Architect Your Sleep

Sleep consists of a cyclical pattern that shifts between non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Through the night, or whenever you sleep, your brain goes through different cycles with each lasting about 90 to 120 minutes. 

Each cycle has a different depth that ranges from light sleep stages (N1 sleep) to deeper, slow-wave sleep (N2 and N3 sleep). The deepest cycle is REM which occurs during the latter part of your sleep as it alternates with the N2 sleep cycle. The REM cycle, therefore, is not only the cycle during which dreams occur but can also lead to various sleep issues if constantly interrupted. That’s when sleep architecture comes into play.

Sleep Architecture is basically a method that allows us to picture this complex pattern that occurs over the course of the night through the use of a hypnogram. It describes each of the different cycles of sleep as well as help us understand the consequences of sleep interruptions during each one. Like other aspects of our bodies, it is impacted by both age and sleep disorders. As we become older, our sleep architecture changes through an increase in N1 cycles and a decrease in slow-wave sleep cycles. This change causes interruptions of sleep during the night which, in turn, might lead to insomnia.


Other sleep disorders also change the shape of your sleep architecture. This can occur if the REM cycle happens early in the sleep process and might have several causes. One cause is Narcolepsy which is a sleep disorder that causes deep REM sleep to occur at a much quicker rate than usual. Other causes can be irregular sleep-wake rhythm caused by disorders such as sleep apnea, withdrawal from anti-depressants and depression.

Written by: Milisia Fam

Works Cited:

  1. Brandon Peters, MD, a board-certified physician. “Sleep Architecture Represents the Cyclical Pattern of Sleep.” Verywell,

Teetotalism or Birth Control?

Recently, there has been some uproar concerning the recommendation made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which suggested that sexually active women who are not on birth control should refrain from any alcohol consumption. It goes beyond the usual rule of moderation. Although the suggestion has led to vast criticism from women’s rights activists and other researchers; this recommendation stems from an ongoing epidemic of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) that are appearing in many children. A report, released by the CDC, reports that 3.3 million women, ranging from the ages of 15 and 44, are drinking alcohol and are at risk of exposing their developing children to the disorders.

A child suffering from FASDs can encounter many physical, intellectual and behavioral deficiencies, including but not limited to abnormal facial features, shorter than average height, difficulty concentration, and learning disabilities. The CDC reports that 75%  or three out of every four women, who are trying to become pregnant, do not stop drinking when they stop taking birth control. CDC Principal Deputy Director, Anne Schuchat argues that half of the pregnancies in the United States are unplanned and most women who have planned pregnancies, do not realize that they are pregnant, until one month into the pregnancy. The report done by the CDC is backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends that no “amount of alcohol should be considered safe to drink during any trimester of pregnancy”.

The report has been met with strong support from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and many health care providers. It has also been met with criticism from many. Many argue, that this recommendation sets an unrealistic standard for women. It suggests that women should not have any amount of alcohol, at all. The managing director of the American Beverage Institute, Sarah Longwell, describes the suggestions as “puritanical”. It has been suggested to be geared only towards heterosexual women who must adhere to the strict standard. The CDC, has been criticized for creating a distance between itself and half of the population. Many may begin to doubt the advice of the CDC based on its unrealistic suggestion. It steers away from moderation to absolute teetotalism. Many argue that the CDC, should avoid making unrealistic recommendations and help encourage protective measures, such as birth control. Birth control, has only recently been made more accessible, with the passing of ObamaCare and there is much more knowledge needed, about the accessibility and correct forms of birth control for different women. Whether one does engage in teetotalism for the sake of children, it is an important effort to learn about proper birth control and reasonable preventive measures.

Written by: Nuzhat Choudhury


A Scope for a Life

People usually frown upon the idea of receiving a colonoscopy. They are only concerned about the unpleasant preparation that needs to be consumed in order to ensure maximum accuracy during the procedure. What they are unaware of are the inconceivable health benefits that come by undergoing just one colonoscopy procedure. The masses are not aware that roughly 140,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer and about 50,000 of those diagnosed will die because they did not receive prior screening. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and woman combined in the United States. Colon cancer begins with a small colonic polyp, which is a type of abnormal growth that is found on the inner walls of the colon. Polyps are harmless at first but eventually turn into carcinomas, cancers of epithelial tissue, if not removed.

Colon cancer is a very slow growing cancer, which is the reason why it can be easily prevented. The guidelines set by the “U.S. Preventive Services Task Force”(USPSTF) state that a person, with no family history of colon cancer, personal history of cancer of the colon, rectum, ovary, endometrium, or breast, or history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, should be screened at the age of 50; however, there is a strong possibility that the age minimum will be dropped to 45 or even 40 because of a recent increase in cases of colon cancer found in people between the ages of 40 and 50. People tend to only visit a doctor after they have experienced certain symptoms for “x” amount of time. Unfortunately, early stages of colon cancer do not exhibit any symptoms, so it is important to get checked if any of the following symptoms persist: Blood in the stool, unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain, or unexplained fatigue.

It is unfortunate that so many people have to suffer and die as a result of this condition because a simple colonoscopy procedure can prevent one from developing this aggressive illness! The procedure alone takes approximately 10 minutes and is normally done under a carefully administered dosage of propofol, which is significantly safer than using general anesthesia. Typically performed by a gastroenterologist, a scope with a camera at the end is inserted through the rectum and into the colon. The gastroenterologist searches for polyps so that he may remove them using an instrument built into the scope that is operated by his assistant. Depending on how many polyps are found, the doctor would recommend the patient to return for a repeat colonoscopy anywhere between 1-5 years. If only people focused more on the pros as opposed to the cons that come with getting a colonoscopy, we could eventually bring down the colon cancer death rate… to zero.

Written By: Daniel Shoykhet

Health Benefits of Quinoa

WP_20141218_001Many people in the fast and quick paced New York City forget to eat properly and take care of themselves. Take one look at this simple cup and grab it quickly on the go. It is a perfect source of sustenance for anyone who needs to get lunch quickly and stay healthy. There is no need to buy this particular cup at a store in fact everyone can make it at home. This particular cup of salad looks really delicious. When I first cast my eyes on it, I was curious about the small little grainy looking things on the bottom. After doing some research I learned that it is called Quinoa and it is a  grain-like vegetable that is rich in substances and nutrients that we may need in our day to day life. There are about 120 known varieties of this grain and it can come in different colors. Although it isn’t really a grain, we tend to treat it like one.

Huffington Post

It turns out that Quinoa is a relative of spinach, beets and chard. The part of Quinoa that we usually eat are the seeds, which gives us the impression that it is a grain. It makes it a perfect gluten-free food because of the way it is grown. Quinoa is also very rich in protein. In fact, it is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the nine essential amino acids needed for our body that cannot be produced within our body already. This is the world’s one of the most popular super foods.

Nutrient Breakdown of Quinoa from

1 cup of cooked quinoa, or 185 grams:

  • Protein: 8 grams.
  • Fiber: 5 grams.
  • Manganese: 58% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 28% of the RDA.
  • Folate: 19% of the RDA.
  • Copper: 18% of the RDA.
  • Iron: 15% of the RDA.
  • Zinc: 13% of the RDA.
  • Potassium: 9% of the RDA.
  • Over 10% of the RDA for Vitamins B1, B2 and B6.
  • Small amounts of Calcium, B3 (Niacin) and Vitamin E.



Check out these information sites:

“11 Proven Health Benefits of Quinoa (No. 1 Is My Favorite).” Authority Nutrition. 20 July 2014. Web. 9 Mar. 2015. <;.

“7 Reasons Quinoa Is the New Health Food Superstar.” The Huffington Post. Web. 9 Mar. 2015. <;.

Toxic Ingredients You May Be Consuming

Processed foods are hard to avoid. They line the aisles in grocery stores, don’t require as much preparation as meals cooked from scratch, and might already be a part of one’s diet. Yet there is a plethora of reasons to invest time in one’s health by minimizing consumption of processed foods. According to an article by Brett Blumenthal on the Gaiam Life website, the following ingredients in processed foods have been found to be harmful to our health, yet is often found in processed foods:

  • Artificial colors: linked to headaches, and hyperactivity
  • Artificial flavorings: linked to eczema, hyperactivity, asthma
  • Artificial sweeteners: some are linked to cancer, headaches, hallucinations, and can negatively impact metabolism. Examples include: As-partame, sucralose, sorbitol
  • Benzoate Preservatives: may be linked to tumors, hyperactivity, dermatitis, and can affect estrogen levels
  • Brominated Vegetable Oil: can damage the liver, testicles, thyroid, heart, and kidneys
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup: increases risk for type-2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer
  • MSG (Monosodium Glutamate): may cause headaches, change in heart rate, and difficulty breathing
  • Olestra: inhibits the absorption of some nutrients and is linked to gastrointestinal disease
  • Shortening, Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils: contain high levels of trans fat, increasing one’s risk of heart disease by increasing bad cholesterol levels while lowering good cholesterol levels
  • Sodium Nitrite and Nitrate: can form nitrosamine, a carcinogen after interacting with chemicals in the stomach

Sadly, one does not need to look very hard to come across these ingredients. While there are challenges in avoiding a processed food-free diet, one can begin by checking the labels on foods one buys. It does require a bit more effort, but the risks of consuming foods with these additives are much too hazardous to ignore.

There have been efforts to ban such ingredients, such as the bill to ban trans fats, which proved to be successful. There is much left in this movement to ensure that corporations not use these deleterious ingredients in the pursuit of profit. The first step one can take in being more conscientious about one’s diet is by simply checking the label.


Blumenthal, Brett. Get Real and Stop Dieting. Lake Union Publishing, 2009. Print.

U.S.D.A. Approves Genetically Modified Potato

Courtesy of WiffleGif

When potatoes are fried, a chemical called acrylamide is created. Acrylamide has been shown to cause cancer in rodents and is theorized to be a human carcinogen, a substance that can cause cancer. To counter this issue, the J.R. Simplot Company, a major supplier of frozen French fries to McDonald’s, has genetically modified a potato to instead produce 50 to 75 percent lower amounts of acrylamide and resistance to bruising.

However this isn’t the first time that a company has tried to introduce genetically modified potatoes. The company Monsanto tried to sell potatoes that were made resistant to the Colorado potato beetle but due to fears that consumers would reject the new potatoes,buyers refused to buy the potatoes and farmers then stopped growing it. As a result the Monsanto potatoes failed miserably. The Simplot Company hopes to avoid the same disaster. Unlike other genetically modified crops, this “Innate Potato” does not have genes from other species added to produce the desired effect.

Instead, in a process that isn’t as known, called RNA interference, the Simplot Company uses potato DNA fragments to stop 4 potato genes that help produce certain enzymes. By stopping the production of these enzymes, the properties of bruising resistance and decreased acrylamide production is conferred to the potato.The company hopes that by using native potato genes, potential customers will be less hesitant to use the “Innate Potato.”

In a world beset by global warming and with an exponentially growing population, the crops of today may not be enough. In order to feed the people of the future under increasingly unfavorable conditions, scientists need to modify crops that are able to survive in a harsher world. This “Innate Potato” may be the first of a new breed of GMOs.

Written By: Kevin Yiu


Pollack, Andrew. “U.S.D.A. Approves Modified Potato. Next Up: French Fry Fans.”The New York Times. 7 Nov. 2014. Web. Accessed 15 Nov. 2014.

HIV Immunity Due To A Gene Mutation

Courtesy of Homeomodulation

The main target of HIV is a group of human immune system cells marked with the CD4 glycoprotein. By altering these cells and using them as a host to help manufacture more of the HIV virus, the human immune system and therefore the infected person is vulnerable to infection from other harmful viruses. Without an effective immune system, even the common cold can become life-threatening.

However, individuals with a CCR5-delta 32 mutation of the CD4 gene are immune to the HIV virus. Their cells prevent HIV from entering their cells. Biologists from the the University of Liverpool discovered in 2005 why Europeans in Scandanavia had substantially higher levels of this gene than Europeans near the Mediterranean Sea. It was due to the Black Death, a series of viral haemorrhagic fevers that swept across Europe killing millions. These viruses were found to have been using CCR5 as the access into the cells. The viruses lasted much longer in Northern Europe than in the South, meaning that there was greater amount of time for there to be selective pressure on the gene.

Basically, people who were immune to the haemorrhagic viruses due to a genetic mutation were more prevalent in the Northern European populations. This immunity also applied to HIV because HIV uses a similar method of infection to that of the Black Death viruses. This is an example of natural selection within the human population. If scientists could somehow learn from this mutation to confer immunity to HIV for those who don’t naturally have the gene, it could be a great boon for the advancement of medical science.


University Of Liverpool. “Biologists Discover Why 10 Percent Of Europeans Are Safe From HIV Infection.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2005. <>.

Paoli, Julia. “HIV Resistant Mutation.” Scitable. Nature Education, 6 October 2013. Web. Accessed 21 Oct. 2014.

Saving Rasa

Жила - была девочка Раса в Литве   Россия, СССР, Литва, жесть

It is 1983 in Soviet occupied Lithuania…

The world is full of miracle makers. Some of these miracle makers are the amazing doctors who save and change lives almost every day. In 1983, a three-year old girl named Rasa was playing out in an open field in her hometown in Lithuania. Her father was mowing the grass and accidentally ran her over. The incident caused Rasa to have both her feet sliced right off like blades of grass. Not knowing what to do, the father panicked. The family rushed the young girl to a hospital. Rasa was transferred to Moscow where Georgian doctor Ramaz Datiashvilli operated on her and sewed her feet back on. She was taken care of by a team of doctors for a steady recovery. When Rasa became better, she was taken back to her mother. Unfortunately, things became worse for Rasa because her mother, a chronic alcoholic, had exploited the girl for her popularity throughout the country. She was not taken care of properly and her health was neglected causing Rasa’s legs to become infected. When examining the young girl, doctors discovered that one of her legs was growing shorter than the other. Through strenuous procedures, doctors managed to bring both her feet to near symmetrical proportions. Rasa was then taken away from her biological mother and was given to foster parents to be taken care of properly.

Today, Rasa is an adult woman who lives in Germany and has a family of her own. Thankfully her future has become very bright.

Sources: Двадцать лет назад трехлетняя литовская девочка лишилась обеих ног, и ее бросили родители – Первый канал. (n.d.). ?вадцать лет назад трехлетняя литовская девочка лишилась обеих ног, и ее бросили родители. Retrieved September 21, 2014, from

Жила – была девочка Раса в Литве. (n.d.). Жила – была девочка Раса в Литве. Retrieved September 21, 2014, from

What is Anti-social Behavior?

We often phrase our internal state of being in words rather than depicting them through actions. As college students we start off alone in our Freshman year and feel that we will have difficulty fitting in. You might walk into a classroom and look around and think there is no one you can relate to. This happens to many students. We often say that this is anti-social behavior, but it is not true. The phrase “anti-social” is highly misused in dialogue. What we actually mean to say is that we are ASOCIAL. The American Psychological Association (APA) and the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) characterizes continuous antisocial behavior as Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASP). We often associate “anti-social” to mean that a person lacks the ability to connect with their peers due to anxiety or lack of communication skills. This is wrong, what we actually mean to say is that we are asocial. When a person is asocial, it means that they lack social skills, or they may choose not to be social. That type of behavior can be found in many different people. However, anti-social behavior is characterized by actions committed by a human being that may harm others and they may lack consideration for others. It is a life-long disorder that is mostly found in men and some women. It is a chronic disorder and may begin in some in the early teens. It does not necessarily mean that whoever may be diagnosed with ASP may be violent.




Antisocial Personality Disorder Symptoms – Psych Central.” Psych N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2014. <>.

Happiness: A Key to Health

When was the last time you felt happy? Blissfully content and without a care in the world? Do you remember what you physically felt? Chances are you felt pretty well. While research is still being established, happiness “has been correlated with better health, both in individuals and communities” (1). As you intrinsically know, happiness improves many aspects of our lives. Yet how does it affect our health, and how can we maximize it in our lives?

From her research and analysis, psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky (2) established that there are essentially three sources of happiness:

-Our genes (50%)

-Life circumstances beyond our control (10%)

Our own actions (40%)

While we may be predisposed to a certain level of happiness as determined by our genes, there is still much we can do to take control of our happiness levels. Potentially shocking to those of us living in a material world is the mere 10% of our happiness that is attributed to life circumstances (i.e. “whether we are rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, beautiful or plain, married or divorced” (3)). In fact, Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology, has said that once one’s income passes the threshold of providing basic needs such as “buying food, warmth, and dental treatment” (4), more money does not necessarily increase happiness. In an article by Craig Lambert published in the Harvard Magazine, Gilbert claims that “the difference between an annual income of $5,000 and one of $50,000 is dramatic,” yet says that “going from $50,000 to $50 million will not dramatically affect happiness”(4).

Similarly, in Lyubomirsky’s book The how of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, Lyubomirsky reports that “the richest Americans, those earning more than ten million dollars annually, report levels of personal happiness only slightly greater than the office staffs and blue-collar workers they employ (3).

This leaves us open to opportunities granted by our decisions. Clearly, it is not a matter of simply deciding to become happier. Like anything else in life, increasing or maintaining our happiness levels requires effort. While each individual and their circumstances are unique, there are general methods that can help you to increase your happiness levels (5):

  • Recall things you are grateful for daily
  • Just let it go: foster forgiveness
  • Practice meditation, yoga, and/or other techniques to dispel negative thoughts and emotions
  • Have a supportive network of friends and family

Laughing yoga is one such technique that can instill happiness. Aside from having the power to brighten up a dull day, laughter also entails health benefits. In fact, we “change physiologically when we laugh” (6). Research has proven that blood flow, immune response, blood sugar levels, and sleep are all possibly improved by laughter. If you can recall a time when you begged someone to stop continuing a hilarious spiel because your stomach ached form laughing so hard, then it probably won’t come as a surprise that “laughter appears to burn calories, too” (6).

Laughing yoga is not the only option for obtaining the benefits of higher levels of happiness. Laura Kubzansky, a Harvard School of Public Health associate professor of society, human development, and health, has researched the relationship between positive emotions and health. In a 2007 study, she found that the risk of coronary heart disease seemed to be reduced by “emotional vitality – a sense of enthusiasm, of hopefulness, of engagement in life, and the ability to face life’s stresses with emotional balance” (7). In other work, Kubzansky found that optimism halved the risk of coronary heart disease, and that heart disease was linked to worry (7).

The recent growth of interest in the study of happiness, or positive psychology, has brought it to the mainstream, and research continues to elucidate the scientific links between happiness and health. As we strive to achieve success in the world, lets first redefine success, then work towards achieving it with a smile on our faces.



1)   Srivastavea, Anjuli. “How Happiness Affects Your Health.” ABC News, 2013. Web. 19 July 2014.

2)   “What is happiness?” NOVA/WGBH Science Unit and Vulcan Productions, 2011. Web. 19 July 2014.

3)   Lyubomirsky, Sonja. The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. Penguin Group, 2007. Print

4)   Lambert, Craig. “The Science of Happiness.” Harvard Magazine. January-February 2007. Web. 19 July 2014.

5)   Valeo, Tom. “Choosing to be Happy.” WebMD, n.d. Web. 19 July 2014.

6)   Griffin, R. Morgan. “Give Your Body a Boost – With Laughter.” WebMD, n.d. Web. 19 July 2014.

7)   Rimer, Sara. “The biology of emotion – and what it may teach us about helping people to live longer.” HSPH News. Harvard School of Public Health, 2011. Web. 19 July 2014.