Be sure to get enough shut-eye

The continued lack of restful sleep may lead to some detrimental physical and emotional health consequences.

The South African Society of Sleep Medicine describes Insomnia as an experience of inadequate or poor quality sleep that may include; difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep, waking up to early or having non refreshing sleep.

Nearly 30 to 40% of adults in South Africa will experience difficulty sleeping at least once during any given year. According to SASSM “one third of patients seen in the primary health care setting experience difficulty sleeping, and 10 % of those may have chronic sleep problems”.

Cornelia Scholtz, a Clinical Psychologists says that “anxiety and stress are some of the biggest triggers that cause sleeping disturbances. Increased levels of stress and anxiety often lead to a heightened sense of arousal that hinders people from getting enough good quality sleep during the night”.

Scholtz adds that it is very important to remember that certain medical conditions can also cause sleeping problems. “I always send my clients to a medical doctor for a full blood count to eliminate the possibility of a medical condition that may be causing their sleep disturbances before I continue with therapy.”

Medical conditions that may lead to difficulty sleeping include arthritis, cancer, an overactive thyroid, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. People that suffer from chronic pain, the need to urinate frequently during the night or breathing difficulties may also experience insomnia.

According to Scholtz, it is important to make your bedroom a ‘safe space’ in your home. “Make sure that your bedroom is clean, uncluttered and dark. Turn off electronic clocks or equipment with flashing lights that are in your bedroom so that you are not exposed to any kind of sensory stimulation during the time that you are supposed to sleep.”

Poor sleeping habits and working irregular shifts may also hinder people from getting adequate sleep. “I strongly recommend that you have a ‘switch off time’ at least half an hour before you go to bed where you do relaxing breathing exercises to prepare your mind and body to enter a stage of rest and calmness,” says Scholtz.

Sleeping disturbances may become more prevalent with age. The use of over the counter drugs such as painkillers or weight-loss supplements that contain stimulants and caffeine can also cause sleep disturbances.

Dr. Gerhard Schoonbee, a medical doctor says the importance of enough sleep has to be emphasised. “When you sleep your body releases hormones that you need to think, concentrate and remember. Many people struggle to concentrate during the day because they do not get enough sleep during the night. A lack of sleep may also lead to moodiness, weight gain, irritability and even depression.”

Your Body, Your Choice

For many new parents circumcising their new born baby boy is a given. In many cases not much thought is given to the idea and the actions of parents are guided by cultural or religious practices.

Circumcision may have some clear health benefits. The World Health Organization has published results on research that indicate men who engage in heterosexual sex has a 60% less chance of acquiring or transmitting HIV. There is also compelling evidence that show that the transmission rate of other STI’s and cervical cancer in females are significantly reduced when their male sexual partner is circumcised.

This explains that reason why so many countries, especially in Africa, have engaged in nationwide circumcision campaigns in an attempt to curb the spread of HIV infection.

On 2 December 2013 Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, at the launch of the government’s medical male circumcision campaign on World Aids Day said that “Our target is to circumcise one-million men over the next 12 months and cumulatively four-million men by 2016. Medical male circumcision had proven to be an effective component of the government’s HIV prevention package. Once 80 percent of South African men had been medically circumcised, half-a-million new HIV infections and 100 000 deaths over the course of the next decade would be prevented.”

Circumcision may also reduce the risk of developing a urinary tract infections and cancer of the penis. Male circumcision can also potentially reduce the risk of female partners developing certain sexually transmitted infections, such as bacterial vaginosis andtrichomoniasis.

However, many medical practitioners argue that there are much more effective as well as less invasive ways of preventing these conditions. This includes practicing good hygiene to prevent urinary tract infections as well as using a condom to prevent STIs.

 Most healthcare professionals uphold the idea that that the potential benefits of circumcision is not compelling enough to rationalize routine childhood circumcision.

 There are also many disadvantages of circumcising male infants. One of the most common disadvantages is the reduced sensitivity of the penis.  An uncircumcised penis is more sensitive than a circumcised penis, meaning that circumcised men could possibly experience less pleasure during sex. Circumcision also include complications such as excessive bleeding, post-operative infection and, in rare cases, injury to the urethra. These complications are thought to outweigh any potential benefits.

 Furthermore, there are critics who argue that routinely circumcising baby boys on medical grounds violates the principle of consent to treatment and bodily autonomy and sovereignty. Thus, circumcision should be a choice made by an individual and not by the parents or medical doctor.

 Circumcising the healthy foreskin of an infant male, who is not sexually active, has absolutely no health benefits and is an absolute denial of that person’s bodily sovereignty and autonomy.

 Circumcision should only be performed when a boy is old enough to make an informed decision about whether he wishes to be circumcised or not. This includes cultural and religious practices where infant boys are circumcised without their consent. it is their body and should thus be their choice to make if they want to make a permanent change to their body.

From Print to Pixels

The face of traditional print media is changing  rapidly. In their current form, print publications can no longer keep up with the 24 hour news cycle. If a story breaks during  the evening the merciless and fast paced news cycle will deem a front cover ‘news break’ the next day as futile. The story that breaks via social media demands greater insight and a new angle by the time you have your morning coffee the following day. Therefore, traditional print publications have to re-think the way in which they break stories, interact with their readers and establish a credible online presence.

At first glance the move from print to online journalism may predict a grim future for journalists and newsrooms. But the move to online platforms also ushers in a new era of story telling and contentedness. The tools that journalist use to gather information, tell stories and break the news are becoming more accessible and interactive to readers and audiences across the globe.

There will always be a need and a desire for good journalism, whether that be for print or digital platforms.

With new and innovative ways of sharing news and information it is sometimes best to stop and demand quality rather than quantity. Markham Nolan, a journalist, explains in this Ted Talk how journalist and the public can filter through online information to distinguish fact from fiction.

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Social media platforms allow people to become citizen journalists in their own right. Online citizen journalism empowers ordinary people to break the news, share their lives with the world, and hold those in power accountable.

This story of police brutality broke after someone recorded it and posted it on Facebook and YouTube.

This serves as an interesting info-graphic on the power and influence of social media in the USA. It also provides some insights into the way people consume content and news. Many South African newspapers that come from a traditional print background are harnessing Facebook and Twitter to connect with their readers.

Social Media: The New News SourceCourtesy of: http://www.schools.com

Although the journalistic principles and ethics remain the same whether one writes for online or print, there are some key differences in style and outcome.

– Online journalism is more interactive than print. Readers can interact with the each other as well as the journalist in real time instead of having to send their letters in to be published in the letters column. Online journalism is also interactive through the use of video and other multimedia mediums along with the copy.

– Online journalism is more accessible and can be updated faster. Readers can get a live blow by blow account as the events unfold and stories can be updated on websites and blogs as they develop. This also means that journalist are expected to get it first AND get it right!

 – Online journalism keeps it short and sweet.