There’s so much health and wellness news out there. Here are some of this week’s health headlines and what you can take away from them to improve your health.
Improving deep sleep may lower your dementia risk
A new study published in JAMA Neurology found a connection between the amount of deep sleep one gets and their risk of dementia. The new research, which looked at the sleep data of 346 participants over the age of 60 who participated in two sleep studies, found that just a 1% reduction in deep sleep (also known as slow wave sleep) per year translated into a 27% increased risk of dementia. The research suggests that “slow wave sleep loss may be a modifiable dementia risk factor,” according to the study’s author Matthew Pase.
Why it matters: Many people struggle with sleep as they get older, but as this study shows, prioritizing quality sleep is vital to one’s health. Deep sleep is particularly important because it’s the stage in which your body and mind heal, as well as the stage in which your brain converts short-term memory into long-term. In order to encourage more deep sleep, you can try sleeping in a colder room to lower your body temperature, as well as taking a warm shower or bath before bed. While the warm water will initially increase your body temperature, what follows is a decrease in body temperature, which ultimately promotes sleep.
Practicing mindfulness can impact diet
Researchers at the Mindfulness Center at Brown University found that individuals who needed to stick to a heart-healthy diet were more likely to do so after participating in an eight-week mindfulness-based blood pressure reduction program. All the participants in the study followed the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) program, which focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Individuals who were also trained in mindfulness skills such as meditation and emotion regulation were more likely to stick to this eating program.
Why it matters: Whether or not you need to follow a specific diet for your health, the evidence is clear that mindfulness — which is defined by VeryWell Health as “being aware of internal thoughts, feelings and emotions … without automatic responses such as judgment or stress” — can have a big impact on your overall well being. In 2022, a study claimed that meditation may work as well as Lexapro for the treatment of anxiety. There’s also evidence that practicing mindfulness techniques may help with inflammation and even assist in pain reduction. Some parents are even teaching mindfulness to their children, which may help kids increase their attention span and manage stress.
Online shopping can change your eating habits
According to an analysis published in Marketing Science of nearly 2 million shopping trips, individuals who shopped online for groceries bought less variety of fruits and vegetables, but also steered clear of unhealthy impulse purchases.
Why it matters: Apps like Instacart, where the data from the paper was collected, can make grocery shopping convenient, while also avoiding the temptations of the ice cream aisle and counter candy. However, variety is also important in one’s diet — in fact, recent research found that eating 30 different types of plants per week may boost your gut health. In order to benefit from the convenience of e-shopping, spend a little more time in the digital version of the produce section — and pick some veggies and fruits you may not ordinarily “add to cart.”
Anger may help you achieve your goals
New research published by the American Psychological Association found that anger was associated with higher rates of completing a challenging task compared with more neutral emotions. The theory behind this, according to researchers, is that certain emotions may signal calls to action. While sadness may lead someone to reach out for comfort, anger may encourage people to overcome an obstacle.
Why it matters: While many people may try to improve their mood before diving into a challenging task, this research suggests that it may not be necessary — and that anger may even have some benefits. That being said, chronic anger isn’t ideal: research also shows that stress-induced anger may inhibit our ability to think critically.