Archive for June, 2015


Thursday, June 11th, 2015

sleeping blonde woman image

“A simple breathing breath technique that can switch off the stress response and settle us into sleep.”

Falling asleep is as simple as 4-7-8. Or something like that. But, tell that to someone who is exhausted and stressed and cannot sleep.

Being stressed and sleepless is becoming more and more common. A quarter of Australians report feeling moderately to severely stressed.

One survey found 51 per cent of those who suffer insomnia blame stress for their lack of sleep. A lack of sleep exacerbates stress, and so the merry dance continues.

Stress affects sleep because it switches on our body’s fight or flight response. Our heart starts racing, our blood pressure rises, our muscles tense and our breath quickens in anticipation.

The mechanism is healthy when we need a hit of energy to get us through real or perceived danger, such as a deadline, exam or shitty day.

It is less helpful when we are trying to wind down for the day.

However, a simple breathing technique can switch off the stress response and settle us into sleep. Harvard-educated doctor and best-selling author Dr Andrew Weil explains.

“Breathing strongly influences physiology and thought processes, including moods,” Weil says. “By simply focusing your attention on your breathing, and without doing anything to change it, you can move in the direction of relaxation.”

By souping-up the experience further benefits can be achieved.

The 4-7-8 breath technique is utilised by yoga and meditation teachers (there are various other pranayama or breath works used in yoga to charge the oxygen in our bodies and extend our breath beyond the 10 per cent of capacity we typically breathe to).

The technique is also championed by Dr Weil.

“This exercise is a natural tranquiliser for the nervous system,” Dr Weil says. “Unlike tranquilising drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently.”

Simply breathe in for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds and exhale completely to a count of eight. It only takes a few seconds and Weil suggests repeating the technique up to four times.

Some users have said the technique helps them fall asleep within one minute.

It can help users relax and fall asleep, but breathing deeply and the knock-on effect this has on our nervous system offers plenty of other benefits too.

“The ability to breathe so deeply and powerfully is not limited to a select few. This skill is inborn but often lies dormant,” Harvard medical school points out. “Reawakening it allows you to tap one of your body’s strongest self-healing mechanisms.”

It improves our immune system, blood pressure, overall physical health and even helps us burn fat more effectively.

And of equal importance, it is a completely free technique that we can all use to change our response to stress.

“Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you,” Dr Weil says. “Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react.

“Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.”


Henry Sapiecha

Grieving mum puts out warning after common spice kills small child

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Matthew Rader died after eating a small amount of cinnamon image

Matthew Rader died after eating a small amount of cinnamon. Photo: GoFundMe

It’s a common spice found in the pantries of homes around the world.

But a grieving mum has warned that cinnamon can kill after her four-year-old son died from inhaling it.

US boy Matthew Rader was in his family’s kitchen on June 3 when the inquisitive preschooler climbed on the stove, found a container of ground cinnamon and decided to have a taste of it.

“He started choking. It was like he was having a seizure and just collapsed,” the boy’s mother, Brianna Rader, told local news outlet WRX.
Matthew Rader It was like he was having a seizure and just collapsed image

The child was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead 90 minutes later.

A coroner has ruled the death was accidental and caused by cinnamon asphyxiation.

Ms Rader, from Madison County, Iowa, said her son had no health issues before the incident.

“He was completely healthy, no problems,” she told WRX.

Ms Rader said she is determined to warn other parents about the importance of keeping cinnamon away from children.

“[It] helps ease my breaking heart just a little to think that just maybe my baby’s story can save even just one child’s life,” she wrote on Facebook.

Inhaling cinnamon is dangerous because the spice is made from tree bark and contains cellulose fibres that don’t easily break down.

Research suggests that when cinnamon gets into the lungs it can cause scarring, severe irritation and spasms.

Little Matthew’s death was a terrible accident, however many teenagers have been hospitalised in recent years while taking part in a social media stunt known as “The Cinnamon Challenge”.

In the stunt, people video themselves trying to swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon without water. Clips show participants coughing violently when they are unable to do it.

The danger occurs when the coughing leads to cinnamon being inhaled and settling in the lungs.

Despite the dangers, tens of thousands of videos featuring teens undertaking the challenge can be found on YouTube.

In April 2013 a report published in US Pediatrics journal said at least 30 teenagers across America needed medical attention after taking the cinnamon challenge in the previous 12 months.

“This is a dangerous practice which can result in choking, aspiration of cinnamon powder into the lungs, and even respiratory failure requiring a ventilator in extreme cases,” emergency doctor Robert Glatter told when the report was released.

“The stunt can also be deadly as a result of lack of oxygen to the brain in cases of choking and aspiration of the powder.”

The grieving Ms Radar knows too well the dangers of inhaling cinnamon, and hopes her son’s story will serve as a warning to anyone considering taking part in the dangerous stunt.

“Cinnamon can kill,” she said. “All these kids, they don’t think about the fact it can hurt them.”


Henry Sapiecha


Friday, June 5th, 2015

crystal ball with hands image

This is the UbbLE Risk Calculator

  • You will be asked to answer 11-13 questions about your background, lifestyle and health. The questions in the risk calculator use the same wording as the original UK Biobank questions.
  • Based on your answers, the calculator will display your five-year risk of dying from any cause and the ‘Ubble age’ that corresponds to that risk.
  • The data that you enter in the questionnaire is not used by us in any way. Please read our Privacy policy for more details.
  • Please read the disclaimer below before continuing.


This calculator will only provide accurate estimations for men and women aged 40 to 70 years living in the UK.

However, in general, risk calculators can never predict the future for any specific individual in a deterministic sense, and should be interpreted on a population level. For example, if the risk of dying within five years is 2%, this means that out of 100 people of the same age, sex and risk profile, 98 will survive and 2 will die over the next 5 years. The result is in no way intended to be an accurate prediction of the relevant risk related to a specific person.

Henry Sapiecha