The coronavirus pandemic has dominated the headlines and our daily lives for most of this year. Medical News Today have covered this fast-moving, complex story with live updates on the latest news, interviews with experts, and an ongoing investigation into the deep racial disparities that COVID-19 has helped unmask.

However, this has not stopped us from publishing hundreds of fascinating stories on a myriad of other topics.

This week, we took another foray into the mysterious world of sleep by looking at some myths about how much of it we need, as well as a new treatment for the disturbing condition of sleep paralysis.

We also reported on research that has found another source of antibiotic resistance in polluted soil, how your smartphone can tell if you are drunk, and how to find free online therapy.

Finally, we looked at how a lack of female heart failure researchers may be putting lives at risk, why it may never be too late to enjoy the health benefits of losing weight, and what to put in the shopping cart when on a keto diet.

Here are 10 recent stories that people may have missed amid all the COVID-19 fervor.

1. 5 sleep myths: How much sleep do we need?

Medical myths logoShare on Pinterest
Sleep is important, but how much is too much?

Our most popular new article this week is the latest installment in our Medical Myths series. We investigate five myths associated with sleep. Among other questions, we ask whether sleep deprivation truly can be fatal and whether all animals sleep.

We also recently published another Medical Myths article on the mystery of sleep, as well as an extensive new special investigation into the science of sleep.

Learn more here.

2. How to find an online therapist for free

A man logs on online to talk with a therapist for free.Share on Pinterest
Telemental health can be an effective alternative to traditional in-person therapy.

Therapy can be expensive, and many people may find it difficult to attend face-to-face therapy sessions, especially at this time. Fortunately, online therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy.

This popular new article explains how to find free online therapy. For example, some mental health organizations, schools, colleges, and workplaces offer free online therapy sessions.

Learn more here.

3. Confiding in others may protect against depression

Share on Pinterest
Confiding in others can have a positive effect on mental health.
Image credit: Tom Werner/Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that around 264 million people globally live with depression, but there are some ‘modifiable factors’ a person can control to reduce their risk. A new study suggests that confiding in others is one of the best ways to prevent depression because it appears to reduce the risk of developing it by 24%.

The research also finds factors that raise the risk of depression. Daytime napping, for example, increases the risk by 34%. However, the researchers note that this may be a reflection of the broader impact on depression of a more sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity.

Learn more here.

4. Smartphones measuring gait could detect drunkenness

Share on Pinterest
Smartphone technology can accurately determine if a person is drunk by their walk over 90% of the time.

New research suggests that smartphones could use their various sensors to collect information about a person’s movement, specifically their gait, to measure their intoxication level.

The researchers recruited 22 adults who were given enough vodka, under laboratory conditions, to increase their breath alcohol level to 0.2%, more than twice the U.S. legal limit of 0.08%. The researchers then asked the participants to walk in a straight line for 10 steps once an hour for 7 hours.

Analysis of the resulting data allowed researchers to say when a participant was over the legal limit with 92.5% accuracy. Though only a proof of concept study, it could lead to future smartphones alerting the owner if it detects that they may be more susceptible to engaging in risky behavior after drinking.

Learn more here.

5. Antibiotic resistance linked to soil pollution

Share on Pinterest
Is there a correlation between soil pollution and antibacterial resistance?

The WHO describe antibiotic resistance as “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.”

Alongside the indiscriminate and inappropriate use of antibiotics, evidence also suggests that certain pollutants can act as a selection pressure favoring antibacterial resistance. A new study identifies an association between antibacterial resistance among bacteria living in soil and heavy metal and radioactive pollution.

Learn more here.

6. Weight loss in young adults with obesity may halve mortality risk

Share on Pinterest
Research suggests that a reduction in BMI, from one of obesity to one of overweight, by midlife may improve longevity.

Our readers spent nearly 10 minutes each with this article, which supports the view that it is never too late to lose weight. In it, we reported on a new study that finds that people with obesity in early adulthood whose weight fell within the overweight range by midlife reduced their risk of dying by half.

This suggests that it is possible to reverse the harmful effects of obesity and prevent early death. However, the researchers also found that weight loss was very rare among the 24,205 people in the U.S whose data the researchers analyzed for this study.

Learn more here.

7. Lack of female authors in heart failure research

Share on Pinterest
Lack of female representation in heart failure publications may impact the number of female participants in clinical trials.

A recent study concludes that a lack of female lead authors in heart failure studies could negatively impact the treatment of heart failure in women. Not a single female is head of a cardiology division or department among the top 40 cardiology programs in the U.S.

This is important because females may be more likely to enroll in a clinical trial that they know is being led by a female investigator, and female trial leads are more likely to refer female patients to clinical trials.

Learn more here.

8. New therapy may ‘dramatically’ reduce sleep paralysis events

Share on Pinterest
Meditation-relaxation therapy may help people who experience sleep paralysis.

This week, we covered a new study that reports around 20% of people worldwide experience sleep paralysis, finding themselves mentally awake as their body’s voluntary muscles remain asleep, sometimes accompanied by hypnagogic hallucinations.

A small-scale study of 10 people with narcolepsy suggests that meditation-relaxation therapy can benefit those who experience sleep paralysis, reducing the number of days on which participants experienced sleep paralysis by half.

Learn more here.

9. Gender dysphoria: What does it mean?

Share on Pinterest
Children, as well as adults, may experience gender dysphoria.
Image credit: Amanda Harris/Adobe Stock

Our editorial team published this in-depth guide to gender dysphoria. It has quickly emerged as one of the articles our readers spent the most time with this week, at nearly 11 minutes each.

We look at the definition of gender dysphoria, how doctors diagnose it, the symptoms in both adults and children, and the support and medical options that are now available.

Learn more here.

10. What to include on a keto grocery list

Share on Pinterest
Keto diets emphasize fat and protein consumption while limiting carbohydrates.

Many people may find ‘going keto’ difficult to stick with, but there is evidence that it can be good for you.

One of the difficulties is knowing what and what not to buy at the grocery store, so we have published this article to help guide your choices as you wander the aisles.

We explain the keto diet, the foods to include on a shopping list, and a selection of delicious, healthful, and keto-friendly recipes to add to your repertoire (the salmon patties are really good).

Learn more here.

We hope that this has provided a taste of the range of stories that we cover at MNT. We will be back with a new selection next week.

Coming soon: A sneak preview of what’s in our drafts folder

We publish hundreds of new articles every month. Here are some upcoming articles that may pique our readers’ interests:

  • Study found plastic in every seafood sample it analyzed
  • Low fungi diversity in lungs linked to severity of respiratory disease
  • Each human gut has a viral ‘fingerprint’