Health & Science

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

From fires and hurricanes, to confrontational politics — with all that's been going on, it's no wonder the American Psychological Association found an increase in Americans' stress levels over the last year.

Our constant checking of smartphones — with the bombardment of news and social media — can amp up our anxiety. So, why not use your device to help you disconnect?

Floating Away Your Anxiety And Stress

Oct 16, 2017

When I mentioned to a friend that my baseline neurosis has evolved from daily stress into anxiety, her response was – "Go for a float!"

A float?

Yes — spend an hour in a dark, soundproof room floating in a body-temperature warm pool. "The heavy salt concentration does the work for you," my friend told me. "You just lie there and meditate."

As a doctor wary of overprescribing medications, I was intrigued by the idea that floating can combat stress and anxiety, but I wanted to know if there's any science to back up this claim.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Julayne Smithson was working an overnight shift in the Intensive Care Unit at the Kaiser Permanente hospital in Santa Rosa, Calif., when massive wildfires started racing through the city late last Sunday.

Smithson had no idea how close they were. She was too busy taking care of her patient. Then, she says, "One of the nurses came up to me and she said, 'Julayne, I'm sorry, but your house is not going to make it.'"

Since the beginning of time, humans have been searching for ways to make ourselves feel better fast. Unfortunately, history has shown that many of those ways — cannibalism, cocaine tooth drops, ingesting heavy metals — left us sick, broke, or both. Yet we keep looking for that fast cure.

This week in the Russia investigations: Facebook hits Washington with a P.R. blitz, the imbroglio sucks in more tech giants and the White House weighs how nicely — or rudely — to treat Robert Mueller.

Sandberg leans in to damage control mode

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is a billionaire titan of Big Tech who looks down on the world from the peak of empire — but she tried to sound as contrite as she could this week in Washington.

The reaction has been swift since President Trump announced late Thursday that he was cutting off Affordable Care Act subsidies to insurance companies.

The White House argues that the payments are illegal.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Among the many buildings destroyed in Northern California wildfires this week, was a nonprofit private school that serves 125 students who have autism.

Anova school — located in Santa Rosa, Calif., inside the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts — serves students age 5 to 22 who have been diagnosed "with high functioning autism, social and emotional challenges, learning differences, and other neurodevelopmental impairments," according to the school website.

Ingenuity, inspiration, an elaborate ruse and a touch of madness. That is what it took for Zainabu Hamayaji to protect her family from Boko Haram.

The terror network in northeastern Nigeria has killed 20,000 people, abducted thousands more and driven more than 2 million people from their homes during its eight-year insurgency. The 47-year-old mother of 10 — four biological and six orphaned children ranging from age 5 to 15 — had to feign insanity to keep the insurgents away.

Bacquerette woke up early. She made breakfast for her 2-year-old daughter, left the child with her neighbor and started the long walk to the village of Ambohitsara. Bacquerette wanted to make sure she was one of the first people in line for a one-day-only family planning clinic.

She walked almost two hours on footpaths that snake along the sandy bank of the Canal des Pangalanes in eastern Madagascar. And she managed to arrive at the event just after it started.

The 33-year-old single mother had come to get an IUD.

Few people were surprised last week when the Trump administration issued a rule to make it easier for some religious employers to opt out of offering no-cost prescription birth control to their female employees under the Affordable Care Act.

Jeremy, the rare snail with the left-curling shell whose search for a mate kicked off an international quest, has slithered off this mortal coil.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

To talk more about the politics of health care, I am joined here in the studio by Ana Kasparian. She's co-host and producer for the online news network The Young Turks. Welcome.

ANA KASPARIAN: Thank you for having me.

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