Sleep Wisely

05/25/2015 BY SALIM SURANI

Woman sleeping on the wheel in her car

Snails can sleep for three years, and dolphins never sleep. What about us?

By: Dr. Salim Surani

Sleep, dream, siesta, snooze, tranquility, downtime, break, quietude and quiescence have become a second priority in this technology-driven society. The research and data have shown that humans are the only mammals who willingly delay sleep. Most people can survive for up to two months without eating, but only 11 days without sleeping.

Even the marginal sleep they get is distracted by phone calls, text messages, Facebook messages and tweets. The technologies have imprisoned the developed society, and people feel threatened to be disconnected.

Though not stigmatized, caffeine is the most popular drug worldwide. People consume caffeine in the form of coffee, tea, cocoa and energy drinks that can help block the adenosine receptor in brain to keep them up.

Before the advent of electric bulb by Thomas Edison in 1879, the work schedule had been centered on human circadian rhythm with people working in the daytime and resting at nighttime. But following the Industrial Revolution, we have come to live in a 24-hour, technologically driven society.

Sleep deprivation has been linked to several major accidents, including the Exxon Valdez oil spin and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, as well as accidents related to drowsy driving. Drowsy driving is responsible for 76,000 to 100,000 crashes per year in the United States – which is considered to be an underestimation, as drivers’ inattention may be due to sleep deprivation. One of the studies has shown that almost 55 percent of drivers have driven while sleepy in a year, and 23 percent have dosed off while driving at some point in their life.

Besides causing accidents and industrial hazards, sleep deprivation also has severe health consequences. For example, it can cause:

• An increase in blood pressure
• A higher risk of heart attack, stroke, depression, gastrointestinal disturbances, mood disturbances and falls in the elderly
• A greater likelihood of poor school performance among children

Studies have also shown that sleeping less than seven hours every night can result in weight gain and may reduce your life expectancy.
In the United States, 50 million adults have difficulty with sleep, and only one-fifth of them discuss their problems with physicians. Sleep need is variable throughout life.

Studies have shown that only 15 percent of teens report sleeping eight-and-a-half hours on school nights. This can impair their ability to concentrate, potentially bringing about a decline in their grades, health issues, inattention and behavior challenges.

Technological advances like social media outlets have been major challenges contributing to the compromising of teen sleep. Moreover, adults and older folks are also getting hooked to social media and compromising their sleep, thus making the United States one of the most sleep-deprived nations in the world.

There are some basic sleep hygiene principles that have been helpful in combating sleep issues. It is important that individuals try to implement one or two pointers at any given time, rather than implementing all of them at the same time.

Healthy sleep tips
• Avoid daytime naps.
• Avoid stimulants like caffeine, tee and energy drinks, especially after noontime.
• Avoid alcohol within four to six hours of bedtime, as alcohol helps you go to sleep, but then causes fragmentation throughout the night.
• Establish regular times for going to bed and waking up.
• Avoid watching TV or working on computers while in bed.
• Exercise regularly, but avoid vigorous exercise three to four hours prior to bedtime.
• Keep the room dark and quiet while you are sleeping.
• Avoid large meals before bedtime; however, eating a light snack may help promote sleep.
• Avoid extremes of temperature in the bedroom.
• Ensure that you have a good mattress.
• Avoid smoking, as nicotine is a stimulant that may disturb your sleep.

Average Sleep Requirement

14-17 hours/day

12-14 hours/day

11-14 hours/day

Pre-school children
10-13 hours/day

School-age children
9-11 hours/day

8-10 hours/day

7-9 hours/day

Older Adults
7-8 hours/day

Sleep, in essence, is an integral part of adequate functioning of human body. For details about iConquer: Sleep Wisely, to combat teen sleep and to view/download the 3-D animated movie for free, please visit

Salim Surani, M.D., has written the first complete book on sleep deprivation risks, “Sleep & Safety,” as well as several manuscripts that have been published in major journals worldwide.


Why All the Fuss?

05/25/2015 BY SALIM SURANI

Teenage couple smoking

Smoking and vaping: why you should say “no” the first time and every time

By: Dr. Salim Surani

Vaping, smoking, puffing, sniffing, chewing and snorting seems like an adrenaline-pumping and exhilarating activity – at least, that’s what the tobacco and e-cigarette producers would like for consumers to believe. Cigarette smoking kills 480,000 Americans each year. This is equivalent to four jumbo jets crashing every single day, with no survivors.

If we consider tobacco issues worldwide, every six seconds, a person dies due to tobacco-related illnesses, and one in 10 people dies due to smoking. Unfortunately, this is not just limited to adults. In the United States, every day, 2,800 children try their first cigarette, leading to more than 250,000 new underage smokers per year. Surprisingly, 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking while they were in their teens and younger.

Tobacco industries spend almost $9 billion a year on tobacco marketing. According to research, 90.7 percent of middle-school children and 92.9 percent of high school children are exposed to tobacco advertising and marketing in some form. Smoking-related health care expenditures are $260 million a day and $260 million a day in loss of productivity.

Worldwide tobacco use killed 100 million people in the 20th century. If current trends continue, it will kill one billion people in the 21st century. With this data in hand, it is no surprise that the United States still ranks in the top five tobacco-consuming countries worldwide.

Enormous effort has been made to educate the community worldwide regarding the hazards of smoking, ranging from chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) to lung cancer. A new wave of e-cigarettes has taken over the nation. Whether it is helpful (which it may be in some cases) or harmful all depends on how it is used.

Those who make e-cigarettes claim that e-cigarettes are safe; however, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) says, prove it. The marketing and advertisements for e-cigarettes are growing exponentially, with e-cigarette makers spending $60 million in promotion and advertisement. To date, e-cigarette sales have hit $2 billion.

Companies are increasing their marketing budgets by 300-plus percent, with major marketing strategies revolving around the idea that it is safe (which is an unproven claim). The FDA has not yet approved e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation device, but e-cigarettes have been widely used.

The major concern that has shaken the health care workers is the potential for nicotine addiction, which is the most addictogenic substance, and the drastic increase in the numbers of new users, including teens, who feel the product is safe. The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as several medical organizations, have raised their concern regarding the increased youth addiction on nicotine due to e-cigarette usage. In some of the e-cigarette cartridges of liquid, they have found 18mg or more of nicotine. For children, 10mg or more of nicotine can be dangerous.

The International Respiratory Society forum has also advocated against the use of e-cigarettes and suggested that it should be banned, at least until more information is available.

Now, how does an e-cigarette work? When the user inhales the e-cigarette, it activates the heating element. The e-cigarette solutions, which are composed of nicotine (the most addictogenic substance), liquid solvent (as propylene glycol) and the flavoring agent, are vaporized at that high temperature and inhaled by the person.

A recent study published in a major journal showed that high-voltage vaping creates formaldehyde, which is a cancer-producing substance. The risk of cancer from this substance was felt to be much greater than conventional cigarettes. Since e-cigarettes are not regulated, it is tough to know if the premier brand may be using higher voltage to give an extra nicotine kick and inadvertently increase the risk of cancer.

Despite the possible benefit to help in reducing the cigarette usage, the e-cigarette has not been approved as a smoking cessation measure, and it has been a potential route for creating more future smokers. In essence, tobacco and nicotine in any form may be habit forming and harmful. The best measure is to say “no” to smoking – the first time and every time.

For details on programs to combat smoking among children,


Channel 6 Corpus Christi

Students dance and sing to end diabetes.

Coastal Bend Magazine
Coastal Bend Magazine

By Priscilla Torres CONNECT

Local high school students are taking a stand against diabetes and childhood obesity by creating a program called “I-Conquer.”

They’re teaching youngsters how to stay healthy…through a little song and dance.

Saherish Surani, a tenth grader from Mary Carroll High School said, “Well, diabetes is really prevalent in our society.”

She along with several other students created the I-Conquer program.

“This is project I Conquer. We actually found it to increase awareness about diabetes and childhood obesity as well as teach children how to live healthier lives,” Surani said.

Showing kids eating healthy and exercising can be fun.

“Our mission is to create habits instead of changing them and we do this through puppet shows, Zumba dances, moves and then fun little jingles and songs,” Surani said.

Kindergarten students at Luther Jones are just one of the schools participating in the I-Conquer Program and it seems to be catching on.

“I was learning about if you eat junk food, you will, you can’t exercise and you’ll be lazy,” David Lee, a Kindergarten student at Luther Jones Elementary said.

Molly Gowan, another Kindergarten said she learned, “Apples make you smile. Carrots make your eyes look pretty and stuff.”

Surani says teaching kids at a young age will help them live a healthier life in the long run.

“So, we thought that this was very important. we’re geared toward 3 to 7 year olds because at this age, the children are like sponges. They absorb anything we can tell them,” Surani said.

So, if you too much junk food then…Kindergartner Molly Gowan says, “You won’t be healthy.”


Channel 6 Corpus Christi

CORPUS CHRISTI -Making better choices usually means living a better life. At least, that’s the thought which drives the people who lead the It’s Your Life Foundation.IYLF is a non-profit organization funded in partnership with local businesses, as well as physicians and local, regional and national foundations. Since its beginning with a tobacco education project for children and teens in 2005, the organization has reached in excess of 70,000 young people with more than 2,000 presentations delivered in schools across South Texas.Currently, IYLF is working to expand something called iConquer, a youth-driven project designed to combat childhood obesity and diabetes – two of the biggest health threats in our area.A recent study found that South Texas has the highest percentage of people being diagnosed with diabetes in Texas. About 52% of South Texans do not get the recommended amount of exercise and 76% do not get enough fruits and vegetables. It is said that 1 in 3 children born in 2000 will develop diabetes. IYLF would like to decrease that alarming number.Citing the study, Board President Dr. Salim Surani, MD notes, “If a child is obese between the ages of 3-5 years, then they are eight times more likely to be obese during their adulthood. Since habits are formed during these critical years in a child’s life, we plan to educate them with age appropriate techniques about healthy living habits. Rather than changing habits, we plan to help ‘create’ habits.”It’s Your Life Foundation is holding its 5th Annual 5K Run/Walk at Cole Park on Saturday, May 30th, to benefit the group’s Ante Tobacco and iConquer education programs. A registration form may be found at To learn more about IYLF, visit