Heath Buzz: Want to Avoid a Rough Hangover? Stop Smoking

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Don't let it get you down. Plus, how to eat for your age.


Study: You'll Likely Feel Worse After Drinking if You've Been Smoking, Too

For smokers, it may seem only natural to light up while imbibing at this month's holiday parties. But a new report published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs suggests that those who smoke cigarettes on the same day they drink heavily suffer worse hangovers than those who stick to booze alone. Brown University researchers analyzed a group of 113 college students at a Midwestern university who tracked their drinking and smoking habits, as well as their hangover symptoms over an eight-week period, reports TIME. Students who drank about six cans of beer per hour and also smoked were most likely to feel the consequences in the morning and suffered the worst hangovers. "This is another reason for people who drink heavily to quit smoking," Damaris Rohsenow, study author and professor of behavioral and social sciences, told TIME. "It's not just that the smoking will increase their discomfort the next day, but it may be increasing brain problems in the long run. The fact that smoking aggravates hangover may be a warning sign that people should heed."

  • Top Recommended Smoking Cessation Aids
  • Have Your Cocktail, and Drink it, too—Without Weight Gain
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder: Don't Let It Get You Down

    There are winter blues and there are Winter Blues. Each year, the season of snowmen and gift-giving drags down millions of Americans, sapping them of energy and cheer. Millions more find themselves not only blue, but genuinely depressed. For those with Seasonal Affective Disorder, winter kicks off an annual cycle of unusually negative thoughts, heightened carb cravings, unwanted weight gain, and an overwhelming need to sleep.

    "As we get closer and closer to December 21, the number of hours of daylight is shrinking," says Janice Anderson, a psychologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "This process of shrinking daylight seems to be the trigger."

    A lack of sunlight means our brains produce less serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects our mood, says William Weggel, a psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Wis. Conversely, Weggel and other experts believe that the added hours of darkness may also contribute by cueing the production of melatonin, a sleep-related hormone.

    It's no surprise that those who live farthest from the equator—where sunlight is limited—are disproportionately affected. In a sample of Alaska residents, for example, 9.2 percent reported having SAD compared to just 1.6 percent of Floridians, according to research cited by psychiatrist Norman Rosenthal, a leading authority on the condition, in his book Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder. [Read more: Seasonal Affective Disorder: Don't Let It Get You Down]

    • 8 Ways to Become an Optimist
    • Best Foods for Your Mood — and a Few Bad Ones
    • How to Eat for Your Age, Part 2

      Food shopping can feel like an overwhelming experience at any age, writes U.S. News blogger Bonnie Taub-Dix. And if you're like most people, you probably spend more time thinking about what goes on your body (like clothes and shoes) than what goes in it (like food).

      In my last blog post, we covered what the supermarket has to offer kids, teens and 20-somethings. As we move on in years, we may need to move down the aisles a little differently. Today we're highlighting the needs of those in their 30s and beyond. Read on to find what resonates for you:

      30s: Getting married and starting a family may be a part of your plan around this time of life. It's a time when I've heard people say, "Now that I'm married, I can let myself go." In fact, if you love the person you married, you should be thinking about holding on to good health for a relationship that will last through the ages. This is a time when you can create an eating philosophy for your household. Try to shop for foods that are staples (skim milk, eggs, whole-grain bread, nut butters, lean poultry, beans, etc.), and items that are occasional treats (cookies, ice cream, or pastries). You'd be surprise at how much the "stock" you have at home today will predict which foods you'll offer your kids in the future.