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The Wall Street Journal - January 14, 2013

Stomach, Back or Side? How You Slumber Can Aggravate Pain, Prevent the Body From Bouncing Back

Tossing and turning all night to find that perfect sleeping position? WSJ's Sumathi Reddy joins Lunch Break with new findings on which positions could help you rest up more efficiently. Photo: Getty Images.

Tossing and turning all night to find that perfect sleeping position?

Experts say there is no one right way to sleep. But for people with certain types of pain and medical conditions, there are positions that can help keep problems from getting worse and may even alleviate them. In some cases, sleeping in the same position night after night can itself create pain, such as neck or shoulder problems.

"It's important that people take time to think about how they position themselves when they sleep," said Peggy Brill, a Manhattan orthopedic physical therapist. "Rest is important for the muscular skeletal system to recover" from the day's stresses, she said. "The proteins get back into the muscles, there's rejuvenation of the body, so you want to be in a healthy anatomical position when you sleep."

The most common sleeping position is on the side—57% of us at least start the night in that position, according to a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 people performed for mattress maker Tempur-Pedic TPX +6.36%North America. That's followed by the back—17% of people opt for this position—and the stomach, 11%. Most of the remaining respondents said their position when they first go to bed varies each night.

Moving around during the night is common. Videotaped sleep studies have found that adults might change their position between three and 36 times a night, with the average person switching about a dozen times. The tendency to shift in one's sleep decreases with age.

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From the January ACP Internist, copyright © 2013 by the American College of Physicians.
By Kathy Holliman

When it comes to patients' alcohol consumption, the "who" and "how much" are important, but the "what" is probably not.

Research on alcohol's health benefits and risks has shown that ethanol works the same whether it is consumed in a glass of red wine, a bottle of beer or a gin and tonic. The amount and frequency of consumption, along with the drinker's gender, age, medical condition and history, family history, and medications, are all linked with the effect of ethanol over time.

Patrick G. O'Connor, MD, MPH, FACP, professor of medicine and chief of internal medicine at Yale School of Medicine, advises primary care physicians to routinely screen every patient about daily and weekly alcohol consumption.

"It is such a common and fundamental issue that if you don't ask all patients, you are going to be missing many who could benefit from what you have to offer in terms of improving your patients' health," he said.

Long-term observational studies have highlighted a few key points about alcohol consumption: Benefit seems limited to the cardiovascular system in people over age 50 if they do not exceed the recommended number of servings per week. Risk includes development of breast cancer in women, particularly those who consume more than a few servings a week. Heavy drinking imposes significant risks for osteoporosis, many types of cancer, liver disease, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, stroke and multiple social and behavioral problems.

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Achieving Ideal Cardiovascular Health - November 25, 2012

Learn about the American Heart Association's new program called "Life's Simple 7" on how to achieve ideal cardiovascular health.

You can learn the state of your heart and what you can do to live a better life at:

Life's Simple 7

 

  1. Set a realistic weight-loss goal. Most experts recommend aiming for half a pound to 2 pounds a week.
  2. Keep track. Dieters who keep track of everything they eat lose twice as much weight as those who don't, research shows.
  3. Motivate yourself. Get a pair of jeans or pants that are too tight and hang them in the kitchen instead of the closet to keep yourself inspired.
  4. Get help from family and friends. Dieters who have support from a partner at home lose more weight than those who don't, studies show.
  5. Move it to lose it. Research shows that people who do physical activities such as walking or biking for two to four hours a week during weight-loss efforts lose an extra 3 to 5 pounds over a year.
  6. Pay attention to portions. A 3-ounce portion of meat, poultry or fish is about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards; 1 teaspoon of butter or margarine, a standard postage stamp; a cup of cold cereal, berries or popcorn, a baseball; 4-inch pancake or waffle, the diameter of a CD.
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