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Feel Tired All the Time? “Social Jet Lag” May be to Blame

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It's practically a law of nature: If you stay out late on Friday night, you'll feel it on Saturday morning. But a new study [PDF] published in the journal Sleep suggests the repercussions of partying on the weekends last long after Monday morning rolls around. As Medical News Daily reports, “social jet lag"—what happens when someone goes to bed later on weekends than during the week—has a negative impact on overall wellbeing.

For the study, researchers looked at 984 people between the ages of 22 and 60 who responded fully to a Sleep Timing Questionnaire. Participants were asked report their sleep habits and rate their health as “Excellent," "Good," or "Fair/Poor."

They found that inconsistent sleep schedules can lead to several issues, such as fatigue and irritability. The lifestyle is connected to more serious problems as well: For every hour of social jet lag accumulated, subjects were 11.1 percent more likely to develop heart disease. People who racked up just one hour of social jet lag had a 28 percent higher chance of describing their health as ”Fair/Poor" instead of “Excellent.”

Even if you sleep until noon after getting home at 4 a.m., that won’t necessarily remedy the problem. Previous studies have shown that disrupting your circadian rhythm, even if you make those hours up eventually, has nasty effects on your metabolism. So if you work a nine-to-five job during the week, you should probably stick to a reasonable bedtime on the weekends.

[h/t Medical News Daily]

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Want Priority Boarding On Your Alaska Airlines Flight This Holiday Season? Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater
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Between steep fares and crowded terminals, flying during the holidays isn’t fun. But on Friday, December 15, a special Alaska Airlines promotion will ease boarding stress and transform packed planes into mile-high ugly sweater parties, in honor of National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the airline will offer free early boarding to travelers willing to don their holiday worst at the airport.

The promotion is good for all Alaska Airlines flights in the airline’s 115-city network, and for flights offered by Virgin America and Horizon Air (both of which are operated by Alaska Airlines). In addition to escaping the waiting crowds, passengers who share the most festive knitted looks will be featured on Alaska Air's social media pages if they tag their photos and videos using the hashtags #UglySweaterDay and #MostWestCoast. And since no plane aisle-turned-catwalk is complete without a soundtrack, “festive holiday-themed boarding music will play all month long to help get guests into the holiday spirit,” according to a press release.

Worried you’ll be the only person on the plane wearing a sequined Rudolph cardigan? Even if other passengers don’t get the memo, airline crew will also be wearing ugly sweaters—so feel free to unleash your inner Chevy Chase from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

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Why You Should Think Twice About Drinking From Ceramics You Made by Hand
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Ceramic ware is much safer than it used to be (Fiesta ware hasn’t coated its plates in uranium since 1973), but according to NPR, not all new ceramics are free of dangerous chemicals. If you own a mug, bowl, plate, or other ceramic kitchen item baked in an older kiln, it may contain trace amounts of harmful lead.

Earthenware is often coated with a shiny, ceramic glaze. Historically, lead has been used in glazes to give pottery a glossy finish and brighten colors like orange, yellow, and red. The chemical is avoided by potters today, but it can still show up in handmade dishware baked in older kilns that contain lead residue. Antique products from the era when lead was a common crafting material may also be unsafe to eat or drink from. This is especially true when consuming something acidic, like coffee, which can cause any lead hiding in the glaze to leach out.

Sometimes the amount of lead in a product is minuscule, but even trace amounts can contaminate whatever you're eating or drinking. Over time, exposure to lead in small doses can lead to heightened blood pressure, lowered kidney function, and reproductive issues. Lead can cause even more serious problems in kids, including slowed physical and mental development.

As the dangers of even small amounts of lead have become more widely known, the ceramics industry has gradually eliminated the additive from its products. Most of the big-name commercial ceramic brands, like Crock-Pot and Fiesta ware, have cut it out all together. Independent artisans have also moved away from working with the ingredient, but there are still some manufacturers, especially abroad, that use it. Luckily, the FDA keeps a list of the ceramic ware it tests that has been shown to contain lead.

If you’re not ready to retire your hand-crafted ceramic plates, the FDA offers one possible solution: Purchase a home lead testing kit and analyze the items yourself. If the tests come back negative, your homemade dishware can keep its spot on your dinner table.

[h/t NPR]

This piece was updated to clarify that while lead may be present in antique ceramics and old kilns, it's no longer a common ingredient in ceramic glazes.

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