The Guardian

This News Source Was Added: September 13, 2016
The Content Was Refreshed: 20 Apr 2018 | 19:30:19

Health & wellbeing | The Guardian

Latest Health & wellbeing news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

There’s growing evidence that thinking of yourself as an insomniac is a major part of the problem

Note to publishers: in my view, there’s an unfilled gap in the “wellness” market for a book on how sleep isn’t really that important. In contrast to the message relentlessly promoted by lifestyle gurus these days, this book would argue that four hours a night is probably fine, that caffeine before bed is no big deal, and that even severe sleep deprivation poses no real risk of poor performance, health troubles or early death. Admittedly, this might raise certain ethical issues, since that’s not what the science says. But you know what? Unlike all those other books, this one would help people sleep. Because take it from an intermittent bad sleeper: there’s nothing more likely to keep an insomniac up at night, or turn a good sleeper into an insomniac, than being told it’s completely essential they drift off.

Actually, the ironies of insomnia are even worse than that, because there’s growing evidence that thinking of yourself as an insomniac – having an “insomnia identity”, in the coinage of the sleep researcher Kenneth Lichstein – is a major part of the problem. It’s not just that such a self-image makes it harder to sleep, though doubtless that’s the case. It’s that having an insomnia identity makes life terrible even if, in reality, you’re getting sufficient sleep. In a review of the research published last year, Lichstein concluded that “non-complaining poor sleepers” – who sleep badly but don’t define themselves as insomniacs – don’t suffer the high blood pressure commonly associated with severe sleeplessness. Meanwhile, “complaining good sleepers” – who get enough shut-eye, but are heavily invested in their alleged insomnia – were essentially as tired, anxious and depressed as those who genuinely didn’t sleep.

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Author: Oliver Burkeman
Posted: April 20, 2018, 2:00 pm

You have to concentrate on minimising the effect her barbs have on you, says Annalisa Barbieri, or confront her about it

My sister-in-law is repeatedly nasty to me and I find it upsetting and unjustified. She is over a decade older than me and lives, with her husband, 200 miles away. My husband is the younger child and her only sibling. My sister-in-law is retired, wealthy and has what many would consider an enviable lifestyle.

I have a busy career with lots of travel. I’m pretty competent and have a nice home, am an OK cook and also fairly artistic. I am also the only other female in this family of husbands, nephews and sons. We meet a few times a year, often for a celebratory family meal at my home where I will have cooked. At some point I will be subjected to a vicious attack – possibly a character assassination or a response to some perceived error that I have committed. Each time I am shocked and somewhat incredulous – both that this happens, and also that no one says or does anything about it. I either ignore it or brush it off. Of course I have analysed it and can only conclude that the reasons must be of insecurity, possible jealousy and the need to feel superior to me – to keep me in my place.

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Author: Annalisa Barbieri
Posted: April 20, 2018, 2:00 pm

I have loved her for seven years, and I’m sure my feelings are unrecipriocated, but think I will never meet anyone who can make me feel this way

I have known the love of my life for a number of years: we met on the first day of secondary school, and I have loved her for most of the seven years since then. Nothing has happened between us, I have never even kissed her. Despite not having made an advance, I know these feelings are unreciprocated and have tried to put them behind me. However, I feel trapped by my love for her and recently halted the progression of a promising relationship because of my feelings towards her. Whenever I’m around her, I am reminded of everything that makes her perfect and, despite my best efforts, I fall in love again. We used to be great friends, but we have drifted into different social circles. With the end of A-levels, and university around the corner, we will probably lose contact and if I don’t act now I know I will lose her for ever. I have an urge to express my feelings, but I’m petrified by the thought of rejection. I fear making a fool of myself; it would crush me. I fear that my unrequited love will haunt me after we part. I know I am young, but I feel I will never meet someone else who could make me feel this way.

• When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments that appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed.

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Author: Guardian Staff
Posted: April 20, 2018, 11:00 am

Former pro-cyclist Doug Petty has been bringing cyclists to the Balearic island for more than 50 years to ride the famous hairpin bends on its spectacular mountain roads

Mallorca attracts more than 200,000 roadies a year. Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome are usually credited for popularising winter riding on this Spanish Balearic island, but it’s two others who really put the island on the cycling map, one of them quite literally.

1950s pro cyclist Doug Petty has been bringing cyclists to Mallorca every year for 51 years, and he’s been able to keep them coming because of the lure of two twisting roads built in the late-1920s by local engineer Antoni Parietti, who built the snaking carreteres to attract motor tourists. Sports car drivers still head to the Coll dels Reis and the Cap de Formentor mountain road, but the majority of those now skimming Parietti’s curves are pedal powered.

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Author: Carlton Reid
Posted: April 20, 2018, 10:46 am

What is it like to try for a baby when the medication you take for depression doesn’t mix well with pregnancy?

Throughout my teens, I was adamant I didn’t want children. I thought they were annoying, sticky money pits who had no business being near me. I was a sad and corny teen.

Now I’m 30. I’m still sad, but I’m not broke, and I have a husband. My feelings on the child situation have changed. I’m more open to it now. I think it was a combination of seeing other people with kids and, as I’ve gotten older, having more love to give – or something.

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Author: Amanda Rosenberg for the Establishment
Posted: April 19, 2018, 10:00 am

A restaurant in east London is selling a ‘charcoal-activated vegan croissant’ it claims will help detoxify your body. But the jury’s out on the benefits of eating blackened lumps of carbohydrates

Name: Charcoal croissant.

Appearance: A black croissant.

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Author: Guardian Staff
Posted: April 18, 2018, 1:42 pm

His victory shocked the pundits at the Boston marathon, but to his legions of fans around the world, it was only one in an incredible list of achievements


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Author: Kate Carter
Posted: April 17, 2018, 7:11 am

Tiredness is the new norm – no wonder companies are selling sleep aids from spooning robots to cuddle blankets. How did a restful night become a luxury item?

Rockwell Shah speaks with almost evangelical zeal about sleep. He is the CEO of Pzizz, an app that “designs dynamic audio” to get you to “sleep at the push of a button”; for him, bedtime is a “sleep experience”. Does he use his own app? “Oh my God! All the time.” As a sleep entrepreneur, what is his bedtime routine like – does he swear by camomile tea or special pyjamas? “I have a Purple mattress. I love the darn thing; it’s not like anything you’ve ever experienced with a mattress before, you basically float on top of it.” He does not, he clarifies, have any affiliation to the company. He is just truly that excited about shuteye.

Who can blame him? A good night’s sleep helps our memory, learning and mood. So it is no wonder that an industry of bright-eyed sleep entrepreneurs has awoken around our quest for better, deeper, longer sleep. They are offering everything from sleep trackers to white noise machines and hi-tech pyjamas that claim to create “an advanced sleep system for better rest and recovery”, made from bioceramic material that “absorbs the body’s natural heat and reflects that energy back into the skin”. Then there is a new robot, versed in “thousands of years of Buddhist breathing techniques”, that promises to soothe you to sleep, if only you spoon it. Yours to order for €539 (£466).

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Author: Ellie Violet Bramley
Posted: April 17, 2018, 5:00 am

Diet and lifestyle during the ‘pre-conception’ period can profoundly affect the child’s development, researchers find

Couples who are obese, as well as those who smoke and drink alcohol, could be risking the health of their future children, say experts who are calling for far more awareness of the effects of modern lifestyles on babies in the womb.

A series of three scientific papers in a leading medical journal spell out the consequences of poor diet and lifestyles for the next generation. They urge schools, GPs and nurses to talk to young people and those who may be planning a family about how to be fitter and healthier before they embark on pregnancy.

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Author: Sarah Boseley
Posted: April 16, 2018, 10:30 pm

A great weekend for races and finally some warmth in the London air. As always, come and share your stories below the line

In the last week or so, I’ve seen friends complete 150-odd miles of the Marathon des Sables, triumphantly PB at Brighton marathon, get amazing parkrun PBs and generally be awesome. Having still been in downtime mode after Seville, it’s made me want to pull my metaphorical socks up and get back into training. Well done everyone who raced this weekend - from Tara’s brilliant PB at parkrun (and amazing age grading) to my friends Susie, Sophie, Shaun and Tim for conquering the desert in the MdS. You are all heroes.

My significant achievements in the last week include ice cream eating PBs (both for speed, and quantity, naturally - it’s important to go all in on these things you know) and generally having a lovely time in sunny Barcelona. Oh, and being consoled for being back in London by getting to wield the scanner in junior parkrun yesterday: I tried not to let the power go to my head. I also did a spot of parkrun tourism myself on Saturday, heading over with some teammates to Dulwich Park. And what a glorious day for it was - the first real warmth in the air, a beautiful park, a flat and fast course and bonus cake and prizes. The run was celebrating its sixth birthday and I won a huge gold chocolate medal (the best sort of medal, clearly) and a water bottle for coming third lady. My teammate Mark ran a brilliant PB of 16:54 - a whopping 88% age grading - which bodes well for London next weekend.

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Author: Kate Carter
Posted: April 16, 2018, 7:06 am

He uses my feet to masturbate – but as it’s the only regular pleasure he gets from me, I grin and bear it

My husband and I used to have an adventurous and satisfying sex life, but my interest has waned considerably since reaching menopause. Now I can’t stand the way my husband touches me or his way of initiating sex. I can’t tell him because I’m afraid of offending him, so I grin and bear it – and hate it. There is another thing he does, without asking me if it’s OK. Out of the blue, he wriggles to the bottom of the bed, and uses my feet to masturbate. I don’t like the feeling and I don’t like that he just uses part of my body for his sexual satisfaction without it being a mutual thing. But it’s the only regular pleasure he gets from me, albeit without my consent. I do love him and I want to make some concessions since I am so uninterested, but I don’t know what to do.

Grinning and bearing it is a good way to completely shut down your sexual interest. Menopause can certainly unbalance or reduce the availability of hormones that help a woman enjoy sex and achieve arousal and orgasm, but it should not end your sex life by any means. Talk with your doctor and try to relieve your menopausal symptoms and boost your oestrogen and testosterone. Most importantly, make it a priority to reconnect erotically with your husband by being honest about your responses. No one feels like having sex with a partner who is consistently turning them off. He needs education.

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Author: Pamela Stephenson Connolly
Posted: April 16, 2018, 7:00 am

Have several email addresses, use folders and reply immediately if you can, says Sharmadean Reid

‘Inbox zero” is a mythical status that is merely another way for technology to reduce us to anxiety-riddled slaves to The Machine. It’s almost impossible to achieve, but it’s true that controlling your inbox (and not letting it control you) is the secret to productivity.

If you’re freelance, you probably have several email addresses. Consolidate them into one inbox. I highly recommend an email address for shopping only. A different email address for work will save you weeks of deleting irrelevant messages. If you’ve had an email address since you were 12, as I have, it’s probably 90% spam hell. Don’t attempt the sisyphean task of unsubscribing from it all at once – just do a few at a time.

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Author: Sharmadean Reid
Posted: April 16, 2018, 6:00 am

Patents by female inventors from the 1890s reveal the creative ways women made their body mobile through clothing

Much has been written about the bicycle’s role as a vehicle of women’s liberation. But far less is known about another critical technology women used to forge new mobile and public lives – cyclewear. I have been studying what Victorian women wore when they started cycling. Researching how early cyclists made their bodies mobile through clothing reveals much about the social and physical barriers they were navigating and brings to light fascinating tales of ingenious inventions.

Cycling was incredibly popular for middle- and upper-class women and men in the late 19th century, and women had to deal with distinct social and sartorial challenges. Cycling exaggerated the irrationality of women’s conventional fashions more than any other physical activity. Heavy, layered petticoats and long skirts caught in spokes and around pedals. Newspapers regularly published gruesome accounts of women dying or becoming disfigured in cycling crashes due to their clothing.

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Author: Kat Jungnickel
Posted: April 16, 2018, 5:00 am

Reality TV series and films expose young people to tobacco imagery, MPs told

Contestants’ cigarette habits in the reality TV show Love Island and Winston Churchill’s cigars in the Oscar-winning film Darkest Hour inspire children to take up smoking, anti-tobacco campaigners have warned MPs.

Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies said children in the UK are still exposed to significant amounts of on-screen smoking. They cited a rise in smoking in Oscar-nominated films and research that showed cigarettes appeared in Love Island every five minutes on average, with the Lucky Strike brand appearing 16 times.

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Author: Robert Booth
Posted: April 15, 2018, 12:30 pm

As we get older, compatibility is about more than good sex and emotional support. But turn to some insomnia cures before you give up

The dilemma I have a new partner after my wife died three years ago. We are very compatible and happy together, emotionally and sexually, but the one distressing issue is our different sleeping requirements. I need a good, solid, uninterrupted nine hours and an early night, otherwise I get extremely irritable. She is more of a night owl, often waking in the night to use her iPad or even make a cup of tea. She has an amazing ability to catnap and fall asleep seemingly instantly, whereas I need a long period of peace and quiet before dropping off. I am also a light sleeper and her snoring is a problem for me. Earplugs don’t work. I accept that I’m a prodigious snorer myself, but that doesn’t seem to bother her so much. Do I carry
on retreating to the spare room, or is there another solution as I’d rather we stay together? We don’t live together (yet), but after a few days spent with each other,
I need a couple of days alone to catch up on my sleep!

Mariella replies And you say you’re compatible? There’s more to a relationship than good sex and emotional back-up. When we mature, compatibility is about more intimate and intricate stuff than simply rubbing along during daylight hours. It’s all very well coexisting when you’re wide awake and rational, but what about when you’re barely conscious, immensely vulnerable and aching for a good night’s kip? That’s when coupledom is properly put to the test, and I should know.

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Author: Mariella Frostrup
Posted: April 15, 2018, 5:00 am

Drinking is as harmful as smoking, and more than five drinks a week lowers life expectancy, say researchers

Drinking will shorten your life, according to a study that suggests every glass of wine or pint of beer over the daily recommended limit will cut half an hour from the expected lifespan of a 40-year-old.

Those who think a glass of red wine every evening will help keep the heart healthy will be dismayed. The paper, published in the Lancet medical journal, says five standard 175ml glasses of wine or five pints a week is the upper safe limit – about 100g of alcohol, or 12.5 units in total. More than that raises the risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm (a ruptured artery in the chest), heart failure and death.

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Author: Sarah Boseley Health editor
Posted: April 13, 2018, 6:09 am

World Food Programme teams up with creative agency to encourage public to create meals from food that would otherwise go to waste

Consumers are being urged to use their imagination and create recipes from food that would otherwise go to waste, as part of a campaign to raise money to tackle global hunger.

The World Food Programme has launched a social media movement, #RecipeforDisaster, with the aim of making the public more conscious of the food waste they generate. It is hoped the initiative, which is being launched in Britain first before being rolled out globally, will encourage people to share recipes online and make a donation.

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Author: Rebecca Smithers Consumer affairs correspondent
Posted: April 12, 2018, 6:00 am

Failing to match educational accomplishments causes distress similar to a divorce, says study

Men who fail to match or exceed their parents’ educational achievements suffer levels of psychological distress similar to the impact of divorce, while women are largely unaffected, according to new research.

Researchers at the University of Oxford analysed data from more than 50,000 people across the UK and 27 other mainly European countries to compare their psychological states with their educational achievements.

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Author: Sally Weale Education correspondent
Posted: April 9, 2018, 11:01 pm

Do we have an early gold medal for this year’s worst ad featuring a runner? Come gawp, and then share your weekend exploits below the line as always

After last week’s hot news from the University of Running Studies, today’s Monday debrief comes to you from the College of Terrible Ideas (Running Department). Ladies and gentlemen, presenting Mo Farah’s latest work ...

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Author: Kate Carter
Posted: April 9, 2018, 6:00 am

Two Sustrans staff members explain how offering residents of a women’s hostel the freedom of cycling is helping to improve their mental wellbeing

A cycling session at Queen Mary homeless women’s hostel in London starts with some reflection in the tea room. Eleven women discuss how they’re doing this week, how the cycling went for them last week and what they’re hoping to build on in today’s session. Then they push their bikes to a local basketball court to practise in the safety of an off-road environment. Supported by instructors from Westminster council’s training team, they practise riding by themselves; pushing off, cycling in a straight line, looking over one shoulder, turning, keeping going.

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Author: Lucy Colbeck and Emilie Charlesworth
Posted: April 6, 2018, 6:15 am

There are many diets you can follow if you want to live more healthily, but it’s hard to know which has the best long-term effects? Luckily, a team of experts has done the research

Losing weight is a common new year’s resolution. Even when dressed up as a pledge to eat more healthily, it can be tinged with self-loathing. Those pigs in blankets, mince pies and Baileys. Why, oh why? But at least anyone who wants to improve their diet has a fantastic resource to help them. With perfect timing, a US panel of experts in diet, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and food psychology has scrutinised and ranked 40 diets. Its listings, which are produced annually, show which diets are best for short- and long-term weight loss, which are easiest to follow, which you are most likely to stick with – and which are unsafe because they don’t supply enough nutrients.

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: January 5, 2018, 4:18 pm

A new study suggests canine-lovers could be 23% less likely to die from heart disease – or it could just be that healthier people prefer dogs

Dogs really are our best friends, according to a Swedish study that says canine ownership could reduce heart disease. A study of 3.4 million people between the ages of 40 and 80 found that having a dog was associated with a 23% reduction in death from heart disease and a 20% lower risk of dying from any cause over the 12 years of the study. Previous studies have suggested dogs relieve social isolation and depression – both linked to an increased risk of heart disease and early death.

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: December 4, 2017, 7:00 am
More than a quarter of new fathers in a new study showed significant levels of depression – what are the causes, and what can they do about it?

Men don’t go through pregnancy or childbirth. Their hormone levels don’t nosedive. They don’t get sore nipples. What exactly have they got to be depressed about? Quite a lot, according to research from Sweden showing that, over the past 10 years, a significant number of men have struggled with the transition to fatherhood.

This latest research tries to quantify just how many men get postnatal depression. Previous studies have found between 4% and 10% of men, while, in this smallish sample of 447 Swedish fathers who volunteered (and may therefore not represent your average dad), a surprising 28% of men had symptoms that scored above mild levels of depression. Overall, 4% had moderate depression. Fewer than one in five fathers who were depressed sought help, even though a third of those had thought about harming themselves. While women in the UK are often asked a series of questions that screen for postnatal depression (which affects up to 13% of women), the mental health of fathers is rarely assessed.

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: November 13, 2017, 8:00 am
If you have sensitive skin, doctors recommend moisturisers without fragrance or allergic ingredients, but terms such as ‘hypoallergenic’ and ‘dermatologist-recommended’ are often just marketing tools

What do you look for in a body moisturiser? Is it the smell, how smooth it leaves your skin feeling, or how much it costs? If you are attracted by terms such as “dermatologist recommended” or “hypoallergenic”, you may be disappointed. A study of the top 100 best-selling whole body moisturisers found that not only did prices vary by 9,400% but that 95% of the products claiming to be dermatologist-recommended had at least one ingredient that could cause an allergy. Of the hypoallergenic moisturisers, 83% contained a substance on the allergen list of the North American Contact Dermatitis Group (NACDG). The most common potential allergy-causing ingredients were fragrance mix and paraben mix (a preservative).

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: October 30, 2017, 7:00 am

A new report suggests that young people are aware of their parents’ drinking – and it may well have an impact on their relationship with alcohol. So should you keep booze out of the family home?

When you’re drinking wine at home, don’t look as if you’re enjoying it – at least not if you have kids. How much you drink, how often you say: ‘Ah, that’s nice,’ while imbibing and whether you use alcohol as a reward or coping mechanism can all encourage adolescents to drink, according to a report last week from the Institute of Alcohol Studies.

In case you think it’s OK for teenagers to drink, the Department of Health advises children have an alcohol-free life until the age of 15 and only one drink a week until they are 18. In 2009, Prof Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer at the time, warned that “exposing children to drink-fuelled events” was one of the root causes of the UK’s drinking problem.

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: October 23, 2017, 6:00 am
This News Source Was Added: September 13, 2016
The Content Was Refreshed: 20 Apr 2018 | 19:30:19
Last Modified: January 12, 2018