Tagged: health

Science Tuesday: Pulling all-nighters doesn’t help you cram

By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer

When I took my core classes at the beginning of my college career, I pulled all nighters studying for my exams for days at a time. I made immense study guides, until my TA told me that my 32-page guide was equivalent to a grad student’s. My memorization isn’t the best (remember my issue with the Memory Game?) and I didn’t do too hot on my exams.

Turns out, according to a series of recent studies, like one presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society earlier this week, lack of sleep is detrimental to remembering things like test answers and where you put your keys.

Sleep, according to the study, not only helps us remember what we did in the past, but also reminds us of what we want to do in the future. Susanne Diekelmann of the University of Tübingen and her colleagues found that there are two ways to remember our intentions. One can be if we internally recite what we want to do, like repeating that “Parenthood” is airing tonight and you need to watch it, or you can store your intentions in the memory network. If it’s stored well enough, then you won’t have to internally remind yourself that your show is coming on later that day.

Diekelmann and her researchers made these discoveries through word pairing: half of the participants were told that they’d have to remember material later and then were either instructed to sleep for two full nights or were kept awake one night and were allowed to sleep the second night. Diekelmann found that the subjects who slept both nights performed better on the test.

I’ve always claimed to be a night owl, because it’s true — I work better at night. But it’s also true that when I don’t get enough rest, I bomb my exams. No amount of coffee could help me there (and trust, me, I’ve tried). So take a break, study with enough time, and make sure you get a good night’s rest. You’re going to need it!


Science Tuesday: Pee in my pool and you’ll die (literally)

By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer

Spring has finally revealed itself to Boston (well sort of). I can only think of all the fun things I’ll do once it really becomes warm out. I’ll wear flip-flops and I’ll hide under beach umbrellas, and the pool will become my second home.

As a kid, I thought I could be a mermaid, if I really wanted to, so I did what any nerdy kid would have done — I adapted. I got a pair of swimming flippers, wore blue, shiny swimsuits,  goggles and earplugs. Yep, I was that weird, nerdy Indian chubster who thought she was a fish. So when I said I lived in the pool, I mean it, especially during the hot summer months. My cousins and I stayed in the pool for hours and never got out, except when we were hungry. And I’m trying to beat around the bush, but (here it goes) I know we all probably just peed in the pool between snack times. What was the harm, right? We’re just kids playing ‘Colors’ and ‘Silent Pass’ and ‘Spider’ and we don’t have time to waste to get out of the pool and go the bathroom. The world was our oyster, so what did the pool become? Well, it was the deep ocean and a playground and the Seven Seas where we sailed in a ship, but it also became a potty.

My logic was, ‘Well, the chlorine will kill all the bacteria anyway,’ but according to a study published in Environmental Science and Technology, researchers from China Agricultural University and Purdue University found that when uric acid hits the chlorinated pool, it creates two chemical byproducts: cyanogen chloride and thrichloramine.

Okay, big science words that mean nothing to the average person, but according to Discover, when these chemicals are inhaled, they can affect organs like the lungs, heart and the central nervous system. It turns out, we were all swimming in a toxic waste. And I say ‘we’ because I know you all peed in the pool at least once as a kid, so don’t even play.

In the study, researchers looked at the different levels of cyanogen chloride and trichloramine in correlation to the ratio of the precursors, the pH and the temperature of the water, io9 reports. They also looked into swimming pools that already had these two chemicals and found that when they added more uric acid, the cyanogen chloride increased as well, while trichloramine varied in increase levels.

So, I’m thinking that I’m going to avoid all public pools from now on, but I don’t think I can avoid the seashore. There are all kinds of animals living in the ocean anyway doing God knows what. If they can survive, so can I. After all, I’m a mermaid, remember? I’ll adapt, just not in the kiddie pool.

Lookin’ Great and Feeling Sexy: What To Do When Problems Arise

By Erica Schwartz

Better this than nothing at all./PHOTO VIA Erica Schwartz

Better this than nothing at all./PHOTO VIA Erica Schwartz

Occasionally, we are put into unpleasant situations wherein following our regularly, healthy routines becomes slightly more complicated. Here, I answer some some common scenarios to get you back on track.

Q. Which is better? To skip breakfast or eat an unhealthy one, when there’s nothing else?

A. Eat an unhealthy one. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day; it is essential for boosting your metabolism. I never skip breakfast, no matter how late I wake up.

My rule is to eat a little something every two to three hours, so skipping breakfast is a big no-no. If put into this situation, eat a smaller breakfast of a little bit unhealthier foods and just tone down the grams of fat and sugar later that day. And don’t worry, tomorrow a better breakfast awaits! 

Q. To work out or heal first while sick?

A. Depends. There’s a rule I follow: if you’re sick with a cold, or anything sinus and/or throat-related, go for it. But take a rain check if anything more pressing. When throat-related or sinus-related, working out can actually help energize you back to health. The flu has been invading BU campus the last couple of weeks and, I for one can vouch that kickboxing worked magic on me.

Though please understand that, if you feel like you’re on your deathbed, puking up piles of blood or feeling very dizzy with a fever or something extreme then definitely skip the gym and get yourself to a doctor.

Q. To weigh-in or give it a week after binge eating the night before?

A. Give it a week. We are only human! Every once in a while and unexpectedly, it’ll be hard to pass up on that double burger topped with queso, onions, bacon and jalapeños (sadly, this is an actual dish at Pluckers restaurant).

As long as it is ONLY every once in awhile, you’ll survive, I promise. Just remember not step on the scale that week. Wait until the following week to weigh-in.

Binge eating, especially binge eating on foods high in carbohydrates, causes your body to have extra water retention, making it look like you’re an extra three to seven pounds or so for the next couple of days. Fortunately, as long as you only overeat one day that week and then bounce back into routine immediately following, it’s safe to say that you won’t have to go up a pants size quite yet. It takes a person eating 3,500 extra calories in one day to gain a pound so quickly, so cool your jets.

We all go through tough situations where the right answers seem a little harder to come by. Just remember, it’s one day. As long as these occasional situations don’t turn into everyday situations then you’re fine. Note that the fact that you are even worrying about these situations is already one step ahead of those people who don’t even have the motivation to respect and love their bodies and self.

So keep working at it and I’ll continue to answer more of these common scenarios in the future!

Life Hacks: Places to Study for Upcoming Midterms

Studying can give one a headache, might as well study somewhere nice./PHOTO VIA Flickr user JuditK

By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer

Brace yourselves, midterm season is coming (cue the theme from Psycho).

For some of us, it has already come. For freshmen, it is definitely daunting to realize that this is our first set of midterms — I swear I moved in just yesterday. In most classes, this and the final are the two biggest components when it comes to grading.

I, being the helpful person that I am, have found a couple of tips for you to make full use of the little time you have for studying.

First of all, location is key. Generally, the dorm room isn’t very ideal just because that is where you live. All your food, electronics and anything else that could possibly distract you are there. This only makes it harder for you to focus, which in turn will not help you. Here are a few places where you can sit down and really focus on study material:

1) Melville Lounge, Warren Towers

This is for nighttime studying. If you’re coming out of the dining hall, make a right towards A Tower. You’ll see this sign in gold that says “Melville Lounge”. It’s just the back of the dining hall, but the best part is that it is usually empty. All you have to do is sign in and then you get to sit wherever you want (there are booths available, which are, mind you, always taken at Late Nite). Open from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m.

2) Student Village (StuVi) 2 (Level 26)

If you want to study with a view (and not get distracted), this place is for you. It is a quiet study lounge, so make sure you bring a pair of headphones so as to not disturb anyone. The view is actually really calming (unless you’re afraid of heights, I imagine), so come here to de-stress and get work done. Open all day/night

3) Mugar Memorial Library

Of course, you can’t have a list of study areas without mentioning the library. Just a tip – don’t come here unless you have to (or unless you come during downtime). It’s always packed, which is especially true during midterm/final time. If you do manage to find a space, take advantage of the resources in the library as well as the quiet to finish that paper you chose to procrastinate on. Open from 7 a.m. until 2 a.m.

4) 575 Commonwealth Avenue/HoJo

There’s a lounge on the first floor. However, a little known secret is that there is another lounge on the top floor of 575 Commonwealth Avenue/HoJo. This study lounge is another alternative with a great view. There are options for a noise-permitting study area and a quiet study area. The view of Fenway and Backbay are also extremely pleasant to look at, so there’s that.

Additionally, make sure to take some vitamins so you feel your best while studying because, let’s face it, nothing is worse than studying while you’re sick. Staying healthy and well-rested is key, along with all those other necessary tools (i.e., notebooks, study guides, books, etc.)

Best of luck to all of you and hopefully we all make it through with our GPAs — and brains — intact.

If any of you have other study space suggestions, comment below!

Science Tuesday: A cure for Alzheimer’s?

A healthy brain versus a brain with Alzheimer's/ PHOTO VIA alz.org

A healthy brain versus a brain with Alzheimer’s/ PHOTO VIA alz.org

By Christina Janansky, Staff Writer

Today, more than 5.4 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Research. And, unless some method of controlling or curing Alzheimer’s is discovered soon, a predicted 15 million Americans could live with the debilitating disease by 2050.

However, a recent MSN article suggests a new method of preventing the growing Alzheimer’s epidemic might lie in the near future.

Scientists are experimenting with a new Alzheimer’s treatment called deep brain stimulation, or DBS. Researchers hope the new approach—also known as a “brain pacemaker”—will slow the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s and replace current drugs and implants, according to the MSN article.

The 5-hour operational process, however, is anything but simple, as described in the article; small electrical wires are implanted in areas of the brain after several holes are drilled in the patient’s skull. While this new experimental method will not target the onset of Alzheimer’s, scientists hope it will slow the progression of memory loss and damage in patients.

Researchers do not know how long the new treatment’s effects will last. In fact, they are not sure the treatment will be successful at all. One patient of the treatment, a Canadian man who has had the implants for four years, shows promising results—his condition since the implants has not deteriorated. However, scientists cannot certainly attribute his success to DBS without further study.

In the meantime, several dozen people with early-staged Alzheimer’s will be implanted with the pacemakers in the upcoming months. These patients will be closely monitored and studied for the next several years.

In the MSN article, researchers at Ohio State University explained how constant electrical stimulation of memory-linked brain circuits might keep neural networks active for longer. This, they hope, will hinder the damaging effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

DBS has been used previously and in a variety of patients, including those suffering from Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. However, this is the first time it is being used with Alzheimer’s patients.

Scientists are not only testing DBS in major diseases and illnesses such as these, but are also exploring its effects in parts of the brain that are linked with depression and appetite.

Although it’s still too soon to say, DBS may be the answer not only to treating Alzheimer’s, but also to curing and preventing it.

Who knows? It might be a cure-it-all in regards to other mental illnesses, imbalances and functions. Only time will tell.