When Doctors Don’t Know the Best Medical Advice

Some of their outdated tips may compromise your care or sabotage your health goals. Here, medical advice you can safely ignore.

By Sharon Liao from Reader's Digest Magazine | June 2013

Old Medical Advice: Catch up on lost sleep during the weekend. Chronic lack of shut-eye is linked to a bevy of health issues, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Because sleep is so crucial, experts often advise that you make up the deficit whenever you can.

New Medical Advice: Rise within an hour of your usual time every day. Snoozing until noon on Saturday won’t compensate for a string of sleep-starved weeknights. So concluded researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who had subjects sleep for ten hours after getting the equivalent of 5.6 hours of sleep the day before. The scientists found that participants’ attention spans and reaction times grew progressively worse. After three weeks of this routine, subjects’ response time on tests of brain and motor functions was ten times slower than before the study started. That’s because one good night of rest can’t make up for chronic sleep loss.

“Sleeping in throws off your circadian rhythm,” says J. Todd Arnedt, PhD, director of the behavioral sleep medicine program at the University of Michigan. “You’ll have a harder time nodding off the next night, which sets you up for more tossing and turning.”

To get back on track with a new sleep schedule, open those curtains first thing (exposure to light in the morning helps wake you up), and hit the sack as soon as you begin to feel tired at night. Chances are your bedtime will be a little on the early side, so you’ll gradually catch up on lost shut-eye after a few days.

Next: Is oatmeal the perfect breakfast food? »

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

Sending Message
how we use your e-mail

Your Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus