Health Buzz: Exercisers Report Better Sleep

Deciphering body language on a first date; how to take a stand against junk food

Man sleeping in his bed
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Trouble Sleeping? Get Some Exercise, Poll Suggests

It's no news that folks who exercise enjoy a range of health benefits that their sedentary friends may not. And now there's further proof of another perk: better sleep. The 2013 annual Sleep in America poll, conducted for the National Sleep Foundation by WB&A Market Research, suggests that exercise is crucial for better sleep. The poll, released today, used a sample of 1,000 adults between ages 23 and 60, who self-reported their level of physical activity as vigorous, moderate, light, or no activity. Vigorous exercisers (think running, cycling, and swimming) were twice as likely as their non-exercising peers to report, "I had a good night's sleep" every night, or most nights of the week. And while more than two-thirds of these vigorous exercisers reported no or very little trouble with waking up too early and not getting back to sleep, or difficulty falling asleep, these insomnia symptoms seemed fairly common among non-exercisers. Half the non-exercising participants say they wake up during the night, and a quarter of them said they had difficulty falling asleep every night, or almost every night. The poll also shows that non-exercisers were sleepiest during the day and most at risk for sleep apnea.

Does this sleepy non-exerciser sound like you? No need to start running marathons to reap these sleep benefits; start with baby steps. "If you are inactive, adding a 10 minute walk every day could improve your likelihood of a good night's sleep," Max Hirshkowitz, poll task force chair and professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, says in the poll's release. "Making this small change and gradually working your way up to more intense activities like running or swimming could help you sleep better."

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  • Deciphering Body Language on a First Date

    Imagine bizarro dating. On first dates, instead of trying to decipher if you've been playing footsie with the guy or with the leg of the chair, you could just tell him: "Yes, I'm into you." Instead of analyzing if a girl is twirling her hair as a flirting maneuver or because she forgot to comb it that morning, you could just ask: "Do you like me?" But alas, awkward first dates are a rite of passage for any romance that's going to last longer than a happy hour. Nervous laughs over mundane jokes, obligatory rundowns of your family and job, and handshake-hug-kiss miscommunications are all part of the game. But luckily, you have an edge.

    U.S. News talked to Janine Driver, the founder, president, and lead instructor of the Body Language Institute in Alexandria, Va. She's also the author of You Say More Than You Think: The 7-Day Plan for Using the New Body Language to Get What You Want. Driver shared how to decipher your date's signals; her responses have been edited.

    Off the bat, what can you tell about a date by his or her body language?

    We face our belly button toward people we like, admire, or trust. So when a person either shakes your hand or sits down across from you, pay attention to whether his belly button is facing you. Does he reach his arm out to the side and shake your hand from the side of his body? [Read more: Deciphering Body Language on a First Date]

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    • How to Take a Stand Against Junk Food

      Clearly, I pressed on a raw, sugar-coated, nerve last week, writes U.S. News blogger Yoni Freedhoff.

      To briefly reiterate, it seems we've somehow allowed our society to get to the point where we've so normalized the constant provision of candy and junk to children that questioning this new normal is more often than not taken as an attack. Sometimes it's portrayed as a personal attack on the individual providing the candy. Sometimes it's portrayed as an attack on civil liberties. And sometimes it's portrayed as an attack on the joy and fun of childhood.

      Regardless of how it's perceived, the bottom line is that suggesting that a particular event need not serve as an excuse to give children candy is rarely taken kindly, let alone function as a simple catalyst for change. Given that there's a very real chance that addressing the sweet stuff with the school, sports club, after-school group, or parent who's providing it to your child is going to upset someone, what's the best way to handle the situation? How can you best maximize your chances of affecting healthful change while minimizing the chance of them feeling like their backs are being forced up against a wall? [Read more: How to Take a Stand Against Junk Food]