November 21, 2014

The Feel-Good Report

Yes, I can sleep.

Insomnia is a self-fulfilling prophecy. First you can’t sleep. And then you think you can’t sleep. And, sure enough, pretty soon it’s all you can think about—your blood pressure spikes as your alarm clock silently ticks down, like a bomb. Before resorting to pills, pay notice to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which was recently featured in the Harvard Mental Health Letter. Basically, CBT is an optimist’s game; replace phrases like, “I’ll never get a good night’s sleep,” with, “Not all my problems stem from insomnia.” It sounds silly, but in one study the CBT method achieved remission in 62 percent of subjects, while CBT paired with Ambien received only 42 percent remission.

If that doesn’t work, try using these three reconditioning techniques:

• Use the bed only for sleeping or sex.

• Go to bed only when tired. If you get in bed and can’t sleep, get out of bed.

• Get up at the same time every day and do not nap. 

To the (back) nines

Imagine: Your first hole-in-one. A perfect nine-iron right into the cup. Of course, you have to take the requisite verifying photograph and hang it on the wall. And for the next 50 years, your greatest golf moment is haunted by ill-fitting khakis, a faded collared shirt and that mesh hat you picked up at Disney World. Luckily, your health editor likes to keep an eye on the latest fashion. As such, nothing is more cutting-edge than Sportalm, an Austrian clothing line. Better known for its snow-ski garb, Sportalm recently opened a store at Mercato in Naples. And considering that the ski market is a little slow in Southwest Florida, Sportalm also offers sleek outfits fit for the links.


From the runway to the fairway: Sportalm offers cutting-edge fashion that’s sporty and comfortable enough for the links.

Ache, like golf, is a four-letter word

My coworkers aren’t very supportive of my golf habit. One pretends to fall asleep when I bring it up; another scoffs audibly. Both agree it’s not a sport. It’s for wimps, they say. However, my fellow duffers know the truth: Golf hurts. Are you suffering a concussion? Probably not. But after spending a season on the links, your body is a mass of muscle tweaks and back pulls. And that doesn’t include the psychological damage.

“Golf is the No. 1 sport to cause low back pain,” says Dr. Robert O’Leary, medical director of Bonita Community Health Center and an expert in pain relief. “More than seemingly harsher contact sports like football and hockey.” (Writer’s note: Ha!) “The torsion or twisting motions of both the legs and arm through the body cause many of the aches and pains we feel. Shoulder rotator cuff, golfer’s elbow tendinitis and hip bursitis are other common maladies.”

Cruel coworkers aside, it’s important that these nagging injuries don’t steal any links time. To ensure this, try some R.I.C.E., Dr. O’Leary’s sure-fire, traditional recipe for curing golf’s aches and pains. 

1.         Rest the affected area to allow healing.

2.         Ice the affected area to decrease pain and swelling.

3.         Compress the affected area, with an Ace wrap, for example, to decrease swelling.
     Limit use and support the area.

4.         Elevate the affected area to stress rest and decrease swelling by encouraging blood flow return.

 

Balance and beam

Consider all of our medical advances for a second. For example, there’s a robot named da Vinci that leads surgeries and a laser knife for brain tumors. Now, take a guess at what older patients often use to keep their balance during physical therapy. A chair. Well, not anymore. A Naples orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Frederick Buechel Jr., along with his wife, Jeanne, have created The Balance Gym, a 45-inch, do-it-all safety net for people who have trouble balancing themselves but still need to work out. The system offers parallel bars for support, strength bands, two-step stairs and a foam surface for control. And it’s become a staple in many physical therapy and fitness centers in Southwest Florida, including Naples Community Health’s Briggs Wellness Center and the five local physical therapy centers owned by Diane Cortese.

 

Beauty’s in the eye

Southwest Florida’s staunchest ally, the sun, can also be its greatest enemy. Besides skin cancer, the sun can exacerbate the effects of aging on the skin—particularly around the eyes. “That’s where crow’s feet begin,” says Eva Maloney, licensed cosmetologist and esthetician at Florida Eye Health in Naples. “Plus, people are always squinting—especially people who wear glasses. Luckily, there are cosmetics to firm the area.”

On “The Feel Good Report’s” behalf, Maloney laid out four such products that can protect your eyes from premature aging.

1.         Obagi ELASTIderm—Start with this balm, which contains copper zinc malonate, a bi-mineral that builds collagen and restores elasticity.

2.         Blue Peel RADIANCE—This exfoliant not only battles bacteria and tightens the skin, it shrinks pores, restores health pigmentation and reduces the oil.

3.         Sun Shield SPF 50—This product purports to block age-hastening UVA rays with a non-shine, non-whitening, fragrance-free lotion.

4.         ELASTILash—For those with sensitive eyes who can’t benefit from Latisse, this product is over-the-counter, gentle and thickens (but does not lengthen) lashes.


Eye candy: Sun Shield SPF 50 protects the delicate balance between new and old skin cells around the eyes.


Mighty Mites

Dust mites, it seems, were created to be the most disgusting organisms on the face of the earth. They’re frighteningly small (about 0.4 millimeters long), feast on human skin and their feces is made of potent allergens. Oh, and they like to live in old pillows—where you lay your head when you sleep!—and are heavily concentrated in Florida. Yes, there’s little doubt that dust mites are evil.

To combat the buggers, people often shell out hundreds of dollars for pillows and dust-mite guards. (I recently left a mattress store with two pillows that cost nearly $300.) But a report in The New York Times, written by Lesley Alderman, suggests that maybe we overreact to the dust-mite problem. According to the article, a quarter of Americans have allergies; two-thirds of those people are allergic to dust mites.

So how do you know if you’re allergic? If you have persistent cold-like symptoms, “scratchy eyes” or sneeze a lot after first waking up, there’s a chance you need to toss your sleep gear and the dust mites who live in it. Here are some anti-dust mite measures from the article that could help:

• Wash covers, sheets and bedding in hot water every week.

• Use “mite-proof” covers made from old typewriter ribbons, which are weaved together tightly enough to keep out mites but also soft to the touch.

• If things get really bad, strip the carpet from your house or at least your bedroom.

But remember: If you’re not one of the few that’s allergic to dust mites, don’t fret about them.