If you’re prone to frequent nightmares, the underlying cause may be depression or, oddly enough, insomnia, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Turku in Finland.

The scientists surveyed the sleeping habits of more than 13,000 people over a period of 30 days. Almost 4 percent reported having frequent nightmares, more men than women. People reporting frequent nightmares were found to be likelier to be suffering from severe depression symptoms or frequent insomnia, as well.

“Our study shows a clear connection between well-being and nightmares,” said lead author Nils Sandman. “This is most evident in the connection between nightmares and depression, but also apparent in many other analyses involving nightmares and questions measuring life satisfaction and health.”

The cross-sectional study did not allow for an examination of causality. Sandman suggested the results merit further investigation.

“It might be possible that nightmares could function as early indicators of onset of depression and therefore have previously untapped diagnostic value,” he said. “Also, because nightmares, insomnia and depression often appear together, would it be possible to treat all of these problems with an intervention directed solely toward nightmares?”

Body of Knowledge

On average, women’s hair is about half the diameter of men’s hair.

Get Me That, Stat!

For every hour a person spends watching TV each day, his or her risk of developing diabetes increases by as much as 3.4 percent, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Life in Big Macs

One hour of walking briskly while carrying something weighing less than 25 pounds burns 306 calories (based on a 150-pound person), or the equivalent of 0.4 Big Mac. FYI, it takes approximately 50 Big Macs to equal 25 pounds. If you ate all 50 Big Macs, you’d have to walk briskly for more than 100 hours, or more than four days and nights, to burn them all off.


70.7: percentage of Americans between 2 and 19 years old who consumed caffeine on any given day during a study period covering 2009-12.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics

Phobia of the Week

Rhypophobia: fear of defecation.

Never Say Diet

The speed-eating record for bologna is 2.76 pounds in six minutes, held by Don Lerman. Warning: Most of these records are held by professional eaters; the rest are held by people who really should find something better to do.

Best Medicine

At the dentist’s office for oral surgery, a patient was reading through and signing obligatory forms. Jokingly, he asked the receptionist, “Does this say that even if you pull my head completely off, I can’t sue you?”

The receptionist replied: “No, that’s the next sheet. This one says you still have to pay us.”

Medical History

This week in 1969, newspapers reported the first transplant of an entire human eye by surgeons at Houston Methodist Hospital. The doctors had operated on a 54-year-old man who had lost sight in his right eye after a bad cornea graft a few days earlier. Experts began to immediately question the announcement, and the Houston surgeons clarified that they had not actually transplanted an entire eye but rather replaced portions of the patient’s existing eye with transplanted tissues. The operation was not successful; the man’s eyesight was not restored. The lead surgeon was subsequently expelled from the local ophthalmological society for poor practices.

Last Words

“Farewell, my children, forever. I go to your Father. Monsieur, I beg your pardon.” — French Queen Marie Antoinette (1755-93), who was executed by guillotine during the French Revolution. She spoke the final words to the executioner after stepping on his foot.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.