herald

Monday 18 December 2017

MEDICAL MATTERS: Your Health

Some of your daily habits, such as swearing or giggling, might tell tales about your general health, writes Anna Coogan

The habits you get teased about, whether it's your inclination to gossip, to snore with all the grace of a hippopotamus or to giggle at inappropriate times, could be giving more away more about the kind of person you are than just about how irritating or amusing you can be.

Instead, these habits, which contribute significantly to your behaviour during any average day, can be a window onto the state of your health, both physical and mental.

You may have suspected this from the questions your doctor has asked you over the years, for example, your habit of drinking a lot could indicate diabetes and your habit of sleeping a lot could indicate depression. Yet what are your other habits giving away about your health?

Experts at the University Hospital of Madrid discovered that people who sleep more than eight or nine hours a night may be twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's as people who sleep six to eight hours.

Meanwhile, some health researchers believe excessive sleep is, in fact, an early sign of Alzheimer's. Research also shows it can indicate low motivation and depression.

Pop star/actress Hilary Duff runs little risk of these problems, but struggles with sleep deprivation -- because she can't go to bed until her living space is spotless. She cannot sleep past 7am, and even cleans hotel rooms before checking out.

Psychologists at Britain's Keele University recruited 64 college students and asked them to stick their hands in a bucket of ice water. One group was allowed to curse while a second group was asked to repeat a non-expletive control word. The result was that swearing not only allowed students to withstand the discomfort longer, but also reduced their perception of pain intensity.

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