effects of Daylight Saving Time

It seems that there is a love-hate relationship between American citizens and Daylight Saving Time. While we may love having one extra hour of light in spring and summer, we hate losing the hour of sleep. While we hate it being darker an hour earlier, worsened by the already shorter days, in fall and winter, we love gaining the “extra” hour of sleep.

Daylight Saving Time was invented in 1918 as a way to give everyone more daylight hours during months that are warm. Though it already had some complaints, mainly from farmers of how it disrupted their schedule that followed the natural pattern of the sun, the United States officially standardized DST in the 1960s.

Like a large majority of people, Brant Hasler, assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, thinks that DST is no longer necessary. He attributes this thought to “both the health downsides and from living in Arizona, where they do not observe daylight saving time and do just fine”.

Other health effects include cluster headaches at the end of DST, and over-eating

Whatever the feelings about DST, it has been proven to negatively affect our health. The human biological clock, known as our circadian rhythm, is programmed to work with the movements of the sun. So while DST is going on, our internal clocks are actually out of sync- causing loss of sleep and irregular sleeping patterns in a large percentage of people- then after it ends, our bodies return to their normal circadian rhythm. This means that scientifically, the switch to save time in the spring is more challenging on our bodies, however, both switches have been proven to cause sleep pattern disruptions for up to a week afterward.

Other health effects include cluster headaches at the end of DST, and over-eating, caused by the hormone level changes that occur with sleep deprivation. Additionally, the effects of DST on mental health coupled with sleep deprivation may lead to the increase of work-related injuries and car accidents. Studies have also suggested that the rate of heart attacks and stokes in the US is dramatically increased in the first three weeks of DST.

Hasler notes, “Our biological clocks evolved to make small daily changes — the changes in day length that naturally occur over the course of the year”. So one thing we can do to defeat the effects of the time transition on our bodies is to adjust our physical clocks and schedules by small increments, like 15 minutes, for several days before the switch occurs. This should be easier than an abrupt one hour transition that most people just try to accept. Also, those who are night owls have a harder time adjusting to the the later light in the spring, since the body naturally relies on the light to wake up. So using bright lights in the morning, or having them come one with timers, may help the body with the adjustment. It is also important to try to keep to a regular sleeping schedule, though the change in light may altar our daily schedule and mess with our perception of time. So, keeping an eye on the time and trying to get to bed at our regular hour is important for normal body functioning. Not staying up an hour later just because we have gained another hour is also a wise tip to keep in mind.

Though many of the reasons for using DST may be antiquated, and there are proven downsides and health effects, there are still some positive attributes of enjoying more light. So the ultimate fate of DST in the US may be in the balance, but in the meantime, with pro-activeness and the right knowledge, we can do our best to help our bodies adjust and flow with the changes.


Political Debates are Taking a Toll on our Bodies

Do you find yourself getting riled up when reading political articles or talking with friends or family about the presidential race? Do the debates cause you to pour out your feelings on Facebook or other social media? A large percentage of Americans have found ourselves in that place. However, psychologists advise us to settle down.

An August poll by The American Psychological Association revealed that more than half of U.S. adults felt very or somewhat stressed by the presidential campaigns.

It may be unbeknownst to us, but our bodies actually feel the stress we place on them over things like political disagreements and defending our candidate of choice. When we feel that we are fighting between right and wrong, it can put our bodies under physical duress. We may think our stress is caused by work or our busy schedules, but much of it can be due to our recent strong political feelings and anxiety.

The National Institute of Mental Health describes how stress can affect a person’s body in this way, “Different people may feel it in different ways. For example, some people experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, depressed mood, anger and irritability. People under chronic stress are prone to more frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or common cold, and vaccines, such as the flu shot, are less effective for them.” With chronic, or continual, stress, such as might be felt in a prolonged time period of political feuding, our bodies can react by lowering immunity, and by ceasing the normal function of certain bodily systems, so that they can put more resources towards dealing with the stress. This happens in a fight or flight type of bodily response to a sudden threat, however, when the source of stress is constant, problems can occur when the body is trying to accommodate to prolonged stress.

According to psychologists, there are things we can do to avoid conflicts and help our own bodies feel less stress. These include showing understanding, and asking why the person you disagree with feels the way they do. Emanuel Maidenberg, a clinical professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, reminds us that the purpose of a political conversation is not to win, but to exchange points if view. He says, “Be the first to de-escalate”, to avoid getting too heated when things get personal.

Maidenberg also mentions that discussions, or arguments, over the internet are not the best way to go. He says, “In-person interactions are likely to be more satisfying and rewarding in the long run.” This makes sense when considering the fact that many sentiments can be easily misinterpreted over the internet, when tone of voice has to be guessed over text, rather than accurately perceived in a face-to-face discussion.

If more of us remember that we are not in a competition to win correct points of view, then there may be less physical stress on everyone, and more peace, throughout the presidential campaign discussion.


A Sense Of Entitlement May Be Harming Your Wellbeing

Entitlement is defined as “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment”. The lead author of a new study on the effects of entitlement, Joshua Grubbs, assistant professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, considers it simply “a desire to get something for nothing”, and the belief held by a person that they are an exception to the rule in a very exaggerated way.

Grubbs conducted a review of over 170 students on the subject of entitlement while he was a graduate student in psychology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Through the study, he found that people with attitudes of entitlement are very susceptible to disappointment, and that disappointment very often leads to anger, blame, social tension and depression.

The attitude itself does not stem from the possession of wealth, as many believe, but from many different factors including culture, economic status, and upbringing. Helped by co-author Julie Exline, a professor of psychological sciences at Case Western Reserve, Grubbs dove into the data to find out why entitlement can be such an issue.

An interesting pattern of behavior was discovered by their research. “First, there’s the burden of living with the constant threat of failed expectations. Next comes emotional instability when an expected path or goal fails to materialize”, Grubbs explained. These individuals are then spurred on by the increase of adversity to rely even more heavily on their sense of superiority- their deserving attitude being strengthened rather than weakened, which only causes the cycle to start over again. This then goes beyond the individual and puts the strain on society.

Sometimes, a person may have no idea that they have a sense of entitlement in a certain situation, or even in general. It is a deep, underlying belief of which we can actually not be aware, that can be so visible to others, but invisible to ourselves. It is important for us as a society to try to detect these ideas that we may unknowingly hold, as they can be toxic to our love life, family life, social life, and work life- all of which combined make up the constructs of our society.

To apply this research to real life, we can look at the outcome of certain happenings and events in our lives, and evaluate our emotional response to them. If the response was unhappy, disappointed, or bitter, we should then go back and examine how we truly felt prior to the outcome, and figure out if we may have originally had any kind of entitled attitude toward the outcome of those events.

Grubbs explains that ambition is different from entitlement, and that he is not at all opposing a healthy drive for success. But despite his grim findings, he says that getting rid of an entitled attitude is indeed achievable and can be accomplished with introspection and “active gratitude”, which is, Grubbs explains, “actually taking time to reflect about how much you are grateful for, how much others have helped you become what you are, and the ways you can express that gratitude.”


Lawsuits for Unneeded Heart Stents

Dr. Seydi Aksut was once one of the busiest cardiologist in Alabama. According to federal data in 2012, Dr. Aksut installed more heart stents than any other doctor in Alabama.

Unfortunately, it seems like many of the procedures may have been unnecessary. In 2013 Vaughn Hospital performed an independent review of all stent cases and notified patients who may have been impacted. Since then, more than 12 lawsuits have been filed against Dr. Aksut.

To learn more click here and here.


Doctors Warn About LED Streetlights

We are all happy to get rid of the gloomy streetlights of old, but if you’ve felt like the new white LED lights are harsh on the eyes, you’re not alone. Science is on your side.

The new LED streetlights shine in a color range that is scientifically proven to hurt our eyes and produce significant glare. Doctors Color Temperaturerecommend that streetlights produce a color temperature less than 3000 Kelvin and new LED streetlights produce light at 4000 to 5000 Kelvin. This range has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns in humans and wildlife.

Although the lights look pretty from a distance, they might have significant long term effects on local residents and wildlife.

Click here to read the press release by the American Medical Association.



Alabama Toxic Fish Advisory, you’ll be surprised

Mercury, PCBs, and PFOS are all throughout Alabama’s water system. Some of this is due to natural causes but unfortunately there’s an unsavory man-made component.

For 40 years Monsanto knowingly discharged industrial amounts of toxic PCBs into Alabama waterways, namely West Anniston Creek. To learn more, read Monsanto Hid Decades Of Pollution.

Due to this and other factors, Alabama takes fish samples from all over the state, determines their toxicity, and provides consumption recommendations. You will be surprised at the number of fish all throughout the state that are recommended to never be consumed due to their high toxicity.

If you plan on catching some fresh fish this summer, make sure your favorite fishing spot isn’t on the list. See the whole list here. The specific advisories begin on page 12 and continue to page 32.


Flint in Alabama? 12 water systems have carcinogens in water

High concentrations of the cancer causing chemicals, PFOS and PFOA (Teflon related), have been detected in 13 water systems nationwide.

The EPA has finally decided to issue health warnings on these chemicals after decades of ignoring all the related health effects. We reported on these overlooked poisons last year and are thrilled the EPA has finally taken action. Unfortunately, 8 water systems in Alabama have been cited for having high concentrations of PFOS and PFOA.

According to EWG, a non-profit, non-partisan health organization,  9 Alabama counties are affected by PFOS and PFOA:

Chilton, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Marshall, and Morgan County.


Church linked to longer life

A recent study conducted on 74,000 women over 20 years shows that women who attended church more than once a week had 33% lower all-cause mortality.

It will be interesting to see how the scientific community reacts to this report. The model accounts for major lifestyle risk factors, which will certainly be under scrutiny. Nevertheless, the model boasts impressive correlations with statistical P-Values of less than 0.001.