Potential Benefits of Biphasic Sleep

1858159_lEver have trouble falling asleep? Staying asleep? Waking up? Well, sure –all of us do sometimes.

This weekend, I slept until noon one day, and woke up at 6 am the other. My patterns aren’t always dead on. That’s the case for a lot of us 8-5 workers, but we force ourselves to commit to one pattern: that of monophasic sleep.

Monophasic sleep is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a sleep pattern that occurs in one distinct chunk per 24-hour period. We Westerners sleep as if we’re monophasic naturally, but many studies reveal that isn’t our bodies’ choice.

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5 Mantras you Need in the Gym

By Karin Krisher

Exercise is usually considered a physical activity; in fact, the two terms are used interchangeably across the fitness community. But the truth is, physical activity is largely a mental game.

That means the mental health benefits are often just as noticeable and important as the physical. The benefits I’ve seen from lifting weights extend to my reflexes, general timing, learning curve, coordination and quickness, sense of humor – you name it.


To get these benefits, it helps to exercise your brain while you exercise your body.

I’m not talking about busting out old Jeopardy! episodes during your cardio sesh.


I’m talking about how—and what—you should really be thinking while you are in the heat of the workout moment.

This is the way to ensure you’re playing with the best hand.

This is your brain on exercise.

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How to deal with PMS like you mean it

By Karin Krisher

angry lady OK. Most of us ladies will complain about PMS. If we don’t complain about it, it isn’t because it doesn’t suck.

It’s because we have massive amounts of self-control and we know there’s nothing we can really do about this hand we’ve been dealt in the gender department.

Or is there?

If you’re one of the lucky ones, no need to read on – unless you want to help out your less fortunate female friends (which you do).

If you, like at least one third of us, experience the aching, cramping, bloating, irritability and overall emotional instability of PMS every dang month, keep reading.

Here’s how to deal with PMS like you mean it.

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Diet and Exercise: The Duo We Love to Hate in 2 parts

Diet and Exercise: The Duo We Love to Hate in 2 parts
Part 1: Get off the couch
By Karen Sturtevant

BookstoreTake a stroll down the wellness section of your local bookstore and plan to be overwhelmed at the myriad of titles on diet and exercise. What’s your diet pleasure: Low Carb, High Protein, No Fat, Low Fat, All Fat, Everything Green, Meat-Based, Plant-Based, Bikini Beach Ready, or the Cabbage Soup Diet? What about exercise? Are you a runner, a power walker, Zumba dancer, ab cruncher, volleyball player or consider exercise something you’ll think about tomorrow. It’s no wonder that we’re confused about what’s best for our bodies and brains.

The Benefits of Exercise:

Children are always on the move. Running with their little legs, we appreciate their energy and wish they would share just a little bit with us. Their growing bodies are in movement all day. As we age, our metabolism slows and we must find ways to include physical activity, especially true for office dwellers. If only we had the effortless bounce at age 40 that we had age 4.

Let’s make the assumption that we agree that exercise is advantageous. My co-workers and I live in cubicles during the day. We’re mindful that when it’s time for breaks, getting outside for a brisk walk does us wonders. The super energetic zoom over to the gym for a group workout during lunch. The benefits of exercise range from improved mood, increased immune system, decreased risk of disease, better weight management and a general sense of well-being. Depression and anxiety symptoms can be lessened with the addition of exercise.

Not only is sweatin’ to the oldies good for our bodies, it’s great for our brains. Exercise causes our brains to release the feel good hormones dopamine and norepinephrine. You’ve heard of a runners’ high? We can thank our happy hormones for it!
If you’re not a marathon runner, no worries. There is an exercise program just for you – really! Studies have found that working out with a buddy increases the odds of sticking to a program. Enlist you BFF and make a commitment.  A simple 15 minute walk not only burns calories, but boosts moods and increases concentration.


Take advantage of your choices!

There are so many different ways to exercise these days. Zumba provides an amazing interval based cardio work out that dances the calories away. Find the right enthusiastic instructor and you may dance your way to fitness for a long time.


Body Pump offers high rep, light weight cardio with weights designed to condition lean muscles — also set to a backdrop of inspiring and rocking music.

Looking for something less cardio oriented? Pilates works on your core, while Barre Sculpt gives you a dancer’s workout that your muscles will feel for days. Bikram Yoga stretches your muscles and improves flexibility at temperatures over 100 degrees.

Group classes not your thing?

Mountain biking can be done solo or with friends. Hiking, climbing and bouldering are great ways to be outside building stamina and strength, and you can include as many or few people as you wish. Even if golf is your thing, put aside the cart (save yourself some money on the cart fee) and walk that course. Your game may improve, your focus definitely will and your muscles will remind you the next day that even golf can be a workout. It is estimated that walking 18 holes burns roughly 1400 calories!


Try different things: power walking, a group exercise, yoga. You may find something you enjoy that surprises you. Did you find the perfect exercise fit for you? Tell us about it on Facebook.

Talk to Your Patients About Sodium

By Karin Krisher

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all sorts of things, including appropriate levels of nutrient intake. For sodium, the recommended daily intake for anyone not at-risk for hypertension is 2300 milligrams, while for at-risk people, that number is just 1,500. Still, despite recommendations and warnings to the contrary, over the past 50 years the average American’s sodium intake has remained unchanged, hovering around 3700 milligrams daily.

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Man’s Best Friends: Natural Antimicrobials, Featuring the Giant Panda

By Karin Krisher

In light of the giant news that giant panda blood contains peptides that act as potent antibiotics, we’re showing off the other members of our natural world who contribute antimicrobial blood or secretions to the fight against human-attacking superbugs. Here are our favorite warriors:

Giant Panda

Would you expect any different? This news is amazing! A compound called cathelicidin-AM flows in their blood, but we don’t need to access it through holding these guys captive. Instead, scientists have figured out how to synthesize it for human use. Cathelicidin-AM can kill some bacteria in one-sixth the time it takes other common antibiotics!

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A Physician’s Role In Patient Grief

By Karin Krisher

The mental and physical pieces of humans are inextricably linked, so that events that trigger emotional reactions still cause physical symptoms. In light of the recent tragedy in Connecticut and personal experience with grief manifesting as physical symptoms, I wondered what role physicians should play in the process. Talking to your patients about grief is not easy—but that doesn’t mean it’s not necessary.

Why The Physician’s Role Matters

A transformation in our forums for communication has left members of our society with fewer immediate resources for dealing with grief. Where in the past, we might have turned to close-by extended family members, church community members or neighbors, we now turn to the Internet and the family physician. Further, the American culture is one that keeps death in the fear zone, and wants to move past difficult emotions quickly. (Check out this resource for further explanation.)

What You Can Do: Concrete Tips

As a physician, you have a unique role. You are privy to both physical symptoms and emotional admissions. To help your patients move through the bereavement process, it’s important to know the symptoms. That’s tip number one. Be aware that things like sleep disturbances, appetite changes, auditory and visual hallucinations and absent-mindedness can indicate grief.

If your patient is in denial or the grief response is non-normative or delayed, it may be difficult for you to be sure there is actually grieving involved in these symptoms. That’s tip number two: Ask appropriate questions, and listen to the answers. Questions like, “Is there a specific loss you’ve experienced lately that you would like to talk about?” leave the air open for the patient to express himself or herself.

Tip three: Pay attention to recurring behaviors and important dates or reminders. If your patient mentions the date of his or her loss or a special place she or he shared with a loved one, write it down. Two years from now when symptoms of grief are physically manifest, you’ll know why, and that will tell your patient you are truly listening and want to help.

For children, who may lose track of time or not fully understand the value or meaning of certain feelings, tip three can be especially important. Tip four? Children count in this process, too. The role of a family physician is to see to the family’s health, and children’s emotions are a huge part of that. Allowing children to grieve is necessary. Denial of that opportunity may teach them that grieving is abnormal and may harm their future emotional knowledge.

All patients experiencing grief will experience it in an individual manner. Tip five is to recognize both similarities and inherent differences in how people grieve. Nothing is right or wrong. While there are decidedly clear stages of grief, not all people will go through all stages or begin them and end them at the same time. Tip six is to enlist the help of a specialist. Bereavement counseling can be highly beneficial for some patients, and you can work with them to ensure their experience is one of import.

The most important tip to help your patients deal with grief? Be a shoulder. As I mentioned, many former support systems have morphed or disappeared. If someone trusts you enough to allow you to be a part of his or her grief, remaining committed to listening and committed to his or her wellness will allow you to serve as a true helper.

How have you helped your patients deal with grief in the past? We’d love to share in your experience—tell us about your role in the process on our Facebook page.

Grief and grief counseling can’t be explained in one blog post. Check out these other great resources for more information.

Why Herbal Products Are Worth A Conversation

By Karin Krisher

Herbals, or botanicals, fall into the FDA’s “dietary supplements” category. Hundreds of natural herbs have been popular for medicinal-like use in Eastern cultures for centuries. But today, their integration into common supplement formulas can be a concern for your patients. Why?

Herbal products are the beginnings to many modern day medicines. They do have contraindications. And that gives them some concerning characteristics. Despite the fact that DaVinci makes use of some herbs in a few of our supplement formulas, we always ensure safety through truth in labeling. We’re acutely aware that herbs aren’t for everyone, and we make sure our customers are aware of this fact, too.

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Talk to Your Patients About Hearing Loss

By Karin Krisher

In April, 2010, I came down with a terrible cold. My lungs hurt. My ears hurt. After much nudging from my roommates, I finally saw a doctor, who let me know that a respiratory infection had migrated to my eardrums, where it was now causing significant blistering.

Oh. Lovely.

He gave me antibiotics and sent me on my not-so-merry way. Two and a half years later, and my right ear is essentially useless. I have no idea if that’s the sole cause, no inclination to go see a doc, and a terrible, sinking feeling that my social life will never improve.

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Talk To Your Patients About Acupuncture

By Karin Krisher

Over the last 40 years, acupuncture has slowly migrated into the Western consciousness, taking up residence as a legitimate medical practice. However, there are still many doubters of this technique, which involves the manipulation of thin needles inserted into specified points to stimulate the body’s energy flow, known as qi.

Skepticism has a lot to do with lack of evidence, which has a lot to do with lack of ability to create a proper placebo. It also has to do with a general Western aversion to the type of complementary and alternative medicine that is an integral part of Eastern traditions.

Still, several large organizations concede that acupuncture’s use for specified conditions is viable. Among the endorsers: the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the National Health Service of the United Kingdom.

Conditions mentioned run the health gamut, including: Adverse reactions to chemo/radio therapy; depression; nausea; neck and low back pain; headache; rheumatoid arthritis and many more.

So, why should your patients be aware of acupuncture as a form of alternative medicine? Because, regardless of a general lack of padlocked proof, anecdotal evidence is abundant. Therefore, any one of your patients might have heard about another’s excellent experience with acupuncture, and jump right in with no further information.

Educating your patients about the skepticism surrounding acupuncture and its potential benefits is your role in helping them make effective decisions about their health. Let them know exactly what your concerns are, and if you think they should stay away or that their particular medical condition or history could be exacerbated by acupuncture, tell them. If you notice a particularly stubborn pain or undiagnosed issue in your patients, perhaps suggesting acupuncture is your best option.

Have you ever had acupuncture yourself or suggested it to a patient? Tell us about the results in a comment!