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Better health might depend on a good night’s sleep



Getting a sound night’s sleep is important for good health. But, sometimes older adults get much less sleep than they need. Health experts say seniors could sleep better if they made some simple changes.

The National Sleep Foundation’s annual Sleep in America poll finds that among U.S. adults with excellent sleep health, nearly 90 percent say they feel very effective at getting things done each day, compared to only 46 percent of those with poor sleep health. The study also shows that only 10 percent of American adults prioritize their sleep over other aspects of daily living such as fitness/nutrition, social life, and hobbies/personal interests.

“The data shows that good sleepers realize the benefits of a good night’s sleep and see themselves as more effective at getting things done the following day. It’s therefore disappointing to see so few people actually prioritizing their sleep,” said Maurice Ohayon, MD, DSC, PhD, director of the Stanford Sleep Epidemiology Research Center and chair of the National Sleep Foundation’s Population Health and Methodology Council.

What sleep problems do seniors have? The sleep of older adults generally is less deep and choppier than sleep in younger people.

Some seniors take longer to fall asleep, and often wake up several times (at least) during the night, and toss and turn, as they try to get back to sleep.

Another possible problem is periodic limb movements (PLMS), also called restless-leg syndrome. Here, people have strong urges to move their legs. This actually stops them from falling asleep.

All of these things can make a person groggy and tired the next morning.

Reasons for sleep problems

A Mayo Clinic newsletter cites work stress and family responsibilities as factors that can interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.

There are other reasons, too, why seniors may have sleep problems:

An increase in neurological and other medical conditions, including chronic disease

The effects of medication


Alzheimer’s disease


Not being very active

Frequent urination

Pain from arthritis

But there are things that seniors can do to help get better sleep. While it’s impossible to eliminate all the stresses and strains that can come with modern life, there are some things you can do to try to get better sleep.

Avoid long mid-day naps. Also, avoid drinking coffee after mid-afternoon.

Have relaxing pre-sleep rituals that you do every day (or as much as possible) at the same time.

Make sure your bedroom is ideal for sleeping. For one thing, make sure it is dark enough.

Get regular daily exercise.

Don’t eat large meals before bedtime.

Avoid too much alcohol.

If you wake up and can’t get back to sleep after 15-20 minutes, get up and do something. Try to get to sleep later.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends listening to relaxing music before going to bed. Focus on the music rather than on something more stimulating.

Sleeping pills

Opinions differ about taking over-the-counter sleeping medication. Some health experts point to the side effects of taking them. These can include being drowsy the next day, constipation and dry mouth.

According to the American Geriatrics Society, there are safer and better ways to improve sleep, so it recommends trying things other than drugs first. See a doctor and have your meds evaluated. A switch to a different prescription or adjusting the dosage may help.

For more information, visit and search “how to get better sleep,” or visit

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Baltimore Ravens attendance report: String of good health continues; 86 of 90 players practice

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Coach John Harbaugh doesn’t want to discuss this because he fears he’ll jinx the good fortune, but entering the middle of the preseason, one thing is clear about the 2018 Baltimore Ravens: They are unusually healthy for an NFL team this time of year.

No Ravens projected starter or key contributor missed practice Thursday, and 86 of 90 players on the roster attended the session.

Inside linebacker Alvin Jones, an undrafted rookie, was the only player available to practice who sat out. Three players — wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo, linebacker Bam Bradley and cornerback Jaylen Hill — all remain on the physically unable to perform list and will likely stay there into the regular season.

Last year, Baltimore lost several players to season-ending injuries in training camp. Cornerback Tavon Young, offensive lineman Nico Siragusa and linebacker Albert McClellan tore ligaments in their knees, and wide receiver Tim White suffered a thumb injury. All this while a back injury sidelined starting quarterback Joe Flacco throughout the preseason.

Things have been different this summer.

Ravens wide receiver Jaelon Acklin landed on injured reserve after the first preseason game, but other than that, Baltimore avoided serious ailments during an extend training camp.

The Ravens will take their stock of healthy players to Indianapolis for joint practice with the Colts Friday and Saturday before squaring off against them in a preseason game Monday. After that, Baltimore will play two more exhibitions before the regular season opens Sept. 9 — and Harbaugh will, albeit quietly, hope that the team’s good injury luck stretches until then.

9 Baltimore Ravens players who helped, hurt their stock during training camp

– @AaronKazreports

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Your Good Health: Patient upset by doctor’s seeming rejection

Dear Dr. Roach: I was seeing my primary care physician every six months for about five years. We had mutual respect, and I enjoyed seeing him. Then, I got diagnosed with breast cancer and had to see other doctors for a long time.

Meanwhile, the spinal stenosis my primary care physician had diagnosed was becoming untenable and ruining my quality of life. Even though I am still seeing cancer doctors, I called my primary care physician to make an appointment to discuss the spinal stenosis situation with him.

After a long wait, I finally got someone in my primary care physician’s office and, after another long wait, was informed that he could not see me for six months — there was not one opening until then. I was flabbergasted and asked to be put on a cancellation list. “We don’t keep those,” the lady responded.

I reluctantly took the appointment and decided to wait it out.

Meanwhile, I saw one of my cancer doctors today, and after explaining this situation to him, he replied: “Doctors don’t do that. He obviously doesn’t want you as a patient anymore. I would find another primary care physician.”

What is your response to this? I am 71 years old, and other than spinal stenosis and breast cancer (which was caught early and treated with surgery and radiation a year ago), I enjoy reasonably good health.


I hope there is another side to this story, since I am horrified that a physician would make a longstanding patient with cancer and spinal stenosis wait six months for an appointment. That is not appropriate medical care.

While I fully understand the point of view of your cancer doctor — and would be tempted to find another doctor — it sounds like saving the relationship you had with your primary care physician might be worth another try.

I think speaking directly with your primary care doctor might clear up any misunderstanding.

Dear Dr. Roach: I always have had small breasts. Suddenly, in my mid-70s, my breasts grew, and now at 80 I have outgrown most of my clothes. My doctor said that it is fat, but I have gained only a few pounds. Could this be hormonal? Have you addressed this issue before?


I haven’t addressed this before. Breasts change size during a woman’s life for many reasons.

Breast tissue is a mixture of fat and glandular tissue. For young women, there’s proportionally more glandular tissue, the amount of which tends to decrease over time. After menopause, the breasts become less glandular; what is lost is replaced by fat, as there is less estrogen.

About 20 per cent of women will notice significantly larger breasts after menopause; however, this usually occurs along with overall weight gain. Significant breast enlargement without much weight gain is not common in my experience.

Hopefully, your doctor did a thorough examination. However, I think it is very unlikely that your breast size changes represent a tumour.

Very rarely, there are estrogen-producing tumours, so if there were other reasons to be concerned, your doctor might check blood levels of hormones, including estrogen.

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to

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Long life and good health pass down the female line

Women whose mothers live into their nineties are much more likely to experience a long and healthy retirement, research suggests. There does not appear to be a similar link between daughters and nonagenarian fathers.

Scientists at the University of California San Diego found that women whose mothers lived past 90 were 25 per cent more likely to also reach that age without suffering from serious or chronic illness, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

Aladdin Shadyab, lead author of the paper, said: “It’s not just about the number of candles on the cake. These women were independent and could do daily activities such as bathing, walking, climbing a flight of stairs or participating in hobbies without limitations.” If only a father lived to 90,…

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To Your Good Health: Timing your Viagra dose is an art

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to or request an order form of available health newsletters at 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. Health newsletters may be ordered from

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To Your Good Health: Is peanut butter a possible cure for insomnia?

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to or request an order form of available health newsletters at 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. Health newsletters may be ordered from

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Ravens break training camp in uncharacteristic good health

OWINGS MILLS — Tuesday marked the final day of training camp for the Baltimore Ravens, but head coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco acknowledged that little changes with camp’s official end.

“We still have three more games and plenty of training camp practices to go, but as far as the training camp part of it with the fans are here every day and the media has the open practices, this is the close,” Harbaugh said. “The players have the day off tomorrow, we’ll practice Thursday, and then we’ll be off to Indianapolis. We’ll practice against the Colts on Friday and Saturday, on our own Sunday, then play in the game Monday night. That’s where we’re at.”

Media are permitted to watch practices in their entirety during training camp but can only view the beginning of practice once the regular-season format begins Thursday.

The Ravens hosted more than 2,000 fans at each training camp session this summer. Last year, construction during renovations to the Under Armour Performance Center prohibited fans from attending.

“It’s nice to have fans here because it’s fun. That’s the bottom line – it’s fun,” Harbaugh said. “Football is supposed to be fun.”

To a veteran like Flacco, the end of training changes very little. But to rookies, it means they finally get to go home.

“It changes their status in the hotel – some of the guys get to go home. A few of the guys are out already – the older guys,” Harbaugh said. “But everybody gets to go home if they have a place, so they appreciate that. So I think it’s real for the guys who are in the hotel.”

Flacco admitted that training camp is no longer the grind that it once was prior to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement of 2011 when two-a-days were banned.

“I don’t know how much it’s going to change with camp ‘quote’ ending. I think the ‘quote’ is a good thing there. Camp is a lot different than it was my first few years in the league,” he said. “It took a few years to get used to how the schedule is these days and what the collective bargaining agreement sets up for. I think guys these days do such a good job in the offseason when we’re on our own, and then when we’re here, that training camp, I don’t think it’s quite what most people my age and up think of training camp being. We’re in here, we’re getting a lot of work done and we do grind. But it’s really all revolved around getting better as a football team, not necessarily wearing us out and getting us in shape and all those things. I don’t know how much the schedule is going to change the next few weeks.”

Teams bring 90 players to training camp and 53-man rosters must be finalized by Sept. 1. Competition for jobs does not end with training camp.

“There are a lot of guys that are trying to make this football team. That’s the thing that you can’t discredit this time of the year,” Flacco said. “We have a bunch of guys on this team that are out here fighting for their life – for a job in the NFL. That’s a big deal. It’s an exciting time to be on the football team.”

The Ravens reached the official end of training camp with uncharacteristic good health. Only safety Eric Weddle, linebacker Alvin Jones and defensive back Bennett Jackson missed practice Tuesday. Weddle’s absence was presumable a veteran’s day off, as Terrell Suggs received Monday.

Baltimore began training camp with four players on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and star offensive lineman Marshal Yanda has since returned to the practice field. Only linebacker Bam Bradley, cornerback Jaylen Hill and wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo remain on PUP.

Harbaugh said Tuesday the three players on PUP will remain on it through the start of the regular season, making them ineligible to return for six weeks.

In recent years, the Ravens have been hit hard by the injury bug and lost several players for the season during training camp. Harbaugh shut down a reporter’s question about Baltimore’s good luck following Thursday’s preseason win over the Los Angeles Rams and even flashed some pop-culture knowledge, quoting Steve Carrell’s character from NBC’s “The Office.”

“I think we should just leave that alone,” Harbaugh said. “Not that we’re superstitious. How does the old saying with Michael Scott go? ‘I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.’”

Follow Sean Grogan on Twitter: @Sean_CecilWhig

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Managing stress for overall good health

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Flash Flood Watch issued August 15 at 4:03AM CDT expiring August 15 at 7:00PM CDT in effect for: Adair, Cherokee, Choctaw, Craig, Creek, Delaware, Haskell, Hughes, Latimer, LeFlore, Lincoln, McIntosh, Mayes, Muskogee, Nowata, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Ottawa, Pittsburg, Pushmataha, Rogers, Sequoyah, Tulsa, Wagoner

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Managing the stress of cancer diagnosis

TULSA – Dealing with stress is something every one of us faces on a daily basis. Pile on a cancer diagnosis, not once – but twice, and it is stress overload for Africa Shaw.

“God gives you – puts people in your life – to help you through the journey,” Africa Shaw told 2 Works for You anchor Karen Larsen.

Africa will tell you she lives her faith and it has certainly been tested. The first test came in 1993, when physicians diagnosed her with stage 3 breast cancer. Nearly 20 years later, the cancer returned with a diagnosis of stage four. In addition to the often debilitating treatment, Africa also battled feeling depressed.

Stress, both short-term and chronic, “can have direct adverse effects on a variety of immunological mechanisms; both animal and human studies have provided convincing evidence that these immune alterations are consequential for health, according to a 2003 study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University.  

Stress also causes a physiological response with increases heart rate, faster breathing, muscle tension and a greater demand for oxygen to support the brain. Doctors say this can make our adrenaline go into overdrive. If the stress response lasts too long, it can be damaging to our health.

It is especially important for cancer patients to manage stress, according to the National Institutes of Health which published a study in 2010 that linked stress to cancer growth. The study concluded, “Chronic stress results in the activation of specific signaling pathways in cancer cells and the tumor microenvironment, leading to tumor growth and progression.”

“I wasn’t thinking in the positive, I was thinking in the past,” Shaw said. “You have to get rid of the stress.”

When the battle weighs her down, she tries a variety of ways to manage her stress, including:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Reading the Bible
  • Walking two miles a day
  • Talking with a Mind-Body Therapist and a Psychiatrist regularly
  • Attending support groups

She also loves to incorporate dancing. When the clock strikes 12:30 p.m. on Thursdays at Cancer Treatment Centers of America – Southwestern campus in Tulsa, this 70-year old cancer patient a joins other patients, volunteers, caregivers and even doctors and staff in a flash mob dance right in the hospital’s main lobby. While upbeat music blares, patients dance with joy, stomp their feet, or simply wave their hands. On the day 2 Works for You was there, a patient wore a hot pink wig with a matching hot pink shirt with a saying that declared, “Attitude is everything!”

Attitude is everything, according to Lacy Richard, Mind-Body Therapist at CTCA-Tulsa. She is on staff to help cancer patients like Africa manage the stress of a cancer diagnosis.

“I believe that when your body is happy it makes your heart happy, it make your brain happy,” said Lacy Richard, MS, LPC-C.

To find your happy, the National Institutes of Health recommends these five techniques:


  • 1. Set priorities: Decide what must get done and what can wait. It’s a way of picking our battles.
  • 2. Stay in touch with people who can provide emotional and other support.
  • 3. Avoid dwelling on problems. Focus on what you have accomplished, not what you haven’t.
  • 4. Exercise regularly. Even 30 minutes a day of moderate walking can help boost mood and reduce stress.
  • 5. Take time to do relaxing activities you enjoy–watch a movie, paint, listen to music, read, or take a warm bath.

The mind-body therapist at CTCA would add “know your limits” to that list from the NIH.

“While our doctors are the experts, we also want to make sure they also know where we are at in our body’s process and having open communication helps everybody know your limits,” Richards suggested.

Many people may hesitate to seek out professional counseling when under stress, but Shaw says it works. “There’s doctors for ingrown toenail, there’s a doctor for your brain. Whatever it takes to make you well, that’s what you use.”

And when the worst happens, try dancing. For where there is joy, there is hope… and where this is hope, Africa said, there is life – even with terminal cancer.

“There’s nothing you could do about it but live with it, love yourself and love your life and deal with it,” Shaw concluded. “That’s all. Relax! ”  

Africa said she plans to live until she is at least 95, with the help of God, love, laughter, and her doctors at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa.

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To Your Good Health: Risk of aneurysm rupture based on size





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In good health: Wilbur Peck clinic, at two, continuing to grow

  • Family Centers President and CEO Bob Arnold, left, and Clinical Director John Midy speak during the two-year anniversary celebration at Family Centers Health Care in the Wilbur Peck public housing complex in Greenwich, Conn. Monday, Aug. 13, 2018. Local residents have benfited from the general health and dental care provided at the Federally Qualified Health Clinic (FQHC) located within the Wilbur Peck Court public housing community. Photo: Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media / Greenwich Time



GREENWICH — The rain might have been pouring down Monday morning, but in the view of John Midy, the day was still perfect for a “beautiful event.”

That event was the celebration of the two-year anniversary of the Family Centers Health Care clinic in Wilbur Peck Court. The continually growing clinic now provides physical health, dental and mental health care to low income residents in town.

“We are one of the solutions to overcoming the challenges of providing affordable care to patients we are serving,” Midy, the clinic manager, said on Monday as local, state and federal officials gathered under tents outside the health clinic to cover themselves from the rain. “These are patients who are low income or that do not have health insurance or do not have the ability to pay for health care. We’ve worked very hard to provide excellent service here.”

According to Family Centers Inc., the Greenwich-based non-profit which oversees the clinic, more than 2,000 patients have been served by the clinic in the last two years. Many have come from the town-owned Wilbur Peck housing complex, but the clinic serves patients from all over town.

The service’s $2 million annual budget is covered by the federal government. Bob Arnold, CEO of Family Centers Inc., applauded its success and growth, saying it was once an “unthinkable dream” to have the clinic.

“While health care is really a big national issue, access is most acutely felt locally and we were feeling it here in Greenwich,” Arnold said. “Bringing this clinic here has changed so many things for so many people … At Family Centers our whole mission is to help people fulfill their own potential and if you don’t have health care it’s pretty hard to fulfill your potential as a child in school or as an adult working or in any part of life. It’s such a critical need.”

One of the people the clinic has directly helped was on hand on Monday as patient James Gambino discussed what it has meant to him.

“I came here for dental care and the service and the professionalism and everything is top notch,” he said. “I’m a Husky member and I’ve gone through a bit of a rough patch in my own life and this place is just amazing.”

Dennis Torres, a vice president at Family Centers, helped oversee the clinic from proposal through construction. On Monday he said the clinic has been so successful that expansion is on the table.

Torres said they are looking at “smart growth and not growing for the sake of growing,” adding that the clinic team would like to add a second dental chair in the community to meet patient demand. The Housing Authority of Greenwich has also discussed expansion, which could become part of improvements at the Armstrong Court complex.

Monday’s celebration coincided with National Health Center Week and many of the speakers took time to thank the clinic’s staff for all of their work.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., was on hand for the event and called federally qualified health centers like the one in Wilbur Peck Court the “backbone” of the country’s health care system.

“When you talk about dental and mental health, those gaps in our health care system have real impacts on real lives,” Blumenthal said. “People who don’t get this kind of health care, not to mention basic primary care, are impacted severely, particularly children. People might think that Greenwich residents have no gaps, no lapses, no needs that are unmet but the fact is exactly the opposite. We are as much at risk in health care as any other part of the state and the country.”

Blumenthal was joined at the event by U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, and state Reps. Livvy Floren, R-149, and Michael Bocchino, R-150.

“This is a partnership and it’s a partnership around something that, as tough as the partisan argument is today, we all agree on, which is in this country everybody should have access to health care,” Himes said. “Yes, it might be Appalachia or it might be the inner city that gets emphasized but right here at Wilbur Peck, there are a couple hundred people who, but for the existence of this center might not have the kind of access to health care we might assume in a community as affluent as Greenwich should be available to everybody.”

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