News Chum related to Sleep and Exercise

Item the First. I envy people who fall asleep easy. I never can. Currently, what puts me to sleep is a mix of a muscle relaxant for my migraines, a melatonin, and a benedryl. I may change that given an article I read today about why Benedryl is a bad sleep aid: According to research, regular use of drugs like Benedryl can damage the aging brain. The drugs, called anticholinergics, work by blocking acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter. They’re widely used, especially by the elderly and sold under the names Benadryl, Dramamine, Exedrin PM, Nytrol, Sominex and Tylenol PM. Some anticholinergics, such as Paxil, Detrol, Demerol and Elavil, are available only by prescription. Click here for a full list. Basically, in a six-year observational study, researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine monitored cognition in people over 70 and tracked all over-the-counter and prescription medications taken by study participants. They found that consistently taking one anticholinergic “significantly increased an individual’s risk of developing mild cognitive impairment” while taking two of the drugs doubled the risk.

Item the Second. As you know, I’ve been trying to lose weight and lower my blood pressure. I have one problem: I have a job that sticks me behind a monitor all day. According to the NY Times, that’s a bad thing. Sitting all day, even if you exercise regularly, can still hurt you. If you sit for long hours, you experience no ‘‘isometric contraction of the antigravity (postural) muscles,’’ according to an overview of the consequences of inactivity published this month in Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews. Your muscles, unused for hours at a time, change in subtle fashion, and as a result, your risk for heart disease, diabetes and other diseases can rise. Simple solution: Stand up. Pace around the office. Walk briskly around the hall. This is something I need to remember to do.