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This Week in Health: 30-minute nap may reverse the effects of pulling all-nighters

Napping for half an hour the day after pulling an all-nighter appears to be all itiStock

30-minute nap may reverse the effects of pulling an all-nighter

Location of study:France

Study subjects:11 healthy men between the ages of 25 and 32

Results: Whether you’re a new parent, a student cramming for exams, or just a night owl – a poor night’s sleep can knock you off your game the following day. The good news is that a quickie nap may be enough to reverse the negative health effects. In a recent study, researchers found that a crummy night’s sleep significantly raised stress-related hormones. However, a 30-minute nap the following day appeared to restore these levels.


Significance:“There’s clear data that getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night on a regular basis gives you this all the time, so napping isn’t some new recommended lifestyle,” says Orfeu Buxton, an associate professor in the Department of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State who was not involved in the study. “This is a one-time fix in an extreme circumstance. If you’re stuck and only get two hours of sleep, taking a nap the next day will probably feel a lot better than the third, fourth or fifth cup of coffee.”

Meditation appears to stall age-related brain changes

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: 100 Americans aged 24 to 77

Results:Loss of gray matter in the brain is a natural side effect of human aging. However, when compared to 50 people who didn’t meditate, 50 others who regularly did exhibited a less severe decline in gray matter. After reviewing the brain scans of both groups, researchers say the results appear “promising.”

Significance: “The main implication would be that this warrants further research,” says co-author Dr. Florian Kurth, who clarifies that the study is unable to prove a cause-and-effect relationship. Even so, it certainly begs the question: Does meditation help slow down age-related atrophy in the brain? Kurth says more research is needed to answer that question.

New telescopic contact lens makes its debut


Results: A first-of-its-kind telescopic contact lens made its debut last week at the 2015American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting. In addition to the lens, researchers also unveiled corresponding glasses that allow the wearer to easily switch between normal and magnified vision. Winking the right eye magnifies vision, while winking the left prompts a return to regular sight. The lens, which is still in the research phase, is a particularly attractive potential treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Significance: Researchers say the telescopic lens has been in the works for several years. They’re still ironing out the kinks, which include improving image quality while providing the eye with a continual oxygen supply. If all goes well, the device could be a game changer for people with AMD, as well as other visually impaired people.

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