Archive for October 15th, 2008

Want A’s? Get Z’s!

October 15th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Boston Globe

Anyone who is in college or knows someone who is, knows that sleep is just not happening there. There’s too much to do, and no one wants to miss out.

“It’s like, well, I could do my calculus homework or it sounds like the girls next door are doing something fun so I’ll just walk over there,” Kelsey Barton, a Tufts freshman recently told the Boston Globe. Kelsey has averaged 3 hours sleep per night since she got there last month.

College administrators are starting to fret about the situation. “Most people feel it’s a badge of honor. ‘I didn’t sleep. Parentheses, aren’t I great,’” said Dr. Vanessa Britto, Wellesley’s Health Services Director. “Until you point out to them that pulling an all-nighter is the equivalent of driving drunk and is detrimental to their reaction time and memory,” she added.

And then there’s the oft cited Behavioral Sleep Medicine study which found that students who had pulled at least one all-nighter had lower GPAs than those who never did.

So, many colleges are taking action. One school sponsors dorm pajama parties featuring popcorn and tea. Another holds a Biggest Snoozer contest. There are awareness campaigns with catchy names like the one appearing in the title of of this post. And then, there are the hand-outs…everything from white noise machines to memory foam pillows, ear plugs and relaxing CD mixes.

It ain’t gonna’ fly, Orville.

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GM Retirees Lose Health Insurance

October 15th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Detroit Free Press

General Motors announced Monday it will no longer provide health insurance coverage for more than 100,000 retirees and their dependents as of January 1, 2009. The move will save the beleaguered auto giant $3.3 billion per year. Large labor unions whose members work at GM had no comment on the announcement.

By way of replacement for its longstanding health coverage benefit, GM will kick in an extra $300 per month to retirees’ pension checks so they can buy their own insurance. Retirees will be allowed to enroll in Medicare beginning today, a month earlier than the federal program begins enrollment for everyone else. Many of Medicare’s prescription drug plans cost more than $300 per month, and drug benefits are just part of the insurance package GM retirees had enjoyed until now.

To help its retirees navigate Medicare’s complex array of plans and products, GM will mail information kits between now and early November.

“You worry about it a little bit, but I’m not losing sleep over it, when I do sleep,” joked Bud Allen during an interview with the Detroit Free Press. Allen is a GM retiree who suffers from insomnia. He and his wife enjoyed comprehensive health benefits for 43 years while he worked at GM, and for the first 17 years of his retirement.

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Got Enough Milk?

October 15th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Am. Acad. Pediatrics, Reuters

Hoping to prevent rickets and secure other health benefits down the road, the American Academy of Pediatrics just doubled to 400 IU its recommended daily dose of vitamin D for children.

“Evidence has shown this could have life-long benefits,” said the Academy’s Dr. Frank Greer in a prepared statement. “Supplementation is important because most children will not get enough vitamin D through diet alone.”

Breast-fed infants are at particular risk because maternal intake of the vitamin is often insufficient. For this reason “it is important that breast-fed infants receive supplements of vitamin D,” said Carol Wagner, who spoke for the Academy.

The Academy said that non-breast-fed infants and older children who consume less than a quart of vitamin D fortified formula or milk per day should also receive supplements.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin found in tuna, other oily fish and not much else. We add it to other foods, such as milk and cereals and of course, it can be consumed as a dietary supplement. Sunlight is a good source of vitamin D, because UV rays trigger its production in the skin. However, sunscreen and clothing limit sun exposure, and sunlight increases the risk of skin cancer.

(more…)

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