Healthy Helpings

By AFM Staff – July 1, 2016
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From Bed to Boss

Getting enough sleep contributes to better health in a multitude of areas, such as attention, mood, and even weight gain/loss. But did you know that sleep can make you a better boss? A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggests that good sleep habits can also make an employee easier to lead—and a leader easier to follow. Associate professor of management from the University of Washington, Christopher Barnes, led this study by working with different groups of students to measure charisma, based on previous studies showing that charismatic leaders are associated with better outcomes in areas such as performance and organizational effectiveness and employee job satisfaction and job performance. Researchers manipulated sleep for a group of 43 students by having the students wake up every hour between 10 p.m and 5 a.m. to complete a short survey. Another group of 45 students slept undisrupted. That morning, all 88 participants went into the lab and were asked to deliver a mock speech in a commencement ceremony. Everyone was given 15 minutes to prepare. The researchers found that the students whose sleep had been disrupted the night before the speech were rated as less charismatic by an impartial panel of lab assistants who were unaware of the sleep conditions. On average, the sleep-deprived participants’ scores were 12 percent lower than the scores of the individuals who had slept normally.

Beating Breast Cancer

Despite decades of research, cancer is still very much a mystery. There are certain factors, like smoking, we know play a large role in the development of lung cancer. Other types, like breast cancer, are still under the microscope, though. A study published in JAMA Oncology revealed that lifestyle choices strongly affect breast cancer in women. Based on these findings, it is believed that women who carry common gene variants linked to breast cancer can still cut their risk of the disease by following a healthy lifestyle. It was discovered that four lifestyle factors were key: maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, limiting alcohol, and not using hormone therapy after menopause.

Attitude is the Antidote 

Further proving that attitude is everything, a series of two new studies published in the journal Psychology and Aging shows that your positive or negative perception of aging can have an effect on your health later in life–particularly with Alzheimer’s disease. In the first study, researchers took data from 158 healthy people in their 40s by asking them to respond to statements like, “older people are absent-minded” or “older people have trouble learning new things,” using a scale to rate how strongly they agreed or disagreed. About 25 years later, when people in that same group were in their late 60s, they began about a decade of annual MRI brain scans to determine the volume of their hippocampus (the area associated with Alzheimer’s). The results showed that people who held negative thoughts about aging had greater loss of hippocampus when they aged. In the second study, the researchers took a similar approach but studied amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary clusters built up over time. Still, the results were consistent. Based on these findings, researchers suspect that negative age stereotypes combined with stressors are a major factor in memory loss later in life.


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