It's no wonder many teens are pooped out. "The obligations of school, work, family and friends make it hard for teenagers to get sufficient sleep to perform their best," said a report from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). "While it might seem like teens sleep a lot, most are sleep deprived and trying to catch up on the weekends." Close to 8 in 10 high school students don't get enough sleep on an average school night, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The academy says 13- to 18-year-olds need eight to 10 hours per night. One obstacle is that teens' body clocks trigger sleepiness later at night and wakefulness later in the morning, making it harder to get up early for school. That's why the AASM says middle and high schools should not start before 8:30 a.m. "Adjusting school start times to better align with teens' circadian rhythms is a positive step toward improving student achievement, health and safety," the report said in an academy news release. "Later school start times are associated with longer total sleep time, reduced daytime sleepiness, increased classroom engagement, and reduced tardiness and absences." While students can't control school start times, they can follow these tips for better sleep:
- Get physical activity every day. Avoid caffeine after school.
- Limit naps to 30 minutes or less and don't nap after 4 p.m.
- Have meals at the same time every day and don't eat too close to bedtime.
- Keep lights dim at night.
- Put away electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Take time to relax and unwind before going to bed.
- Set a bedtime that will let you sleep at least eight hours.
- Get bright light in the morning.
- Stick to your sleep schedule as best you can on weekends.
If your children are picky eaters, bribing or pressuring them will probably backfire. But there are other steps you can take to help them get over their fussiness, researchers report. Australian scientists reviewed 80 studies to find out more about fussy eaters. They found that pressuring a child to eat, offering rewards for eating and stricter parenting methods didn't help. But a relaxed parenting style, eating together as a family and involving children in preparing food can reduce the odds of fussy eating. "For parents with a fussy eater, mealtimes can be especially stressful -- juggling the family meal and a picky eater is no small feat," researchers said. "Some families have kids who turn their noses up at any vegetable. Others are dealing with kids who dislike certain textures or colors of food. Some of these preferences relate to a child's characteristics or personality, which are difficult to change, if at all. But others are external factors that could help reduce fussy eating in kids," researchers said. "Eating together as a family, with siblings, and having a single meal at a regular time all helped reduce food fussiness. As did getting the fussy child involved in the meal, either by helping to choose the menu or helping to prepare the meal. Yet if fussy eaters were allowed to eat in front of the TV, or if they were rewarded for eating certain foods, these behaviors negatively influenced picky children," researchers added. Researchers also say stress can contribute to fussy eating. "When you have a child who is a picky eater, it's very stressful for a parent or [caregiver] -- they're forever questioning whether their child is getting enough nutrients, enough food, and often enough weight gain," researchers said in a news release. It's important to understand that being overly anxious or worried can actually contribute to increased picky eating. "Avoiding getting cross and limiting any negativity around mealtime will benefit everyone. Positive parenting, no matter how difficult it can be in certain situations, is the best step forward for fussy eaters," researchers said. The researchers offered these tips to help a fussy eater: Set a good example: Eat together as a family. Have regular mealtimes. This reduces levels of stress. Get kids involved in making meals. Familiarity and a sense of control can help. Turn the TV off. Focus on food. Keep mealtimes calm and stress-free. It will be a better experience for all. Don't reward, bribe or punish fussy eaters.
Admit it, you've probably put off doctor visits whenever possible during the pandemic, and getting back on track with your health care is a daunting prospect. Never fear, says an expert who offers some advice on resuming in-person health care visits. The first step is to push aside any shame about falling behind on regular appointments, said a news release from the American Heart Association (AHA). "Stress took a toll on all of us, and our lives and routines were turned upside down. There's nothing to be ashamed of here," an AHA news release said. "The key is — let's move forward together." Leading up to your appointment, start measuring and documenting body metrics such as your daily weight, blood pressure (if you have a home blood pressure cuff) and blood sugar levels (for those with diabetes). "Even if it's been a while since you've tracked your body metrics, providing recent measurements will help your doctor determine if there have been significant changes," the news release said. Make a list of questions before your appointment and create an action plan with your doctor on how to achieve health goals, but set realistic objectives. "Keep in mind that small, consistent habits can add up to big changes over time," the news release said. If you have any new physical or mental health symptoms, don't wait to see your doctor, he advised. "New chest pain symptoms in particular are always a red flag," the release said. "That's something we want to know about and see you about ASAP." It's also important to see your doctor immediately if your medications don't seem to be working as well as before, or if you can't afford them. "Our goal, like yours, is to make sure you're getting the care you need to live your longest, healthiest life possible," Researchers said. If you don't have a primary care provider or if unemployment has reduced your access to health care, resources like Federally Qualified Health Centers and Community Health Centers can help, he added. Fortunately, far fewer Americans are still putting off health care visits because of the pandemic. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey conducted between June 23 and July 5, 2021, showed that 19 percent of U.S. adults reported delaying or not getting medical care in the prior four weeks because of the pandemic, compared with 45 percent in the same period last year.
When hair sprouts where you don't want it, you can always shave, but other ways to remove unwanted body hair can last longer. The downside: Chemical hair removers can cause burning, itching or redness. "Hair removal creams, lotions and gels are quick and easy to use, but they can sometimes irritate the skin," American Academy of Dermatology news release reported. "Before applying the product to a large area, like your legs, it's a good idea to test out the product first." Mabry suggests applying a quarter-sized amount to the area where the unwanted hair is located. Keep it on your skin for the time recommended in the instructions — or less if your skin starts stinging or burning. Rinse the product off, then wait 24 hours. Don't use the product again if you experience pain, redness, itching or burning. If after 24 hours you've had no irritation, you can use the product. A hair-removal cream works best when you apply it in a thick, even layer, the release said. Don't rub. Don't put it on a cut, scar or mole. Wash your hands after applying, then gently wipe off the cream where you're removing hair at the recommended time. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry. "Hair-removal products can make your skin more sensitive for a short while after using them," the release said. "If you develop skin irritation after using a hair-removal cream, lotion or gel, or if you have questions about at-home hair removal or other options for hair-removal, talk to a board-certified dermatologist." Mabry recommends using only gentle, fragrance-free products to avoid irritation, and protecting the skin from the sun for 24 hours after application. The best ways: Seek shade when outdoors, wear sun-protective clothing, and apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all uncovered skin.
If the Alps or the Rockies are on your bucket list, check with your doctor first if you're at risk for cardiovascular disease. New advice from the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests certain people take precautions before going to high altitude places. These recommendations apply to folks with high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart rhythm abnormalities (arrhythmias) or heart failure. In mountainous areas -- particularly heights of 9,800 to 16,400 feet above sea level -- activities such as skiing, hiking, bicycling or climbing can stress the heart and blood vessels because of lower levels of oxygen and changes in air pressure, temperature and humidity. At high altitudes, the heart needs more oxygen-rich blood, even at rest. Fainting is common, even at altitudes of 8,800 feet above sea level and can happen within a day, according to the AHA statement. "Many people and health care professionals are familiar with symptoms of acute mountain sickness like headaches, dizziness, nausea and weakness," a news release reported. "However, they may be less aware of the stress placed on the body -- and particularly the heart and lungs -- when people with cardiovascular disease travel to mountainous regions where there is a reduction in oxygen availability compared to sea-level conditions. If people are not prepared, they may be at an increased risk of adverse events in these types of environments," he said in an AHA news release. "A thorough assessment by a health care professional may be necessary before a mountain sojourn to assess risk and ensure that people with a history of heart disease safely enjoy physical activities in the mountains," the release said. Would-be travelers should develop a plan with a health care professional, bearing in mind the location and duration of travel, along with the severity of the individual's medical conditions. The plan should address these key questions: Is the patient's heart condition stable and under control? What is the emergency plan if something goes wrong? Are there any additional medications needed in case of an emergency? Where is the closest hospital? Who should be called if you need to be evacuated from a remote location? The statement defines low altitude as 1,640 to 6,560 feet above sea level and moderate altitude as 6,560 to 9,840 feet above sea level. High altitude is considered 9,840 to 16,400 feet, while extreme altitude is 16,400 feet or higher above sea level. The AHA offers these tips for a safe trip to high altitudes: Gradually increase altitude so the body can adjust to lower levels of oxygen. Stay hydrated. Adjust medications based on medical advice. Ask your doctor if any additional medications are needed. Limit or avoid alcohol. Know the symptoms that should signal an emergency evacuation. Have emergency descent plans. Sudden cardiac death is the most frequent non-traumatic cause of death at altitude. It may happen without warning and result in death. Risk factors include a history of heart attack, being male and older age. Studies have found that more than 50 percent of sudden cardiac deaths at altitude happen on the first day. The risk may be reduced by one night sleeping above 3,381 feet, which gives the body time to acclimate to higher altitudes before engaging in physical activity.