Health Buzz: Small E-Readers May Help People With Dyslexia

10 tips for buying a new mattress; getting in touch with your inner digestive detective


Study: Some People with Dyslexia May Improve Reading Speed and Comprehension When Using Small E-Readers

In a study published Wednesday in the Plos One journal, researchers tested a technique called Span Limited Tactile Reinforcement on a cohort of 103 high school students with dyslexia. Here's how the technique works: On a handleheld device (in this case, an iPod) students read words that are displayed in a large font. Each line of text consisted of only a few words, and students could manually scroll through the text vertically, "as if it were a long continuous column of newsprint," the study authors explain. Students read text from the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests both with this digital technique and on normal white paper with full lines of 14-point text. The results? Students who struggled most with sight-word reading were able to read faster on the iPod, and those with limited visual attention spans improved their comprehension on the iPod.

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  • 10 Tips for Buying a New Mattress

    You unplugged an hour before bedtime. You ditched the caffeine before that. You made your bedroom a dark, quiet sleep sanctuary, and you even established a firm sleep schedule. You understand the value of good sleep, and so you've perfected your sleep hygiene. But you're tossing and turning, waking up when your partner subtly shifts and still feeling admittedly crabby on your second cup of coffee. These may be your cues to buy a new mattress.

    "The mattress is often the last thing people tend to think about when it comes to getting a good night's rest," says Karin Mahoney, the spokeswoman for the Better Sleep Council based in Alexandria, Va. "People will turn to quick fixes like over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids, but they don't think about their mattress that's 15 years old. The mattress is quite literally the foundation of a good night's sleep."

    If you've had your mattress for more than the standard lifespan of seven to 10 years, if its surface has lumps or indentations or if you're waking up with aches and pains, it's likely time to buy a new one. Below, Mahoney and Tom Clifford, director of development at the National Sleep Foundation, share tips for choosing the best mattress for you.

    Your pre-store homework:

    1. Take note of comfortable mattresses you've slept on. Do you always sleep like a baby on your mother-in-law's guest bed? Did a refreshing sleep at a hotel leave you waltzing (at 7 a.m.) to the continental breakfast? Take note. Find out what type and brand of mattress it was that you enjoyed so much and use that as the starting point for your search. For that dreamy hotel mattress, Mahoney suggests calling the hotel to ask what type it fits rooms with, since most hotels are partnered with specific mattress manufacturers. [Read more: 10 Tips for Buying a New Mattress]

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    • Getting In Touch With Your Inner Digestive Detective

      Since I've carved out an apparently under-served niche in blogging about bloating, emails have been pouring in from readers all over the world. While the specifics vary, the essence is the same: "No matter what I do, I'm always bloated or gassy. Doctors have tested me for everything and haven't been able to help. What could it be?"

      So I've compiled some tips to help you – my bloated friends – help yourselves. The reflections below are designed to facilitate a conversation with your own doctor or dietitian and to guide your attention to the details that may offer clues into the nature of your own affliction.

      1. Be a good historian. Patients often report having been "tested for everything," but when I start asking about the specifics, this is rarely actually the case. Often, my patients don't know which tests they've had done or what the results showed. As a result, a lot of time is wasted chasing down old leads that have been ruled out or repeating tests done elsewhere. [Read more: Getting In Touch With Your Inner Digestive Detective]