How Naps Do Your Brain (And Body) Good

Originally posted February 13, 2015 by Carolyn Gregoire, The Huffington Post

Running seriously low on sleep? A nap can not only make you feel better, but can reverse the effects of poor sleep by restoring hormones and proteins involved in stress and immune health.

The fact that poor sleep can increase stress levels and suppress immune system activity is well-established. But according to a new small study, napping can be an effective antidote by creating measurable hormone changes.

Researchers from the Sorbonne University in Paris found that a brief nap was effective in relieving stress and strengthening immune system function in men who had only slept two hours the night before.

"Our data suggests a 30-minute nap can reverse the hormonal impact of a night of poor sleep," study co-author Dr. Brice Faraut said in a statement. "This is the first study that found napping could restore biomarkers of neuroendocrine and immune health to normal levels."

The researchers conducted sleep tests on 11 healthy men between the ages of 25 and 32. In a laboratory setting with controlled lighting and meals, the participants took part in two sessions of sleep testing. In the first session, the men were only allowed to sleep for two hours in one night. In the second session, the men were allowed to take two 30-minute naps the day following a night that they got only two hours of sleep. On the evening prior to both sessions, the subjects got eight hours of sleep.

Then, the researchers took samples of the mens' urine and saliva to test how the lack of sleep affected their hormone levels. After the night of only two hours of sleep, the mens' levels of norepinephrine -- a stress hormone and neurotransmitter involved in the fight-or-flight response, which increases heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar -- was two and a half times higher than they were after a normal night of sleep. After a night of sleeping only two hours, the participants also exhibited a dip in interleukin-6 levels, an antiviral protein that stimulates immune response to infection or in the aftermath of trauma.

However, when the men had napped twice after a night of limited sleep, the researchers found no change in norepinephrine levels. Interleukin-6 levels also returned to normal after napping.

The findings suggest that napping can reverse the some of the negative health effects of poor sleep and can also promote overall well-being.

"Napping may offer a way to counter the damaging effects of sleep restriction by helping the immune and neuroendocrine systems to recover," Faraut explained. "The findings support the development of practical strategies for addressing chronically sleep-deprived populations, such as night and shift workers."

If that wasn't reason to get a little midday shut-eye, napping has also been shown to boost mood, productivity and creativity, and to facilitate learning and memory. A 2011 study also found that those who napped for at least 45 minutes had lower blood pressure in response to psychological stress than those who did not nap.

The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

GM Models First to Get Eye-Tracking Safety Tech?

Originally Posted by Left Lane News on September 2, 2014.
General Motors is reportedly on track to become the first automaker to bring eye-tracking safety tech to its lineup. Australian company Seeing Machines has partnered with supplier Takata to commercialize the technology, which monitors the driver's gaze.

If the system determines that a driver is spending too much time looking down or to the side, it can activate an audible alarm as a reminder to pay attention to the road. Seeing Machines and Takata have not yet publicly disclosed which automakers are eyeing the technology, however unnamed sources told CNBC that GM will be the first customer.

Other companies will likely be watching to see if the system actually works, and if drivers view it as an annoyance rather than a welcome safety feature.

To see the full article, go to:

Just Say 'No' to Co-Workers' Halloween Candy

Originally posted on  October 14, 2014 by Josh Cable on

Workplace leftovers might seem like one of the perks of the job. But when co-workers try to pawn off their Halloween candy on the rest of the department, it's more of a trick than a treat.

Those seemingly generous and thoughtful co-workers often are just trying to keep temptation out of their homes.

"Not only does candy play tricks on your waistline, but it also turns productive workers into zombies," says Emily Tuerk, M.D., adult internal medicine physician at the Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

"A sugar high leads to a few minutes of initial alertness and provides a short burst of energy. But beware of the scary sugar crash. When the sugar high wears off, you'll feel tired, fatigued and hungry."

Tuerk offers a few tips to help you and others on your team avoid being haunted by leftover candy:

  • Make a pact with your co-workers to not bring in leftover candy.
  • Eat breakfast, so you don't come to work hungry.
  • Bring in alternative healthy snacks, such as low-fat yogurt, small low-fat cheese sticks, carrot sticks or cucumber slices. Vegetables are a great healthy snack. You can't overdose on vegetables.
  • Be festive without being unhealthy. Blackberries and cantaloupe are a fun way to celebrate with traditional orange and black fare without packing on the holiday pounds. Bring this to the office instead of candy as a creative and candy-free way to participate in the holiday fun.
  • If you must bring in candy, put it in an out-of-the-way location. Don't put it in people's faces so they mindlessly eat it. An Eastern Illinois University study found that office workers ate an average of nine Hershey's Kisses per week when the candy was conveniently placed on top of the desk, but only six Kisses when placed in a desk drawer and three Kisses when placed 2 feet from the desk.

And if you decide to surrender to temptation and have a treat, limit yourself to a small, bite-size piece, Tuerk adds. Moderation is key.

Flu Season Is Here. What Should Employers Do?

Nobody likes the flu. At best, it's a miserable experience. At worst, it can be deadly.

And the flu is expensive. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu costs the United States more than $87 billion annually.

The flu is a major cost for business. A Walgreens report found that U.S. adults missed 230 million days of work due to flu-related illness during the severe 2012-13 flu season. Plus, of course, there are productivity losses from employees who still report to work but are ineffective due to being flu-ridden.

Since seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October, it's time for employers to protect themselves from the flu.
According to the CDC, the most valuable step employers can take is to maximize employee vaccination.

"Flu is unpredictable but make no mistake -- anyone can get sick from the flu, including employees who are otherwise healthy," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "Influenza also negatively impacts business continuity. Businesses that want to stay productive throughout flu season should encourage and support vaccination of their employees -- vaccination is the single most effective way to protect against flu."

What are employers' options for supporting vaccination?

While in many states it is legal to require flu shots as a condition of employment, this can result in employee pushback and there are potential legal complications, so the CDC recommends the following ways to encourage the employees to get vaccinated:

  1. On-site flu clinics. Offering on-site vaccination at no or low cost to employees is an effective way to maximize participation. This is ideal for employers with on-site occupational health clinics, while those without clinics can contract with pharmacies and community vaccinators to provide vaccination services on-site.
  2. Promote vaccination. Communicate to employees why vaccination is important, and tell them where they and their families can get flu vaccines in their communities.
For helpful details and resources on these two options, see "Make it Your Business To Fight the Flu," the CDC's toolkit for businesses and employers.

Employers may also consider taking additional steps beyond supporting vaccination. Here are a few actions advocated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):

  1. Encourage sick workers to stay home
  2. Promote hand hygiene and cough etiquette
  3. Keep the workplace clean
  4. Address travel concerns (e.g., reconsider business travel to areas with high illness rates)
Employers who make preventing the flu a priority will help make the flu less costly for their business. Plus, their employees will thank them for doing so.

AEDs in the Workplace

Originally posted by United Benefit Advisors (UBA).

If you've ever taken a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course, then you know how critical response time is to saving the life of the person in distress. According to an article by the Society for Human Resource Management (, several studies have found that for each minute of untreated cardiac arrest, the probability of survival decreases by 7% to 10%. While CPR is an extremely valuable technique, sometimes it's just not enough. That's where having an automated external defibrillator (AED) onsite could mean the difference between life and death. An AED is a medical device that's used to restore the natural rhythm of the heart. It does this via an electric shock and is one of the best emergency treatments during sudden cardiac arrest -- when the heart, without warning, abruptly stops beating. The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine states that survival rates as high as 90% have been reported when defibrillation occurs within one minute of a person collapsing from sudden cardiac arrest.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that approximately 10,000 sudden cardiac arrests happen in the workplace every year. It's the leading cause of death in the workplace, yet only 4% of the seven million businesses in the U.S. have an onsite AED. The lack of an AED in the workplace is a shockingly (pun intended) sad statistic. The national survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest is less than 7%. However, if an AED is used in conjunction with CPR, that survival rate skyrockets to more than 70%!

Not only response time, but preparation is key to saving a life. There needs to be a specific plan of action for employees who witness someone having sudden cardiac arrest to call 911 or other emergency medical services (EMS), start CPR, use an AED if available, and provide as much information as possible to emergency personnel when they arrive.


When it comes to emergency cardiovascular care (ECC), the American Heart Association provides a useful term -- Chain of Survival. The five links in the adult Chain of Survival are:


  • Immediate recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system
  • Early CPR with an emphasis on chest compressions
  • Rapid defibrillation
  • Effective advanced life support
  • Integrated post-cardiac arrest care


Of course, an AED is just like any other piece of equipment. Not all workplaces may be able to afford an AED or have an employee who is willing to take on the challenge of motivating and educating other employees in its use. Company representatives should assess the needs of their organization and whether an AED is necessary or expected. For example, a busy manufacturing facility is vastly different from a gym or a small office setting. In addition, AEDs require a prescription from a physician for purchase and placement in the workplace and there needs to be compliance with state laws on public access defibrillation and the federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act.

Finally, should a company decide to install an AED, here are some simple guidelines:

  • Worksite integration: Not all employees will want or need to be trained on how to use an AED, but they should all be prepared to notify company personnel who are trained and emergency responders if an employee suffers sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Selecting the right AED: While all the devices on the market work, it's still important to comparison shop like you would for any other product and also buy one that's appropriate for the environment in which it will be placed.
  • Placement: Consider the logistics of where the AED might be used. Don't buy 10 AEDs if you only need five to be effective. Proper planning can reduce expenses while increasing effectiveness.
  • Maintenance: Like any piece of safety equipment, AEDs require maintenance. If a company has a specific person or third party that monitors its other safety equipment, then this is an easy add-on to the list.
  • Training: There are two types of training -- initial and ongoing. Besides teaching employees CPR and AED skills, it's equally important to have refresher courses and to educate people on how to apply these life-saving skills in an emergency situation.

Investing in an AED, and the programs associated with it, is a commitment to protect the lives of those in the workplace.