For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from readers. I’ve come down hard against phones in bedrooms in the past. Is there a “good way” to use your phone in the bedroom? Reader Kathy offered some good reasons for keeping a phone there; what do I think? Next, HealthyHombre laments having to take antidepressants (but he shouldn’t lament). And finally, I cover the differences in omega-6 between pastured eggs and conventional eggs.

Let’s go:

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I use my phone in bed in airplane mode to generate a binaural beat and a rainy night white noise. Grok would not do that but Grok would not live near a busy railroad and a neighbor with outdoor chihuahuas. Grok would not crank up an old favorite story on audiobooks when he couldn’t sleep but I do. The phone has a very dim red light at night (Twilight app). Is that really bad or does the no-phone advice refer instead to radiation from operating radios or attending to email, calls, and Facebook pings?

That’s an excellent question.

A ton of evidence indicates that dim light at night is bad, even just a little bit. It disrupts our cellular circadian rhythm (every cell in our body has a circadian component) and metabolism, leading to weight gain. It increases REM sleep and the number of times we wake up during the night. It may even lead to trans-generational depression and neurodegeneration.

Unless the dim light is red or from a fire. If anything, dim red light will help you sleep, not hinder you. A 2012 paper found that female basketball players using nighttime red light therapy improved sleep quality, increased melatonin production, and boosted endurance capacity.

The way you use your phone at night is ideal. It’s a tool to enhance your life, to replace what’s missing and essential and human in the most ancient sense—stories, soothing white noise.  You’ve got it on airplane mode, so you aren’t getting texts and updates and notifications. You aren’t tempted to check email or Facebook.

Keep doing it.

HealthyHombre wrote:

The article about antidepressants is of interest to me as I take 10mg of Lexapro daily to help mitigate severe panic attacks. For some reason it seems to be the only thing that provides consistent help. I’m 65 years old and it is the only pharmaceutical I take. I exercise regularly, diet is super clean, I’ve tried meditation, deep breathing, journaling, various natural supplements, therapy sessions etc. … all positive things but only the med seems to really work for me. Maybe it is the placebo affect, the mind is very powerful and if we believe something strongly enough it can manifest in a biological response. I’ve been told that a small percentage of people have problems utilizing neurotransmitters and the ad helps prevent re-uptake. I’ve spend hundreds of hours reading everything I can on the subject. Hopefully someday there will be some breakthroughs, until then I reluctantly take it daily and try not to beat myself up too much about it. Have a great day everyone!

If they work, they work! Never beat yourself up for doing what works. Just because many take them unnecessarily doesn’t mean you are. Remember, we’re all individuals charing our respective courses through life. Only we can decide which turns to take and tools to use along the way.

We are our own arbiters.

For what it’s worth, many psychiatrists who value the importance of nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle in treating depression also note the efficacy (and sometimes necessity) of antidepressants in certain patients. Dr. Emily Deans is one.

David wondered:

Hey Mark, I note the inclusion of pork and chicken as foods to be aware of as high in omega 6 linoleic acid (from their feed). Does this line of thinking also apply to egg yolks? If so, only for conventional eggs and not for pastured eggs?

Yes. Keep in mind that many pastured hens still receive a standard feed that contains soy and corn, both of which can contribute to omega-6 levels. However, pastured hens tend to have higher levels of omega-3, so the O6:O3 ratio is lower in pastured chicken eggs. Does it matter?

I think so. A study from several years ago compared the in vivo effects of regular eggs vs “special eggs” in humans—what happens in people who eat them? The conventional hens ate typical stuff high in omega-6 fats, like soy, corn (and its oil), sunflower, and safflower; their eggs were high in omega-6. The special hens ate wheat, barley, and sorghum, with an antioxidant blend to replicate the broad spectrum of compounds they’d get foraging in nature. Their eggs were lower in omega-6. Human subjects ate two eggs a day from either regular or special hens for several weeks. By study’s end, people eating the conventional eggs had 40% more oxidized LDL than people eating the eggs low in omega-6. Oxidized serum LDL is strongly associated with atherosclerosis (and it’s probably a causative relationship), so this is a big finding.

Pastured and wild chickens eat wild plants, seeds, bugs, and grain (most of which contain various antioxidant phytochemicals and low levels of omega-6); the experimental hen wasn’t the perfect approximation of this diet, but it was pretty close.

Any egg is better than no egg, though. If all you can eat are standard eggs, they’re still worth having for the choline content alone.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading. Be sure to leave a comment, ask a question, or answer a question down below.

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