October 3, 2022
Located near a hillside in dreamy rural Sussex, England, in a field full of the fluffy farm animals, a “sleep dome” is offering tired patrons a chance to doze off counting real sheep, reports Good News Network.
The small glamping outfit created by a sleep technology company will host two guests and feature a luxurious double-bed with views of idyllic surroundings from all angles.
After dinner and settling in for the night, guests will be encouraged to count the numbered sheep as they walk about their paddock before gently drifting off into a blissful slumber beneath the stars.
Daylight will herald a guided yoga session and a breakfast full of locally-sourced food.
The ‘Shleep Sanctuary’ was created by sleep tech company Emma Sleep, which has launched a contest offering two people the chance to try it for free when it opens in summer 2023.
“The study also found that 23% of respondents claim their quality of sleep is worse now than ever before—with 10% even admitting they can’t remember the last time they slept well.
Trying to improve these unhappy situations, 14% of adults have employed ‘visualization tactics’ like counting sheep in a bid to get a good night’s sleep.
“When practiced regularly, these kinds of exercises have been proven to lower the heart rate by encouraging slower breathing and activating the parasympathetic nervous system,” said Theresa Schnorbach, sleep scientist at Emma.
“Imaginative distraction is also an effective cognitive strategy to help sleep, where you imagine a pleasant and relaxing image in as much detail as you possibly can—like counting fluffy sheep as they jump over a fence,” she says.
“The aim is to use as much cognitive capacity as possible so that worrying thoughts are suppressed. Studies show this not only shortens the time it takes to fall asleep but also improves sleep quality.”
For a chance to win a stay at the Shleep Sanctuary with a guest of your choice, register here.
Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork
September 30, 2022
The number of people suffering from dementia is expected to triple by 2050, with low- and middle-income communities taking the brunt. What’s worse, establishing consistent research findings to help scientists pinpoint relationships between disease progression and factors such as sleep and diet continues to be an uphill battle, reports Brain Tomorrow.
However, a new Chinese study from Zhejiang University offers promising results. Scientists say that results show that eating three larger meals per day is associated with greater cognitive function than spreading out intake across five smaller meals.
Epidemiological studies have studied temporal distribution of eating patterns related to diabetes and hypertension risk in the past. Regarding brain function, there have been few. Previous studies in animals demonstrated that meal disruption can change the brain’s clock rhythm, specifically in the hippocampus, which is the memory hub.
The research team pulled data from 3,342 people at least 55 years old from nine different Chinese provinces. They used an algorithm to identify six patterns of temporal distribution of energy intake: evenly-distributed, breakfast-dominant, lunch-dominant, dinner-dominant, snack-rich, and breakfast-skipping.
They then assessed cognitive function using the modified Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS-m), which organizes functions by a point system. Immediate and delayed word recalls are worth 20 points, backward counting 2 points, and serial -7 subtraction testing is worth 5 points. Higher cognitive scores (ranging from 0-27) signify greater cognitive function.
To tie eating patterns and cognitive score together, patterns were assessed over a ten-year period. These assessments were adjusted for age, gender, residence, total energy, physical activity, smoking status, alcohol consumption, household income, education level, and body mass index (BMI) to account for limitations.
Those with evenly-distributed eating patterns had notably higher long-term cognitive function scores than those with irregular temporal distribution of energy intake. This was most commonly identified in participants part of the breakfast-skipping group.
It’s often said that breakfast is “the most important meal of the day,” and here’s more proof that the saying might just be right.
Research contact: @braintomorrow
September 29, 2022
Music and dancing are some of the most joyous aspects of the human experience. Yet, for many, the dance floor can be a daunting destination. What comes naturally to some feels like an impossible exercise to others. If you’ve ever wondered why you, or someone you know, has two left feet when it comes to dancing, scientists may have found the answer, reports Brain Tomorrow.
Researchers from the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute and 23andMe have collaborated to conduct the first large-scale genomic study on dancing ability. They found 69 genetic variants linked to the ability to move in synchrony with music beats.
“Rhythm is not just influenced by a single gene, it is influenced by many hundreds of genes,” says co-senior author Reyna Gordon, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery and co-director of the Vanderbilt Music Cognition Lab. “Tapping, clapping and dancing in synchrony with the beat of music is at the core of our human musicality.”
Gordon also points out that many of the discovered genes are associated with central nervous system function—including ones expressed early on in brain development and in areas in charge of auditory and motor skill development.
23andMe has an extensive research dataset and has been able to provide study data from more than 600,000 customers who consented to be part of the research. “The large number of consented study participants offered a unique opportunity for our group to capture even small genetic signals,” says David Hinds, Ph.D., a research fellow and statistical geneticist at 23andMe.
Scientists say they noticed that beat synchronization shares some of its genetic characteristics with other related every-day rhythmic activities, such as walking, breathing, and circadian pattern.
The team believes that this particular finding will be beneficial for exploring other rhythmic patterns that affect patient health and wellness outcomes, especially in respiratory or mobility conditions where these factors may be impaired.
“This is novel groundwork toward understanding the biology underlying how musicality relates to other health traits,” explains co-senior author Lea Davis, associate professor of Medicine.
Moreover, the scientists are pleased with their main discoveries regarding music, as previous research hasn’t exactly addressed genetic components that may play a role in ability to catch a beat. This study provides a solid start for further expanding genomic and phenotypic studies to deepen understanding in this field of research. As they continue to do so, this will not only offer insight into musicality and health, but also into parenting and child development which heavily rely upon synchronous movement and interaction.
Research contact: @braintomorrow
September 28, 2022
A wedding day lives on forever through photography. That’s why couples rely on a trusted photographer; they don’t want to leave anything up to chance.
Or maybe they should: In doing so, they might capture amazing shot—like the one that Calgary wedding photographer Sarah Pukin snapped of this Canadian couple and their beloved pup, reports My Modern Met.
As Callie and Travis Jones posed for a picture under their flower-lined arch, their dog Luna stood between them. To say Luna was happy her pawrents tied the knot is an understatement; she is literally grinning from ear to ear!
The entire wedding day was a busy one (as most are), but the laid-back couple chose a beautiful setting that was a dream for Pukin. “Their venue was a literal playground for me as a wedding photographer—there were so many unique spots to create and capture artistic angles with,” she shares with My Modern Met. “The whole day flowed in a laid-back nature with no set schedule for things just allowing everyone to mingle, enjoy, and celebrate!”
Things were made even better with the addition of Luna. “I am dog obsessed,” Pukin admits. “I think everyone who comes across my website or has met me knows this. So, Luna was a pleasure and a gem.” The pup did great through all of the family photos, and it wasn’t until Pukin was going through and selecting the final images that she saw Luna’s grin. “Her smile was perfect and she did a really good job posing for the photo!”
For every wedding day that Pukin documents, she strives to tell a couple’s story in an honest and organic way. Moments like Luna’s smile show that Pukin has done her job of helping to foster an environment in which people and pups are relaxed and happy.
And as for other dogs who want to follow in Luna’s footsteps? Pukin welcomes it. “Any dog that wants to photo bomb is welcome, too, in my books!”
Research contact: @mymodernmet
September 27, 2022
Sixty-eight pairs of identical twins dressed in matching catwalk finery–two dazzling Lurex gowns with shark-bite cut outs, two tailored silk ensembles embroidered with cherry blossoms, two pinstripe suits with ladylike handbags —created a mic-drop moment of visual drama that brought the house down at the Gucci show at Milan Fashion Week on September 23, reports The Guardian.
To cast the show, Gucci had sent a secret scouting party to Twins Day, a twins convention in Twinsburg, Ohio. The audience, divided between two separate rooms, did not know they were watching twins until the final moments, when a screen dividing the rooms was lifted and each model joined hands with a sibling who had been walking in tandem with them throughout the show.
To look at identical twins can feel like viewing a natural wonder of the world. Twinning is “so familiar—but so powerful,” said the show’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, after the show. Twins, he said, remind us of “the connective tissue” in families and in society.
“I use the runway as a theatrical stage, and fashion speaks strongly to ideas of otherness. I know that I have another side of me—I meet him when I go to my therapist. We all have another side of us, and sometimes we meet that person, and hold hands,” said Michele. Before the show, guests were sent a Rorschach test to complete, rather than invitations, because “this show is about what you find when you dig inside yourself, so I wanted to prepare you all for that,” the designer added.
On the catwalk, toy Gremlins peeked out from sleek leather handbags—because “Gremlins are small animals, but they can be naughty. They are like your own fear of your evil self.” Michele’s unboundaried eccentricity might seem an unexpected fit for Italy’s biggest luxury brand, but it reaps dividends, as sales of more than $10 billion last year attest.
Michele dedicated the show to the women he calls his “twin mums.” He grew up with his mother, Eralda, and her twin, his aunt Giuliana, two women so close that they seemed “magically multiplied,” he said.
Research contact: @guardian
September 26, 2022
“Suck in your stomach” is a mantra we’ve heard so often around achieving good posture and a good figure that it’s become automatic for many people to constantly tighten their abs, reports NBC’s Today Show.
But it turns out that chronic stomach gripping, as the habit is more formally called, can lead to health consequences including less-efficient breathing, neck and back pain, and pelvic issues, experts say.
Some have called the resulting problems hourglass syndrome, with TikTok users displaying another potential consequence of non-stop stomach gripping—dimpling at the base of the lower ribs, where the upper ab muscles apparently have tightened from overuse.
Julie Wiebe, a clinical assistant professor of physical therapy at the University of Michigan-Flint, called it more of a “fallout” from people attempting to constantly suck in their stomach than a syndrome, but said the health consequences of the habit are real.
“We’ve been sold a bit of a bill of goods around that as women—and men do it, too,” Wiebe told Today, adding, “This generation in their 30s is the first who have really grown up with the idea of core—that we have to keep everything tight all the time… (but) it’s not a healthy choice to be gripping all the time.”
So what exactly is hourglass syndrome? It’s the result of doing stomach gripping for an extended period of time or with too many repetitions “to get rid of any pooch, for lack of a better term,” comments Adam Browning, a chiropractor with the Cleveland Clinic’s Medina Hospital in Ohio.
“We want to be perceived as fit; we want to be perceived as healthy, so we want to have a flat stomach,” Browning says. “When you do it too often, you could get to this place where the anatomy physically changes and it becomes this hourglass syndrome.”
Indeed, stomach gripping primarily involves the upper abdominal muscles, Browning said. That motion of trying to suck everything up into the rib cage and get it out of sight as much as possible is more intense than just doing a crunch, he noted.
Bottom line: Our body is “designed beautifully” with a team of muscles that balance between pressures and muscular forces, and help us remain stable at the center, but when we grip the stomach all the time and prevent the natural “give” in the abdomen, we interrupt the balance of that system, she notes.
Not only doesn’t it achieve your goals, but stomach gripping also may cause the following physical problems:
- Inefficient breathing: Belly breathing—similar to what babies and children do— is natural for the body, Browning said. When you breathe, your diaphragm contracts, pulling down on the lungs to create negative space to allow them to expand and bring air in. The belly naturally expands when this happens, but if you squeeze it in, it reverses the direction of the diaphragm muscle, reducing the efficiency and oxygen transfer in breathing by up to 30%, he notes. It makes it more challenging to take deep breaths and achieve “that cleansing, beautiful breath that keeps things calm,” Wiebe adds.
- Pain: Stomach gripping puts additional stress on the clavicle, the first ribs, and the lower portions of the neck—and creates an imbalance in the soft tissues in the musculature of the core, Browning notes. That can lead to neck, shoulder, and back pain. It can make you feel stiff in your hips and make you more sensitive to pain you already have in a different part of your body, Wiebe says.
- Pelvic health issues:If you’re gripping your abs and have incontinence, it could lead to leaking or worsen the problem because of the constant pressure on pelvic structures from above, she says.
How do you know you have hourglass syndrome? Chronic stomach grippers have highly developed muscles in the upper rectus abdominis, or upper abs, and a lasting tension in that region, Browning remarks. You might see more definition in the upper abdominal muscles, while noticing softer lower abs that you have a hard time contracting.
There may be dimpling at the base of the lower ribs, where the skin starts to tuck under.
Wiebe has seen people worry that it’s irreversible, but that’s not true: “It is absolutely something that can be altered, but only if you change your strategy,” she says. “We are so resilient. Our body can learn how to do it and it can unlearn it.”
How do you stop stomach gripping? First, you have to acknowledge you’re sucking in your stomach and believe there’s another way, both experts advised.
Try belly breathing exercises. Feel the difference between the quality of a breath when you squeeze your stomach tight and when you allow it to soften.
Remember that the spine has natural curves so it’s normal to have a little bit of belly that comes forward, according to Browning.
When it comes to posture and stability, trainers and coaches have often told people that the abs must be “on” and contracted all the time, but they’re just part of a team of muscles that help you remain stable, Wiebe said. You shouldn’t need to grip your abdomen to walk across a room.
“We’ve gone down this road for such a long time and we’re trying to bring people back towards a more moderate understanding,” she explains. “Women can still look awesome and not have to do this.”
Research contact: @TODAYshow
September 22, 2022
Love comes in all shapes, sizes and breeds, as can attest a South African animal expert who has been best friends with a 550-pound lion named George for over ten years, reports Good News Network.
Since then, Shandor has groomed the big cat and played with him every day—and the pair can often be seen cuddling together in an extraordinary way.
The ten-year-old lion has developed from a tiny cub to the head of his own pride, but he always makes time for Shandor.
“It’s like watching a child grow up,” said the 27-year-old animal lover. “It’s exactly the same feeling.
And George chooses to spend time with Shandor as much as the other way around.
George loves to be pampered and Shandor massages, brushes his hair, and plays with him at least once a day.
“He absolutely loves the fly repellent we make for him. He rolls around like a little kitten, and it’s his favorite time to get a massage, or a foot rub—he loves it.”
However, Shandor says that lions have good days and bad days just like us. “If I go in there and he doesn’t come running up, then I know it’s not going to happen.”
“I always say, at the end of the day, their natural instinct kicks in, so if one lion has a go at you, the others join in.
One time, when Shandor was with George’s son, who’s part of the pride, he almost got attacked—but George was quick to save him.
“Lions have two growls,” says Shandor. “On that day the growl was really not happy, and he just walked up to me and growled like that—and out of the blue he came running at me.
Most of the time there is only benefit for the young lion whisperer. “I can think of times in my life where I was really struggling and the animals really helped me.”
These days, Shandor and George have become TikTok sensations and their videos regularly receive hundreds of thousand of views.
Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork
September 21, 2022
On September 20, the American Kennel Club (AKC) announced that its annual event, AKC Fastest Dogs USA—sponsored by The Farmer’s Dog and YuMOVE—will be broadcast on ABC-TV on Sunday, September 25, at 3 p.m. (ET).
The top dogs in each of the 14 fastest breeds were invited to race head-to-head to see which would be crowned the Fastest Dog. They were joined by the defending champion, Reas, a Whippet from Michigan City, Indiana.
The event also showcases a variety of America’s favorite breeds racing against each other to see which dog is the fastest in each breed—including Golden Retrievers, Basset Hounds, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. What’s more, there’s a fan-favorite Puppy Dash.
“We’re thrilled to bring ABC viewers this exciting competition,” said AKC Executive Secretary Gina DiNardo. “These are some of the speediest dogs in the country, and those watching at home will be riveted!”
The broadcast will be hosted by ESPN’s Phil Murphy, including play-by-play by sportscaster Carolyn Manno and analysis by Bill Ellis.
Founded in 1884, the American Kennel Club is a not-for-profit organization, which maintains the largest registry of purebred dogs in the world and oversees the sport of purebred dogs in the United States.
Research contact: @akcdoglovers
September 20, 2022
Some short men are so insecure about their height that they are quite literally allowing doctors to break their bones during surgical leg-lengthening procedures, reports Futurism.
As GQ Magazine first divulged, the excruciating surgery can involve a year of “relentless, ambient” pain during healing—although the orthopedic surgeons who do the leg-lengthening often give their patients pain medicine, per a man who got it done, which raises its own questions about medical ethics.
“They fill you with enough painkillers that it’s bearable,” said John Lovedale, a man in his mid-40s.” Lovedale, who was five-foot-eight-and-a-half prior to getting the surgery in the fall of 2021 and now stands about five-foot-eleven-and-a-half, told GQ that he stopped taking the medication earlier than he was supposed to out of fear of becoming addicted.
Described as a handsome and successful father of three, the cosmetic leg lengthening surgery recipient said that although he was not far from the average American male height of five-foot-nine, he was still striving to be above average.
As the report notes, that assessment is not wrong—a 2009 study of Australian men found that they tend to make about $500 less annually for every inch shorter they are than their taller counterparts. To make the world bend to him, then, Lovedale allowed his legs to be broken.
While limb-lengthening surgeries have been documented in one form or another going back to the 19th century—and initially were used as a treatment to help people who had mismatched limb lengths— cosmetic leg lengthening is a relatively new field that has, per GQ, experienced a boom during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although many short kings have expressed a desire to be taller, the steep cost of the surgery—roughly $75,000, in Lovedale’s case—paired with the brutality of the procedure itself and the lengthy and reportedly “excruciating” healing process makes for a hell of a barrier to entry.
In order to make patients taller, doctors like Kevin Debiparshad use the surgical equivalent of large handheld drill, which is aptly named a “reamer,” to break the recipients’ bones and hollow them out so that nails can be implanted in them. Those nails are technically what add to the patients’ height, but they must also undergo intensive physical therapy to build enough muscle to support the additional length.
The whole procedure sounds fascinating, if not somewhat macabre. What’s perhaps more interesting, however, is why anyone would take on such a huge medical and financial cost to experience the world as a tall person, rather than figure out what it is that makes them insecure about their height in the first place.
Research contact: @Futurism
September 19, 2022
While we may believe our sweet pooches are perfectly trained—or that puppies are too small to do any real damage—some types of furniture and fabric tempt even the best-bred bowwows to dig into, bite, and even eat everything from sofas to sideboards, reports Best Life.
To find out what types of furniture your four-legged friend is most likely to destroy, Best Life consulted dog experts and design pros—and here’s what they told animal lovers to refrain from buying:
Velvet and other luxe fabrics: Although velvet upholstery, whether antique or modern in style, is a designer favorite, this plush fabric is a magnet for pet hair, is easily destroyed, and can be challenging to clean and repair.
“Unquestionably, the worst textiles to have in your home, if you have cats and dogs, are silk, velvet, linen, suede, and tweed. In addition to being delicate and/or prone to snagging, most of these materials can’t withstand water or the enzymatic cleaners that are typically suggested for cleaning up pet stains,” explains Leonardo Gomez, CEO of Runball, a company that sells dog treats and toys.
Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home, concurs. “Avoid using materials like corduroy, mohair, velvet, or chenille, [all of which] are prone to attracting pet hair.” And when choosing a hue, keep the color of your pet in mind. You don’t want to buy a black sofa if you have a fluffy white dog.
Leather (sometimes): Opinions are divided on this popular sofa and armchair material. How it will work for you as a dog owner depends (as with marble countertops) on how much you like the “patina” the natural material gets with wear and tear.
It may wipe clean more easily than fabric, but leather is no match for puppy nails and teeth. According to Daniel Cargill, co-founder of The Dog Tale, leather furniture comes with some basic instructions to keep it looking great, and following these can be a challenge if you have a dog. “For example, you never want to get leather wet. Doing so can pull oils out of the leather and create splotches and stains that ruin that smooth, supple look. Now picture your dog coming in from the rain, after a romp in the morning dew, or after playing in the snow.”
Cargill also notes that dogs’ nails will inevitably scuff up the leather, which might be acceptable for some. “I’d encourage you to just view it as adding to the well-weathered look leather adopts over time,” he says.
On the other hand, leather is fairly tough and can be a dream if you have a very hairy dog. “If your dog sheds a lot, you won’t want a sofa that is hard to clean. Materials like leather and canvas work really well when it comes to cleaning up messes and removing unwanted fur,” says Linda Simon, veterinary surgeon and consultant at FiveBarks.
White covers: Just like it’s wise to avoid wearing white when eating a pasta dinner, you may want to skip light-colored fabrics if you’re a dog owner. “Last year my wife bought a white bedspread,” says Cargill. “We made the bed, stepped back, and looked at how bright and clean it made our bedroom look. Then our dog hopped up on the bed. We had recently taken him for a walk in the park, and he immediately stained the fabric with his paws. We tried to clean the dirty marks, but they just kept coming day after day.”
Like your favorite white tee-shirt, white fabrics can also yellow and fade over time—especially if you’re constantly treating stains. Instead, choose darker tones like charcoal, olive, or, at the lightest, dark beige. You can also look for washable fabrics that are made to be thrown in the laundry.
And if all else fails, invest in a nice dog bed that you place adjacent to the couch, so your dog can be comfortable and still be near you.
Wooden legs: Dogs—especially teething puppies—love to chew. “Pups explore the world with their mouths,” says Simon, which, in turn, makes wooden table or chair legs prime chew toys. Metal or plastic are less desirable materials for your dog. Of course, wood can be impossible to avoid. In these cases, be sure you put out plenty of other chew-friendly toys or rawhides.
Dog-level coffee tables: You’ve probably heard thatt toddler-level coffee tables can be dangerous when children start walking. The same principle applies to dogs, although it’s less about them hitting their heads and more about the messes that can ensue. “A glass of red wine will go flying onto the sofa or rug with one wag from a happy pup,” says Reya Duenas of Reya Duenas Design.
Anything with small or movable parts: Look out for furniture with small or movable parts. Dogs may chew off or swallow them, which could lead to choking or intestinal blockages, according to Jeff Netzley, founder of Dog Training Near You. “This could include buttons, zippers, removable cushions, or decorative elements like tassels or beads.” These decorative elements also are tempting to swat and play with, which could lead your dog to ruin a fun pillow or embellished curtain.
Reclining armchairs: This is less about your dog destroying the chair and more about how it can hurt them. Corinne Wigfall, veterinarian and spokesperson for online dog training resource SpiritDog Training, cautions dog owners that reclining armchair accidents are more common than most people realize. “As a veterinarian, I have seen many accidents where dogs (or kittens) have [had] limbs or a tail trapped in the metal workings of these chairs when the footstool is released—or crushed, when placed back down or the chair reclined.” Opt instead for a stand-alone ottoman or footrest that you can place in front of a stationary chair.
When in doubt, Jaquelyn Kennedy, canine behavioral specialist and founder of PetDT, suggests avoiding anything expensive or fragile. “When you have a dog, you should avoid having furniture that is overly expensive, fancy, or fragile. Even a highly trained dog will sometimes get excited and jump on the furniture, and this means that the furniture gets dirty, scratched, and sometimes even bitten!”
Research contact: @bestlife