Napping: Dos and Don’ts for Healthy Adults

If you’re sleep deprived or just looking for a way to relax, you might be thinking about taking a nap. Napping at the wrong time of day or for too long can backfire, though. Understand how to get the most out of a nap.

What are the benefits of napping?

Napping offers various benefits for healthy adults, including:

  • Relaxation
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Increased alertness
  • Improved mood
  • Improved performance, including quicker reaction time and better memory

What are the drawbacks to napping?

Napping isn’t for everyone. Some people simply can’t sleep during the day or have trouble sleeping in places other than their own beds, which napping sometimes requires. Napping can also have negative effects, such as:

  • Sleep inertia. You might feel groggy and disoriented after waking up from a nap.
  • Nighttime sleep problems. Short naps generally don’t affect nighttime sleep quality for most people. However, if you experience insomnia or poor sleep quality at night, napping might worsen these problems. Long or frequent naps might interfere with nighttime sleep.

When should I consider a nap?

You might consider making time for a nap if you:

  • Experience new fatigue or unexpected sleepiness
  • Are about to experience sleep loss, for example, due to a long work shift
  • Want to make planned naps part of your daily routine

Could a sudden increased need for naps indicate a health problem?

If you’re experiencing an increased need for naps and there’s no obvious cause of new fatigue in your life, talk to your doctor. You could be taking a medication or have a sleep disorder or other medical condition that’s disrupting your nighttime sleep.

What’s the best way to take a nap?

To get the most out of a nap, follow these tips:

  • Keep naps short. Aim to nap for only 10 to 30 minutes. The longer you nap, the more likely you are to feel groggy afterward.
  • Take naps in the afternoon. The best time for a nap is usually midafternoon, around 2 or 3 p.m. This is the time of day when you might experience post-lunch sleepiness or a lower level of alertness. In addition, naps taken during this time are less likely to interfere with nighttime sleep. Keep in mind, however, that individual factors—such as your need for sleep and your sleeping schedule—also can play a role in determining the best time of day to nap.
  • Create a restful environment. Nap in a quiet, dark place with a comfortable room temperature and few distractions.

After napping, be sure to give yourself time to wake up before resuming activities—particularly those that require a quick or sharp response.

Updated: 2015-10-03

Publication Date: 2010-10-05

How to Function After a Red-Eye Flight, According to 21 Seasoned Travelers

Red-eye flights are simultaneously a life-saver and a giant pain in the butt. Getting on a plane, going to sleep, and waking up somewhere new can be pretty magical—but it can also be exhausting and overwhelming.

In college, I lived an overnight flight away from my parents. I was fortunate enough to fly home several times a year, but I always felt like a complete zombie functioning on minimal sleep in a different time zone—on both ends of the trip. Jet lag sucks when it’s eating into your vacation, and it can also be a major impediment on business trips when you need to be on your A-game.

So, how can you survive and even thrive on a red-eye or long-haul flight? Here’s what 21 seasoned travelers do before, during, and after an overnight.

Choose your seat based on your needs.

“The best place to sleep is a window seat. I like using the window as something to lean on. Your seat neighbor will thank you for not leaning on them instead. If you wake up to noise easily, stay as far from the galleys as possible. Flight attendants work in the galleys during the flight and it can get noisy. And frequent lavatory users should always take an aisle seat. You can use the aircraft seat map if you want to book a seat close to a lavatory as well.” —Kaipo Kauka, a flight attendant with Hawaiian Airlines

Whenever possible, fly direct.

“Avoid booking travel with connecting flights. If you don’t have to wake up to change planes (and battle with falling asleep again) you will have a much more relaxed red eye experience.” —Valerie Wilson, a travel blogger at Trusted Travel Girl, who takes around 100 flights a year

Don’t skip your workout.

“I work out the morning before a red-eye flight. Not too hard, just something I’d normally do (or a light workout if you’re not accustomed to working out). This sets me up to sleep better at night.” —Vanessa Valiente, a fashion blogger who travels at least once a month

Get your “timing cues” aligned to help your body know when it’s time to sleep.

“Sleep, exercise, and eat on local time before you leave so that your body gets the same time information to all organs, no matter what cues they’re sensitive to. Getting bright light in the day is also important, just like making sure it’s dark when you sleep. Going outside helps with the former, and using a sleep mask can help with the latter, especially if you don’t quite sleep on local time the first day or two.” —Benjamin Smarr, Ph.D., a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley and Reverie sleep advisory board member, who travels one or twice per month

Prepare all the info you’ll need when you land before you board the flight.

“Your ongoing travel info, your hotel directions, your landing cards for customs, etc. It’s easier to organize these when you are fresh (and have more elbow room) than when you are bleary-eyed and woozy.” —Kelly Hayes-Raitt, professional house-sitter and author of How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva, who has traveled full-time for the past nine years

Eat before you board.

“If you can, make sure you have a decent meal before you get on the flight. Airplane food varies considerably in quality, and if you’re hungry you’ll also have trouble sleeping.” —Travis Bennett, founder of NomadStack, who flies internationally two to three times per month

Stick to your bedtime routine.

“I ‘get ready for bed’ before getting on the flight. I wash my face, brush my teeth and put comfortable clothes on. I bring multiple layers in case I get cold (and in case the airline doesn’t give out blankets!) including thick socks and a long scarf that I can use as a blanket.” —Alissa Rumsey, R.D., who travels at least twice a month

Relax with some ASMR.

”I’m a devotee of ASMR recordings, which trigger relaxation in the brain and help me feel calm, even when I’m crammed into a tiny coach seat. I purchased a few albums worth of ASMR that I bought on iTunes and keep on my phone. Tingles ASMR is a decent app for downloading and discovering new ASMR artists.” —Megan Wood, an editor at hotel review site, who travels once a month

Bring a scarf or shawl.

“I bring a huge scarf with me to use as a light blanket in case I get cold. It can also be used as a pillow to support your head depending on how much room you have, but this is my secret weapon because it’s lightweight and very comforting.” —Jenay Rose, a yoga instructor who travels around once a month

And buckle your seatbelt over it.

Flight attendants are required to verify whether your seatbelt is secured when necessary. To avoid having a flight attendant interrupting your sleep, I suggest buckling your seatbelt on top of your layers.” —Ernest Shahbazian, founder of YouTube travel channel Trip Astute, who travels internationally three to four times a year

Carry on a pair of slipper socks.

“I wear slipper socks so I can take off my shoes but still not be walking around barefoot.” —Jen Ruiz, a travel blogger who took 20 trips last year

Or compression socks.

“A pair of compression socks is a must for puffy ankles, especially on long-haul flights.” —Erina Pindar, managing director of luxury travel agency SmartFlyer, who flies one to two times a month

Put your pillow on the tray table.

“If you are having trouble falling asleep sitting straight up, try this alternative: lay your neck pillow on the tray table and lay your head on the pillow. As a side sleeper, sometimes I find this position more comfortable than straight up.” —Nina Thomas, blogger at Traveling with Nina, who flies five to 10 times a year

Set an alarm to wake you up before landing.

“If you are able to sleep on the flight then I highly recommend setting a quiet alarm 30-45 minutes before landing. You’ll be able to mentally prepare for your day a bit and won’t be jolted awake by the landing of the plane.” —Tava Hoag, editor at TravelPirates, who travels five to six times a year

Stay hydrated.

“Eat healthy foods low in sodium and high in water content. Airplane air can be very dehydrating, and high sodium intake will only make it worse. Instead, board the plane with healthy snacks like fruit and unsalted nuts, and make sure to drink tons of water. Once you deplane, your stomach and complexion will thank you.” —Peggy Goldman, founder of Friendly Planet Travel, who has flown internationally over 20 times in a year

For quiet, use earplugs rather than noise-canceling headphones.

“Many people, including myself, use noise-canceling headphones, but that often limits what you can rest your head on. Earplugs can block out sound, while giving you the ability to lean against the side of the plane if you are lucky enough to secure the window seat.” —Bill Fish, a certified sleep science coach and co-founder of Tuck, who flies around three times a month

Change clothes before you land.

“I always bring a new set of day time clothes to change into before I land. This is also a little mental trick, making me thing it is the start to a new day.” —Megan Trivelli, an account executive at luxury travel agency Fox PR, who flies around 12 times a year

Get ready for the day before deplaning.

“Often when I land after a red-eye flight, I have to be ready to go to straight to work. I take the last hour of the flight to wake up and refresh myself. Makeup wipes help my face feel fresh followed up with moisturizer and lotion for my face, neck, and hands. A touch of non-aerosol hairspray helps to smooth out the static your hair may have accumulated. I always change clothes before or immediately after deplaning to help me feel like I’m starting my day.” —Alison Haselden, a consultant who flies four to 10 times per month

Or as soon as you land, in the airport lounge or bathroom.

“Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on if you need to make a quick turnaround and head to a meeting or event. I pack a small steamer, change of clothes/shoes, makeup bag, hair brushes/styling tools. Changing in an airline club is always a great option, and if you don’t have access, find a restroom where you can use some counter space to get ready.” —Alena Capra, an interior designer who flies once a week

When you get there, get some exercise.

“One of the best things you can do to help ward off jet lag is to work out the second you arrive at your destination. Even if it’s a brisk urban hike, anything helps!” —Kaitlyn Noble, a personal trainer with Thumbtack who takes a red-eye five to seven times a year

Wake up with a cold shower.

“This might not sound like the most fun, but if you can bear it for a short while it can actually help you out on the travel front. Cold showers help dilate blood vessels, which can be helpful for boosting circulation and helping you feel more energized after your flight.” —Kimberly Snyder, author of The Beauty Detox series, who travels around twice a month

17 Best-Selling Skin-Care Products at Bluemercury Right Now

The first time I visited a Bluemercury store was for a facial at a location in the next town over from mine at the tail end of my senior year of college. As soon as I walked through the doors, I knew the store would be a life-long resource for the best of the best in beauty—particularly skin-care. With a mix of great luxury and value brands like M-61, SkinCeuticals, and Mario Badescu, it was almost too easy (and still is) to get my hands on products to kick my (sometimes) pimple-ridden skin into gear.

There are lots of other skin-care aficionados who go to Bluemercury for the same great selection I do—and I trust that the products that most often end up in their shopping carts are worth a try. If over 1,000 people are writing rave reviews about La Mer’s moisturizing cream, it’s safe to say a jar is worth my money. Ahead, check out some of the best skin-care items Bluemercury shoppers are really into right now—you have my full permission to get your glow on.

17 Best-Selling Skin-Care Products at Blue Mercury Right Now

The first time I visited a Blue Mercury store was for a facial at a location in the next town over from mine at the tail end of my senior year of college. As soon as I walked through the doors, I knew the store would be a life-long resource for the best of the best in beauty—particularly skin-care. With a mix of great luxury and value brands like M-61, SkinCeuticals, and Mario Badescu, it was almost too easy (and still is) to get my hands on products to kick my (sometimes) pimple-ridden skin into gear.

There are lots of other skin-care aficionados who go to Blue Mercury for the same great selection I do—and I trust that the products that most often end up in their shopping carts are worth a try. If over 1,000 people are writing rave reviews about La Mer’s moisturizing cream, it’s safe to say a jar is worth my money. Ahead, check out some of the best skin-care items Blue Mercury shoppers are really into right now—you have my full permission to get your glow on.

Model Robyn Lawley Shares Photos of Her Scars After Having a Seizure and Falling Down Stairs

Model Robyn Lawley regularly posts photos of herself on Instagram posing for glamorous photo shoots. But the post she shared Monday was different from her typical photos—it showed her face with several healing scars she received after experiencing a seizure and falling.

In the post, Lawley shared two side-by-side photos of her face. In one, her face is bloodied and scraped in several places. In the other, she has a noticeable scar on her forehead, lip, and chin. Lawley revealed in the caption that she had an accident two months ago, and implied that her lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome were what caused her to fall.

“There’s a reason I was public about my lupus and aps [antiphospholipid syndrome] diagnosis from the starts, a lifelong incurable (for now) condition I didn’t know what I or still am in for,” Lawley wrote. “I unfortunately had a seizure on my staircase, I fell from over 7ft and landed on my face. I suppose it’s ironic that I’m a model, however I’m grateful I didn’t break my neck.”

“I’ve managed to come full circle with that gratefulness, and luck,” Lawley continued. “I could of had it holding my daughter for example, or I could be in a wheelchair, or not breathing at all.”

Lawley also said she wanted to acknowledge and explain her scars before fashion week. “As the scars fade, a part of me wants nothing to do with them and a part of me wants to embrace them,” she wrote. “They make us who we are.”

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect many different systems in your body and, yes, it can cause seizures.

As an autoimmune disorder, lupus is a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. There are different forms of lupus, but the most common one is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which can cause issues with your joints, kidneys, skin, blood cells, brain, lungs, or heart. (Antiphospholipid syndrome is a disorder that causes people to form abnormal blood clots that can block blood vessels, and many people with antiphospholipid syndrome also have another autoimmune disorder, such as lupus.)

With so many parts of the body possibly affected by lupus, it’s not uncommon for someone with lupus to also have seizures, Howard Smith, M.D., director of the Lupus Clinic in the Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Diseases at Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. “Usually, [that happens] in people who already known they have lupus,” he says, but in some patients, a seizure is their first symptom of the condition.

It’s not entirely clear why some people with lupus have seizures, but there are some theories, Dr. Smith says. It could be that lupus causes antibodies to attack brain cells and cause dysfunction of the brain that sparks seizures. Or, a person’s lupus could affect their blood vessels, which can affect their brain and cause a seizure. Lupus can also raise a person’s risk of having a stroke, and it’s possible for a patient to have a silent stroke (e.g. one they didn’t realize they had) that can cause scar tissue to form in their brain, prompting a seizure in the future, Clifford Segil, D.O., a neurologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells SELF.

If you have seizures related to lupus, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.

“Part of their danger is their unpredictability,” Steffan Schulz, M.D., an assistant professor of rheumatology at Penn Medicine, tells SELF. Meaning, a patient can have a seizure and fall, like Lawley, or even have one while driving and get into an accident.

The best thing you can do is to work with your doctor to try to get your lupus under control, Dr. Smith says. That may mean taking medications such as antimalarial drugs or prednisone or other corticosteroids to combat inflammation, the Mayo Clinic explains.

If your seizures continue despite those measures, your doctor will want to put you on an anti-epileptic drug, Dr. Segil says. It’s also a good idea to try to avoid typical seizure triggers like flashing lights, Dr. Smith says, but it’s often difficult to pinpoint the trigger for lupus-related seizures. That’s why it’s so important to develop a plan with your doctor for managing your seizures and all your lupus symptoms.


Men and women show surprising differences in seeing motion

Researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on August 16 have found an unexpected difference between men and women. On average, their studies show, men pick up on visual motion significantly faster than women do.

Individuals representing both sexes are good at reporting whether black and white bars on a screen are moving to the left or to the right — requiring only a tenth of a second and often much less to make the right call, the researchers found. But, in comparison to men, women regularly took about 25 to 75 percent longer.

The researchers say that the faster perception of motion by males may not necessarily reflect better visual processing. They note that similar performance enhancements in this same task have been observed in individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or depression and in older individuals. The authors speculate that processes in the brain that down-regulate neural activity are disrupted in these conditions and may also be weaker in males.

“We were very surprised,” says Scott Murray at the University of Washington, Seattle. “There is very little evidence for sex differences in low-level visual processing, especially differences as large as those we found in our study.”

Murray and co-author Duje Tadin, University of Rochester, say that the finding was “entirely serendipitous.” They were using the visual motion task to study processing differences in individuals with ASD. ASD shows a large sex bias, with boys being about four times more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than girls. As a result, the researchers included sex as a factor in their analysis of control individuals in the study who didn’t have ASD. The sex difference in visual perception of motion became immediately apparent.

To confirm the findings, the researchers asked other investigators who had used the same task in their own experiments for additional data representing larger numbers of study participants. And those independent data showed the same pattern of sex difference.

Murray, Tadin, and colleagues report that the observed sex difference in visual perception can’t be explained by general differences in the speed of visual processing, overall visual discrimination abilities, or potential motor-related differences. The differences aren’t apparent in functional MRI images of the brain either.

Overall, they write, the results show how sex differences can manifest unexpectedly. They also highlight the importance of including sex as a factor in the design and analysis of perceptual and cognitive studies.

The researchers say that the findings come as evidence that visual processing differs in males and females in ways that hadn’t been recognized. They also provide a new window into differences in neural mechanisms that process visual information, Tadin says.

In further studies, the researchers hope to discover the underlying differences in the brain that may explain the discrepancy between men and women. So far, brain images of the key motion-processing areas haven’t offered up any clues, suggesting that the difference may originate in other portions of the brain or may be difficult to measure using current techniques. Ultimately, they say, this path of study might even yield new clues for understanding a vexing question: why ASD is more common in males.

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Materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

That stinks! One American in 15 smells odors that aren’t there

Imagine the foul smell of an ash tray or burning hair. Now imagine if these kinds of smells were present in your life, but without a source. A new study finds that 1 in 15 Americans (or 6.5 percent) over the age of 40 experiences phantom odors. The study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, is the first in the U.S. to use nationally representative data to examine the prevalence of and risk factors for phantom odor perception. The study could inform future research aiming to unlock the mysteries of phantom odors.

The study was led by Kathleen Bainbridge, Ph.D., of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health. Bainbridge and her team used data from 7,417 participants over 40 years of age from the 2011-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The NHANES data were collected by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; data collection was partly funded by the NIDCD.

“Problems with the sense of smell are often overlooked, despite their importance. They can have a big impact on appetite, food preferences, and the ability to smell danger signals such as fire, gas leaks, and spoiled food,” said Judith A. Cooper, Ph.D., acting director of the NIDCD.

Donald Leopold, M.D., one of the study’s authors and clinical professor in the Department of Surgery at University of Vermont Medical Center, Burlington, adds that patients who perceive strong phantom odors often have a miserable quality of life, and sometimes cannot maintain a healthy weight.

Researchers used this NHANES survey question to determine whether participants had experienced phantom odor perception: “Do you sometimes smell an unpleasant, bad, or burning odor when nothing is there?” To explore the correlation between phantom odors and participant characteristics, the researchers looked at participants’ age, sex, education level, race/ethnicity, socio-economic status, certain health habits, and general health status.

The ability to identify odors tends to decrease with age. Phantom odor perception, on the other hand, seems to improve with age. One previous study, using data from a community in Sweden, showed that 4.9 percent of people over the age of 60 experience phantom odors, with a higher prevalence in women than men. The present study found a similar prevalence in the over-60 age group, but in examining a broader age range, found an even higher prevalence in ages 40-60. The study also found that about twice as many women as men reported phantom odors, and that the female predominance was particularly striking for those under age 60.

Other risk factors for the onset of phantom odors include head injury, dry mouth, poor overall health, and low socio-economic status. Researchers hypothesized that people with lower socio-economic status may more commonly be exposed to environmental pollutants and toxins, or have health conditions that contribute to phantom odors, either directly or because of medications needed to treat their health conditions.

“The causes of phantom odor perception are not understood. The condition could be related to overactive odor sensing cells in the nasal cavity or perhaps a malfunction in the part of the brain that understands odor signals. A good first step in understanding any medical condition is a clear description of the phenomenon. From there, other researchers may form ideas about where to look further for possible causes and ultimately for ways to prevent or treat the condition,” said Bainbridge.

YouTube is source of misinformation on plastic surgery

In the first study to evaluate YouTube videos on facial plastic surgery procedures, Rutgers University researchers found that most are misleading marketing campaigns posted by non-qualified medical professionals.

The millions of people who turn to YouTube as a source for education on facial plastic surgery receive a false understanding that does not include the risks or alternative options, said lead author Boris Paskhover, an assistant professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s department of otolaryngology who specializes in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.

The study appears in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.

“Videos on facial plastic surgery may be mainly marketing campaigns and may not fully be intended as educational,” Paskhover said.

Paskhover and a team of students at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School evaluated 240 top-viewed videos with 160 million combined views that resulted from keyword searches for “blepharoplasty,” “eyelid surgery,” “dermal fillers,” “facial fillers,” “otoplasty,” “ear surgery,” “rhytidectomy,” “facelift,” “lip augmentation,” “lip fillers,” “rhinoplasty” and/or “nose job.”

The researchers evaluated the videos using DISCERN criteria, a scale for assessing the quality of medical information presented online or in other media, which takes into account risks, a discussion of non-surgical options and the validity of the information presented. The researchers also evaluated the people who posted the videos, including whether they were health care professionals, patients or third parties. Physicians were rated by their board status on the American Board of Medical Specialties database.

The results revealed that the majority of videos did not include professionals qualified in the procedures portrayed, including 94 videos with no medical professional at all. Seventy-two videos, featuring board-certified physicians, had relatively high DISCERN scores and provided some valuable patient information.

“However, even videos posted by legitimate board-certified surgeons may be marketing tools made to look like educational videos,” said Paskhover.

“Patients and physicians who use YouTube for educational purposes should be aware that these videos can present biased information, be unbalanced when evaluating risks versus benefits and be unclear about the qualifications of the practitioner,” said Paskhover. “YouTube is for marketing. The majority of the people who post these videos are trying to sell you something.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by Rutgers University. Original written by Patti Verbanas. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

17 New Summer Hair-Care Products

If summer heat, sweat, and humidity make nearly every day feel like a bad hair day, welcome to the club. From frizz to fried ends, our attempts to take advantage of every possible pool day are definitely showing in our hair. So we rounded up 17 new hair-care products for natural, curly, and fine hair that promise to help us soak up the last days of summer while protecting and perfecting our ’dos. Think anti-frizz, scalp rehab, and a spray that allows you to air dry your hair in record time—because no matter how high you crank your A/C, nobody wants to be using hot blow-dryer on a sweltering August morning.

Aretha Franklin Dies at Age 76 of Pancreatic Cancer

On Thursday morning, Aretha Franklin’s publicist confirmed that the “Queen of Soul” died in her Detroit home at the age of 76. Her cause of death was pancreatic cancer, the Associated Press reports.

“In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart,” Franklin’s family said in a separate statement provided to the AP. “We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”

The Franklin family’s statement continued, “We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters, and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha, and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

Pancreatic cancer often spreads quickly, the Mayo Clinic explains, and usually doesn’t come with symptoms until it’s advanced.

Normally, the pancreas is heavily involved in digestive processes, particularly with the secretion of insulin, a hormone that helps the body break down and store sugar. So when symptoms do appear, they may include upper abdominal pain that radiates to the back as well as a loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, or the new development of diabetes.

The exact cause of pancreatic cancer isn’t well understood, but we know that genetics, age, a history of diabetes, and a history of chronic pancreatic inflammation (pancreatitis) can increase your risk for the disease. It’s estimated that there will be about 55,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed in the U.S. this year—and approximately 44,000 deaths due to the condition.

Immediately after the news broke, countless admirers took to social media to pay their respects to the singer and 18-time Grammy winner.

“I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin,” Diana Ross wrote. And Barbara Streisand posted a photo of herself and Franklin in 2012 captioned, “It’s difficult to conceive of a world without her. Not only was she a uniquely brilliant singer, but her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world.”