Let’s talk turkey: The truth about tryptophan

Post-Thanksgiving NapThis Thursday after digging into your delicious Thanksgiving meal, you might find yourself slouching on your sofa, pants feeling a little snug, and you might find yourself feeling a dozy. Your first inclination will likely be to blame that delectable turkey and all of that tryptophan. Because turkey has tryptophan, and tryptophan makes us sleepy, right?


This may likely be a myth that we have all been telling ourselves. The science behind tryptophan is pretty clear: tryptophan is an essential amino acid that our bodies need to help make niacin and serotonin. Our bodies do not produce tryptophan, so we must get it from our diet. Serotonin is believed to help us sleep better and stabilize our moods. It would appear, then, if tryptophan helps us make serotonin, and serotonin helps us sleep, that consuming tryptophan would make us sleepy, right?

Not so fast. Tryptophan is found in lots of our food sources, including that wonderful Thanksgiving turkey. It is also found in cheese, chicken, eggs, fish, milk, nuts, peanut butter, and tofu, among other things. When was the last time you felt sleepy after hitting the cheese and crackers tray a little too hard at a holiday party? Probably never.

The truth is that many other foods contain a lot more tryptophan than turkey, and  those foods do not make us sleepy. And you would have to eat a LOT of turkey to start feeling any sleepy side effects. The real reason we probably all feel a little drowsy after the big meal is just that – it’s a big meal. We consume a lot of food at Thanksgiving, much of which is carbohydrate-heavy, and that overconsumption is more likely what is leading to all of the post-gorging sleepiness. Add alcohol to the mix, and you have the recipe for a very lethargic afternoon.

So let’s stop blaming our turkeys for our Thanksgiving overindulgence-assisted sleepiness, and just enjoy…in moderation. And a little nap on Thanksgiving doesn’t sound so bad, after all.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us!






Working Outside: Making it Work for You

Feeling a little down sitting at your desk? Or is the stress of the day making you irritable and overwhelmed? The remedy may be closer than you think – a short stint outside could be just what the doctor ordered!

In 2005, Richard Louv coined the phrase “nature deficit disorder” to describe the feelings of anxiety and depression that many people feel when they spend too little time outside. There’s a reason we all fondly remember recess from our childhood – taking a brief break from the hard chairs and florescent lights of our offices and classrooms can make a huge difference in our health and mood. This beneficial time outside is something adult Americans are largely missing. Read on to discover the health benefits of taking your work outside, as well as some tips on how to make working outside possible and productive.


The College of Medicine Health Sciences Campus has plenty of greenspace to take advantage of!

Benefits of Working Outside

The health benefits of getting outside during your workday are well documented. According to research by the University of Rochester, getting outside can increase people’s overall sense of wellbeing and vitality. Harvard physician Eva M. Selhub explains that some of these health benefits can be attributed to the fact that spending time in nature stimulates the reward neurons in your brain. This reward response turns off the chemical response to stress in your brain, which means you have lower cortisol levels, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and improved immune response.

Besides the health benefits of lowered stress, sunlight also helps your body produce some health-supporting chemicals. The vitamin D production that sunlight stimulates in your body supports your immune function, helping you ward off minor illnesses. This vitamin D production is also shown to increase fat metabolism, which means that getting outside is not only good for your immune system and heart, but also good for your waistline! Sunlight also helps your body produce nitric oxide, a compound that helps lower blood pressure.


Working and studying outside can help improve both your physical and mental health.

Getting outside during your workday can also improve your cognitive function. Research from the University of Michigan has found that interacting with nature for an hour can improve memory and attention by 20 percent. Getting outside can also result in greater creativity and productivity and reduced mental fatigue. Plus, the UVB exposure you get from sunlight helps regulate melatonin which improves your mood and energy levels.

Make Working Outside Work for You

The Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library has plenty of resources to help you and your team have a comfortable and productive experience while working outside. Here are some tips for making working outdoors work for you:

  1. Get mobile

Mobile technology has made working from anywhere possible. The Health Sciences Library has plenty of laptops and iPads available for checkout that make working from anywhere on our beautiful campus a breeze. Plus, with all the online journals, databases, and ebooks available on the library website, getting high-quality research on the lawn is no problem. Just make sure you charge up your devices before heading out!

  1. Get comfortable

You can kick back and relax in one of the lounge chairs available for checkout at the library. These chairs make it easy and comfortable for you to set up an outside workspace where you can reap all the benefits of the natural sunlight and nature views available on campus.

Working outside offers benefits for the whole team!

Working outside offers benefits for the whole team!

  1. Get social

What’s better than taking quiet time outside to get your own work done? Getting your whole team involved! The library has 12 lounge chairs available for check out – perfect for an outside staff meeting. This is a great way for your whole team to de-stress and re-energize, all while profiting from the increased productivity gained from time in nature. Alternatively, you could try organizing walking meetings around the grounds. Getting outside during your work day can take some out-of-the-box thinking, but it’s well worth the effort.






TEDTalk Tuesdays are Back!

Remember when we introduced TEDTalk Tuesdays last December? We went on a bit of a hiatus back in August following some constructive feedback from our students, but we’re ready to reintroduce the weekly event! Check out our sweet new setup for all things TEDTalk:

Our new TEDTalk Tuesday Setup

Our new TEDTalk Tuesday setup!

We’ve opted to utilize our 80-inch Aquos Board situated just outside the library and our brand new HSL Lounge Chairs (more on that later!) to create a little viewing space for the weekly Tuesday event. Viewing starts at 9am and goes until about 4pm. Don’t worry if you miss a talk – we hit replay on whichever playlist we’ve chosen for the day once it’s played through.

We hope that with the return of TEDTalk Tuesdays, you can look forward to screenings of other future TED events courtesy of the library. The College of Medicine has previously hosted screenings of the TEDMED Conference, so the library is happy to arrange access to these unique events should there be any interest.

Tech Talk Thursday: Sales Season Death Battle!

Beyond the retail tradition of shopping on Thanksgiving and Black Friday is now the steady fast Cyber Monday. But how is a shopper supposed to siphon out the best deal and on which day? I was overwhelmed and worried by the prospect of having to sort through an indigestible amount of Black Friday ads and mailing lists. What if I end up buying something I could get for a better deal on Cyber Monday? How is anyone supposed to get the best deal when Cyber Monday deals are usually not even announced until after Black Friday? What is this madness!?!?!

While I quested for the answers the biggest lesson I learned is that being a bargain shopper is all about your homework. Here’s the shakedown for the epic sales battle of Thanksgiving  vs. Black Friday  vs. Cyber Monday, when to shop and what to buy!

If you’re looking to purchase an electronic device you will have the best luck on Black Friday or possibly even Thanksgiving day. This year many stores began their deals November 2nd referring to it as “Black November”. Amazon, for example, has already begun along with Target, Walmart, and Best Buy. See some of their deals here:



Some bloggers believe Thanksgiving is good for large electronics like TVs while smaller ones like Xboxs and iPhones will be a better deal on Black Friday, but it probably shifts over the years. For clothing and smaller boutique items, go with Cyber Monday.

If you want to search and track your sale season items go to http://www.cybermonday.com/ for Cyber Monday and https://blackfriday.com/ for Black Friday.

But if browsing isn’t your style, here are a couple great Black Friday deal guides:



Now that we have at least two points of attack for this shopping season, let’s round it out with a visual. The chart below was posted by dealnews.com and I love them for it!

Black Friday Weekend Deal Chart

Good luck on all your retail endeavors this holiday season!


October is National Health Literacy Month

“Health Literacy” is the ability to read, understand and act upon health information.1 Health literacy is defined by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, Title V, as “the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.”2 According to the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy, almost 9 out of 10 adults have difficulty using routine health information.1

Health literacy skills help patients not only find information and services related to their healthcare, but also to process the meaning and usefulness of such information and services. Health literacy skills can also help patients understand their healthcare choices and determine what information and which services best suit their needs so they can make appropriate decisions.2

Providers of health information and services to others, such as a doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, or public health workers, also need health literacy skills so they can assist their patients in finding information and services. Health literacy skills help our healthcare workers better communicate healthcare information, and understand what patients are asking for, and which information and service will work best.2

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has resources for those who create or disseminate health information to make such information more accessible and understandable. According to the CDC, health information should be Accurate, Accessible, and Actionable. Follow the links below to learn more and to make sure your health information follows The Three A’s.





Open Access Week – What you need to know about OA



October 19 – 25 is Open Access Week 2015! This is a global event promoting the open access “to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need…”

Source: http://www.openaccessweek.org/page/about

The following brief explanation of Open Access is written by Peter Suber and is used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. You can find it here, from the SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) Open Access Week website. 

Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.

In most fields, scholarly journals do not pay authors, who can therefore consent to OA without losing revenue. In this respect scholars and scientists are very differently situated from most musicians and movie-makers, and controversies about OA to music and movies do not carry over to research literature.

OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance. Just as authors of journal articles donate their labor, so do most journal editors and referees participating in peer review.

OA literature is not free to produce, even if it is less expensive to produce than conventionally published literature. The question is not whether scholarly literature can be made costless, but whether there are better ways to pay the bills than by charging readers and creating access barriers. Business models for paying the bills depend on how OA is delivered.

There are two primary vehicles for delivering OA to research articles: OA journals and OA archives or repositories.

  • OA archives or repositories do not perform peer review, but simply make their contents freely available to the world. They may contain unrefereed preprints, refereed postprints, or both. Archives may belong to institutions, such as universities and laboratories, or disciplines, such as physics and economics. Authors may archive their preprints without anyone else’s permission, and a majority of journals already permit authors to archive their postprints. When archives comply with the metadata harvesting protocol of the Open Archives Initiative, then they are interoperable and users can find their contents without knowing which archives exist, where they are located, or what they contain. There is now open-source software for building and maintaining OAI-compliant archives and worldwide momentum for using it.
  • OA journals perform peer review and then make the approved contents freely available to the world. Their expenses consist of peer review, manuscript preparation, and server space. OA journals pay their bills very much the way broadcast television and radio stations do: those with an interest in disseminating the content pay the production costs upfront so that access can be free of charge for everyone with the right equipment. Sometimes this means that journals have a subsidy from the hosting university or professional society. Sometimes it means that journals charge a processing fee on accepted articles, to be paid by the author or the author’s sponsor (employer, funding agency). OA journals that charge processing fees usually waive them in cases of economic hardship. OA journals with institutional subsidies tend to charge no processing fees. OA journals can get by on lower subsidies or fees if they have income from other publications, advertising, priced add-ons, or auxiliary services. Some institutions and consortia arrange fee discounts. Some OA publishers waive the fee for all researchers affiliated with institutions that have purchased an annual membership. There’s a lot of room for creativity in finding ways to pay the costs of a peer-reviewed OA journal, and we’re far from having exhausted our cleverness and imagination.

Happy Diversity Week, College of Medicine!

This week we are celebrating our diversity. We value diversity on our library team because each of our unique experiences allow us to collaborate to create new ideas together that would not be possible if we all shared the same background. Everyone can bring something completely different to the table!

Brady Bunch

Why do you value diversity? We’d love to hear about it! We have the perfect opportunity in mind as well. In case you didn’t hear, stop by the library today at 3pm for a special College of Medicine Diversity Week themed Popcorn Day. Chat with us and enjoy a twist on your favorite Thursday afternoon snack!

Popcorn Day_Diversity Week

A Treat (No Tricks!) for National Medical Librarians Month

Medical Librarians are so awesome, we have an entire month devoted to us! That’s right, October is National Medical Librarians Month. All this month, we are encouraging COM to participate in a little contest to raise awareness of the importance of working with your medical librarians when searching for evidence based information. If you want to play, simply head to the second floor of the medical education building and look for these flyers:

October is National Medical Librarians Month!

October is National Medical Librarians Month!

Then stop by the health sciences library front desk and let our friendly staff know:

(1) How many of these “Are You a Risk Taker?” flyers did you see on the second floor; and

(2) What event are the flyers advertising?

Answer correctly and you will be rewarded with a pretty awesome treat (no tricks, promise)!

Happy hunting! And remember to visit the health sciences library to ask for some expert help from our wonderful medical librarians.


Tech Talk Thursday: S’more to Come Soon: Google’s Nexus Event and the dawn of “Marshmallow”

Tech Talk banner

Android MarshmallowApple wasn’t the only company holding product events this month. Google had its Nexus event the evening of September 29th and unveiled what’s to come for the next year.

Some of it we already knew about, like the release of the latest Android operating system, Android 6.0 (named  Marshmallow), which will be available next week.

The most anticipated devices were the new Nexus phones. Build up to the event was peppered with anticipatory tweets and hashtags. Google debuted two new Android phones: the Nexus 6P for those of us with a little extra cash handy, and the Nexus 5X. So far, Google’s flagship WiFi project, Project Fi, is only beneficial if you own a Nexus 6. But with the announcement of the new Nexus 5x and 6p came new hope for users to be able to take advantage of the super-saver WiFi network.

Google announced the new Chromecast 2.0 for pretty much the same price but with a whole different look. It features a new built in “Fast Play” software that connects to your TV faster than the original device and pre-loads content, like an episode from that favorite series you like to binge watch. It works by opening the media player’s app, which has also been revamped. Additionally, you can stream Spotify, Showtime’s app, and lots more! There’s also going to be Chromecast Audio. While Chromecast (and 2.0) is for your TV, the Audio is for your sound system. It looks almost identical to the 2.0 but is outfitted with a standard 3.5mm audio port instead of the TVs HDMI component. It has the same price tag that its counterpart boasts.

And while all the canoodling with new devices was going on, Google threw in the Pixel C.  Surprise – a tablet from Google! Google has made a surface tablet, which looks like a Microsoft Surface Pro and iPad 1st Generation had a love child. Tech blogs are boasting that the Microsoft Surface Pro finally has a competitor but the numbers to back it up remain to be seen.

Google has really put in the effort to be a part of your home. While the world has been preoccupied keeping an eye on Apple domination, Google’s been hard at work creating new ways for its technology to challenge the market.



National Medical Librarians Month starts October 1st

Google Solo

Obviously, geeky references and librarianship go hand in hand. This pleases me.

Seriously though, where has the time gone and how is it already a week from October? 2015 has been busy for our library staff, but we couldn’t ask for a better group of colleagues and students to be so busy for. Thanks for letting  us do what we do for you!

October 1st marks the beginning of National Medical Librarians month. The Medical Library Association dedicates each October to celebrating information professionals who provide expert assistance and guidance to students, faculty,  other health care providers and everyday consumers looking for health information inside health sciences and medical libraries. Not to toot our own horns too loudly, but we really encourage you to bring any health related inquiries you may have downstairs (or upstairs!) to the second floor. Curious to know more about a particular medical condition? Though we’re certainly no replacement for a trained physician you know and trust, we pride ourselves on being able to provide our patrons with excellent resources and health information from reliable and safe sources that you can take to the office and talk with your doctor about, or learn more about something you’ve previously discussed with your doctor. Remember to ask a librarian before you ask “Dr. Google”! Of course, if you need help with scholarly research, we’ve got you covered as well. With subscription access to over 1000 electronic journals, our librarians can show you how to make the most of our collections and find the best quality research for your needs.

What are some ways we’ve most been able to help you? How have our services managed to make your day, or solve a problem you had? How can we evolve what we do to do it even better?  We’d love to know your favorite experience working with a member of our library team, or to hear any thoughts you might have about the services we provide. Share with us in the comments, or feel free to swing by the library throughout October to chat with us (or ask us for help if you have a question!).