Author Archives: Audra Wren Laskey

What happens when you loss sleep?

We have all had those nights. Stayed up to late or had to wake up extremely early. Not getting enough sleep can change your mood for the rest of the day. Have you ever wondered what happens to your brain when you loose sleep?


A study was conducted at the University of Surrey about this topic, published in  the journal Science. Within this they studied the brains performance during the day, after not getting enough sleep at night. Also, they studied the symptoms of psychiatric and neurodegenerative conditions in the brain and wax and wane in the brain, to see if they leave an effect.

Researchers did this study on 33 people, who all had sleep deprivation over a two day period. They took brain scans of each brain and compared their brain activity levels and where the brain activity was happening in the brain. One place in the brain that a lot of activity was happening was the subcortical area, with a rhythmic period following after.

The brains being studied where found a reduced amount of activity in the brain after the recovery of sleep. Also, some of the brains studied were found had a rhythmic pattern of activity. One this that researchers found was that the effects of sleep deprivation  were different to every brain being studied. This was made apparent when they were asked to preform a simple task, and all reacted different.

After looking at the brain scans taken, it showed melatonin rhythm in the brains. This acts as a circadian pacemaker, controlling sleep cycles. The responses to the circadian rhythm was different to most of the brains studied.

After this study was concluded, it can be seen that brain function is prominently influenced during its awake stages, and not when its sleep deprived. Because of the across the board, different responses to sleep deprivation in the brain, the brain mainly functions when its fully awake. Though this did not really show how the brain acts when sleep deprived, this showed researchers how the brain functions when awake. This also explained the activity of the brain and how certain symptoms effect that in the brain.

So what is the catch on this study. The brain responds differently when sleep deprived and the activity in the brain is different. So try to cuddle up, turn off the lights and get the amount of sleep recomended



Should I work out when I have a cold?

Usually when I have a cold all I want to do is snuggle under my blankets and enjoy some warm chicken noodle soup. But for a slight few, exercising on a strict schedule is a must, even if it means they are dragging them selves to the gym with a runny nose and a loud cough. So I wondered, is going to the gym when you have a cold safe, or should you just stay in bed and continue watching another episode on Netflix.

sick-woman-in-bed-with-a-coldpicture from here

One new study that the American College of Sports Medicine completed was about if working out with a cold would heighten the illness’ effects on the patient. A common perception made, is that working out and staying healthy will prevent you from becoming sick. Though this is true, not many studies have been made about when you are already sick and what going to the gym during that period of illness will do to your body.

One study by American Journal of Medicine hypothesized that moderate activity, like walking can strengthen your immune system. This was because it was thought that the number of white blood cells in your body would increase. So the trials studied women who walked 30 minutes everyday compared to women who didn’t walk 3o minutes a day. This study showed that the women who walked everyday had half as many cold then the women who did not walk everyday.

Another study was conducted at Ball State University. In this study, researchers measured the symptoms of common colds of people who do and do not workout. This study was conducted with 50 healthy college students, who had to exercise 40 minutes everyday. After this study was finished, researchers saw that working out does not effect the symptoms of the person’s cold, while there where no significant differences between the testing group and the control group. The immune system was not impacted by the strenuous activity.

So does this mean I can go out and run a marathon when I have a cold? Well, no not exactly. A big thing with this situation is moderation. While you have a cold, though you can workout and your symptoms will not increase, you should not push it. A light cardio session would be most ideal for your workout. Since working out increases the rate of your heart, working out while on cold medicine should not be done.





Can eating chocolate improve your heart health?

Ghirardelli, Godiva and Dove, who could resist right? Who does not love to indulge in a chocolate bar every now and then. Well what if it was true that consuming chocolate everyday was beneficial for your heart health? Would you partake in eating higher amounts of chocolate? This is huge considering that heart disease is the number one cause of death in America…and also the sheer fact that chocolate is delicious.

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In 2010, Meta-analysis studies were conducted by many different researchers. This was an observational study with a simple correlation in mind. The researchers wanted to asses the relationship between chocolate consumption and the risk of obtaining a cardiovascular disease/ cardio metabolic disorder. In order to conduct a study on this, researchers created randomized control trials preformed by over four thousand adult humans. These test were done on people from countries all over the world, different genders and all different age ranges. This study was performed by having two independent reviewers which asses the experiments and kept track of the scoring system. In order to reach their hypothesis, researchers kept track of their results through a point system, which a point was given for every sign of cohort.

In each trial, researchers compared the groups with the lowest consumption of chocolate to the group with the highest consumption of chocolate. Through this, they compared differences in apparent diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes. These were the diseases used with the point system. This study was also not biased to the different types of chocolate consumed by people. The data was recorded and scored for a period of time of 8 to 16 years to receive the most accurate results.

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After these studies were concluded and scored, the researchers were able to confirm their hypothesis. It was found through many studies that the group of people with the higher consumption levels of chocolate had a one third less chance of a cardio metabolic disorder, which was about 37%. The results also proved that it wasn’t just cardio metabolic disorders that decreased through the high amounts of chocolate consumed. While it also shows the higher chocolate consumption decreases the risk of diabetes by 31% and the risk of a stroke by 29%. So, what does this mean? Stuff your face with as much chocolate as possible every day? Well, no. Like in most cases of life, everything can be good in moderation. Though the consumption of chocolate is beneficial and you should partake in the consumption of it for your health, it still means in moderation. Over eating chocolate can ultimately end in weight gain, which could further lead to problems associated with obesity.


Are spray tans that healthy for you?

We all know through many studies conducted that using indoor tanning beds is very unhealthy and have been shown through many leading studies that is can result in skin cancer. Because this is not a risk many people are willing to take, a lot of people now tend to lean towards the “healthier” version of tanning, spray tans. Spray tans have become widely popularized this pass decade for being a healthy alternative for indoor tanning. From the Kardashians, to girls getting a little glow before their prom, receiving a spray tan is not an odd thing to do in todays society. But have you ever wondered what is in this magical mist that can make you look like you went to a tropical island for a month, in just seconds.

sprayontanPicture from here

While searching for common chemicals found in spray tans, one chemical that kept reoccurring is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). This is a plant based chemical used in sunless tanning lotions, and is approved by the FDA for external use of the body. So what could be wrong with this chemical if the FDA says its okay and it is created through a natural process?

A study was conducted by six leading scientist, all in different fields to confirm their hypothesis of the chemical DHA in spray tans being harmful to living organisms. They thought that the harm DHA was possibly doing to organisms was altering the genes in their cells. The Scientist were concerned with this because of the fact that it is so easy to inhale spray tans. Inhaling the chemical DHA contained in the spray tans could get into your lungs and seep through to your blood stream. This is an easy way for the harmful chemical to alter the genes in your cells. This is a large concern because these altered cells could activate the development of cancer cells growing.

When DHA was tested in the lab, it was never tested on any human being cells. This is one downsides of this experiment because you cannot always infer in studies that the same effects will happen on different types of organisms. One of the reasons human cells were not tested on because if DHA is a harmful chemical to humans, that would not be ethical to do so.

So when DHA was tested on these cells, it was recorded that it did in fact alter the genes of some of the organisms cells being tested on. This was tested by multiple scientist and on multiple different organisms, and all found some sort of change to cells.

So what can we infer from these studies? Some say only time will tell, but mot scientist say we should be concerned. Though not many studies and test have been done on this problem yet, some scientist say that the data we have today is enough to say that DHA is harmful and should be refrained from putting on the body. This concern of DHA should defiantly be studied more, because of the recent popularity spike in spray tans.

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Look at all those chickens! Cage vs Cage Free

Coming from a fellow chicken owner, the freshness of a chickens egg is very important to me. My family has been raising chickens in our backyard for the past five years. Mostly for my dad’s nostalgia from his childhood on the farm, but also for fresh, cage free and GMO free eggs. When we first got chickens, I was really interested in finding out if the eggs would taste, or even look different from the ones we bought at our local Wegman’s. To my surprise, they looked and tasted very different from each other. The egg from my chickens in my backyard, had a dark and thick yolk, which did not break when I cracked it in the pan. The store bought egg, or the caged chicken’s egg,  had a really light colored and runny yolk, which immediately broke when I cracked it into the pan. After I fried the eggs, I found out I much preferred the taste of my cage free chicken’s egg more than the store bought egg.


So I thought to myself, even though both eggs are coming from the same animal, does the upbringing and treatment of the chicken impact the health and nutrient aspects of their eggs. Could the lack of nutrients in the caged chicken’s egg be a result of a difference in taste and texture?

First, I compared the chickens two different living situations. My ten chickens at home have a 4×8 coop, containing four large nesting boxes and a 20×10 gated area outside around the coop. As well as a whole acre of grassy backyard to run around in when we let the chickens free range. I looked up how large the industrial chicken cage sizes and found it here. Basically, they have 67 to 76 square inches to live in on average, where almost all of their entire life is spent. These absurdly small cages prevent the chickens from spreading their wings and can lead to their muscles not fully developing and becoming paralyzed.  These tiny cages the chickens live in are called battery cages, where they are mentally and physically abused. Here is a very graphic video of how commercial caged chickens are treated.

chicken_layer_cages_634594118892495268_7picture found here

So, what does this have to do with the health and nutrients you are receiving from the eggs you eat? I searched the internet and found some answers here. Basically, it is proven that cage free chickens produce eggs that are much healthier and contain more nutritious benefits then caged chicken’s eggs. Some nutrients the cage free chicken eggs contain that the caged chicken eggs do not, is that they contain twice the amount of omega-3 fatty acids, three times more vitamin E and seven times more pro-vitamin A beta-carotene. Also, these eggs contain a quarter less saturated fat and a third less cholesterol, which is a lot better for your heart health. The falling short of nutrients in the egg of the caged chicken is directly linked to the raising and treatment of these animals. For example, this is just like fetal alcohol syndrome. This is where the fetus’ lack nutrients because of the poor raising of the child, which is drinking alcohol when pregnant. Here are some test and experiment run which prove that cage free chicken eggs are better for you then caged chickens eggs.


Fasted Cardio? Does it Work?

Cardiovascular exercise, or cardio for short, is an essential to a fit persons life. Or basically any ones life.  Whether it is running on a treadmill or jumping rope, cardio is a great way to burn fat and stay in shape. One new and up and coming exercise technique to better your results with your cardio is called “fasted cardio”. Fasted cardio is when you do a cardio session right when you wake up in the morning. But the catch is, it’s done on a empty stomach. on an empty. A lot of people might argue that this technique does not work or is not safe because you need protein to fuel your body for a hard workout. Well, in short, the answer if fasted cardio is effective or is safe is, yes.

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So what does fasted cardio do to your body? Well I found information here and here to help me explain what it does exactly. Basically doing cardio on an empty stomach, right after you just wake up, makes your body burn the fat you have contained in your body, instead of burning the fat of the food you just ate. Meaning your are burning the stubborn stored fat instead of the fat from the bagel you just shoved down your throut before you run out the door to the gym. This technique is manly used to speed up fat loss in the body and can also help regulate your metabolism. But why?

When you go to sleep, your body is fasting all night, resting itself. During this time of fast many things happen throughout your body. Your insulin levels and blood levels drop, while growth hormone levels increase. This fasting period of your day is when your body is forced to metabolize fat quicker. When you eat before you work out, your insulin levels increase and you food is being absorbed. Opposed to fasted cardio when you don’t eat, your levels of insulin are low,  which causes your to use glucose to power through your workout and burn stored fat. Fasted cardio works because it depends of fat cells already in the body for fuel and helps balance your hormones and your metabolism. This exercise technique could be really successful for women, wanting to slim down and loose fat.

There are multiple ways of doing fasted cardio. One way to do it while getting maximum results is by using high intensity interval training. Using this form of fasted cardio you will burn a great amount of fat.

Is there such thing as too much cardio?

Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise is a very important way for humans to stay fit. Cardio includes many different exercises, in which they raise your heart rate and increase blood flow. For example, running on the treadmill, jumping rope and riding a bike, are all different forms of cardiovascular exercise.

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The purpose of cardiovascular exercise, found here , is to burn calories and fat in the body. Cardio can also increase the strength of your heart and your lungs. This works that the more cardio you do, the more endurance and stamina you build. When doing cardio, since you are burning an excess of calories, you need to make sure you are consuming enough or an excess of calories to preform to your highest ability.

Some people argue that too much of a good thing is never bad. Well in this case, too much cardiovascular exercise can be detrimental to your health goals. So what happens when you do too much cardio? Here is an article I found that explains what can happen. Basically this article states that even though cardiovascular exercise can lead to weight loss, too much cardio could lead to things like muscle depletion and loss, heart problems, stress, the slowing of the metabolism and in some cases prevent weight loss. This could prevent weight loss because excess cardio overtime  gets more difficult to lose fat.

Another negative about too much cardio is it burns up muscle in the body. As humans, when we do an exercise, in which increases our heart rates, the first thing that the body burns is muscle glycogen. After that is burnt up, Liver glycogen, Blood borne amino acids and Fat and then burnt up in the body. To even reach to point in a cardio session where you are burning fat, it takes at least 20 consecutive minutes of exercise.

So what if your the person who heads straight for the elliptical at the gym, and maybe the treadmill after, while trying to stay away from the weights so you do not get bulky. What do you do? If you are afraid of losing muscle, caused by doing too much cardio, some things I found here or here  you can do is make sure your calorie intake is high, in order to burn fat and increase lean muscle while working out. Also, to get the ideal results you want, this article recommends doing 20 minutes of weight lifting exercises, and then finish off your workout with a moderate amount of cardio, about 15 to 20 minutes. This is recommended because weight lifting raises your metabolic rate, and when followed by cardio, fat cells are burned.

Another way to much cardio effect humans is it can weaken the immune system and increase stress hormones. Again, this can be prevented by following the guidelines above. You will be burning more fat and calories that way, then through doing copious amounts of cardio.


Living in the 21st century, the discovery of the newest and most hip diet craze is just a normal everyday occurance. From juice cleances, to going gluten free, there are many different outlandish diets you hear about in todays world. One diet that is making its way to be a new craze is the paleo diet. Paleo is short for Paleolithic, referring to the prehistoric era called the stone age. The reason why this diet is called this is because it includes food which can only be hunted or gathered (basically what the cavemen ate). The diet alters the levels of certain food groups you eat. For example, you consume high amounts of proteins and low amounts of carbs. Also, you cut out all prossessed foods. This means things like sugar and refined grains, which have been linked to cause significant health issues, have been totally eliminated from your diet.


Sounds good right? A healthy natural diet with no processed foods that could block your arteries, and no fake sugars that could turn your liver white. So I ask, is the paleo diet worth a try? I read many articles about this mystical diet (here and here) trying to figure out whether if it is a safe and beneficial way of eating. So first, let me lay out the positives and negatives to decipher if this diet is worth a try.

So first, the positives. This diet cuts out all processed and manufactured foods. For example, the elimination of sugars and refined grains, which have been shown to lead to obesity and diabetes. This is very important because of all the chemicals and preservatives manufactures put in their food in todays world could lead to things like heart diesease. This diet also encourage the consumption of a verity of fruits and vegetables, leading the obtaining a multitude of different vitamins.

Now the negatives of this diet. Because the Paleo diet mostly consist of organic, whole some foods, which can be very expensive. This also possesses a challenge to obtain the food, making it hard to always have the specific foods needed on this diet. Also, with the high amounts of animal protein consumed with this diet, this could lead to the intake of fats and leading to cholesterol levels to rise. As well as cutting certain whole grains out of your diet like beans and sweet potatoes, which can be very beneficial to your health.

So the take away? Is it worth a shot? Well the answer is yes, and no. This diet is a great way to kick start weight loss and try new things, but in the long run this diet is not sustainable. The reason it is not sustainable because of the amounts of animal protein consumed in meals and the inconvenience for many 21st century people. Suggestions for those who do want to pursue this way of eating, is to not include animal protein in every single meal and snack you. As well as try not to limit yourself to only three meals a day, which can ultimately have bad effects on your metabolism.

Initial blog by yours truly

Hi class, My name is Audra Laskey and I am from Annapolis Maryland. I am taking the course science 200 because of the honest and brutal fact I needed a science Gen Ed class. I was told by my adviser and other students this class was interesting and would get my science credit over with. So here I am!

I am double majoring in Broadcast Journalism and political science. My ultimate goal is to become a sportscaster on a major network like ESPN (if you see me on TV, shout me out). Ever since I could sit up and watch TV, this has been my dream. Science has never been my forte, and never will be (ever).  My interest have mainly been in writing and English classes.

When I was told taking a science class was mandatory, this was my face……


Although going into this class, I was skeptical, but I think this will be an eye opening class which strays away from the basic common core curriculum. I am excited for the new things I will be learning and comprehending, not just regurgitating answers.

Since I am an Annapolis native, HERE is a link to the best thing science has ever created!!!!!!!Check it out fellow non-scientist!