Top Stories of the Year 2010
2. Fatigued Nation
The nation's long recession took its toll in 2010. It's unfair, but the loss of a job may weaken one's health. Stress goes up, insurance goes away, relationships are strained. For those lucky enough to remain employed, we may feel we have to do three times as much to keep our jobs, and the mere threat of joining the jobless is enough to keep us up at night.
And that's a major health threat that we’re learning more about every year. Yes, health has many components. But Americans tend to forget that getting enough sleep is one of them. One in five of us suffers daytime sleepiness -- and more than 1 in 10 suffers actual sleep deprivation.
That's making us very tired. It's also bad for our health. A slew of studies reported in 2010 hammer home that point.
One alarming study finds that the common practice of sleeping less than seven hours a day increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. And sleeping less than five hours a day doubles this risk.
It's bad enough that stress makes many of us want to eat too much. This may lead us to go on a diet. But it turns out too little sleep makes it harder to lose weight.
The same thing goes for catching a cold. Stress weakens the immune system -- and so does too little sleep.
And talk about a vicious circle. Not only can the stress of job loss make you lose sleep, but too little sleep could make you lose your job. In a 2010 survey, many Americans report that their lack of sleep affects their job performance.
3. Return of Whooping Cough
Thanks to vaccination, the once-common childhood plague called whooping cough became extremely rare in the U.S. But once again, a foe we thought long vanquished came back with a vengeance. So when kids started coming down with the disease -- officially known as pertussis -- doctors who had never seen a case were slow to recognize it.
That changed dramatically in July, when the CDC reported that six California infants died in the state's worst whooping-cough outbreak in 50 years. By year's end, the outbreak had claimed 10 infant lives and California conducted a massive vaccination campaign. Slowly, it has started to show up in other states, too, and we can’t predict when the spread will stop.