Why Blue Light is so Important to Sleep and Health

NASA Sunrise

Why Blue Light is so Important to Sleep and Health

by Leanne Venier, BSME, CP AOBTA

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Blue Light Photoreceptors

Scientific research since 2002 has shown that in addition to the well-known Rods and Cones in our eyes, we also have “Blue light photoreceptors” (ie. melanopsin retinal ganglion cells, a new type of photoreceptor in the eye first discovered in 1998). These “blue light photoreceptors” directly influence our circadian (daily) rhythms.

How Do These Blue Light Photoreceptors Control our Circadian Rhythms? And how can this help my Sleep, Jet Lag or Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)? Read More …

Elder Orphans living alone need to avoid social isolation

Seniors living alone and socially isolated are Elder Orphans.

Source: Huffington Post

By Carol Marak, Aging Advocate and Senior Care Contributor (original at Huffington Post)

Seniors living alone and socially isolated are Elder Orphans. The deeper my age propels into my senior years, long-term care planning cannot delay. This is the first of a series on how I plan to avoid the problems of elder orphans. Like most over 60 years of age, we haven’t planned well, and adults like me who live without a spouse or children cannot afford to put it off. Even my parents delayed making arrangements. But they had four children they could rely on for care. I don’t, nor does my sister or many of my friends. But since I work with aging experts at SeniorCare.com, there’s no excuse to let the loose ends dangle. Read More …

Will 2016 see connected health transformation?

Will 2016 be the year of connected health transformation? That was the topic of a LinkedIn discussion that I weighed in on with the following comment.Digital Mind

Domain experts often make bad predictions (see http://mhealthtalk.com/cazitech/home/favorite-quotes/). Better is to hire futurists who look at many scenarios, extrapolated trends, R&D status, patent portfolios, hiring patterns, and market accelerators & inhibitors to understand what levers can help clients encourage a “preferred” version of the future. A better question is, “WHAT health transformation do you WANT to occur in 2016, and how do you get that?”

DRIVERS include public policy and consumer awareness that our profit-driven, fee-for-service model is broken. Add the “potential” of cutting spending in half (We spend twice that of other advanced nations) while also improving outcomes (We live sicker & die younger). That $1.5 trillion per year savings could help reduce the debt, lower taxes, fix infrastructure, or fund education and other public investments. While other policy decisions may save billions over 10 years (results not realized while politicians are in office to take credit), true health reform can save trillions EVERY year a politician is in office, a huge incentive. BUT, there’s a catch.

INHIBITORS include the corrupting influence of big money in politics and the fact that the medical industrial complex (hospitals, insurers, drug companies, testing companies & equipment providers) spend twice as much the military industrial complex on lobbying to protect their $3 trillion annual revenue, which is 18% of GDP. Overcoming that resistance requires a strong public outcry. Will that happen in 2016?

I have dozens of articles on this topic at Modern Health Talk, but the most relevant to this discussion include:

‘The Patient Will See You Now’ Envisions New Era

The Patient Will See You Now (book)The Patient Will See You Now’ is a book by Dr. Eric Topol that envisions a New Era in healthcare where we consumers take more responsibility for our own health and wellness and have the tools to do so. Often these are smaller, cheaper, and easier to use versions of what doctors have used for years, but digital and in some cases more accurate or beneficial.

Dr. Abigail Zuger wrote a review of Topol’s book for The New York Times and described the overall thesis as “the old days of ‘doctor knows best’ are as good as gone. No longer will doctors control medical data, treatment or profits. Instead, thanks to the newest science, humanity will finally achieve truly democratic health care: Up with patients! ‘Our Bodies, Our Selves’ for all!”

As Tool says in the following video, “What bothers me most about healthcare is the unwillingness to give rightful info to patients.”

Read More …

Tribute to Steve Jobs (1955-2011), iPhone 4S and iPad 2

iSad candle imageEDITOR: This 2011 article is being republished in support of CNN’s documentary, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, which aired the first week of 2016.

With his vision, marketing savvy, attention to design & usability details, and ability to deliver total solutions around complete value chains, Steve Jobs revolutionized almost everything he touched, even turning technology into fashion. Those white earbuds, for example, tell people you are cool. The CNET video below takes us through the ups & downs of a career that changed both the tech industry and our culture at large.

In his 2005 “connecting the dots” Stanford commencement speech, Jobs spoke of finding work you love and the inevitability of death, which he described as “the single most important change agent of life.” Jobs said the end of one life makes room for others and told graduates, “your time is limited, so don‘t waste it living someone else’s life.” He concluded by advising them to “Stay hungry; stay foolish.”

Somehow I find it ironic that Jobs later got a Liver transplant ahead of many others because he was wealthy enough to have access to a private jet to get him there stat. I’m not complaining, just reflecting on this as an example of medical ethics issues that I find difficult & fascinating.
Read More …

Digital Health at CES 2016

Digital Health at CES

EDITOR:  The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the largest trade shows and conferences in the world, with well over 150,000 attendees, including more than 30,000 international attendees from 140 countries. Each January they come to Las Vegas, NV to see the latest tech products from over 3,000 exhibitors or showcase their own. Nowhere else on earth can you see and experience so much in such a short space of time. That’s why I love attending, but now I do it without the expense and hassle of traveling there.

For background, I’ve attended big technology shows like COMDEX & CES as an exhibitor, speaker or attendee for some 30 years, and while still at IBM I organized one of the first Hot Spots (now TechZones). It was for Home Networking just after I introduced IBM to the Connected Home concept (in 1994) and while I held leadership positions in some industry standards groups.

My CES coverage starts with an article by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn about what to expect, which first appeared in Huffington Post. It’s followed by links to Related Articles that you won’t want to miss if you’re a tech geek like me. Read More …

What Caregiving Looks Like, Really

Caring for RobertaAccording to AARP, more than 40 million Americans are unpaid caregivers for elderly family members or friends. On average they spend more than 24 hours a week providing this service, with the value of their time alone estimated at $470 billion a year, and that’s before considering the impact on their career advancement from taking time off, or their own health from the added stress.

To put that $470B into perspective, it’s more than total Medicaid spending ($449B), and close to the annual sales of the four largest U.S. tech firms combined (Apple, Hewlett Packard, IBM and Microsoft), which came to $429B in 2013.

The following six short videos, each just 3 minutes or less, show what caregiving looks like. They’re from a contest sponsored by AARP and the Ad Council to feature the care given by friends and family. But what about those seniors who don’t have a support system? With changing demographics, their numbers are increasing, even as there are fewer left to provide care.

Figaro

This first video, which shows friends taking on the role of “family” caregivers, earned AARP’s top prize.

In the Moment

In this 2nd place video, the brother and sister team of Jeff & Patti work together to help their 92 year-old mom Lulu live in the moment even as she struggles with dementia and the loss of short-term memory.

The Baton – Kaypri Marcus

Kaypri speaks of how thankful she is to have the opportunity to finish her mother’s autobiography about being a southern white woman involved in the civil rights movement. This reminds me of the importance of leaving a legacy and capturing your story while you can. (See related articles here).

The Van

Donating an unneeded van was a random act of kindness, and an unexpected blessing, for this family since their own minivan often needed repair and was on its last leg with more than 270,000 miles.

Roberta’s Home

92 year-old Roberta’s daughter and grandson moved in to help her stay in the home she designed and built. Barbara’s role reversed from daughter to caregiver, and Blake formed a much deeper relationship with his grandmother.

It Takes a Family

This short shows what can happen when a wife becomes a caregiver and then needs to rely on additional help from her children and their spouses.

Share Your Story

I love how personal each of these stories are and would like to hear yours in the comments below or via email, and with your permission I’d like to share it as an article here, with whatever photos or videos you provide.

One Poll surveys 1000 people about Sleep – Interesting

New Survey Explains the Importance of Sleep

By Paula Davis-Laack, Lawyer turned burnout prevention expert

OnePoll Sleep SurveyAre you a sleep worker?

No, not a sleepwalker, but a person who goes to work and attempts to function on too little sleep? It turns out, one-third of American workers are sleep working — not getting enough sleep to function at peak levels, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School.

On the home front, men and women experience interrupted sleep, but often for different reasons. Women are more than twice as likely to interrupt their sleep to care for others, and once they’re up, they are awake longer: 44 minutes, compared with 30 minutes for men.

According to a new sleep survey conducted by One Poll, 1,000 people aged 18 – 55+ were asked a series of questions about their sleep habits. Here are some of the findings: Read More …

How Light from Electronics Affects Sleep

While the warm orange glow of a campfire promotes good sleep, the cool bluish light of a tablet or PC inhibit good sleep.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, it may be your electronics.

As I wrote in How Light effects Melatonin and Sleep, the hormone melatonin helps regulate our sleep & wake cycles (the circadian clock). Production of this hormone is triggered by darkness and inhibited by light, and that helps explain why we have trouble with jet lag, shift work, and winter months with fewer daylight hours. But it’s not just the availability or intensity of light; it’s also the color temperature, and it’s been that way for thousands of years.

We’re genetically programmed to get sleepy at dark and wake in the light of day, but man’s DNA has not evolved as fast as electricity or electronics. The flickering flame of a campfire, with its warm orange glow, plays a role in getting our bodies ready for sleep, as does the bright morning sunlight that helps us wake up. So it’s not surprising that the cool blue light of a television, PC, or tablet does the same thing.

Read More …

Are Our Plates Too Full? A Nation Confronts Addiction

By David L. Katz

Earlier this month, thanks largely to the influence and convening power of Dr. Mehmet Oz, the nation was invited to talk about addiction. Among those weighing in to lend support, on air and via social media, was the nation’s Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy.The National Night of Conversation - about Addiction

The symbol chosen for the campaign was an empty plate, the image meant to convey that this night — the conversation and related food for thought — matter more than the food. Something additional suggests itself to me, however, especially as I try to get this column written (as I promised I would): catch up and then keep up with demands as furious and frenetic as a swarm of bees. Maybe our plates are generally way too full.

I really have no cause to complain on my own behalf. Yes, I am too busy, and yes, I do often feel like Sisyphus. But I have a loving family and plenty of support. Many are not so fortunate. Read More …

Enjoy Aging! And What’s Going On With Your Body

Enjoy Aging!

By Alfred Stallion

Elderly Couple
Aging is a fact of life and part of this is a change in your body’s ability to handle certain tasks, an increase in vulnerability to illness, and a variety of other conditions that can affect your ability to do things that were once straightforward. By understanding the natural changes that occur in your body with age, you can expect them and adjust accordingly, ensuring that you enjoy an active and happy life. Read More …

Sleep Problems in Dementia

How to Manage Sleep Problems in Dementia

Click image to view original article.

Sleep problems are common in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. They are also a common source of tension for family caregivers, because when your spouse or parent with Alzheimer’s doesn’t sleep well, this often means that you don’t sleep well.

To make matters even worse, not getting enough sleep can worsen the behavior and mindset of someone with dementia. Of course, this is true for those of us who don’t have Alzheimer’s as well: we all become more prone to emotional instability and irritation when we’re tired. Studies have also shown that even younger healthy people perform worse on cognitive tests when they are sleep-deprived. Read More …

Transforming Our Flawed Healthcare System

Data shows how most of healthcare’s inflation has resulted from increased administrative spendingData shows how most of healthcare’s inflation has resulted from increased administrative spending.

According to a Forbes article by Dave Chase, “The current U.S. healthcare system is a deeply flawed and wasteful system that has caused enormous damage to our economy and society. It has decimated household incomes, retirement accounts, education budgets, government services budgets, and more. It’s estimated that nearly half of all spending in the current healthcare system is waste. However, a generational transformation is happening right now to change this system.” Read More …

Secrets of the Brain – from cradle to grave

My interest in the brain started with an understanding how sleep affects health and performance; so I was especially inspired by the PBS programs I share in this post. They help us understand how wonderful and adaptable this three pound organ is, how our abilities and personalities are formed, and how external forces impact our choices and even our politics. The videos will give you new perspectives of mental health, whether you have an aging loved one with Alzheimer’s or a young child with a learning disability. Read More …

Chipping Away at Healthcare Special Interests Yet?

Is it just “One Step Forward and Two Steps Back?” or is something bigger happening?

Last week I read an excellent article in Huffington Post by Charles Francis, and it inspired today’s post about public interests versus special interests. In this article I’ll reflect on the healthcare progress consumers are making despite politicians working against them. But first, more on the obstacles we face.

Special Interests Pull Puppet Strings

In How Mindfulness Meditation Can Transform Health Care, Charles examines the need to change consumer behavior toward healthier lifestyles, so I thought about the role of incentives and awareness education. I’ve written about that before, but today I’ll take a broader look at the many factors influencing the health and productivity of our nation’s workforce and why I remain guardedly optimistic that we’ll overcome political corruption. Included are links to many related articles and this list of over 130 past articles on healthcare policy. Read More …

Healthcare Robots – a growing collection

Google"s Robot?With arguably the largest aging population relative to its total, Japan leads the world in the production of healthcare robots as a way to cope with the growing need for eldercare and shrinking numbers of working people left to give that care. It’s not surprising that many of the robots featured in this collection originate from Japan.

Below are dozens of robot images, followed by images representing 8 videos that you can watch by clicking on each image. The list of related articles will expand over time as we discover new and interesting articles on robots. Comment below if you find one you’d like to share. Read More …

FUTURE: “Smart Skin” monitors Vital Signs

The following 2011 story of nano-scale technology caught my eye but may need an introduction. It’s about the ability to embed sensors and other electronic components into a flexible film that’s half the thickness of a human hair, can be applied like a temporary tattoo, and is worn with comfort.

Updated Video from November 2015


The “smart skin” can be packed with micro-circuits including sensors, receivers, transmitters, diodes, transistors, antennas, and miniature solar cells. That means there are many potential applications, including:
Read More …

Texas has the Highest Uninsured Rate

Uninsured Residents - Red States versus Blue StatesThe data is in from a WalletHub analysis of 2015’s States with the highest & lowest uninsured rates, and as an Austin resident, I’m again embarrassed to say that Texas has the highest uninsured rate.

Having insurance is vital to the health of your family and your wallet. It can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket medical expenses, the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the U.S. Today, however, 11.7 percent of all Americans — many of whom earn a low income — remain without coverage.

For the second year in a row, WalletHub’s analysts drew upon the most reliable data to estimate the rates of uninsured pre- and post-Obamacare for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. For a broad perspective of those rates, they broke the national figures down to the state level and other categories, including age, race and income level. A summary of their findings are included below. Read More …

Technology, and Parents, can Prevent Drowsy Driving

Parents, Prevent drowsy driving among teens.

1 In 5 Accidents Are Caused By Drowsy Driving. This Group Intends To Get That Number To Zero. Click on image to read Huffington Post article by Alena Hall. (UpperCut Images by Getty Images)

Last week (Nov.1-8) was Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, so I’m a bit late in posting this, using info from two Huffington Post articles.

Data shows that driving after pulling an all-nighter studying or working is as dangerous as driving drunk, with risks for you and everyone around you, but it occurs way too frequently. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively says that some 100,000 police-reported crashes caused by driver fatigue are reported each year, resulting in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. Read More …

Sleep-Deprived or Darkness-Deprived?

Are we sleep-deprived or just darkness-deprived?

By Richard G ‘Bugs’ Stevens, University of Connecticut

Blue light disrupts melatonin production. (Sleeping Boy via www.shutterstock.com)

Blue light disrupts melatonin production. (Sleeping Boy via www.shutterstock.com)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that insufficient sleep is a serious public health concern, because it can lead to many immediate dangers such as car crashes as well as long-term health problems like diabetes. The blame for sleep deprivation is often pinned on our fast-paced, 24/7 lifestyle, made possible by electric lighting at all times of day and night.

But are we really getting too little sleep? Read More …