Each day, each month, there are numerous opportunities to learn more about health, wellness and how to add in new practices to your (already) busy life. Rather than pepper you with more new information I thought we could review some previous suggestions and see if they are stacking up over time.

Let’s start with sleep. The August 2015 issue of Harvard Health Newsletter states, “A recent review of 20 randomized controlled trials on CBT, published June 9, 2015, in Annals of Internal Medicine, found that the technique helped people with chronic insomnia and no underlying medical problems fall asleep about 20 minutes faster and improved sleep efficiency by about 10%. Traditional CBT aims to identify, challenge, and replace dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes with positive ones. CBT for insomnia uses this approach as well, and adds four additional components: stimulus control to strengthen the association between bed and sleep; sleep restriction to limit time spent in bed; sleep hygiene, such as sleeping in a cool, darkened room; and relaxation techniques. Researchers point out that CBT requires much more effort than taking a pill. But they say CBT is better tolerated than medication, and it teaches skills that can be maintained over time. Harvard sleep expert Dr. Lawrence Epstein agrees. “Studies have shown CBT is equally effective as sleep medication, avoids the side effects associated with medication, and has longer-lasting improvements in sleep,” he says.” Cool beans! Even cooler? I’ve been trained in CBTi!

Now I admit it that when folks say, “I don’t like water” I don’t get it. What’s not to like? Here’s what Harvard had to say in July on the topic: “Drinking fluids is crucial to staying healthy and maintaining the function of every system in your body, including your heart, brain, and muscles. Fluids carry nutrients to your cells, flush bacteria from your bladder, and prevent constipation.

Older adults often don’t get enough fluids and risk becoming dehydrated, especially during summer when it’s hotter and people perspire more. “Older people don’t sense thirst as much as they did when they were younger. And that could be a problem if they’re on a medication that may cause fluid loss, such as a diuretic,” says Dr. Julian Seifter, a kidney specialist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Warning signs of dehydration include weakness, low blood pressure, dizziness, confusion, or urine that’s dark in color.

To ward off dehydration, Dr. Seifter says that healthy people should get 30 to 50 ounces of water per day (about 1 to 1.5 liters), but not all at once. “The kidneys lose some ability to eliminate water as we age. It’s important to stay hydrated gradually, throughout the day,” he says. He recommends drinking water or juices and eating water-rich foods such as salads, fruit, and applesauce. “An easy way to stay hydrated gradually is by getting fluids at meals, with medicine, and socially,” says Dr. Seifter.

It’s possible to take in too much water if you have certain health conditions, such as thyroid disease or kidney, liver, or heart problems, or if you’re taking medications that make you retain water, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opiate pain medications, and some antidepressants. Dr. Seifter says for that reason, you should check with your doctor to be sure you’re getting the right amount.”

One more for you. Remember the discussion a few months back about getting the vaccine for shingles? Well, there are new developments in that area! From National Public Radio comes this story: “There is a vaccine on the market. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends it for people age 60 and older. But it’s not very effective. It prevents shingles 64 percent of the time overall, but loses effectiveness as years go by, just when people are getting more susceptible. By the time people turn 70, the vaccine is only 38 percent effective.

A new vaccine that offers nearly complete protection against the painful shingles rash may be on the market as early as 2017.

The vaccine, developed by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, has proved to be effective more than 97 percent of the time regardless of age, says Dr. Leonard Friedland, GSK’s director of scientific affairs and public health. That study involved more than 16,000 patients age 50 and older, with some patients well into their 80s. The high degree of efficacy was there for all ages, Friedland says.” The entire story can be found here: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/07/13/421570746/engineering-a-shingles-vaccine-that-doesnt-wimp-out-over-time

Sure seems to me like we’re right on track! Keep up the good work everyone!