Sunday, March 29, 2009

No Coffee Break

Wellness is a major movement these days. I'm for wellness, but sometimes I think things are taken out of context to support the desired conclusion.

A recent wellness newsletter included a short article about a study. The individuals who participated in the study trained in the morning on verbal memory, motor, and perceptual learning tasks. Then they were split into 3 groups.
* Group 1 got a 60-90 minute nap
* Group 2 listened to a book on tape and received a pill that had caffeine the equivalent of a 10oz cup of coffee
* Group 3 listened to a book on tape and received a placebo (sugar pill)

Then later they were tested on what they had learned in the morning. Results:
* Group 1 (nap group) tested best
* Group 2 (caffeine group) tested worst
* Group 3 (placebo) tested second best

Conclusion: You might want to skip that cup of coffee (The title of the article)

It's interesting to note that the nap group is the only group that didn't have to absorb more material (listening to a book on tape) that might interfere with what they learned earlier.

Why does coffee get the bad rap here? Coffee wasn't even part of the study. It simply has caffeine in common with the pill that was used. Maybe it would have been different had coffee been used.

My conclusion: Naps help performance.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

From Death to Life

It's Friday morning. I'm standing in a farmhouse bedroom where my unresponsive aunt Lil is using all the energy she has on each breath she takes. My father, just back from Florida the day before, sits by her bed talking to her of recent conversations they have had about the tribulations they have faced in life and about who would 'go home' first. Her daughter lovingly strokes her head telling her that it's okay to go home.

Six days earlier in her living room we talked with a 93 year old aunt Lil who looked neither 93 nor looked savaged by the aggressive leukemia that momentarily took a back seat to the two units of blood she had received a day earlier. In fact she had just finished up interviewing a client of hers. She wasn't about to sit on the sidelines of her tax business and let the others shoulder the load.

The mood in the bedroom is now somber. We notice her eyelids have now opened slightly, but that is the only change. Sensing the end is near my father gives up his seat so her granddaughter can be with her in these last moments. Soon she is no longer struggling to breathe, the room falls silent. Her time had come.

Eighteen hours later my daughter calls. The arrival of our new grandchild is anticipated soon. Barb attempts to get some sleep before the final call comes telling us that she is on the way to the hospital. Sixty minutes doesn't provide much time to rest. The call comes. They are on their way. We begin to prepare for the coming hours. We shower, pick out clothes we'll be comfortable in, send e-mails to the family letting them know that by morning we hope to have a new grandchild. The phone rings. It's our son-in-law. He puts our daughter on the line. A crying baby can be heard in the background. It doesn't quite click. But then the words make it clear. We have a new grandson. Even if we would have left the minute we received the call, it wouldn't have been soon enough to get there before Jesten made his entrance into this world. There was only 12 minutes difference from the time they arrived at the hospital until their new son was delivered.

In just over 18 hours I had seen life take it's last breath and saw life taking some of it's first breaths.

Photos and timeline of Jesten's arrival.