Melatonin: Beyond Jet Lag
A popular dietary supplement, melatonin used to be promoted simply as a way to treat insomnia and prevent jet lag. No more. Now it’s touted to treat or prevent everything from fatigue, anxiety, headaches, and depression to dementia, tinnitus, irritable bowel syndrome, and skin damage from the sun. Not to mention heart disease and cancer, as well as menopausal symptoms and all the other signs of aging. Anything that’s marketed as a cure-all should set off warning bells, but some of the claims are well-supported.
Exercise can help you get a good night’s sleep, especially if you’re older. In a small study in Sleep Medicine, researchers found that people (55 years or older) with chronic insomnia who started doing aerobic activities reported significantly better sleep, mood, and vitality after four months than those who did non-exercise activities.
Help Prevent Colds
Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer at work can help prevent colds and infections. In a recent study of office workers, those given an alcohol-based hand sanitizer were about two-thirds less likely to get sick and had fewer days absent from work due to colds, fever, cough, and diarrhea than workers not given sanitizer.
Lifting Lighter Weights
You don’t have to lift heavy weights to gain muscle. Lighter weights may be even more effective – provided you lift them to fatigue, according to a small study from McMaster University in Canada. Volunteers who lifted lighter weights (30% of the maximum they could lift) to fatigue (at least 24 repetitions) stimulated production of new muscle proteins more than those lifting heavier weights (90% of their maximum) to fatigue (3 to 5 repetitions). This is encouraging news for anyone who can’t lift heavier weights due to illness, age, or other reasons.