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Saturday, June 10, 2017

How to figure out how much sleep you really need

In theory, sleep takes up about 8 out of every 24 hours, one-third of our lives. But many of us don't actually sleep that much and are tired all the time — more than a third of Americans don't get the seven to nine hours of sleep a night that the CDC recommends.

Yet we spend additional time worrying about our sleep. According to a research by the National Sleep Foundation, more than a third of Americans say their sleep quality is "poor" or "only fair."

But how much sleep do we really need?

First, let's get the bad news out of the way: there isn't going to be a one size fits all answer — sleep needs really do vary from person to person.

You could be one of those incredibly rare people that can actually get by on a few hours of sleep a night (almost definitely not), or you could be on the opposite end of the spectrum, what doctors refer to as a "long sleeper," who might need 11 hours a night.

But there are some things we do know about sleep, and these can help you figure out how much sleep you actually need — and how to better get a night's rest.

Here are five facts that will help you figure out what your personal sleep patterns are and how they compare to the rest of the population.

1. There's a reason that doctors usually recommend seven to nine hours of sleep.

The amount of sleep that people need falls into a bell curve type distribution, with the vast majority of the population needing between seven and nine hours of rest each night to be refreshed.

The chart to the right, from the book "Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You're So Tired" by German chronobiologist Till Roenneberg, shows the general distribution of sleep needs. (Chronobiology is the science of our internal clocks.)

2. You have a natural chronotype, or body clock, that determines when you are most comfortable sleeping and being awake.

Most of us think of ourselves as morning or night people, but those divisions aren't scientific — they're just ways of comparing ourselves to one another. 

"Where you define owl or lark is really arbitrary," says Dr. David Welsh, an associate professor studying circadian clocks at UC San Diego. Welsh says that if you look at large surveys of populations, you get a normal distribution of chronotypes — most people have fairly "average" chronotypes, some prefer to get up a bit earlier or later, and small groups naturally rise extremely early or late. There's no line that distinguishes different chronotypes.

But we all do have an internal schedule that makes us feel awake or sleepier at different times of day. Because of factors including hormone levels, genetics, and light exposure, some of us are more alert in the mornings and some of us prefer times later in the day.

If your schedule isn't aligned with your chronotype, you will feel tired and out of sync.

3. The amount of sleep you need changes throughout your life.

The seven to nine hour recommendation is standard for adults, but kids need much more sleep, while some older people need less.

This chart by the National Sleep Foundation shows how these requirements change as kids grow up. In addition to length of sleep needs changing, chronotypes change throughout life as well.

According to Roenneberg's book, young children naturally tend to be more morning oriented. Around puberty, they're more likely to shift into a night owl chronotype, which tends to shift back to an earlier chronotype after age 20.

4. There are some things you can do to adjust your natural chronotype.

While your sleep needs (both chronotype, when you are alert, and length, how much sleep you need) are mostly genetic, there are certain things you can do to adjust your schedule and at least make it a bit easier to get up earlier.

Our bodies respond to light, especially the powerful natural light of the sun. Being exposed to that light in the morning tells our body that it's time to be alert and moving. At night, sitting in the dark stimulates the production of the hormone melatonin, which helps us relax and fall asleep (we mess with this process by looking at bright light from smartphones).

But we can adjust this to a degree by controlling our exposure to light. This process, called entrainment, is what our bodies have to do when we go to a different time zone — this is why we get jet lagged. But we can also use this to train our bodies to get up and go to sleep earlier by exposing ourselves to natural light in the morning and avoiding bright light at night.

This won't turn you into a morning person, but it can make prying the covers loose just a little less painful.

5. Your sleep needs are personal; try to figure out what works for you.

Sometimes new research will come out, and people will claim something like "studies have found that seven hours is the optimal amount of sleep — not eight."

But as interesting as any sleep research is, we do know that people are different and have different needs. The findings of one study don't translate into recommendations for everyone. In the case of sleep, experts recommend figuring out what personally works best for you.

If you can let yourself sleep naturally for a few days to a week, going to bed when you are tired and waking up whenever is natural, preferably while limiting alcohol and caffeine, you'll have a better idea of your individual needs. Get some sun during the day, along with some exercise.

If you do all that but still have trouble sleeping, it might be time to talk to a doctor. You could be one of the large percentage of the population with undiagnosed sleep apnea, especially if you snore. Or you could have some other disorder that can be addressed.

It's worth taking the time to figure out what you can do to sleep better though. Not getting enough raises some serious health concerns.

Sources: MSN

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 10:06 AM

This Variety Of Onion Contains Highest Amount Of Cancer-Fighting Compound

Eating Onions may Help Us Fighting Cancer

Next time you’re out for lunch, you may want to think twice before asking the waiter to “hold the onions” on your garden salad. New research from the University of Guelph in Canada has found that red onions have impressive cancer-fighting abilities. The study found that the Ontario onion in particular has high concentrations of quercetin, a compound previously noted for its ability to kill certain cancer cells.

The study, published online in Food Research International, found that the Ontario-grown Ruby Ring onion has the highest quercetin levels of all onions. In addition, the red onion has high amounts of anthocyanins, another compound that enhances the cancer-fighting properties of quercetin. 

"We found onions are excellent at killing cancer cells," said lead study author Abdulmonem Murayyan in a recent statement. "Onions activate pathways that encourage cancer cells to undergo cell death. They promote an unfavorable environment for cancer cells and they disrupt communication between cancer cells, which inhibits growth."

For their research, the team looked at five different Ontario-grown onions, measuring the amounts of quercetin in them. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, quercetin has been shown to neutralize free radical in the body that can cause cell and DNA damage, the catalyst to cancer. In addition, the site reports that quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting the release of substances that mediate the inflammatory response, such as histamine.
Fighting cancer by Eating Red Onions

The team placed colon cancer cells in direct contact with quercetin extracted from five different Ontario onion varieties in order to determine the compound's effect on cancerous cells. The compound had strong cancer-fighting abilities, and according to the team, the next step is to test the vegetable compound in human trials.

The team is also working to create a new extraction technique that would allow them to take quercetin from vegetables without using chemicals.

"Developing a chemical-free extraction method is important because it means we can use onion's cancer-fighting properties in nutraceuticals and in pill form,” explained study co-author Suresh Neethirajan in a statement.

The health benefits of onions don’t stop at fighting cancer. The vegetable is also helpful in preventing heart disease. For example, a 2007 study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that quercetin also significantly reduced high blood pressure and hypertension in adults. And because of quercetin's antihistamine and anti-inflammatory effect, researchers believe that it may be effective in managing asthma symptoms.

Other compounds in onions have also been shown to have health benefits. For example, allyl propyl disulphide, an oil found in onions of all kinds, can lower blood sugar levels by increasing the amount of free insulin available in the body. As a result, research suggests that adding more onions to your diet can help improve the health of individuals with diabetes.

Source: Murayyan AI, Manohar CM, Hayward G, Neethirajan S. Antiproliferative activity of Ontario grown onions against colorectal adenocarcinoma cells. Food Research International. 2017
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 9:50 AM