Going to sleep late at night may have a significant negative impact on your health. A new study has found that “night owls” who head to bed late and wake late face a much greater chance of developing diabetes than “early birds.” In an analysis involving more than 63,000 subjects published September 12 in the Annals of Internal Medicine , “evening people” had a 72 percent greater risk of diabetes. They were also more likely to drink alcohol in higher quantities, have a low-quality diet, get fewer hours of sleep per night, and be current smokers. In addition, their weight, BMI, and physical activity rates were more likely to be in an unhealthy range. “Overall, the night owls were 54 percent more likely to have an unhealthy lifestyle compared to the early birds,” says the lead study author, Sina Kianersi, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. “After we account for health factors such as weight, physical activity and diet, however, their diabetes risk drops from 72 percent to 19 percent. This means that much of the increased risk is due to their unhealthy habits.” Sleep Habits Themselves May Affect Health Risks The 19 percent greater diabetes risk due to unhealthy habits is still significant, however, according to Dr. Kianersi. The result suggests that other factors, such as sleep patterns themselves and their effect on metabolism and hormones, may contribute to diabetes risk. For Sun Kim, MD, an endocrinologist and an associate professor of medicine at Stanford Medicine in California, the findings support previous research showing a link between sleep itself and health outcomes. “Short sleep duration and/or sleep deprivation [for example] have been associated with increased diabetes risk,” says Dr. Kim, who was not involved in this study. “Although mechanisms are still being investigated, short sleep may increase hormones for appetite and stress and increase inflammation, which can lead to insulin resistance, a known mechanism to worsen glucose control.” Kianersi adds that his team intends to explore how genetics may help explain this higher risk. “Recent discoveries actually show that there are more than 350 genetic markers or genetic signs in our DNA that can make us a night owl or an early bird,” he says. “We really want to understand what is the mechanism that increases the risk among night owls even after accounting for their unhealthy habits.” How Sleep Preferences Make a Difference For this study, scientists sought to understand how sleep preferences may influence diabetes risk. Every person has a natural inclination for when they prefer to sleep called a “chronotype.” Your chronotype may be early-to-bed, early-to-rise; late-to-bed, late-to-rise; or somewhere in between. Chronotypes are influenced by genetics and driven by circadian rhythms, the body’s natural processes that are guided by light and dark during a 24-hour period. Kianersi and his team looked at data from 63,676 female nurses (ages 45 to 62) who self-reported their chronotype and health factors, including diet quality, weight and body mass index, sleep timing, smoking behaviors, alcohol use, physical activity, and family history of diabetes. The participants, who were followed for eight years, had no history of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes at the study starting point in 2009. Just over 1 in 10 of the participants reported having a “definite evening” chronotype, and about 35 percent reported having a “definite morning” chronotype. The remaining population, around half, were labeled as “intermediate,” meaning they identified as neither a morning nor an evening type or as being only slightly more one than the other. Study authors noted that among participants with the healthiest lifestyles, only 6 percent had evening chronotypes, while among those with the unhealthiest lifestyles, 25 percent were evening chronotypes. They also found the association between evening chronotype and diabetes risk only in those nurses who worked day shifts and not those who worked overnight shifts. The authors theorize that this association may be due to work schedules that do not align with a person’s chronotype. The increased diabetes risk, then, may be explained by a mismatch between chronotype and work timing rather than the chronotype itself. “A potential solution to this could be for individuals to work schedules that align with their personal chronotype to promote a healthier lifestyle,” says Lauren Amaya, PhD, a teaching associate professor and diabetes specialist at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. If evening chronotypes are allowed to sleep and wake closer to their circadian clock — for example, by working an evening shift rather than a morning shift — this may lead to a more consistent schedule that better matches their circadian sleep-wake timing, adds Fiona Barwick, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences specializing in sleep medicine at Stanford Health Care in Redwood City, California. “This may in turn lead to less ‘shift work,’ more sleep, less need for sleep aids, more appropriate meal timing, and a healthier diet — all of which would reduce risk to cardiometabolic health,” says Dr. Barwick. Change Lifestyle Habits to Lower Risk While people may be genetically hardwired to be night owls or early birds, the researchers suggest that “evening people” can still take steps to improve the unhealthy habits that raise diabetes risk, such as modifying their diet, losing weight, exercising more, reducing drinking, and quitting smoking. Dr. Amaya, who was not involved in this research, points out that the study was limited in that it included primarily middle-aged white female nurses with a relatively high level of education and socioeconomic status who did shift work in hospitals. “It would be interesting to replicate this study with other populations of individuals, such as men, nonwhite racial and ethnic groups, and those from lower socioeconomic statuses, all of which are factors associated with an elevated type 2 diabetes risk,” she says.
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A hemorrhoidectomy is a procedure to remove hemorrhoids, swollen veins in or around the anus. Hemorrhoids can cause symptoms such as bleeding, pain, itching, burning, and irritation. Hemorrhoids affect 1 in 20 Americans, notes the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) , and about half of people over age 50 have them. Sometimes, hemorrhoids don’t cause any problems and don’t need to be treated . But if they become painful or result in heavy bleeding, a hemorrhoidectomy can offer relief, according to MedlinePlus . The Hemorrhoidectomy Procedure A hemorrhoidectomy is typically done in a doctor’s office, clinic, or surgical center. You may receive local anesthesia (a small area of your body is numbed), a spinal block (the bottom half of your body is numbed), or general anesthesia (you won’t be conscious). There are different ways to perform the procedure, depending on your condition. In a typical hemorrhoidectomy, a surgeon makes small incisions around the hemorrhoids. A knife, scissors, or cautery pencil (a high-heat instrument) is then used to remove the hemorrhoids. Sometimes, it’s possible to staple a hemorrhoid or put a rubber band around it to block its blood flow, notes the Mayo Clinic . This causes the hemorrhoid to shrink. Other techniques involve injecting a chemical solution or using a laser to shrink hemorrhoids, per MedlinePlus. Talk to your doctor about which procedure is the best option for you. Before a Hemorrhoidectomy Tell your doctor about all medicines you take before having hemorrhoid surgery. You may need to stop taking drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil) , naproxen (Aleve) , oral anticoagulants such as warfarin (Coumadin) , apixaban (Eliquis) , and rivaroxaban (Xarelto) , or clopidogrel bisulfate (Plavix) several days before your procedure. Also, let your doctor know if you smoke before having a hemorrhoidectomy. Smoking can make it harder for your body to heal. You may be told not to eat or drink anything for 6 to 12 hours before the procedure. Follow your doctor’s instructions. After a Hemorrhoidectomy You’ll probably be able to go home the same day as your procedure. Be sure to have someone else drive you. You may experience pain after hemorrhoid surgery. Take the medicines your doctor prescribes to relieve discomfort. Your doctor may also recommend that you take a sitz bath, which involves sitting in a shallow bath of warm water for 15 to 20 minutes, according to UW Health . This helps keep the area clean and increases blood flow to the region. Ask your doctor how often you should do this. Complete recovery usually takes about two weeks, depending on the type and complexity of the procedure. After the procedure, you should try to make diet and lifestyle changes to help reduce the risk of hemorrhoids returning. These may include: Consuming a high-fiber diet Drinking more water Avoiding straining during a bowel movement Exercising often Avoiding long periods of sitting Risks of Hemorrhoidectomy Potential risks of a hemorrhoidectomy include: Infection Bleeding Stool leakage or impaction Problems passing urine due to pain
Fall and winter can be brutal for people with depression . It gets dark early, resulting in far less exposure to mood-brightening sunlight, plus colder temperatures can make you just want to stay in bed. In addition, it’s a time of year filled with the sugar-laden, high-fat holiday foods that are least likely to benefit our mental health. “It’s a challenging time for eaters,” says Drew Ramsey, MD , a nutritional psychiatrist based in New York City. “There’s lots of delicious stuff that oftentimes isn’t so great for our mood.” Atlanta-based Jerlyn Jones, RDN , agrees, pointing out that the relationship between an unhealthy diet and depression is often a vicious cycle. “If you have a poor diet, then you’re going to feel more depressed. And when you feel more depressed, you’re probably going to eat more of those types of foods,” explains Jones. RELATED: 14 Ways to Ease Seasonal Depression The Science Behind How Food Affects Your Mood The good news: Diet is a modifiable risk factor for depression. In other words, simply loading up on whole foods like fruits and vegetables , fish , nuts , legumes , and the like can improve symptoms of this mood disorder for some people, according to a review . Exactly how important is the link between diet and depression? Very, suggests a study from 2021 , which found that people whose diets were high in soda, artificial juice, and other poor-quality foods were 39 percent more likely to experience major depressive episodes than people whose diets were filled with nutrient-dense foods. The problem is that when people feel stressed and depressed, they tend to crave comforting foods that are higher in sugar , salt, and fat, Jones notes. Unfortunately, the instant relief you experience from those foods — especially the sugar-laden ones — dissolves quickly, which then can cause your mood to crash. Not to mention that filling up on so-called “junk food” can make it hard to receive enough of the essential nutrients that the brain needs to function at its best, including B vitamins, folate, and magnesium . “These vitamins and minerals have been inversely associated with depressive disorders,” Jones says. “Foods that are high in different nutrients can make you feel so much better.” A healthy diet can also promote the production of neurotransmitters in the brain, chemical messengers that help regulate mood and emotions. One neurotransmitter shown to be affected by diet is serotonin, which increases calmness and can help regulate mood, Jones says. Best Foods to Choose During Fall and Winter Wondering which healthy cold-weather foods can improve your mood? Experts advise increasing your intake of these five. Pumpkin (and its seeds!) will brighten your winter days.
Brussels Sprouts Are High in Folate These cruciferous vegetables are rich in folate — a B vitamin that helps with mood regulation in the brain, Jones says. Studies have shown that B vitamins like folic acid — a form of folate — may benefit people with depression, according to a meta-analysis . “This nutrient is linked to brain activity and increasing our moods. Eating foods on a daily basis that are high in folate will help significantly improve the way you feel,” Jones says. Try adding raw, shredded Brussels sprouts to salads, or cut them in half, toss them with olive oil and spices, and roast them until brown.
Pomegranates Are Rich in Antioxidants Another great fall food to eat regularly is pomegranate , a fruit high in antioxidants, Jones says. And it’s especially easy to reap this benefit because drinking pomegranate juice can significantly increase the number of antioxidants you take in, Jones notes. In addition to their antioxidant content, pomegranates contain polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory properties, according to a review article . “Inflammation is one of the root causes of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems,” Dr. Ramsey says.
Pumpkins Boast a High Magnesium Content These perennially popular fall fruits contain magnesium, which was linked to a lower risk of depressive symptoms and disorders in one systematic review . Fitting this squash into your diet is easier than you may think — pumpkins are incredibly versatile. Try adding pureed pumpkin to soups, smoothies, and pasta sauces. Or simply snack on pumpkin seeds or toss them in a fall salad. “Pumpkin seeds are really one of our top [food] recommendations,” Ramsey says. RELATED: How to Cook Every Part of a Pumpkin
Sweet Potatoes Are Chock-Full of Vitamins Usually harvested in September and October, sweet potatoes pack several essential nutrients — in particular, vitamin C. A research review concluded that vitamin C may offer numerous mental health benefits, including reducing inflammation and preventing depressive symptoms.
Winter Squash Is High in Vitamin B6 Winter squash comes in many forms — acorn squash, butternut squash, and spaghetti squash, to name a few. And each of them contain high amounts of vitamin B6, a nutrient shown to positively affect mood. One study found that a lower intake of vitamin B6 was associated with an increased risk of depression among more than 3,300 women. More Tips for Healthy Seasonal Fare Ramsey says that colder weather is a good time to consume more soup, especially clam chowders and seafood stews. Dishes that contain mussels, clams, and oysters are dense with nutrients like magnesium, as well as omega-3 fatty acids , another nutrient that research suggests benefits people with depression. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, Ramsey advises swapping sugary holiday desserts for dark chocolate, which is packed antioxidants and fiber. “There’s now some interesting data about how the nutrients in dark chocolate are stimulating but also good for the brain, in the sense that people who eat dark chocolate tend to have less depression,” Ramsey says. Data from a survey of more than 13,000 U.S. adults showed that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, may be tied to a reduced risk of depressive symptoms. Along with avoiding excess sugar, Ramsey advises being mindful of how much alcohol you consume around the holiday season. “There’s a lot of drinking during the holidays, and alcohol can be awful if you have depression,” Ramsey says. “It tends to make people feel better in the short term, and then worse the next day.” If you need help planning good-mood-friendly meals, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s online tool MyPlate offers quizzes and hundreds of recipes to get you started. RELATED: MyPlate: The Ultimate Guide to Healthy Eating (No Calorie-Counting Required!)
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