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Future of technology may pose problems for health

23 Mar
Bailey Garner is a second-year student at the University of Florida studying along the Pre-PA track.  She decided to change her major from communications to psychology because of her desire to become a physician assistant.  Garner has a huge passion for fitness and nutrition, and she enjoys maintaining a healthy lifestyle and inspiring others to do so.  She hopes to one day attend the UF Physician Assistant program.

Bailey Garner is a second-year student at the University of Florida studying along the Pre-PA track. She decided to change her major from communications to psychology because of her desire to become a physician assistant. Garner has a huge passion for fitness and nutrition, and she enjoys maintaining a healthy lifestyle and inspiring others to do so. She hopes to one day attend the UF Physician Assistant program.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of contributing bloggers beginning their careers as journalists/public relations professionals at the University of Florida. Please see my earlier post about getting journalists excited about science writing early on.

By Bailey Garner

Though technology gives people the opportunity to improve their overall health, the rapid advance of this technology could jeopardize that possibility.

With tech gadgets and software constantly evolving, people are continuing to be consumed by the convenience of having everything at the palm of their hand.  This convenience could eventually lead to detrimental effects towards people’s health.

In 1990, 11.4 percent of Floridians were obese, according to the State of Obesity website.  In just 24 years, that statistic has more than doubled, and though the advancement of technology is not the only factor, it is one of the biggest.

“There are so many different factors that lead to obesity,” said Dr. Karla Pagan Shelnutt, associate professor and extension nutrition specialist at the University of Florida.  “The family and home environment is a big one, and if they’re spending a lot of time in front of the screen, they’re not being as active as they should be.”

This is why the general recommendation for children is less than two hours of screen time per day, Shelnutt said.

“There is definitely an association between screen time and food choices and not being active,” said Shelnutt.  “It’s like a double whammy when you’re sitting inside and watching TV all day. Not only are these kids not moving, but they’re being exposed to advertisements for unhealthy foods.”

“If they’re on their computer playing a game, there are always advertisements there for unhealthy items.”

When it comes to health, people need to keep in mind that there are multiple aspects including physical, mental, emotional and social, Shelnutt said.  With technology continuously becoming a barrier between person-to-person interactions, emotional and social health fall short, she added.

As technology rises, physical health has been put at risk as well.  Although many phone applications have been created to promote a healthier lifestyle, people are constantly distracted by the entertainment technology provides.

“I see people at the gym with their phones every day, every hour and every minute,” said Nikko Tan, fitness associate at UF RecSports.  “Some people like to use it for music, and other people use their phone for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in between sets or even when they’re walking from the treadmill to the water fountain.”

IMG_3060

Jackie Carranza, first-year UF Pharmacy student, ditches technology during her workout at Southwest Recreation Center on a Saturday morning. Carranza says she tries to stay away from her phone while at the gym so she can have effective workouts. Photo by Bailey Garner.

Students even go to the extent of taking pictures of themselves while working out, Tan said.

“You have a rest period, you don’t really know what you’re doing, you don’t want to seem awkward and just stand there so the easiest thing for people to do is go on their phone,” said Hakeem White, CEO and founder of  fitness and nutrition company, Hakeem Getz You Gainz.

Being thoroughly dedicated to his health and well being, White is able to see the negatives and positives of technology.

“It’s a 50-50 honestly,” said White, who is also a nutrition major at UF and a UF RecSports personal trainer.  “You have apps nowadays and programs that can help you track what you eat and can help you with your workout or show you proper form.”

However, there is also an overabundance of social media that can distract people who are working towards their fitness goals, White said.

One glance at a college campus can give anyone an idea of what the future of technology may be like.  With fancy gadgets emerging such as the hover board, even walking may eventually become a thing of the past.

“Society as a whole is losing traction on their health and their fitness, and that’s definitely in decline,” said White.  “At the rate we’re going, technology is just making life a lot easier.”

However, technology continues to give people the opportunity to lead a healthy lifestyle.  Shelnutt uses her Fitbit to track her steps as she participates in the Walk Challenge at UF, Shelnutt said.  Tan has recorded over 600 miles on his Nike+ Running app, Tan said.  White continues to track his food intake and how effective his workouts are through his use of technology, White said.

“I think if we don’t get a grasp on how we use technology, it can get out of hand,” White said.  “But if you use the aspects of technology that are around properly to aid in your fitness, it can be very beneficial.”

Sweet success: UF researchers find key to sweeter, healthier strawberries

6 Apr
Paige Levin is a freshman journalism and political science student at the University of Florida. She enjoys writing opinion pieces and in-depth feature articles, and loves to discover people’s stories. Levin hopes to one day combine her passions for writing, government and politics to work in the nation’s capitol and bring the political information needed back to the people. Paige has been writing for about five years now, she is currently an intern for the Pledge 5 Foundation, and was previously the editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper.

Paige Levin is a freshman journalism and political science student at the University of Florida. She enjoys writing opinion pieces and in-depth feature articles, and loves to discover people’s stories. Levin hopes to one day combine her passions for writing, government and politics to work in the nation’s capitol and bring the political information needed back to the people. Paige has been writing for about five years now, she is currently an intern for the Pledge 5 Foundation, and was previously the editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of contributing bloggers beginning their careers as journalists/public relations professionals at the University of Florida. Please see my earlier post about getting journalists excited about science writing early on.

By Paige Levin

Whether they are tucked into a shortcake, whipped into a smoothie or sitting atop a yogurt parfait, there is nothing more enticing than a scoopful of juicy, red strawberries. But how many times have you bitten into a berry-laden treat, only to be left grimacing by a less than satisfying bitter burst?

You might be tempted to reach for the sugar to help sweeten your snack, which while tasty, isn’t beneficial to the waistline. Now, researchers at the University of Florida say they have found the compounds that promise a sweeter and healthier berry.

The study, conducted by the University of Florida’s Plant Innovation Program entitled “Strawberry Flavor: Diverse Chemical Compositions, a Seasonal Influence, and Effects on Sensory Perception,” identifies the 30 compounds in strawberries that give the fruit its distinctive flavor. This allows breeders to now create better tasting and possibly healthier varieties of strawberries.

One of the team members, Thomas Colquhoun said in the long term, six of the compounds discovered by Michael Schwieterman and his colleagues may allow scientists to create processed foods that taste sweeter while using less sugar, making the foods healthier.

“Our idea is to make our crops more flavorful and healthy for consumers so that our consumers eat healthier and eat more of it,” Colquhoun said.

Colquhoun, an assistant professor in floriculture biotechnology and genetics, said the study is unique because it uses a very sophisticated type of psychophysics. Psychophysics looks at the relationship between certain physical stimuli, in this case strawberry variety, and the sensations they affect or cause.

For the study,  166 consumers between 18 and 71 years old  were recruited and asked to taste between three and five different varieties of strawberries. After chewing and swallowing a whole strawberry, panelists were asked to rate it based on overall taste, texture  and perceived intensity of sweetness and sourness.download (2)

Linda Bartoshuk, director of human research at UF’s Center for Smell and Taste, was in charge of the consumer taste panel. Bartoshuk compared consumer opinions using a method called cross-modality matching. This method combines the pleasure and sensory scales, making it possible to compare opinions fairly.

“It doesn’t matter what your scale is or what my scale is,” Colquhoun said. “We can compare those two things because they can be mixed and matched and weighted.”

By comparing the psychophysics data from consumer panels with biochemical data, Colquhoun said they identified 30 volatile compounds associated with flavors consumers enjoy. Within that, the study showed a group of six volatiles associated with perceived sweetness intensity, without the contribution of sugar.

“You’re actually sensing this volatile, and there is some sort of signal that is telling your brain what you taste is actually sweet, even though you’re not registering sugar,” Colquhoun said. “So what that indicates is that we may be able to reduce the level of sugar, increase the level of these volatiles, and the strawberry should be perceived as approximately the same sweetness.”

Eventually, those six volatiles may be used to lower sugar content in products like strawberry jam and yogurt, but for now, Colquhoun said this information is passed along to the UF strawberry breeder so that he can grow more flavorful strawberries. He added that more varieties with richer flavor and better health benefits should be hitting the markets within the next two years.

Paul Lyrene, professor emeritus of horticultural sciences, said he thinks the new information will only have minimal effects on improving the strawberry in the short term.

“I think all the information is good and worthwhile and sometimes helpful, but I do not believe that the studies are going to lead to any great breakthroughs in flavors of strawberries because the problem is really not at the molecular level, its at some other level,” Lyrene said.

The reason we currently have such poor-flavored fruit is not because of the chemistry, Lyrene said, but because flavor is given low priority in the marketing system.

“I, as a plant breeder, know exactly how to make my fruit taste better without really knowing any of the molecular biology of what happens,” he said. “I have, for example, varieties of blueberries that everybody says are better than what is being grown, but the growers will not plant them because they yield only half as much.”

Lyrene said other issues come from the fact that a crop has to have a lot of different features to be successful.

“It has to be resistant to various diseases. It has to yield well.  It has to be attractive in appearance for the consumer, and it has to be compatible with the modern packing and shipping methods,” Lyrene said.

The team’s research, which began with tomatoes, and is now expanding to include blueberries, peaches, citrus and culinary herbs.

“UF is a unique place because we have a huge team of very, very highly skilled breeders,” Colquhoun said. “What we can do is just go right down the line and help our breeders with our basic science and applied consumer science.”

Editor’s picks for 2013

2 Dec

banner_final2.jpgI know we still have a month left in 2013.

But with finals and holiday break coming up, I felt it would be appropriate to make a “Best of” post highlighting some of my favorite posts. Since a majority of the blog is written by me, I feel this aggregation serves as a reflection on the type of science writing I have done and the posts I enjoyed the most. But, I’ve also had some amazing guest bloggers this year and will also be including some of their posts as well. So check out the stories below in case you missed them! Thank you to all my loyal followers.

P.S. Once my thesis is over, expect big things!

Best of Layman’s Terms Media, 2013 (no particular order)

Breast cancer vaccines are nothing new: By Dorothy Hagmajer   “Am I going to die?”  That was Susan Foster’s first question when her doctor told her she had breast cancer.Continue reading

Science in the city: In the basement of the emergency medicine corridor of UF Health Jacksonville, Robert Wears, M.D., a professor in the department of emergency medicine, scans engineering books and medical journals, taking notes on his cluttered desk. He is carefully piecing together the historical puzzle of hospital safety.—> Continue reading

Eat, love and die. The short, but meaningful lives of love “bugs: Miss Plecia is all dolled up. She has been stuffing herself full of organic material and nectar in her swampy-syle pad for the past 20 days with hopes of finding her lifelong mate.—> Continue reading

What exactly is pus? Find out in 15 seconds.Wendy Corrales joins us this week to explain the gross, gooey liquid that plagues teenagers–pus!—-> Continue reading

What’s the deal with Dengue Fever? If you live in Florida, don’t ignore.As a Floridian I have somewhat become immune to the feel of a mosquito bite. The annoying quick itch sensation is quickly thwarted by the thoughtless reflex of my hand slapping the affected area and then quickly scratching up and down for a few seconds. After that, I pretty much forget about the bite.—> Continue reading

Scientist uses Instagram videos to explain anatomy concepts in 15 secondsI am always looking for people who share a passion for science and genuinely want to get others excited about it too, which is one of the main reasons I’m studying science communication. While I was in D.C. for the Science Online Climate Conference, I stayed with my friend Steph who introduced me to Wendy Corrales via Facebook. She showed me her videos and I was cracking up.—> Continue reading

UF researcher says T cells the answer to cancer vaccines: John “Bobby” Goulding, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine at the University of Florida, is in a scramble to help create safe and effective vaccines to prevent and fight human respiratory viruses.—>Continue reading

Rebecca Burton is the founder and editor of Layman's Terms Media. Started in 2011, this blog has been used to exercise Rebecca's love of science writing. These posts were selected based on how much was learned throughout the writing process, or the stories that were simply the most fun.

Rebecca Burton is the founder and editor of Layman’s Terms Media. Started in 2011, this blog has been used to exercise Rebecca’s love of science writing. These posts were selected based on how much was learned throughout the writing process, or the stories that were simply the most fun.

What’s for dinner? Island fish, brah: Study shows Hawaiian restaurant menus hold clues to reef healthMost of us look at menus simply to make a quick decision about what we are going to consume in the near future and at what price. We then give it back to our server and the menu is most likely forgotten. –> Continue reading

Abusive mothers’ DNA and the economy could share the blame with Florida DCF for recent child deaths: The Florida Department of Children and Families has been under fire for the past couple of years for failing to stop child abuse and neglect, resulting in thedeaths of seven childrenwho the department said were in “no immediate danger.” —> Continue reading

Wearing goggles to surf: Kook status or Florida Red Tide?: I took a deep breath in. Smelling the saltwater has always been my ritual before starting the process of unloading my surfboard. But, this time I did not feel refreshed or enlightened by the beach breeze. My eyes started to water.—> Continue reading

Native Florida wildlife caught on camera: By Michael Stone Wildlife photographer Michael Stone, a graduate student in science/health communications at the University of Florida, posts the different species and subspecies he sees in his online catalog.—> Continue reading

Great whites use stored liver oil to power through ocean “road trips”Bears, sea lions and whales rely on their external blubber to power through hibernations and migrations. For them, a little extra flab is crucial to their survival.—> Continue reading

 Sea turtles are Gulf travelers, scientists sayGulf Loggerheads were always thought to be homebodies. After the females nested, they would make a home at their local beach. They would never travel too far from familiarity.—> Continue reading

AAV: from ‘Almost A Virus’ to ‘An Awesome Virus’: In 1965, adeno-associated virus (AAV) was discovered while hitching a ride into the cell with adenovirus, which is a virus that causes the fretted pink eye, cold sores and sore throats.—> Continue reading

The Skinny on Good Fats and Bad Fats: How both will affect your health: By Megan Khan Karen Diet trends come in waves. One decade we see the rejection of carbohydrates, and we shun animal products the next. Some of you reading this right now may remember the low fat craze of the 90’s–it was then that fat got a bad rep. The reputation has stuck so much that “fat” is now considered an insult.—> Continue reading

Will tiny drones cure Floridians’ cynicism toward hurricanes? Most residents of Florida–a state constantly pummeled by tropical storms and hurricanes—have become overly cynical of the often hyped-up weather news warning that the latest tropical action in the Gulf of Mexico or off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean could be deadly. —> Continue reading

Croaking Cuban frogs Create Competition in South Florida: Southern Florida, particularly the more metropolitan areas such as Miami and Ft. Lauderdale are definitely not known for being quiet areas. The constant honking of horns, people yelling in multiple languages and bold headlines of bizarre news events make South Florida a melting pot of noise. —>Continue reading

Why Nemo would face an inevitable mid-life crisis: A finding Nemo 2 would not be Disney friendlyIf you’ve seen the movie Finding Nemo, and didn’t like it–shame on you! Pixar movies always have the right amount of humor, recognizable voices and great graphics that make them appealing to both children and adults. Their sequels are almost always just as profitable as the originals, and they’re ability to make animation seem like reality is superb! But, although I love this movie, there are serious factual flaws.—>Continue reading

Monkeys in Florida? iPhonatography from a jungle in Central FloridaAs I pondered ideas on what to do on Memorial Day Monday, I decided I needed to explore the land-locked area of Florida I often complain about, being a spoiled coastal girl who is accustomed to living near a beach. A friend mentioned a trip he took where he saw wild monkeys on an island in the middle of Silver River, near Silver Springs, Fla. After doing some preliminary research (mainly hear-say from Gainesville locals) I found out that  Silver River was the filming site the early Tarzan movies. Some of the monkeys escaped, bred and hence that is why there are wild monkeys in Florida.—> Continue reading

When did eating become so confusing? Tips to simplify your diet: By Megan Khan Karen There are hundreds of diets that are said to make you healthier than you have ever been, rejuvenate your body, avoid certain cancers, help you fit in your high school jeans and the list goes on. From the Atkins diet to the current “juicing” craze, we are fed heaps of “truths” about certain diets that are usually based on a tiny kernel of truth and a whole lot of anecdotal “evidence.”—> Continue reading

Warning: Smoothies can cause sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgiaIt’s that time of year again. Summer. Hot. Humid.The urge to swap that hot coffee for a refreshing smoothie may overcome you. But beware, drinking cold drinks can cause a condition called sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia.—> Continue reading

What do hula-hoopers, big-wave surfers and composers have in common? A state of “flow”For those of you who do follow my blog, you may have realized I’m a pretty big hoop enthusiast, who also enjoys an everyday runner’s high. Although the physical benefits of running and spinning a circle on various parts of my body may seem obvious, it’s the mental state I’m in when I go on a 5-mile run, or do a freestyle hoop-dance to a 10-track playlist that brings me back after a long workday.—> Continue reading

Be swamp-conscious: Pet owners should be aware of deadly pathogen in Gainesville: By Jackson Presser Pythium insidiosum is common in stagnant, swampy water (lakes/ponds with water temperatures ranging from 68F-95F) worldwide, and the very type of water that is a staple of Gainesville and surrounding areas.  Pythiosis affects its host depending on how it is introduced. Dogs, horses, cattle and other mammals can be infected simply by wading or drinking water that has been tainted with the infection. —> Continue reading

To study or to sleep? A college student’s dilemma

27 Nov
Rachael Holt is a sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Florida. Her interest in sleep medicine comes from her father who is the director of a sleep clinic in her hometown of Tallahassee, Fla. Rachael is passionate about writing and hopes to use her communication skills to  become a teacher one day.

Rachael Holt is a sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Florida. Her interest in sleep medicine comes from her father who is the director of a sleep clinic in her hometown of Tallahassee, Fla. Rachael is passionate about writing and hopes to use her communication skills to become a teacher one day.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of contributing bloggers beginning their careers as journalists/public relations professionals at the University of Florida. Please see my earlier post about getting journalists excited about science writing early on.

By Rachael Holt

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that not enough sleep is bad.

We’ve all looked at ourselves after a desperate all-nighter.  Pale, pimple-dotted skin and baggy eyes are common symptoms of sleep deprivation.

But, did you know that staying up too late studying for your next anatomy exam can actually hurt your grade?

According to studies conducted by the University of Florida and the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation has a negative effect on health, fact retention and the ability to focus. Continue reading

Movember coming to an end, Dollar Shave Club asking for donations

24 Nov

moEditor’s note: I received an email from the Dollar Shave Club asking me to help promote their cause on Layman’s Terms Media. Because this is a science and health blog, their cause seemed fitting. Check out the press release below to see how you can help fight prostate and testicular cancer while receiving discounts on razors!

Dollar Shave Club is raising money for the Movember Foundation to fight prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges. We are running a campaign that results in a $10 donation for every single Movember referral.

Here’s what you do to start earning that Movember MOola:

1. Register your Movember page at dollarshaveclub.com/movember
2. We’ll send you a unique proMO code.
3. Share your proMO code on your blog and tell your readers to use it when they sign up at dollarshaveclub.com.
4. Your readers get great razors for a few bucks a month, you raise money for Movember without begging for donations. Everyone wins.

Now get growing!

 

 

Hypnosis and therapy help school-related stress, experts say

8 Nov
Craig Kissoon is a sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Florida. He is an avid writer and has blogged for the Independent Florida Alligator. After taking two psychology courses in high school, he became fascinated by physiological psychology and how peoples’ thoughts and attitudes can affect their physical wellbeing. He believes working with the mind and the body is the key to achieving optimal health. He plans to pursue an outside concentration in psychology. He hopes to become a writer or to work in advertising or public relations after graduation. He would like to combine his passions for communications and psychology by writing about mental healthcare and treatments.

Craig Kissoon is a sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Florida who has blogged for the Independent Florida Alligator. After taking two psychology courses in high school, he became fascinated by physiological psychology and how peoples’ thoughts and attitudes can affect their physical wellbeing. He believes working with the mind and the body is the key to achieving optimal health. With an outside concentration in psychology, he hopes to combine his passions for communications and psychology by writing about mental healthcare and treatments.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of contributing bloggers beginning their careers as journalists/public relations professionals at the University of Florida. Please see my earlier post about getting journalists excited about science writing early on.

By Craig Kissoon

Imagine retreating into a moment of pure relaxation where work and classes were nothing more than distant concerns.

With stress levels and responsibilities rising for college students in Gainesville and across the country, experts are recommending mind-body therapies for students suffering from stress-related problems.

A University of  Florida study, recently published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine, found that hypnosis and therapy may benefit patients suffering from functional bowel disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

The lead authors of the study Oliver Grundmann, a clinical assistant professor at the UF College of Pharmacy, and Saunjoo Yoon, an associate professor at the UF College of Nursing, reviewed 19 clinical trials to examine the benefits of yoga, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and biofeedback in treating these disorders.

Functional bowel disorders occur when the stomach and bowels are not working properly and include symptoms such as stomach pain and bloating.

Yoon said the results of the study, while promising are not conclusive. More studies are needed to better show the advantages of this kind of therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of talk therapy where a therapist challenges their patients’ negative thoughts, helps patients feel more positive about their condition while hypnotherapy aims to reduce pain. The results of the study showed hypnotherapy had an immediate effect on abdominal pain while cognitive behavioral therapy was able to lighten mood and change bowel symptoms.

Amanda Lawson-Ross, a counselor at the UF Counseling and Wellness Center, said she was not surprised by the results of the study.

“The whole premise is there is a mind-body connection,” Lawson-Ross said. “Stress can agitate abdominal problems.”

Lawson-Ross said when people are stressed, they enter flight-or-fight mode and blood flows from their abdomen to larger muscles. Their bodies release hormones, and their digestion shuts down, she added.

Keeping calm regulates the body when people are stressed, Lawson-Ross said. She said she has helped people with irritable bowel syndrome reduce migraines, muscle tension and nausea.

“Hypnosis is a great way to alleviate stress,” Lawson-Ross said.

During hypnotherapy, patients listen to practitioners who help them focus inwardly on a calm or positive moment or setting. Lawson-Ross compared hypnosis to meditation in its ability to help people achieve deep relaxation.

“Anxiety is the most common concern,” Lawson-Ross said. “You have great, bright students who want to do well.”

Lawson-Ross said she notices a lot of students come to the CWC during exams and drop/add period. People might be dismissive of mind-body therapies and alternative medicines because they do not pay attention to mind-body connections, often for the sake of convenience.

Anxiety is the most common concern, said Amanda Lawson-Ross who is a therapist at the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center. She said she sees a lot of students, usually around exams and drop/add period. She listed a few of the services the center offers to UF students. An online anxiety program Biofeedback Individual therapy Group therapy Couples therapy Information about these programs and how to join them are available at the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center’s website.

Anxiety is the most common concern, said Amanda Lawson-Ross who is a therapist at the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center. She said she sees a lot of students, usually around exams and drop/add period. She listed a few of the services the center offers to UF students.
An online anxiety program
Biofeedback
Individual therapy
Group therapy
Couples therapy
Information about these programs and how to join them are available at the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center’s website.

“People want a quick fix,” she said.

Kathryn Broker, a senior geology major at UF, said she would never use hypnosis as a therapy treatment.

“I’m a very scientifically minded person. If I had any type of physical condition, I would rather use Western medicine,” Broker said.

Broker said she was hypnotized before.

“You become eager to please whoever is giving commands,” she said of her experience.

Kyle Burns, a junior international studies major at UF, said he was surprised by the results of the study but felt it made sense.

“I’m too stubborn,” Burns joked when discussing whether or not he would be receptive to hypnotherapy.

Some students said they are open to the idea of mind-body therapy.

“I don’t find [the study’s results] surprising,” said Sara Ladwig, a junior telecommunication major at UF. “If you feel like something can help you, it can.”

Ladwig added she is a perfectionist who tends to get nervous about a bunch of different things. “I do better if I can relax.”

Freshman Amanda Beauchamp said hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy is worth a try.

“I think it’d be interesting to see if it would work for me. I’d look forward to doing it,” she said.

Warning: One all-nighter can throw off circadian rhythms

30 Oct
Kayla Hunt is junior at the University of Florida majoring in Public Relations. Wanting to experiment writing on science and health and environmental topics, she decided Layman's Terms Media would be the perfect outlet. In her free time, she keeps  an informal blog titled Bloggish Gibberish that chronicles her life experiences as a college student.

Kayla Hunt is junior at the University of Florida majoring in Public Relations. Wanting to experiment writing on science and health and environmental topics, she decided Layman’s Terms Media would be the perfect outlet. In her free time, she keeps an informal blog titled Bloggish Gibberish that chronicles her life experiences as a college student.

 

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of contributing bloggers beginning their careers as journalists/public relations professionals at the University of Florida. Please see my earlier post about getting journalists excited about science writing early on.

UF physician gives tips on how to reverse insomnia

By Kayla Hunt

With the pressure of balancing academics, a social life and health, many students find it hard to make time to sleep. Experts warn that one all-nighter can throw off one’s sleep cycle, which can result in insomnia.

Dr. Mary Wagner, a physician at the University of Florida’s Sleep Center, said circadian rhythms – which serve as the internal clock that tells us when to wake up and when to fall asleep – are to blame for this.

There is a way to move circadian rhythms to a time where it agrees with a person’s daily schedule, but it takes a couple of weeks depending on the amount of change in one’s schedule, Wagner said.

“When you try to change your sleep schedule, it could be done by going to sleep and waking up roughly 15 minutes before your usual time,” Wagner said.

When accustomed to the original 15-minute change, add another 15 minutes and repeat until the desired time is achieved, Wagner said.

She also said no weekend exceptions should be given because your body will naturally want to stick to the later time again.

Circadian rhythms are a biological process that occurs in roughly 24-hour intervals, but our bodies naturally push these rhythms back over time.

“This makes it easier to push bed time later rather than sooner,” Wagner said.

Insomnia, which results from your daily schedule disagreeing with your rhythms, is the most common sleep complaint among Americans, according to the International Sleep Foundation.

“When insomnia goes untreated, it causes the person to have an increased risk of obesity, depression and ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,” Wagner said.

Wagner said the reason people find it so easy to stay awake for a long time is because of how accessible distractions are made.

“The top causes for difficulty sleeping are artificial light exposure, social interactions and eating,” Wagner said, “but the internet and worrying are also major culprits.” Continue reading