CDC calls insufficient sleep a public health epidemic.

The CDC has it right in declaring lack of sleep a public health epidemic.

Lack of sleep has been linked to a number of public issues such as industrial disasters, medical and occupational errors, and motor vehicle accidents.

In addition to these well-known consequences, however, new studies have shown that people who receive insufficient sleep are at increased risk for chronic disease such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and even cancer.


Research backs the call for better sleep with shocking statistics

Two recent studies have shown that unhealthy sleep behaviors and self-reported sleep difficulties are becoming more prevalent across the country, and insufficient sleep is becoming of increasing concern.

According to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, 35% of the nearly 75,000 adults who responded received less than seven hours per night. A number of other health problems were also reported, including 38% of respondents reporting that they fell asleep unintentionally during the day at least once during the preceding month.

An alarming 4.7 percent nodded off while driving. This is especially concerning when you consider that drowsy driving accounts for at least 1550 fatalities and 40,000 traffic accident injuries each year.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Sleep Disorders Questionnaire, adults between the ages of 40-59 are most likely to get less than eight hours of sleep at 40.3 percent, with the ages of 20-39 not far behind at 37 percent.

Furthermore, those adults who did report getting less than seven hours of sleep per night also experienced more difficulties with performing daily tasks.

How much sleep is necessary?

According to the National Institutes of Health, school-age children need a minimum of 10 hours of sleep per day, while teenagers need around nine hours. Adults need at least seven hours. Unfortunately, the National Health Interview Survey finds that nearly 30 percent of adults get less than six hours of sleep per night on average. Only 31 percent of high school students receive eight hours of sleep on an average school night.

There are a number of ways for both adults and children to improve their sleep habits, known as sleep hygiene. First, try to go to bed at the same time each day. Likewise, set an alarm to ensure you rise at the same time every morning. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed can both make falling asleep easier and improve the quality of your sleep, as will avoiding nicotine. While a small bedtime snack is okay, it’s best to avoid eating a large meal.

For many with busy minds, sleep hygiene falls short

Indeed, practicing good sleep hygiene does NOT mean that your busy head calms down when you hop into bed. If you really want to sleep like a baby, then you’ve got to find a way to turn off all the inner commotion.

What causes the mental commotion that you can’t just turn off? Fascinating research as reported in the March 2010 issue of Scientific American Magazine suggests that the brain’s Default Mode Network (DMN) is the culprit. Scientific American positioned the DMN as the brain’s dark energy.

The DMN is responsible for self-referential thoughts (autopilot thinking). When the DMN is overactive, your mind churns and spins, generating thoughts that keep you tense and awake.

Most people have never heard of the DMN, much less how to turn it off. You can, in fact, turn off your DMN, clear your head and relax. This has been proven via fMRI scans. It’s relatively easy to do and it leads to natural sleep when you are tired.

Learn more:

20 Common Medications That Can Cause Memory Loss.

If you take cholesterol lowering medication, you are probably aware that it can cause memory loss since it is now required to state a warning about this on its label. But there are many other medications that can cause memory loss too. The fact is, any medicine that can cause cognitive impairment could lead to a misdiagnosis of dementia, and the Alzheimer’s Association reports that prescription drugs are “the most common cause of misdiagnosed or ‘reversible’ dementia”.

While the right medicine can reverse the course of serious diseases and improve a senior’s quality of life immeasurably, medications also cause problems. Classes of drugs that carry this risk include anti-histamines, antibiotics, corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, antiemetics, muscle relaxants and opioid pain killers.

medications that cause memory loss

Meds That Can Cause Memory Loss

Here is a list of common pharmaceutical medications that can cause memory loss:

* for Parkinson’s — scopolamine, atropine, glycopyrrolate

* for epilepsy — phenytoin or Dilantin

* painkillers — heroin, morphine, codeine

sleeping pills — Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata

* benzodiazepines — Valium, Xanax, Ativan, Dalmane

* quinidine

* naproxen

* steroids

* antibiotics (quinolones)

* antihistamines

* interferons

* high blood pressure drugs

* insulin

* beta blockers (especially those used for glaucoma)

* methyldopa

* antipsychotics — Haldol, Mellaril

* tricyclic antidepressants

* lithium

* barbiturates — Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal, phenobarbital

chemotherapy drugs

What You Can Do Next

You’ve read this list. Are any of these medications you’re taking? If so, talk to your doctor if you believe they’re affecting your memory.

Get your doctor to work with you to find better options — different prescriptions and/or healthy lifestyle choices — instead.

If you are taking more than one medication, the chance of negative interactions goes up exponentially. Learn more about the problems of mixing medications in Protect Your Brain from the Perils of Polypharmacy.

Meanwhile, continue to use the lifestyle advice you find here on our website. Even if you have to stay on the medication, you can lessen the load on your brain by taking proactive steps such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, and taking the right supplements. Give your brain the healthiest possible environment to stay mentally sharp as long as you can.

This list was assembled by Richard C. Mohs, Ph.D., former vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.



Earth is headed for its sixth mass extinction.

The rapid depletion of Earth’s biodiversity indicates that the planet is in the early stages of its sixth mass extinction of life since becoming habitable 3.5 billion years ago, according to a new study published in Science.

Human activity, including a doubling of its population in the past 35 years, has driven the decline of animal life on Earth, the researchers concluded.

AFP Photo / NASA

There has been a 25 percent average decline rate of remaining terrestrial vertebrates, and a 45 percent decline rate in the abundance of invertebrates. These losses will continue to have innumerable impacts on species that depend on the delicate balance of life on Earth for their own survival.

“We tend to think about extinction as loss of a species from the face of Earth, and that’s very important, but there’s a loss of critical ecosystem functioning in which animals play a central role that we need to pay attention to as well,” said Rodolfo Dirzo, lead author of the study and a biology professor at Stanford University.

“Ironically, we have long considered that defaunation is a cryptic phenomenon, but I think we will end up with a situation that is non-cryptic because of the increasingly obvious consequences to the planet and to human wellbeing.”

The “Anthropocene defaunation,” as some researchers have dubbed this era, is hitting large animals such as elephants, polar bears, and rhinoceroses the hardest, as these megafauna are the subject of some of the highest rates of decline on Earth. This trend matches previous mass die-offs of the Big Five extinction periods.

Megafauna usually have lower population growth rates that need larger habitat areas to maintain their populations, thus they are particularly affected by human growth and desire for their meat mass. Losses among these animals often mean dire impacts for other species that depend on them within an ecosystem.

Past studies have found that the loss of larger animals means a spike in rodents, as grass and shrubs proliferate and soil compaction decreases, all while the risk of predation also declines, notes. As rodent populations increase, so do the disease-transporting ectoparasites that come with them.

“Where human density is high, you get high rates of defaunation, high incidence of rodents, and thus high levels of pathogens, which increases the risks of disease transmission,” said Dirzo.

“Who would have thought that just defaunation would have all these dramatic consequences? But it can be a vicious circle.”

About 16 to 33 percent of all vertebrate species are considered threatened or endangered, the review found.

Invertebrate loss also has far-reaching ripple effects on other species. For example, the continued disappearance of vital honeybee populations across the globe will have bleak consequences for plant pollination, and thus on the world’s food production, as RT has previously reported.

Insects pollinate about 75 percent of the world’s food crops, according to Futurity.

Overall, of the world’s more than 71,000 species, 30 percent of them are threatened, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Based on this assessment – and without drastic economic and political measures to address the current die-off – the sixth mass extinction could be cemented by 2400 A.D., University of California, Berkeley geologist Anthony Barnosky told Harper’s magazine.

Solutions to the die-off are complicated, the study posits, as reducing rates of habitat change and overexploitation of lands must come through regional and situational strategies.

“Prevention of further declines will require us to better understand what species are winning and losing in the fight for survival and from studying the winners, apply what we learn to improve conservation projects,” said Ben Collen, a lecturer at the University College of London and a co-author of the study.“We also need to develop predictive tools for modelling the impact of changes to the ecosystem so we can prioritize conservation efforts, working with governments globally to create supportive policy to reverse the worrying trends we are seeing.”

Researchers from University of California, Santa Barbara; Universidade Estadual Paulista in Brazil; Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico; the Natural Environment Research Council Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in England; and University College London are coauthors of the new study.

Europe to Launch Robotic Space Plane Prototype in November.

The launch of a robotic space plane prototype in November could pave the way toward the creation of a reusable cargo vehicle that would survive the blistering re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, according to the European Space Agency.

European Space Agency's eXperimental Vehicle

ESA officials plan to launch the unmanned space plane, called the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle(IXV), on a Vega rocket in early November. The flight plan calls for Vega to make an eastward flight — different than its usual polar orbit track — to release IXV into a suborbital path that would end in the Pacific Ocean.

Officials with the space agency hope to eventually use the reusable space place as an automated vehicle that will fly through the atmosphere aerodynamically, controlled by thrusters and its surfaces, then splash down safely in the sea.

Smoking Kills (Your Organs): 6 Major Organs Damaged By Cigarette Smoke.

Coughing up heaping globs of mucous isn’t even the half of it. Neither is losing all sense of stamina, or coming home to a stale-smelling house with yellowed walls and furniture. No, the biggest consequences of smoking are, by and large, ones you will never see. These, however, tend to be the deadliest.


As you inhale cigarette smoke, the 7,000 or so carcinogens begin to swirl through the caverns of your body, beginning in your esophagus and winding up in distant locations you wouldn’t give second thought to. The truth is, for all its declining popularity, smoking still emerges as the single greatest preventable cause of death in the United States. Each year, some 480,000 people die from smoking-related causes. Here are six organs that feel the effects in the meantime.

1. Your Lungs

Best to get this one out of the way early. Lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchitis are three of the most common diseases directly associated with smoking. Eighty percent of lung cancer cases are due to smoking.

Columns of harmful smoke pour into the organs, paralyzing the delicate cilia lining the inner walls and irritating them to the point where they overproduce mucous. When these cilia die, and mucous builds, respiration suffers. Once the soft healthy tissue turns hard and black, asthma and cancer tend to follow. While many of the body’s processes stabilize after someone quits smoking, damaged lung tissue can never heal.

2. Your Skin

It’s easy to forget the largest organ in your body is even an organ at all. Smoking damages the skin in more ways than one. On the one hand, you’ll notice some profound cosmetic changes, such as bags under the eyes, a toughening of the skin, wrinkles, and stretch marks — all stemming from the skin’s dying elasticity. But you should also expect major health risks to rise. Among the heavy-hitters: skin cancer, warts, psoriasis, and poorer wound healing.

We don’t think of skin as playing much more than a cosmetic role, but the largest organ in the body is the first line of defense for keeping out invading forces, like bacteria and viruses. Psoriasis, for instance, was found in 2007 to double in risk for people who smoked a pack a day for 20 years. To put it bluntly, when there’s a tear in the sheath of shrink-wrapped flesh draped over the other organs, getting sick becomes a lot easier.

3. Your Uterus

Among smoking’s long cons is its effect on reproductive health. Cigarettes significantly raise a woman’s risk for ectopic pregnancy — the maturation of an embryo outside the walls of the uterus, typically in the fallopian tubes. One 2010study suggested this was due to an overproduction of the protein PROKR1, making it harder for the fallopian tubes to contract and send the egg all the way to the womb.

In addition to ectopic pregnancies, research has found cigarette smoking to lead to more failures involving in vitro fertilization, adverse reproductive outcomes, and a lower fecundity rates overall. Women have also been having kids later in life, upping their risk even further, as it means they’ll have been smoking longer before pregnancy.

4. Your Penis

The ability to achieve and maintain an erection could suffer drastically if a man smokes. That finding has been repeated over and over throughout the decades, most compellingly in a 2011 study that found men who kicked the habit had quicker, firmer, and most durable erections than men who smoked — achieving that erection up to five times faster than smokers who relapsed.

Important to keep in mind: Nicotine, not smoking, determined men’s physical arousal. They didn’t see full return to health until after they quit nicotine patches or gum. Also, study co-author Christopher Harte, of the VA Boston Healthcare System,pointed out, a man’s success depends on his relationship with his sexual partner.

5. Your Eyes

As previously stated, expect some under-eye droopage after having smoked for a while. More than that, cigarette smoking has been found to lead to a raft of conditions related to vision loss, such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and dry eye syndrome.

Smoking attacks the eye from two fronts. The first is the smoke itself, which collects in front of your face as you smoke and again after you exhale. The constant exposure to the smoke can dry your eyes out and irritate them. Combine this with smoking’s effects on blood flow, which stops the optic nerve from getting enough antioxidants. As a result, scientists believe, the chemicals in cigarette smoke pollute the blood and starve the ocular organs.

6. Your Liver

The liver isn’t confined to damage from alcohol consumption. Smoking ups people’s risk for liver cancer dramatically, according to a 2011 study that found nearly half of all liver cancer cases were the result of smoking. By contrast, 21 percent were associated with hepatitis C, 16 percent from obesity, 13 percent from hepatitis B, and, all the way at the bottom, 10 percent for alcohol consumption.

The majority of liver cancer deaths are the result of hepatocellular carcinoma, a leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, among sub-Saharan African and Southeast Asian countries. Cirrhosis — when liver cells turn to scar tissue — is one of the greatest non-cancerous forms of liver damage; in the U.S. cirrhosis is often alcohol-related, which is why the conventional wisdom keeps the two so closely linked.

Is EMS Still the Most Dangerous Profession? – Health And Safety –

Kudos to Brian Maguire, DPH, MSA, EMT-P, and Peter F. O’Meara, BHA, MPP, PhD, for their long-term commitment to occupational injury research for EMS. It was in 2002 that Maguire was the lead author of a paper published by the prestigious Annals of Emergency Medicine calling attention to “Occupational fatalities in emergency medical services: A hidden crisis.”

More than a decade later, this crisis continues. Both Maguire and O’Meara are tried and true street paramedics who have put their street smarts to work in the academic world by earning PhDs and dedicating their careers to studying improvements to our profession.

Loyal research fans may recall that our November 2011 column, titled “The Most Dangerous Job: Study raises awareness about the many hazards of EMS,” looked at a study by Reichard showing EMS workers had similar, if not higher, rates of serious injury and mortality than police officers or firefighters. Now, three years later, has anything changed?

The study’s new data, collected in 2014 from Australia and 2013 from the United States unfortunately confirms the 2011 study.

The Australian research comes from Central Queensland and La Trobe Universities, and shows EMS worker fatality rate of 9.3 per 100,000 workers (Reichard reported 7.0 in 2011 in the U.S.). Nationally among all careers, the Australian EMS fatality rate was 1.6 per 100,000.

Maguire and O’Meara performed a retrospective descriptive review of data from Safe Work Australia, a national data collection point, from 2000 to 2010, evaluating injuries in which greater than one week of work time was lost. The most common injury was muscular stress while lifting, carrying or moving objects at 44%; the overall rate of injury per worker was 80 per 1000 with a 95% confidence interval of 57.7 to 106.9 per 1,000 workers.

Significant injury rates among paramedics in Australia were more than double that of police officers. Interestingly, the rate fluctuated during the study period, but remained consistently higher than the national average. In 2000–2001 the injury rate was 81.4 workers per 1,000 compared to 94.6 per 1,000 in 2008–2009 and 85.0 per 1,000 in 2009–2010.

In Maguire’s 2013 article published in Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, he evaluated five years of data (2003–2007) data from the U.S. Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics and found 21,749 reported cases of injury and lost work time. Among those, 21,690 involved nonfatal injuries or illnesses that resulted in lost work days among volunteer, paid, full-time and part-time EMTs and paramedics in the private sector. Two thirds of reported injuries involved muscular sprains and strains, 43% involved back injuries, and 37% were listed as the patient being the source of injury. During the same study period, there were 59 reported fatalities among all EMTs and paramedics. Of these, 51 (86%) were related to transportation, and five were listed as the direct cause of assault or violent crime. This also works out to 349.9 cases of lost workdays per 10,000 full-time employees compared to 122.2/ 10,000 for all private industry occupations. The statistic shows a nearly threefold increase in injury rates among EMTs and paramedics when compared to the rest of the private sector.

However, the authors weren’t able to attain data on EMS workers employed in fire departments, which could mean EMS-related injuries and fatalities may actually be a greater problem than initial numbers report. We strongly suggest reading these two papers as this column can’t do justice to the volume of information they contain.

Discussion: So, what does this all mean? Simple: It’s time to take action. The American College of Emergency Physicians recently released a recommendation, available online at, for a culture of safety among EMS workers, and efforts to track dangerous events in real time are paying off through an anonymous reporting site at Readers are encouraged to report near-misses and safety-related events to better document and hopefully improve EMS safety.

Conclusion: From what we can see in this available research, EMS remains among the most dangerous professions in the world. Our industry can’t tolerate the unsafe practices we’ve become accustomed to. Safe workplace habits, lifting, lifestyle and driving improvements must win over cavalier, dangerous and old ways of doing our job. It’s vital providers and their leaders embrace a new culture.

Bottom Line
What we know: EMS ranks among the most dangerous jobs in the U.S.
What these studies add: Unfortunately, Australian EMS workers have a rate of injury that’s comparable to U.S. EMS and is seven times higher than the Australian national average.