Health & Science

Health and Science news

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

I'm Mary Louise Kelly in Washington where in the Rose Garden today President Trump had to defend his nominee to lead the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. That would be the position known as the drug czar.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends an average of eight hours of sleep per night for adults, but sleep scientist Matthew Walker says that too many people are falling short of the mark.

"Human beings are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent gain," Walker says. "Many people walk through their lives in an underslept state, not realizing it."

This archipelago in the Gulf of Alaska is home to one of the busiest commercial fishing ports in the country. Inside the Ocean Beauty seafood plant in Kodiak, where a maze of conveyer belts carry gutted salmon past workers in hairnets and gloves, manager James Turner ticks off everything that contributes to his monthly electricity bill: canning machines, pressure cookers, freezers lights.

"We use a lot of power here," he says.

Brain imaging studies have a diversity problem.

That's what researchers concluded after they re-analyzed data from a large study that used MRI to measure brain development in children from 3 to 18.

Like most brain imaging studies of children, this one included a disproportionate number of kids who have highly educated parents with relatively high household incomes, the team reported Thursday in the journal Nature Communications.

For the first time, scientists have caught two neutron stars in the act of colliding, revealing that these strange smashups are the source of heavy elements such as gold and platinum.

From fires and hurricanes, to confrontational politics — with all that's been going on, it's no wonder the American Psychological Association found an increase in Americans' stress levels over the last year.

Our constant checking of smartphones — with the bombardment of news and social media — can amp up our anxiety. So, why not use your device to help you disconnect?

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Floating Away Your Anxiety And Stress

Oct 16, 2017

When I mentioned to a friend that my baseline neurosis has evolved from daily stress into anxiety, her response was – "Go for a float!"

A float?

Yes — spend an hour in a dark, soundproof room floating in a body-temperature warm pool. "The heavy salt concentration does the work for you," my friend told me. "You just lie there and meditate."

As a doctor wary of overprescribing medications, I was intrigued by the idea that floating can combat stress and anxiety, but I wanted to know if there's any science to back up this claim.

Julayne Smithson was working an overnight shift in the Intensive Care Unit at the Kaiser Permanente hospital in Santa Rosa, Calif., when massive wildfires started racing through the city late last Sunday.

Smithson had no idea how close they were. She was too busy taking care of her patient. Then, she says, "One of the nurses came up to me and she said, 'Julayne, I'm sorry, but your house is not going to make it.'"

Since the beginning of time, humans have been searching for ways to make ourselves feel better fast. Unfortunately, history has shown that many of those ways — cannibalism, cocaine tooth drops, ingesting heavy metals — left us sick, broke, or both. Yet we keep looking for that fast cure.

Pages