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Health Highlights: Pink noise, COVID-19 uptick

The New Year can bring unwanted stress to some people. 

It can also bring an increase in viruses. 

Over the last few months, communities across America have been hit hard by a number of respiratory illnesses that have come and gone in waves. 

First it was respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, spreading quickly through younger children and older adults. 

Fast forward to now, and COVID-19 is once again the main focus. While influenza remains in the community as well. 

Douglas Kasper, MD, an infectious disease specialist with OSF HealthCare, says the best tool to protect ourselves against severe illness is a vaccine. 

He says the current COVID-19 vaccine offered is different than a booster. 

“If you’ve received a few COVID-19 shots in 2021 or 2022, you got a booster and you felt like this was a reiteration of that, it’s a little different. That’s the benefit of at least one more COVID vaccine,” Dr. Kasper says. “It adds to the library of immunity in our population. Something that’s different than just boosting over and over again.”

Another tool available to stop the spread of COVID-19 is testing. Free tests are available at You can get at least four COVID-19 tests shipped right to your home. 

Here's something to try if you want to sleep better, and in turn, have better heart health: pink noise. 

Cardiologist Abraham Kocheril says pink noise includes all frequencies. But the high ones, are dampened. 

Examples include waves hitting the shore, leaves rustling in the trees and rainfall. 

Dr. Kocheril says one study showed people got deeper sleep with pink noise.

“People who don’t sleep well tend to have more anxiety and heart rhythm disturbances. Sometimes you can diminish things like atrial fibrillation [an irregular heartbeat] by sleeping well or getting more sleep," Dr. Kocheril says. 

You can use a Smart speaker, smartphone app, or YouTube video to play pink noise while you sleep.

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