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Blog author, Solai Buchanan is an experienced Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with an MS from Columbia Teachers College. She specializes in treating heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, polycystic ovarian syndrome,and other chronic diseases. She is a provider at a full-service cardiology practice accepting most insurance and staffed with a primary care MD, pediatrician, and cardiologist. Call: 718.894.7907. NYCC is lead by Interventional Cardiologist Sanjeev Palta, MD, FSCAI, FACC. He trained at Cornell-Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and the State University Hospital of Brooklyn. He currently is an Attending Cardiologist at New York Methodist Hospital and Maimonides Medical Center. He is also an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Having performed over 2000 invasive cardiac procedures Dr. Palta’s patients know they are in trusted hands.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


The evidence on the importance of sleep to our long-term health and well-being has never been stronger.  Inadequate sleep, shift work schedules, and sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia have all been found to be significant risk factors for chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, depression, and even dementia.  The Center for Disease Control estimates nearly one-third of Americans are habitually sleep-deprived and this percentage is expected to continue to increase.  Not only is the quantity of our sleep inadequate but the quality of our sleep is also trending down.  One of the growing threats to the quality of our sleep is likely lurking right beside your pillow as you sleep – your smartphone.  A growing body of research indicates using electronics such as smartphones, tablets, e-readers and other back-lit devices, especially before bed, makes it more difficult to fall asleep and decreases the quality of the sleep we do get. 

The results from a recent month-long study are illustrative of the negative impact these devices are exerting on our sleep.  In this study, 650 adults used an app that tracked their smartphone use as well as the duration and quality of their sleep.  Researchers found the more individuals used their phones, especially in the hours before bed, the less they slept and the poorer quality of their sleep.   

Why are these devices bad for our sleep?  Not only do they occupy us when we should be sleeping but they emit short wave-length blue light that suppresses our production of melatonin, the hormone that helps us fall asleep. 

What to do:  To prime your circadian rhythm and counter the effects of screens at night, it helps to expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day.  Then, at night, if you have problems falling or staying asleep, try to avoid looking at bright screens, particularly those held close to your eyes, beginning 2-3 hours before bed.  It is especially crucial to avoid screens during the hour leading up to sleep.  Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.  If you must use devices close to bedtime, utilizing special glasses that filter out the blue/green wavelength or employing apps (such as “Twilight”) or built-in phone settings (such as iPhones’ “night shift” setting) that shift the display from blues to warmer tones at night may help to encourage your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle. 

Information adapted from articles available at:

Christensen MA, Bettencourt L, Kaye L et al.  Direct measurements of smartphone screen-time: relationships with demographics and sleep.  PLOS ONE, 2016;11(11): e0165331. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0165331

Thursday, November 17, 2016


A new analysis of existing studies concludes that when we get inadequate sleep, we tend to overeat on the following day.  Researchers pooled the results of 11 sleep and intake studies that included 172 participants.  The study designs varied, but they all tested people after a night of restricted sleep, usually about four hours, and then after a night of normal rest.

On the day after sleep-deprived and sleep-adequate nights,  participants were offered a breakfast buffet or scheduled meals later in the day. The scientists recorded calorie intake and tracked energy expenditure with heart rate monitors and other electronic devices.  They found that after a night of limited sleep, people consumed an average of 385 extra calories the next day, roughly the equivalent of a frosted cupcake or a serving of fries. They also consumed more fat and less protein.  While sleep deprivation increased intake, the amount of energy individuals burned was similar after restful and sleep-deprived nights.

Why does inadequate sleep lead to extra calorie intake?  Some research indicates sleep deprivation impacts the hormones that control appetite.  There is also evidence that a lack of  sleep heightens the desire to seek food as a reward.  For example, a 2013 report found that the brains of sleep-deprived people responded more urgently to pictures of fattening food, inspiring cravings even when the participants were full. At the same time, the sleep deprived brains experienced a drop in activity in the region of the brain associated with careful decision-making, indicating an increased propensity to yield to cravings.

What to do:  Feed your body right by sleeping 8 hours a night or as close to that as possible.  Also, on days following nights that had too little sleep, try to be especially deliberate about your food choices by planning ahead and making a point of avoiding situations that might trigger unhealthy choices.  Help protect against increased hunger by maximizing satiety with extra water, adequate lean protein, and fiber-rich food choices.

Al Khatib HK, Harding SV, Darzi & Pot GK.  The effects of partial sleep deprivation on energy balance: a systematic review and meta-analysis.  European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  Published online in advance of publication 2 November 2016.  DOI: 10.1038/ejcn.2016.201

Adapted from articles available at: