Shara Rendell-Smock has written more than
twenty computer software manuals, numerous newspaper
articles, including a monthly health column for The
She's the author of two books of non-fiction: Getting
Hooked: Fiction's Opening Sentences 1950's- 1990's
Living With Big Cats: The Story of Jungle Larry,
Safari Jane, and David Tetzlaff
For ordering information, click here.
To read more about these books, participate in an
ongoing joke contest, surf on over to
The author currently lives on Florida's Space Coast.
Shara is the Featured
Author for October 1997
Ask Shara! - An E-mail Question about Osteoporosis
. . . At age 28 and pre child-bearing, I think I'd be
foolish not to pay attention to early prevention
strategies. How do I measure up, in your opinion?
- I don't drink much milk, but I
eat brocolli, cheese, and don't drink too much
- I don't take supplements, aside from the
occassional multi-vitamin when I have a cold
coming on (it has some calcium)
- I don't exercise too regularly now. . .my job as
an itinerate music teacher sees me walking the
halls and on my feet all day.
I'm sure you'd prefer I ask my doctor, but I'm
curious for you feedback if you have the time.
Heather from Ontario"
First of all, I'd say find out whether any of your
family has had osteoporosis. Get the genetic question
answered in your mind, if you can.
White, slender women have higher rates of osteo.
It's good that you are premenopausal. Your natural
estrogen will help your body use the calcium it does
Like you, I spent years not drinking milk and not
taking calcium supplements. We are shooting ourselves in
the foot when we do not supplement our calcium intake. A
high percentage of people, especially women, do develop
From my research on the subject, I'd say, at your age,
with your background and lifestyle, the best things you
can do for yourself at your age: take calcium
supplements and keep exercising.
Send your questions to email@example.com!
Practical Ways to Overcome Sleep
Disorders - Part 1
What do you get
if you cross an insomniac
agnostic who has dyslexia?
A person who stays up at night wondering if there is a
I couldn't help it. Sometimes I have got to open with
If asked to name four things associated with sleep
difficulties, how many do you think you could come up
with in one minute? Five? Or closer to fifty?
Webster's defines insomnia as "prolonged and
usually abnormal inability to obtain adequate
sleep." One in three Americans, 90 million people,
have trouble sleeping. (Sorry, I don't have international
stats.) The average adult is chronically sleepy,
resulting in decreased work productivity and increased
Rather than delving into maladies such as chronic
fatigue syndrome or apnea, I am focusing on practical
ways to encourage sleep.
First Things First: The Mattress
This idea seemed obvious to me after learning the hard
way: Check the mattress. It sounds so simple, but
investing in the right mattress can make a huge
difference in sleeping ability! Because we spend so much
time sleeping, our mattresses should be right for us.
A mattress should conform to the curve in the low
back. To check whether your mattress is too firm, too
soft, or just right, lie on your bed for a couple of
minutes, giving the mattress time to adjust to your body
weight. Then test two areas - the one supporting your low
back and the one under your neck. Slide your hand under
your back. Your hand should just fit between your body
and the bed.
If you have extra space there, the mattress is too
firm for you. If you cannot get your hand in that space,
the mattress is too soft for you. You can repeat this
test under your neck. My bed used to be absolutely the
best. It occurred to me that that was ten years ago.
Buying a new mattress and box springs set this year
helped lessen some of my sleeping problems. Rotating the
mattress every few months helps it wear evenly.
However, because of body weight, the mattress is an
individual matter. A mattress may pass the "hand
test" for a 100-pound person yet be the wrong
mattress for a 170-pound person. Some mattresses now
better accommodate two sleepers, providing varied
firmness for each half of the mattress.
When buying a mattress, don't be too embarrassed to
use this test in the store. Seriously.
Strategies to reduce stress before sleep.
What do you use to help yourself fall asleep?
Got any hints or strategies to share? If so, e-mail me
Back to the top / The New Sideroad / Go to the latest column
Issue # 5
Tuesday, Dec. 2, 1997
Stats indicate that for those over
the age of 50, one of every two women and one in eight
men will have an osteoporosis-related fracture. Our
sedentary lifestyle puts us at risk for this disease. Yet
osteoporosis is not inevitable. Here's some information
on this disease and how we can prevent it.
Part 1 of 4
- - details the likelihood of developing
this disease, and its dangers and consequences.
Part 2 of 4
- - presents the risk factors of
osteoporosis and some of our misconceptions about the
Part 3 of 4
- - insights into diagnosis, and basic
Part 4 of 4
- - new medical treatments to stop
osteoporosis, and safety in the home of osteoporosis
Strategies to reduce stress before sleep.