Smartphone app may help beat jet lag
Researchers from the University of Michigan have developed a smartphone app designed to help alleviate the symptoms of jet lag, including feelings of tiredness and confusion.
Since our internal body clock is set to a regular rhythm of daylight and darkness, traveling to different time zones disrupts the clock and makes it difficult to return to normal. The app, named Entrain, works by helping travelers more quickly readjust to their internal body clock. The app asks users to input their normal hours of exposure to light and dark and then add the time zone to which they are traveling. Using this data, the app mathematically figures out the users’ optimal light schedule, which includes when they should be exposed to darkness or light at varying degrees of brightness. The personalized light adjustment schedule also lets users know how long it should take before they get used to time zone changes.
The details of Entrain are discussed in the journal PLOS Computation Biology. In it, researchers explain that the ability to overcome jet lag is essentially a mathematical problem, which their app calculates and translates into practical instructions. Researchers said that although the app does not get rid of jet lag, it can significantly reduce recovery time.
The app could also help pilots and flight attendants, the researchers noted.
Too much time on Facebook could cause bad body image
The amount of time spent looking at friends’ photos on Facebook and other social media outlets may be linked with insecurity about body image, according to a new study.
Data shows that young women are high users of social networking sites and post more “selfies”, when compared to their male counterparts. Little research has been done, however, on how social media may affect how women view themselves. In the new study, researchers from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, Ohio University and the University of Iowa conducted a survey among 881 female college students in the U.S. The survey included questions about Facebook usage, diet and exercise habits and body image.
The results of the survey showed a direct correlation between amount of time spent on social networks and body image—the more time the women spent on Facebook, the more negative their body image, and vice versa. No link between social media and eating disorders was reported, however.
The researchers said their findings suggest that the women seemed to have a tendency to compare themselves negatively with their friends. Friends’ photos in particular may influence body image and insecurities more than celebrities’ photos, since they are of known people, the researchers concluded. Experts added that the results speak to the “global phenomenon” of a preoccupation with weight and shape in today’s popular culture.
Optimistic attitude lowers risk of heart failure
People with higher levels of optimism may be less at risk for heart failure than those who are more pessimistic, according to new research.
In the study, optimism was defined as “an expectation that positive things will happen.” Researchers from the University of Michigan and Harvard University examined the relationship between optimism and heart failure diagnoses in older adults, since statistics show that people aged 65 years and older are most prone to heart failure diagnoses. Researchers collected data of more than 6,800 older adults, including healthy history, background information and psychological data over the course of four years. They also took into account factors that could affect heart failure risk, such as chronic illnesses and demographic factors.
The findings, published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure, showed that the adults who had higher levels of optimism reduced their risk of heart failure by 73 percent. Researchers said that it remains unclear whether optimism may cause people to make healthier lifestyle choices; regardless, they concluded that a combination of the two could be instrumental in preventing heart failure.
More TV means less sleep for young kids
A new study has found that the more time young children spend watching TV, the less likely they are to get the sleep they need, which can negatively affect their physical and mental health.
A team of scientists from Harvard University conducted a long-term study of more than 1,800 children between ages 6 months and 8 years. The mothers of the children in the study were given the task of completing annual questionnaires regarding their children’s TV viewing habits, including whether the children had a TV in their bedroom and the amount of time they spent in a room where the TV was on. The mothers also reported their children’s average amount of sleep every night.
The results showed that children who spent the most amount of time watching TV got the least amount of sleep. Every extra hour of daily TV viewing corresponded with seven fewer minutes of daily sleep. Researchers said the link is significant because it followed a consistent pattern. The study, detailed in the journal Pediatrics, reinforces previous evidence from relatively small, short-term studies. The bottom line, according to the researchers: Watching long hours of TV and having a TV in the bedroom is not good for your kids.