How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

Not getting enough sleep has huge effects on our health — from foggy thinking to heart problems to weight gain — but just how much sleep is considered enough? That’s the question the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) tackled with a panel of scientists who reviewed more than 300 sleep-duration studies and came up with new guidelines, including one for people age 65-plus. “This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a …

Toilet Paper Is Shrinking. Blame Hand Dryers

No, it’s not just your imagination. Toilet paper squares are surreptitiously shrinking — getting smaller, thinner and/or fewer. The reason it’s hard for you to tell: Companies are increasing the size of the inner cardboard tubes, so the rolls still look the same to consumers. And why are hand dryers to blame? Don’t worry — we’ll get to that. The case of our dwindling toilet paper sheets was explained in an interesting Washington Post column. The old standard size was …

Are Older Adults Being Overtreated for Diabetes?

Older patients are not the same as younger patients. You’d think this was obvious, yet doctors often use a one-size-fits-all approach to prescribing treatment that can put their older patients at risk. The latest example of this: another study showing that patients 65 or older with diabetes may be overtreated by doctors who too aggressively try to control blood sugar levels, regardless of their patients’ other health problems. The new study, by Yale researchers, analyzed a decade of data on 1,288 …

Blueberries Can Help Lower Blood Pressure

Need to reduce your blood pressure several notches? Eating a cup of blueberries a day could help. That’s the conclusion of a small Florida State University study of postmenopausal women, ages 45 to 65, who ate the equivalent of a cup of blueberries a day for eight weeks. The women not only saw a modest improvement in their blood pressure readings, their arteries also showed improved flexibility, which also can help lower blood pressure. Previous blueberry studies had found similar …

Can You Pass the One-Leg Test for Brain Health?

Here’s a quick, do-it-yourself test for brain health: See how long you can stay balanced on one leg. If you can’t hold that flamingo position for at least 20 seconds, it could indicate damage to small blood vessels in your brain even if you have no other symptoms, new research finds. That damage could put you at high risk for stroke and cognitive decline. A stroke is caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain that interrupts blood flow. …

Nuts Are Good for Us. So Why Aren’t We Eating More of Them?

Nuts, if you eat them in moderation, are full of healthy nutrients for your heart and may even help you ward off other diseases like cancer. So why do only 4 in 10 of Americans eat them on any given day — and a measly 1 in 10 eat them daily? Back in 2010, new federal nutrition guidelines recommended eating nuts as an additional source of protein and nutrients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decided to take …