Are you getting enough?

Sleep, that is.

Sleep is more important than you think.  Most people don’t function well with less than 7 hours of sleep.

Sleep deprived students more readily reach for candy and desserts.  The so-called ‘freshman 15’ may be related to widely changing patterns of sleep (sleeping different hours each night) and abbreviated (too little) sleep.  Lack of sleep makes the body less sensitive to insulin increasing the risk of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.

Sleep deprivation affects brain functions including memory, emotion, and regulation of appetite.  Poor sleep can, under certain circumstances, lead to depression severe enough to be diagnosed as major depression.

Without enough sleep, the immune system cannot work as efficiently to fight off illness.

Sleeping pills provide only modest benefits.  People fall asleep between 8 and 20 minutes faster when taking prescription drugs for sleep.  Often, people end up functioning worse the next day – so drowsy that they cannot drive safely.  Sleeping pills can pose other dangers, too, like falls, dizziness, and fractures.

So if your roommate (not you) is in a bad mood, crabby, has decreased energy, poor judgement, and is gaining weight, maybe they just need more sleep.

More later on how to get a good night’s sleep.

Pat Balassone, CNP

Medical Mythbusters – Do you really lose 80% of your body heat from your head?

True or False:  80% of your body heat is lost from your head.


I love this one. My mother must have used it on me a million times growing up to get me to wear a hat, which I would not do since I grew up in the 70s and my Farrah Fawcett hair would have been ruined.

Where did this “80%” come from? Apparently from a weak US military study done in the 1950s that examined heat loss from Arctic volunteers dressed from neck to toe in survival gear. Duh, their uncovered heads lost more heat than the rest of their bodies. Were I to go outside in the bitter cold naked (as awful as that image is to contemplate) 100% of my body heat would be lost from my whole body. A slightly higher proportion of the heat might be lost from my head thanks to the greater blood supply to the head and face, but the head doesn’t have a lock on heat loss.  If you go outside in a pair of shorts you’re going to lose a lot of heat through your legs.

What my mom was worried about, of course, was the dreaded frostbite, of Jack Frost nipping at my nose. What exactly would put my nose (or ears or toes) at risk?

Environmental: Prolonged exposure, extreme cold, damp cold, high altitude. During severe cold, frostbite can develop in a matter of minutes. Everything that is exposed is at risk.  Feet and hands are affected most frequently, but ears, noses, cheeks, and even corneas are also at risk.  I challenge you to find a hat for your cornea.

Poor underlying health and/or altered mental status: Prior cold injury, alcohol use, tobacco use, malnutrition, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, and severe mental health all limit the body’s ability to respond to any severe stress, including cold temperatures. Of note, prior cold injury can quadruple the risk of a subsequent cold injury.

Clothing: Inadequate clothing obviously increases exposure. But constrictive clothing that limits blood flow to the extremities, toes, etc. also increases risk of cold injury.

Being male: Whether this is because of some kind of genetic susceptibility or because males tend to spend more time outdoors isn’t clear.  African American males appear to be at special risk.  During both the Korean and Falkland Wars, there was a higher prevalence of frostbite in African American men than in other similarly attired races.

The bottom line? Mom was right, especially if you’re a male who likes to train for marathons during sleet storms at very high altitudes in super tight clothes while crazy drunk and smoking like a chimney.  So…

  • Minimize exposure, especially if it’s extremely cold and/or damp. Higher altitudes (like ski trips) warrant even more caution.
  • Wear sensible, warm, non-constrictive, layered clothing.
  • Stay dry.
  • If you’re going to be out in the cold, avoid drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

Victoria Rentel MD (OSU SHS)

In search of the perfect pillow

When changing the sheets last month, I noticed that our pillows looked – well – disgusting. They had a

Could this be the pillow I seek?

Could this be the pillow I seek?

bunch of yellowish slobber type stains on them and no longer held their shape. I couldn’t remember when we purchased them and decided then and there it was time for new pillows.

I had no idea there were so many different types of pillows. Pillows for back sleepers, stomach sleepers, side sleepers.   Down pillows, down alternative pillows, memory foam pillows. Expensive pillows, cheap pillows. Pillows to keep you cool at night. You name it – there’s a pillow.

I had determined not to go with the cheapest, but to try and go up a notch and pick a good quality pillow. I am a side sleeper and set my sights on those types of pillows. I pulled out a few, squeezed them, felt them for support, etc. and selected our replacements. Side sleeper pillows come in medium firmness and firm with the thought being that they need to support the head for the width of the shoulders.

I got home, changed out our pillows and tossed the old ones into the garbage. Three days later I was greatly regretting this new purchase. Sore doesn’t even begin to describe the state of my neck. I was so uncomfortable that I chucked the new pillow and just slept without. I then went on a search for a new pillow.

I googled pillows to find out which were considered the best. I researched side sleepers to see why there was a pillow specifically for this. I read reviews. I was determined to find a pillow that would not hurt my neck, even if I had to try out every pillow in Columbus.

I found a suggestion that recommended holding a pillow up to the wall and laying your head against it – simulating sleep – to see if it was the pillow for you. I received quite a few strange looks , but gave it a try. After much trial and error I finally found the pillow for me. That first night’s sleep was glorious and I haven’t experienced any neck issues.

Now, there are lots of opinions about pillows, how often they should be cleaned and replaced. As far as cleaning goes:

  • Huffpost Healthy Living recommends a zippered pillow protector (not the pillow case) that is washed every 3 weeks and washing the pillow itself every 3 months. (Down pillows have to be dry cleaned, but down alternatives can be washed.)
  • Martha Stewart recommends washing twice a year.

Replacing of pillows should be done every 2-3 years to ensure proper head and neck support.