January 3, 2020

Weekend reads: Your bedroom might be too warm for good sleep

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    What's the ideal temperature for your bedroom? Some people prefer to sleep in a warm bedroom, while others like it cold—but which temperature is best for your sleep? The answer, according to research, is a cold bedroom, James Hamblin writes for The Atlantic. One study of people with a sleep disorder found that those who slept in a 61-degree room slept longer than those who slept in a 75-degree room. The researchers also found that those who slept in the colder room were more alert the next morning. According to Hamblin, sleeping in heat runs counter to the physical changes that your body undergoes—namely, cooling temperatures in your brain and core—as you go to sleep. Hamblin writes, "Keeping a bedroom hot essentially fights against this process." In turn, experts suggest keeping your bedroom temperature lower than the daytime temperature of your house. However, exact measurements vary; the National Sleep Foundation recommends between 60 and 67 degrees, while one neurologist in Virginia told Health.com 65 degrees is ideal, and others advise no warmer than 64 degrees.

    Study suggests kids who have dogs have lower odds of developing schizophrenia. People who had dogs as children may have a lower risk of developing schizophrenia as adults, according to a study published in PLOS One. For the study, researchers looked at 396 schizophrenic patients and 381 bipolar patients at Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore and compared them with 594 people who did not have bipolar disorder. The patients also recorded whether they had a dog or cat in their house as children and, if so, when they had the most recent contact with the pet. The researchers found that, after adjusting for other characteristics, exposure to a dog at any point during childhood was associated with a 24% reduced risk for schizophrenia. There was no significant effect related to cat exposure, nor was there any effect on the risk of developing bipolar disorder. According to Robert Yolken, lead author on the study and a professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, the researchers "don't know the mechanism," but one possible explanation "is that having a dog in the house causes a different microbiome and changes the likelihood of developing a psychiatric disorder."

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    Hate small talk? You might want to read this. We've all been in situations where we tried to avoid small talk, but research shows these seemingly trivial interactions may be essential to establishing deeper relationships and navigating basic life tasks. Small talk for years was considered the "lowest form of speech, mere space filler to ward off silence," David Roberts writes for Vox. But in the 1970s, sociolinguists started studying the phenomenon and found that small talk is not just critical to establishing friendships, but is "also important in a whole range of social, commercial, and professional settings," Roberts writes. Roberts explains that speech can serve different purposes: Onone level, it is used to communicate information, but on another level, it's a social behavior. When we consider small talk as a form of speech, we can recognize how it prioritizes social function over communicating ideas. "Think of this exchange: 'How's it going?' 'Oh, pretty good.' There's not zero semantic content in there…But the primary function of those speech acts is …to… make contact, reaffirm shared membership in a common tribe,…show concern, and so forth," Roberts writes. "These are not unimportant things, not 'small' at all, really."

    What it's like to use intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular diet plans, mostly because "it's pretty simple"—but it's not without its side effects, Julia Ries reports for the Huffington Post. One form is the 16:8 diet, in which you fast for 16 hours and eat within an eight-hour window. Another is the 5:2 diet, in which you cut back on calories for only two days each week. But restricting your calories can be a shock to the body and cause a lot of side effects, Ries reports. Some people experience bad hunger pangs when they first start the diet because their body is used to being fueled throughout the day, though these likely will dissipate as you adjust. Your energy levels and your mood will likely fluctuate as well. Research has shown that some people can feel fatigued, irritable, and depressed after starting the diet. This too will likely change as you get used to the diet, according to Ries. But does the diet actually work? Experts are torn. Some say it won't be that helpful for weight loss because fasters don't necessarily restrict calories. Still, others say weight loss happens because they consume fewer calories during the restricted times.

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