Do animals have consciousness? Do they dream? What is such a young kitten with no life experience afraid of?
Do animals have consciousness? Do they dream? What is such a young kitten with no life experience afraid of?
Scientists have discovered that the sleeping patterns of baby owls are similar to that of human babies.
The sleep of baby birds appears to change in the same way as it does in humans, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and the University of Lausanne have found.
Studying barn owls in the wild, the researchers discovered that this change in sleep is strongly correlated with the expression of a gene involved in producing dark, melanic feather spots, a trait known to covary with behavioural and physiological traits in adult owls.
These findings raise the intriguing possibility that sleep-related developmental processes in the brain contribute to the link between melanism and other traits observed in adult barn owls and other animals.
Sleep in mammals and birds consists of two phases, REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement Sleep) and non-REM sleep. We experience our most vivid dreams during REM sleep, a paradoxical state characterised by awake-like brain activity.
One of the most salient features of REM sleep is its preponderance early in life. Many mammals spend far more time in REM sleep during early life than when they are adults.
Although birds are the only non-mammalian group known to clearly engage in REM sleep, it has been unclear whether sleep develops in the same manner in baby birds.
Researchers in the new study used an electroencephalogram (EEG) and movement data logger in conjunction with minimally invasive EEG sensors designed for use in humans, to record sleep in 66 owlets of varying age.
Despite lacking significant eye movements (a trait common to owls), the owlets spent large amounts of time in REM sleep.
“During this sleep phase, the owlets’ EEG showed awake-like activity, their eyes remained closed, and their heads nodded slowly,” said Madeleine Scriba from the University of Lausanne.
The researchers discovered that just as in baby humans, the time spent in REM sleep declined as the owlets aged.
In addition, the team examined the relationship between sleep and the expression of a gene in the feather follicles involved in producing dark, melanic feather spots.
“As in several other avian and mammalian species, we have found that melanic spotting in owls covaries with a variety of behavioural and physiological traits, many of which also have links to sleep, such as immune system function and energy regulation,” said Alexander Roulin from the University of Lausanne.
The team found that owlets expressing higher levels of the gene involved in melanism had less REM sleep than expected for their age, suggesting that their brains were developing faster than in owlets expressing lower levels of this gene.
In line with this interpretation, the enzyme encoded by this gene also plays a role in producing hormones (thyroid and insulin) involved in brain development.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/AVAVA
We’ve all experienced a sleepless night or two, and for some people that’s actually the norm. But why do we experience insomnia at all? What is going on in our minds and bodies, to cause this awful condition? Here’s what scientists know so far.
The prevalence of insomnia in adults varies widely, depending on how the condition is defined. Most broadly, someone has insomnia if he or she simply suffers from difficulty falling asleep, waking up over and over during the night, or nonrestorative sleep — and according to that definition, up to 50 percent of adults experience insomnia. But only around 20 percent of the population deals with insomnia, if we’re going by the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, where insomnia is considered a sleeping disorder (pdf) that lasts at least a month and causes daytime distress.
In any case, our understanding of insomnia is constantly evolving. For many years, insomnia was considered just a symptom of other issues, including depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. The prevailing thought was that if you treated the dominant condition, insomnia would subside as well. Insomnia is now known to be a syndrome in its own right, one that occurs alongside (is comorbid with) other disorders. So if you suffer from depression and insomnia, both issues should be treated at the same time — rather than just treating your depression alone.
To doctors, this type of insomnia, which is not caused by other medical issues or medicines, is called primary insomnia (as opposed to its sibling, secondary insomnia). They further describe the condition by how long it lasts — acute insomnia occurs for days or weeks, while chronic insomnia goes on for a month or more.
The basic models
In the past few decades, scientists have proposed a number of models to describe how chronic primary insomnia arises. One of the foundational paradigms was the ” 3-P model,” referring to the supposed Predisposing, Precipitating and Perpetuating factors of the condition.
The model says that certain attributes, including being highly anxious or a perfectionist, may first make you more susceptible to insomnia. Then, some precipitating event, such as a death in the family or a new job, throws your sleep out of balance, causing acute insomnia. Finally, poor attitudes and perceptions perpetuate insomnia — these can include heightened uneasiness and tension regarding sleep, or poor sleep hygiene.
Over the years, other models have come along, some of which adapted concepts of the 3-P model. For example, the cognitive model, proposed a little over a decade ago, explains that insomniacs are overly worried about sleep and about what happens if they don’t get enough of it. These negative thoughts trigger arousal and emotional distress, which essentially plunges people into an anxious state, causing them to actively monitor themselves and the environment for sleep-related threats (noises, body sensations and the like). Of course, this only exacerbates sleeplessness.
But insomnia (and the models to explain it) isn’t limited to the psychological realm. The neurocognitive model explains that people with insomnia show more high-frequency electrical activity in the brain (EEG) when they’re going to sleep compared with normal sleepers. This cortical arousal suggests that insomniacs have enhanced sensory or information processing and long-term memory formation during a time when normal sleepers do not, which could ultimately affect sleep. For example, the enhanced sensory processing may make insomniacs more sensitive to and aware of what’s going on in the environment.
A common theme in these models and others is this idea of arousal. In fact, many researchers now consider insomnia to be a state of 24-hour hyperarousal, brought on by the interplay between psychological and physiological factors.
When you think of catnip (Nepeta cataria), you may picture a kitty rolling around in a blissful, abnormal state. But this plant is so much more than a cat’s version of cannabis – it’s a powerful healer for humans too. And because it’s part of the Lamiaceae (mint) family, it’s exceptionally easy to grow!
Also known as catswort, catmint, and sometimes called catnep, catnip is native to Europe and parts of Asia, but is now grown all over the globe. The plant looks similar to other mints, with bright green and coarse-toothed leaves. The flowers of the catnip plant tend to be white with pale purple or pink spots.
Before the arrival of Chinese teas, Europeans often used catnip to make their favorite decoctions. Historically, it wasn’t only cats who got a sort of buzz from the plant, it was documented that people too experienced interesting moods when eating catnip. In one story, it is said that an executioner self-medicated with the herb in order to give himself the courage needed to carry out his daily hangings.
The healing properties of the plant have long been recognized as well—being used as everything from a sedative for children to seemingly contradictory use as a energy-enhancing herb for adults.
Though there are varying accounts of how catnip can be used to influence moods, it’s largely recognized as more of a relaxant than a stimulant. Catnip tea is said to help reduce stress and promote sleep.
The essential oil of catnip includes something called nepetalactone, which is credited with many of its benefits. The plant is said to offer anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antimicrobial and antiviral benefits.
Other potential medicinal uses include:
Some of the most prominent research on catnip is related to its use as an insect repellant. Cockroaches, mosquitoes, and flies are said to be repelled by nepetalactone, present in its oils. Iowa State University researchers found it to be 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitos than DEET (commonly used in traditional bug sprays). It was 100 times more effective at repelling cockroaches There is similar evidence that it can effectively kill flies.
Additionally, the plant could also be used as a natural preservative agent due to harnessing antimicrobial properties.
Like other mints, such as peppermint, catnip is fairly easy to grow. But, also like other mints, it will grow and grow and grow, taking over the area if allowed. For this reason, it might be best to use a pot for planting your catnip.
You can start growing it from seed indoors in the springtime, moving it outside when temperatures get warm. Alternately, you can keep it indoors for year-round growing as long as you have a window that gets six good hours of sunlight each day.
Outside, they like a lot of light, so keep that in mind when deciding where to place them. To ensure optimal growth and overall health of the plant, keep it evenly moist throughout the summer.
Not surprisingly, neighborhood cats may be drawn to the catnip, so cover it if you don’t want them rubbing on it, rolling in it, or chewing on it. However, if you don’t mind a sort-of feline lounge environment, grow some just for the kitties.
Trim back the flowers to encourage a full, healthy plant with lots of new growth.
Harvest catnip as needed, trimming a stem down to the base or right above a leaf joint to facilitate more growth. The leaves can be used fresh or dried, though air-drying is the best method if you want to preserve your catnip.
A tea is the most common way to get the benefits of catnip. Use 1 to 2 tsp. of dried catnip leaves (more if using fresh) per cup of boiled water. Allow to steep for 10 minutes before enjoying.
Alien abductions, religious miracles, lucid dreaming…could these be explained by this Phase ?
Feb 20, 2013
“It’s an astounding coincidence: in the absolute majority of accounts of the supernatural, be they biblical miracles or paranormal phenomena, the protagonist had been falling asleep or waking up at the crucial moment. As a result, there is something out there that has forever altered human history and culture — something we know nothing about.
What are they keeping from us? Who stunted human development and who has something to gain from that? What’s hidden inside each and every one of us — and what does it hold for the future?”
THE PHASE (2013, 33 minutes)
A documentary film by Michael Raduga
A run of poor sleep can have a potentially profound effect on the internal workings of the human body, say UK researchers.
The activity of hundreds of genes was altered when people’s sleep was cut to less than six hours a day for a week.
Writing in the journal PNAS, the researchers said the results helped explain how poor sleep damaged health.
Heart disease, diabetes, obesity and poor brain function have all been linked to substandard sleep.
What missing hours in bed actually does to alter health, however, is unknown.
So researchers at the University of Surrey analysed the blood of 26 people after they had had plenty of sleep, up to 10 hours each night for a week, and compared the results with samples after a week of fewer than six hours a night.
More than 700 genes were altered by the shift. Each contains the instructions for building a protein, so those that became more active produced more proteins – changing the chemistry of the body.
Meanwhile the natural body clock was disturbed – some genes naturally wax and wane in activity through the day, but this effect was dulled by sleep deprivation.
Prof Colin Smith, from the University of Surrey, told the BBC: “There was quite a dramatic change in activity in many different kinds of genes.”
Areas such as the immune system and how the body responds to damage and stress were affected.
Prof Smith added: “Clearly sleep is critical to rebuilding the body and maintaining a functional state, all kinds of damage appear to occur – hinting at what may lead to ill health.
“If we can’t actually replenish and replace new cells, then that’s going to lead to degenerative diseases.”
He said many people may be even more sleep deprived in their daily lives than those in the study – suggesting these changes may be common.
Dr Akhilesh Reddy, a specialist in the body clock at the University of Cambridge, said the study was “interesting”.
He said the key findings were the effects on inflammation and the immune system as it was possible to see a link between those effects and health problems such as diabetes.
The findings also tie into research attempting to do away with sleep, such as by finding a drug that could eliminate the effects of sleep deprivation.
Dr Reddy said: “We don’t know what the switch is that causes all these changes, but theoretically if you could switch it on or off, you might be able to get away without sleep.
“But my feeling is that sleep is fundamentally important to regenerating all cells.”
January 30, 2013
by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Medical marijuana may help reduce the use of pharmaceutical drugs among the elderly, providing a safer alternative to drugs that often carry serious side effects, according to a study conducted by researchers from Tel Aviv University. The researchers also found that elderly participants who took medical marijuana achieved not just pain reduction, but also improvement in markers of physical, emotional and cognitive health.
The study was conducted on 19 residents of the Hadarim nursing home in Israel who were between the ages of 69 and 101 and suffered from medical conditions including pain, muscle spasm, tremors and lack of appetite. Participants used medical marijuana (cannabis) in the form of smoke, vapor, oil or powder three times per day. Over the course of a year, participants were monitored for physical improvement and for improvement in quality of life factors such as mood and facility with everyday activities.
Within one year of treatment, 17 of the 19 patients had achieved a healthy weight, with some of the participants experiencing weight gain and the others experiencing weight loss, as needed. Muscle spasms, stiffness, tremors, pain, nightmares, and flashbacks related to post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) were significantly reduced among participants, while sleeping hours were significantly increased. Participants also experienced a significant improvement in mood and in communication skills.
Notably, participants also significantly reduced their use of pharmaceutical drugs such as antipsychotics, painkillers, mood stabilizers and drugs for Parkinson’s disease. After one year of medical marijuana treatment, 72 percent of study participants had reduced their use of pharmaceuticals by an average of 1.7 drugs per day. Researcher Zach Klein noted that this finding is of particular importance because so many of the drugs that patients were able to discontinue can carry severe side effects.
Marijuana is gaining increasing medical attention as a treatment for chronic conditions ranging from pain to cancer to PTSD. It is known to act as an effective pain reliever, appetite regulator and sleep aid even in cases that prove resistant to pharmaceuticals.
Another recent study, published in October in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, found that medical marijuana is effective at reducing debilitating muscle stiffness in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). This stiffness, which is highly resistant to current MS treatments, affects 90 percent of MS patients and regularly interferes with mobility, sleep and daily function.
Klein is currently working on another study, to test whether medical marijuana can be beneficial to people who suffer from dysphagia, or trouble swallowing. Dysphagia is a common concern in the critically ill, and can actually lead to starvation if not treated properly. Klein hopes that medical marijuana will prove beneficial in treating dysphagia because it has previously been shown to stimulate the part of the brain that is thought to regulate the swallowing reflex.
According to a 2012 poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, three of every four U.S. residents oppose federal prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries, growers, sellers and users in the states that have legalized medical marijuana.
From and with thanks to Anna at http://www.learning-mind.com
When a boss catches an employee napping at work, are they likely to be fired or will the employer realise that taking a nap doesn’t always need to be seen negatively; the employee may simply have been recharging their batteries? No prizes for choosing the right answer there.
Unfortunately, taking a nap, or stealing forty winks during the day is usually regarded with negative connotations. In a busy office, naps are seen to be taken by lazy individuals and people lacking ambition. Napping is perceived as the private reserve of older people, but how many folks know that Winston Churchill always demanded a mid afternoon nap? He’s in good company too, being joined by regular napping experts Thomas Edison, John F Kennedy, John D Rockefeller and Napoleon. If it’s good enough for them, might it be right for everyone?
There have been many scientific research studies into the effects of napping and they almost all move towards the same general conclusion that a brief nap, usually taken after lunch, can help people become better problem solvers. It also improves alertness and promotes performance and education making it an essential requirement for students as well.
Rest rejuvenates energy, vision, short term memory, performance, motivation, vigilance and patience. With that in mind, one should consider the implications of not breaking up a day with a short rest. You just pictured a bunch of unmotivated, impatient and frustrated people lacking energy and starting to neglect their performance, a scene that will no doubt be familiar to anyone who has ever suffered through the late afternoon period of a long day in the office.
Napping isn’t sleeping. Taking a nap means devoting 10-20 minutes of your time to rest and drift into the first stage of the sleeping pattern, without moving onwards into the deep sleep that won’t help revive a person’s energy immediately and will probably cause more trouble later as less sleep will be required at night.
Tired people are more likely to be angry, moody and burn out at a faster rate. Regular rest periods, always taken at the same time every day to help set the body clock, will instill a sense of calm and keep the mind fresh and alert. The heartbeat slows down to a normal level. Blood pressure is reduced because an individual will be lying down and relieving all need for the body’s muscles to work hard.
Stress disappears immediately as a person enters a stage similar to meditation, which everyone knows helps relieve stress and calms a person down after a busy day at school, the office or in the workplace.
Having been established that taking a few minutes break from a computer every forty five minutes will improve a person’s ability to focus on their work and generally install a healthy attitude, taking a nap has similar effects, but with only one 15-20 minute break required.
Instead of popping a can of expensive energy drink which contains excessive amounts of caffeine and taurine to help employees stay awake during the later afternoon, a short power nap breaks up the day’s activities and provides a refocus of the job in hand. It allows the mind to be cleared and if a job is complex, a fresh view of how to complete it, or perhaps presents a chance to step back and then review the work already completed with a final edit for perfection. A caffeine kick from a coffee will take half an hour to work, so it be best to drink the favorite coffee just before the nap begins.
If naps are combined with regular breaks which include time to stand up, walk around, drink water and loosen up, the body will react well to going back to the demands of work, rather than spending all day in one position.
Successful individuals are more able to reflect on their day’s work, especially later in the afternoon, after they’ve made full use of a short nap. When the brain has taken time to shed the excess overload of a day’s work, a clear head can look back at what has been achieved, which helps a person plan for the next day, without high levels of stress making them overly self-critical.
A logical mind gives an employee the purpose to critically look back and see what more they could have achieved, while taking pride in the work that was completed accurately and on time.
There is one final benefit to taking a daily short nap as demonstrated by Greek scientists; people who take short naps in the afternoon are 37% less likely to die from a heart related illness. Isn’t that a significant reason to argue for a regular nap?
23 January, 2013,
A baby receives a vaccine against the so-called swine flu (H1N1) on December 6, 2009 in Strasbourg, eastern France, as 185 vaccination centers are opened on Sunday for the first time in France. France reported 111 deaths due to swine flu (H1N1).(AFP Photo / Johanna Leguerre)
A vaccine used to combat the swine flu pandemic has been linked to the sleep disorder narcolepsy in some 800 children and teens across Europe. The case has sparked debate over the risk of immunization and the potentially greater threat of anti-vaccine
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) studied the effects of the Pandemrix vaccine in eight European countries after higher incidences of narcolepsy were reported among children given the vaccine during the 2009-2010 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, AFP reports.
Sweden and Finland have both seen a rise in the sleep condition since the vaccine was first used on children. The governments of both countries stressed their citizens were vaccinated with Pandemrix, which was the only vaccine used in both countries at the time.
In Sweden, nearly 200 children aged four to 19, developed narcolepsy after receiving the vaccine during that period, while in Finland the number was 79.
One such child, 14-year-old Emelie Olsson, told Reuters about the crippling effects narcolepsy had had on her life: “In the beginning I didn’t really want to live any more, but now I have learned to handle things better,” she said.
Narcolepsy is a neurological sleep disorder that causes people to fall asleep uncontrollably, makes sufferers feel excessively drowsy, and in more extreme cases brings on hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and cataplexy – a sudden loss of muscle strength.
Strong emotions can often bring on cataplexy in narcoleptics, and for Emelie, fun is the emotional trigger.
“I can’t laugh or joke about with my friends anymore, because when I do I get cataplexies and collapse.”
Research has found that some people are born with a variant in a gene known as HLA, meaning they have low hypocretin, a neurotransmitter that regulates arousal, wakefulness, and appetite.
Around 25 percent of Europeans have this genetic vulnerability, leaving them susceptible to narcolepsy.
Emelie was found to have 15 percent the normal amount of hypocretin, which is reflective of people suffering from the sleep disorder.
Scientists have subsequently begun investigating a connection between those with the HLA variant and the immunological AS03 adjuvant added to Pandemrix to stimulate the immune system’s response to the target antigen.
Some have argued that AS03, its boosting effect or even the H1N1 flu itself may have trigged the onset of narcolepsy, which is now believed to be an autoimmune disease.
Angus Nicoll, a flu expert at the ECDC, says genetics might play a part, but external factors are likely to have brought on the cases of narcolepsy as well.
“Yes, there’s a genetic predisposition to this condition, but that alone cannot explain these cases,” he said. “There was also something to do with receiving this specific vaccination. Whether it was the vaccine plus the genetic disposition alone or a third factor as well – like another infection – we simply do not know yet,” he told Reuters.
Despite Emelie’s plight and many others like her, the ECDC did not find a statistical link between the vaccine and incidences of narcolepsy in Britain, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway.
However, those familiar with a yet-to-be published study in Britain, told Reuters that similar patterns are apparent in children there.
Peer-reviewed studies carried out independently by scientists in Sweden, Finland and Ireland further concluded that the risk of developing narcolepsy after the 2009-2010 immunization campaign spiked between seven and 13 times when comparing vaccinated children with their unvaccinated peers.
More than 30 million people in 47 countries were inoculated with Pandemrix, which was produced by UK pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 2009.
GSK says 795 people across Europe have developed narcolepsy across Europe since the vaccine was first introduced.
Emmanuel Mignot, one of the world’s leading experts on narcolepsy who was funded by GSK to investigate a connection between narcolepsy and Pandemrix told Reuters the connection was evident:
“There’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Pandemrix increased the occurrence of narcolepsy onset in children in some countries – and probably in most countries,” says Mignot, a specialist in the sleep disorder at Stanford University in the United States.
Europe’s drugs regulator has since ruled that Pandemrix should not be used by people younger than 20.
With its exceptionally high standard of living, the Swedish government was on the cutting edge of preventative vaccination, inoculating some 5 million people – over half the country’s population – as soon as Pandemrix went on sale.
Stolkholm-based public health official Goran Stiernstedt, who helped organize the national vaccination campaign, estimates some 30-60 people were saved as a result.
In light of the 200 cases of narcolepsy which are widely attributed to Pandemrix, Stiernstedt believes the risk-benefit balance was unacceptable.
Yet the problem with risk-benefit analyses is that they often look radically different when the world is facing a pandemic with the potential to wipe out millions than they do when it has emerged relatively unscathed from one, like H1N1, which turned out to be much milder than first feared.
But David Salisbury, the British government’s director of immunization, says ad hoc risk-benefit analysis can be detrimental in the face of massive pandemics that really have the potential of killing millions.
“In the event of a severe pandemic, the risk of death is far higher than the risk of narcolepsy,” he told Reuters. “If we spent longer developing and testing the vaccine on very large numbers of people and waited to see whether any of them developed narcolepsy, much of the population might be dead.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the Swine flu pandemic killed 18,500 people, while a study published last year said that figure could be as much as 15 times higher.
22 January 2013
A tipple before bedtime may get you off to sleep faster but it can disrupt your night’s slumber, say researchers who have reviewed the evidence.
The London Sleep Centre team says studies show alcohol upsets our normal sleep cycles.
While it cuts the time it takes to first nod off and sends us into a deep sleep, it also robs us of one of our most satisfying types of sleep, where dreams occur.
Used too often, it can cause insomnia.
Many advocate a nightcap – nursing homes and hospital wards have even been known to serve alcohol – but Dr Irshaad Ebrahim and his team advise against it.
Dr Ebrahim, medical director at the London Sleep Centre and co-author of the latest review, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, said: “We should be very cautious about drinking on a regular basis.
“Sleep may be deeper to start with, but then becomes disrupted”
Chris Idzikowski Director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre
“One or two glasses might be nice in the short term, but if you continue to use a tipple before bedtime it can cause significant problems.
“If you do have a drink, it’s best to leave an hour and a half to two hours before going to bed so the alcohol is already wearing off.”
He said people could become dependent on alcohol for sleep.
And it could make sleep less restful and turn people into snorers.
“With increasing doses, alcohol suppresses our breathing. It can turn non-snorers into snorers and snorers into people with sleep apnoea – where the breathing’s interrupted.”
From the hundred or more studies that Dr Ebrahim’s team looked at, they analysed 20 in detail and found alcohol appeared to change sleep in three ways.
Firstly, it accelerates sleep onset, meaning we drop off faster.
Next, it sends us into a very deep sleep.
These two changes – which are identical to those seen in people who take antidepressant medication – may be appealing and may explain why some people with insomnia use alcohol.
But the third change – fragmented sleep patterns the second half of the night – is less pleasant.
Alcohol reduces how much time we spend in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – the stage of sleep where dreams generally occur.
As a consequence, the sleep may feel less restful, said Dr Ebrahim.
Chris Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, said: “Alcohol on the whole is not useful for improving a whole night’s sleep. Sleep may be deeper to start with, but then becomes disrupted. Additionally, that deeper sleep will probably promote snoring and poorer breathing. So, one shouldn’t expect better sleep with alcohol.”
The Sleep Council said: “Don’t over-indulge. Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, just before bedtime, can play havoc with sleep patterns.
“Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but will interrupt your sleep later on in the night. Plus you may wake dehydrated and needing the loo.”
You don’t need science to tell you that people feel better after a good night’s sleep than they do on those grouchy days following a night of tossing and turning. But in looking at the specifics of how those positive feelings manifest, researchers, you may be thankful to know, have found something interesting.
Previous studies have shown that feeling grateful helps you to sleep better. In one such study, people who wrote in a “gratitude journal” for 15 minutes at night were found to not only have less on their mind at bedtime, it also improved the duration and quality of their sleep.
Now, new research says the connection between gratitude and sleep seems to also work the other way.
“Our research looks at the link in the other direction and, to our knowledge, is the first to show that everyday experiences of poor sleep are negatively associated with gratitude towards others,” Amie Gordon, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a release.
In other words, if you don’t sleep well, chances are you don’t feel grateful for the things in your life, including your spouse.
Gordon and Serena Chen, a psychology professor at Berkeley, examined the link between sleep quality and gratitude in three studies.
In the first, people who got a good night’s sleep were more grateful after listing five things in life that they appreciated, compared to people who did not sleep well the night before.
In another study, students recorded their feelings of gratitude and their sleep every day for two weeks. On the days following a poor night’s sleep, there was a corresponding decrease in feelings of gratitude.
In the third and final study, which looked at heterosexual couples, people were found to feel less grateful toward their significant others if they don’t usually sleep well or if their partners don’t.
“In line with this finding, people reported feeling less appreciated by their partners if they or their partner tends to sleep poorly, suggesting that the lack of gratitude is transmitted to the partner,” Gordon said. “Poor sleep is not just experienced in isolation. Instead, it influences our interactions with others, such as our ability to be grateful, a vital social emotion.”
Yoga is proving to be a hugely important part of my rehab. I can still rarely do more than 10 minutes at a time, but on good days I do a couple of minutes of various yoga poses several times a day. It can be either wonderfully invigorating when I need a bit of a boost or alternately it can be relaxing and calming when that instead is what is called for.
I’m sharing a very easy video that shows how simple beginning yoga can be. Even simple routines like the one below can result in powerful energy shifts. If one is a beginner getting started very slowly on youtube works! You can learn little bits at your own pace.
This video is instructions for a short session. I do recommend you try doing each exercise for at least a couple of minutes extending the whole series to about 10 minutes or so. Doing things slowly and deliberately while breathing with the movements helps bring about deep relaxation.
A team of international researchers, including from Britain, found the effectiveness of a range of common sleeping tablets were of “questionable clinical importance”.
Their study, published in the British Medical Journal, questioned hypnotic pills, commonly known as Z-drugs, after re-analysing more than a dozen clinical trials.
Academics from the University of Lincoln, Harvard Medical School and University of Connecticut, found drugs such as Sonata and Ambien worked once the placebo effect was taken into account.
“Our analysis showed that Z-drugs did reduce the length of time taken for subjects to fall asleep,” said Prof Niroshan Siriwardena, from the the University of Lincoln’s School of Health and Social Care.
“But around half of the effect of the drug was a placebo response
“There was not enough evidence from the trials to show other benefits that might be important to people with sleep problems, such as sleep quality or daytime functioning.”
Prof Siriwardena, who led the study, added: “We know from other studies that around a fifth of people experience side-effects from sleeping tablets and one in 100 older people will have a fall, fracture or road traffic accident after using them.
“Psychological treatments for insomnia can work as effectively as sleeping tablets in the short-term and better in the long-term, so we should pay more attention to increasing access to these treatments for patients who might benefit.”
Doctors write millions of prescriptions for Z-drugs every year as a short-term treatment for insomnia.
Medical experts have reported that their use has increased in recent years as many users believe they are a safer alternative to tranquillisers.
But some doctors questioned whether the benefits of Z-drugs justify their side-effects, such as memory loss, fatigue or impaired balance.
In their study, researchers used data submitted by pharmaceutical companies to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval of new products.
The information was contained in 13 clinical trials, with more than 4,300 participants, that also had 65 “comparisons”.
The FDA collates results from both published and unpublished studies, enabling researchers to avoid common types of bias that undermine sponsored trials.
Their findings indicated that “once the placebo effect is discounted, the drug effect is of questionable clinical importance”.
Prof Siriwardena said future studies of sleeping tablets should investigate a broader range of outcomes, not just time taken to fall asleep.
Pharmaceutical companies, he added, should be “more transparent in disclosing results from their studies so that researchers can independently analyse their results”.
Consider how much more you often suffer from your anger and grief, than from those very things for which you are angry and grieved. –Marcus Antonius
–by Gail Brenner, PhD,
Original Story, Sep 10, 2012
“Yes, I was angry. And I was a little afraid. After all I’ve not been free in so long. But, when I felt that anger well up inside of me, I realized that if I hated them after I got outside that gate, then they would still have me. I wanted to be free so I let it go.” ~Nelson Mandela upon leaving prison after 27 years of confinement
This article is reprinted here with permission from the author. Gail Brenner, Ph.D. is a psychologist and blogger. Her blog, A Flourishing Life, offers practical wisdom for discovering the happiness, peace, and joy available in this very moment.
1. Sleeping too late and waking up too late are main cause.
2. Not urinating in the morning.
3. Too much eating.
4. Skipping breakfast.
5. Consuming too much medication.
6. Consuming too much preservatives, additives, food coloring, and artificial sweetener.
7. Consuming unhealthy cooking oil. As much as possible reduce cooking oil use when frying, which includes even the best cooking oils like olive oil. Do not consume fried foods when you are tired, except if the body is very fit.
8. Consuming raw (overly done) foods also add to the burden of liver.
Fried veggies should be finished in one sitting, do not store.
We should prevent this without necessarily spending more. We just have to adopt a good daily lifestyle and eating habits. Maintaining good eating habits and time condition are very important for our bodies to absorb and get rid of unnecessary chemicals according to ‘schedule.’
By Dr. David Jockers
December 7, 2012
Poor sleep is a very serious threat to an individual’s health. Poor sleeping habits lead to altered hormone balances and circadian rhythms. This process accelerates the aging process and speeds up the development of degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and osteoarthritis among others.
1. Proper nutrition: Foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates are going to cause blood sugar imbalances that can cause sleeping problems. Instead, build your meals around phytonutrient rich vegetables and healthy fat sources such as avocados, coconut products, nuts, organic and grass-fed animal products. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, chocolate and raw cacao within six hours of bedtime.
2. Regular sleep-wake cycle: The body works best on routine rhythms. For optimal sleeping patterns go to sleep the same time each night and wake up the same time each morning. The most you should deviate if at all possible would be 30 minutes.
Research has shown that people need at least seven and up to nine hours of sleep for optimal health. Every hour of sleep between 9 p.m. and midnight is equivalent to two hours of quality sleep after midnight.
3. Only use your bed for sleeping: Many people do all sorts of activities in their bed. For optimal sleeping habits, attempt to train your body that when you get in your bed it is time to go to sleep. Get any other sort of distractions out of your bedroom.
4. Darkness: In the absence of light, the pineal gland produces melatonin. Melatonin is known as the regulator of the sleep/wake cycle in the body. It is produced in the pineal gland of the brain and monitors sleep cycles while playing an important role in healing and anti-oxidant protection.
Any sort of light can interfere with normal melatonin production and negatively affect sleeping patterns. Turn off all lights, turn your alarm clock away from you and close the blinds.
5. Hydration: There is a delicate hydration balance that should be achieved for optimal sleep. You want to ensure that your body is not dehydrated as this will increase stress hormones and disrupt sleep while too much hydration will fill the bladder and lead to bathroom breaks overnight. Be sure to drink eight ounces of water 90 minutes before bed and leave a glass of water near your bed in case you wake up thirsty. Go to the bathroom and empty your bladder before getting in bed.
6. Keep the room cool: When you fall asleep, your body temperature homeostasis (temperature your brain is trying to achieve) goes down. If the room temperature is too cold or too hot it can cause stress on the system and disrupt sleep. The typical range that works best is between 65-70 degrees F.
7. Relaxation tea: There are many organic teas on the market that are loaded with herbs like chamomile, passionflower and valerian root which naturally help relax the body and induce sleepiness.
8. Melatonin supplement: This supplement can enhance the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle. Many individuals have reported benefits using this with great success.
9. Gratitude: Many individuals allow fear, worry and anxiety to disrupt sleep cycles. Practicing gratefulness allows the body to relax more effectively. Keep a gratitude journal and write down three things you are genuinely grateful for that day.
10. Prioritize: Sleep is not a heavily valued commodity in our fast-paced world. However, prioritizing your sleep will allow you to function at a higher percentage of your potential. Good sleep habits allow you to be more productive and enjoy your life much more.
Sources for this article include:
About the author:
Dr. David Jockers owns and operates Exodus Health Center in Kennesaw, Ga. He is a Maximized Living doctor. His expertise is in weight loss, customized nutrition & exercise, & structural corrective chiropractic care. For more information go to www.drjockers.com To find a Maximized Living doctor near you go to www.maximizedliving.com Dr. Jockers is also available for long distance phone consultations to help you beat disease and reach your health goals
Poor sleep – as anyone who suffers from it knows – can make life a misery. And it is taking its toll on the nation’s health. According to the recently published Great British Sleep Survey, more than 51% of us now struggle to get a good night’s sleep, with women three times more likely to be affected than men.
Evidence collected from 20,000-plus adults between March 2010 and this June shows that 93% of insomniacs report low energy levels and 83% complain of mood swings. Some 77% find it hard to concentrate, 64% say they are less productive at work, and 55% report relationship difficulties.
Even worse, persistent poor sleep can increase the risk of developing conditions including diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and strokes. Research at the University of British Columbia suggests every hour of sleep lost at night may cost us one IQ point the following day. And it is often a long-term issue: a quarter of people with insomnia have suffered from it for more than 10 years.
In Britain, overwhelmingly, we treat poor sleep with medication: the NHS spent a staggering £50m on sleeping pills last year, with 15.3m prescriptions dispensed across England, Scotland and Wales (up 17% in three years). But many pills have undesirable side-effects and the survey’s findings suggest they do not solve long-term sleep problems: 42% of people who have taken them on and off have continued to have poor sleep for more than a decade.
So how can we do something about poor sleep without pills? Most people focus first on what Colin Espie, professor of clinical psychology and director of the University of Glasgow Sleep Centre, calls “sleep hygiene“: our pre-bed routine, and the physical environment in which we try to sleep. Espie believes these factors account for a mere 10% of sleep problems: “most people with insomnia have better sleep hygiene than easy sleepers”. But most sleep experts concur that the following do make a difference.
Light. A dark room is important to a good sleep. Also try to avoid “blue light” less than two hours before bed: research by the Lighting Research Centre at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York State suggests light from laptop, tablet and smartphone screens tricks us into thinking it is daytime and keeps us alert, although this has been disputed. Bedrooms should be a comfortable temperature (around 18C), quiet and well-ventilated, with comfortable beds and pillows
Food, drink, exercise. Anything that stimulates the system – such as caffeine (although some experimental studies show a cup of coffee may lengthen the time taken to drop off by just three minutes), alcohol, chocolate, tobacco, a heavy meal or strenuous exercise – will make it harder to get to sleep. Indigestible foods are obviously best avoided; carbohydrates can promote serotonin, which aids sleep. Aim for a regular, balanced diet and no late-night excess. Twenty minutes a day of exercise will make a big difference to your sleep, but avoid it just before bed.
Sleep debt. A weekend lie-in or afternoon snooze can do more harm than good. According to research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre, “sleep debt” is best “repaid” by getting up and going to bed at your normal times rather than disrupting your body clock. Save sleep for bedtime: naps are recommended only if you are too exhausted to function.
Age. Not strictly sleep hygiene, and not much you can do about it either, but it may help to know that it can get harder to sleep as you get older. Research by the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Centre and others has shown our “sleep architecture” changes as we age: older people spend less time in deeper, non-REM sleep, and their whole body clock or circadian rhythm moves forward.
“Sleep hygiene” alone, however, will not determine whether or not we sleep well. Ninety per cent of the battle is in the mind, which is why talking therapies and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are coming to be seen as perhaps the most useful solution. Espie helped launch Sleepio, a pioneering online CBT programme that has won praise from the medical press, including the Lancet and the peer-reviewed journal Sleep. In a full clinical trial, it helped 75% of people with long-term poor sleep.
So, get your head right, and you will usually sleep. But how? These are Espie’s top tips:
1. Recognise that “sleep is not a lifestyle choice, it is a biological inevitability. It is very, very powerful, and we need to get it working for us: a person not sleeping well has first and foremost to allow sleep to do its work. Sleep is a process of letting go.”
2. Sleep’s achilles heel, however, “is our world. Most sleep problems are psychological obstacles that we put in sleep’s way. Like all things we should do automatically, when we deliberately try to do them we screw up. Adopt a relaxed, confident approach to sleep, not a neurotic, panic-stricken one. Recognise there’s a right and a wrong kind of effort. Your role model is the ‘careless sleeper’.”
3. Go to sleep only when you feel sleepy and, if anything, shorten the time you try to sleep: “A lot of people put good sleep beyond the achievable simply because they are so worried about not sleeping. Their sleep becomes frayed, even more broken. If I try to read a book in bed, it’s never very successful because I go to bed when I’m ready to sleep. It’s counter-intuitive, but a shorter sleep often means a better quality of sleep.”
4. Put the day to bed long before putting yourself to bed. “A racing mind – what happened today, what’s on tomorrow, what will the future hold? – is a huge obstacle to sleep. So take time before bed: go through the day, think about tomorrow, put things in their boxes, make a list. Set your mind at rest.”
5. Learn to value relaxation, and if necessary learn specific relaxation techniques. Above all, “Don’t try too hard.” But, of course, for some that is easier said than done.
For more information about Sleepio, visit sleepio.com
July 13, 2009
by: Paul Fassa
You can rid you body of most fluorides with some easy natural remedies. Fluorides have been linked to a variety of severe chronic, even acute health issues. First a quick review summary of fluoride.
Fluoride is a soluble salt, not a heavy metal. There are two basic types of fluoride. Calcium fluoride appears naturally in underground water sources and even seawater. Enough of it can cause skeletal or dental fluorosis, which weakens bone and dental matter. But it is not nearly as toxic, nor does it negatively affect so many other health issues as sodium fluoride, which is added to many water supplies.
Sodium Fluoride is a synthetic waste product of the nuclear, aluminum, and phosphate fertilizer industries. This fluoride has an amazing capacity to combine and increase the potency of other toxic materials. The sodium fluoride obtained from industrial waste and added to water supplies is also already contaminated with lead, aluminum, and cadmium.
It damages the liver and kidneys, weakens the immune system, possibly leading to cancer, creates symptoms that mimic fibromyalgia, and performs as a Trojan Horse to carry aluminum across the blood brain barrier. The latter is recognized as a source of the notorious “dumbing down” with lower IQ’s and Alzheimer’s effects of fluoride.
Another not commonly known organ victim of fluorosis is the pineal gland, located in the middle of the brain. The pineal gland can become calcified from fluorides, inhibiting it’s function as a melatonin producer. Melatonin is needed for sound, deep sleep, and the lack of it also contributes to thyroid problems that affect the entire endocrine system. The pineal gland is also considered the physical link to the upper chakras or third eye for spiritual and intuitive openings.
Various permutations of Sodium Fluoride are also in many insecticides for homes and pesticides for crops. Sometimes it is even added to baby foods and bottled waters. If you live in a water fluoridated area, purchase commercially grown fruits, especially grapes, and vegetables that are chemically sprayed and grown areas irrigated by fluoridated water, you are getting a triple whammy! Better skip that fluoridated toothpaste!
Avoiding Fluoride Contamination
As always, the first step in detoxifying is to curb taking in toxins. Purifying water by reverse osmosis or distillation in fluoridated water communities is a good start to slowing down your fluoride contamination. Distillation comes with a bit of controversy, as all the minerals are removed. A great mineral supplement such as Fulvic Acid (not folic acid) or unsulfured blackstrap molasses is recommended if you distill your water.
Avoiding sprayed, commercially grown foods while consuming organic or locally grown foods is another big step. Watch out for processed foods such as instant tea, grape juice products, and soy milk for babies. They all contain high concentrations of sodium fluoride. So do many pharmaceutical “medicines”. By minimizing your sodium fluoride intake, your body can begin eliminating the fluorides in your system slowly.
Magnesium is a very important mineral that many are lacking. Besides being so important in the metabolism and synthesis of nutrients within your cells, it also inhibits the absorption of fluoride into your cells! Along with magnesium, calcium seems to help attract the fluorides away from your bones and teeth, allowing your body to eliminate those toxins. So during any detox efforts with fluoride, it is essential that you include a healthy supplemental dose of absorbable calcium/magnesium as part of the protocol.
So Now Let’s Speed Up the Fluoride Detox
This author received a comment stating that an earlier article’s source reference to sunlight for decalcifying the pineal gland was inaccurate. He said that darkness, not light, is needed to stimulate the pineal gland into melatonin production, which should lead to breaking up the calcification of that gland. Besides being logical, further source research indicates the critic is correct!
Day time exercise, a healthful diet, not over eating, and meditation all contribute to higher melatonin production from the pineal gland. Though very helpful to many for getting a full night’s deep sleep, it appears inconclusive whether melatonin supplements will help decalcify the pineal gland. But it does seem logical that it might.
Iodine supplementation has been clinically demonstrated to increase the urine irrigation of sodium fluoride from the body as calcium fluoride. The calcium is robbed from your body, so make sure you are taking effective calcium and magnesium supplements. Lecithin is recommended as an adjunct to using iodine for excreting fluorides.
Iodine is another nutrient lacking in most diets and causing hypothyroid symptoms of lethargy or metabolic imbalances. Eating lots of seafood for iodine has it’s constantly rising mercury hazards. Seaweed foods and iodine supplements that combine iodine and potassium iodide are highly recommended over sea food by most.
Tamarind, originally indigenous to Africa but migrated into India and southeast Asia, has been used medicinally in Ayurvedic Medicine. The pulp, bark, and leaves from the tree can be converted to teas and strong tinctures, which have also shown the ability to eliminate fluorides through the urine.
Liver Cleanses are considered effective for eliminating fluorides and other toxins. There are two types of liver cleansing, both of which can be performed easily at home over a week or two of time. One of the protocols focuses on the liver itself , and the other cleanses the gall bladder, which is directly connected with liver functions. Simple instructions for both can be found on line with search engine inquiries.
Boron was studied in other parts of the world with pronounced success for fluoride detoxification. Borox, which contains boron, has a history of anecdotal success for detoxifying sodium fluoride. Yes, this is the borox you can find in the laundry aisles of some supermarkets. It needs to be taken in with pure water in small quantities.
As little as 1/32 of a teaspoon to 1/4 of a teaspoon in one liter of water consumed in small quantities throughout the day is what has been demonstrated as safe and effective. Around 1/8 of a teaspoon with a pinch of pure sea salt in a liter consumed in small quantities daily has been reported to have dramatic results. There is the possibility of a food grade version with sodium borate, if you can find it.
Dry Saunas combined with exercise releases sodium fluoride stored in fatty tissues. It can be intense enough to cause side effects or an occasional healing crisis. So keep the pure water intake high and drink some chickweed tea to protect the kidneys while using a highly absorbable cal/mag supplement. Lecithin is another useful adjunct to this protocol for fluoride detoxification.
Those Adjuncts to the Listed Remedies
Vitamin C in abundance was not mentioned as a helpful adjunct. It is now. But do not use ascorbic acid as your vitamin C source for an adjunct to any of the fluoride detox methods. Do take in as much other types of vitamin C as you can tolerate, along with a couple of tablespoons of lecithin daily. Add those to your absorbable calcium and magnesium supplements with plenty of pure water, get good sleep and rest, and the detox should be relatively smooth.
Chelation therapies are recommended primarily for heavy metal removals. Though fluorides are salts, the synthetic waste product variety, sodium fluoride, comes with a cargo of toxic heavy metals. And these pernicious salts have a way of combining more heavy metals. So including any one of several chelation therapies may be beneficial for overall health improvements while applying your chosen fluoride remedy or remedies.
Those include bentonite clay internally or externally, fulvic acid (NOT folic acid), cilantro pesto with chlorella, and even DMSA or any other chellation therapy with which you are familiar.
List of foods with fluoride contamination
Website that offers a bibliography of other sources
Earth Clinic Folk Remedies
Great comprehensive overview of fluoride
Paul Fassa is dedicated to warning others about the current corruption of food and medicine and guiding others toward a direction for better health with no restrictions on health freedom. You can visit his blog at http://healthmaven.blogspot.com
Problems sleeping may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s if a study in mice also applies to people, say researchers.
Clumps of protein, called plaques, in the brain are thought to be a key component of the illness.
A study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed that when plaques first developed, the mice started having disrupted sleep.
Alzheimer’s Research UK argued that if the link was proven it could become a useful tool for doctors.
The hunt for early hints that someone is developing Alzheimer’s is thought to be crucial for treating the disease.
People do not show problems with their memory or clarity of thought until very late on in the disease. At this point, parts of the brain will have been destroyed, meaning treatment will be very difficult or maybe even impossible.
‘Detectable sign’ It is why researchers want to start early, years before the first symptoms.
“If sleep abnormalities begin this early in the course of human Alzheimer’s disease, those changes could provide us with an easily detectable sign of [the disease]”
Prof David Holtzman
One large area of research is in plaques of beta amyloid which form on the brain.
Levels of the beta amyloid protein naturally rise and fall over 24 hours in both mice and people. However, the protein forms permanent plaques in Alzheimer’s disease.
Experiments at Washington University showed that nocturnal mice slept for 40 minutes during every hour of daylight. However, as soon brain plaques started to form the mice were sleeping for only 30 minutes.
One of the researchers, Prof David Holtzman, said: “If sleep abnormalities begin this early in the course of human Alzheimer’s disease, those changes could provide us with an easily detectable sign of [the disease].”
“If these sleep problems exist, we don’t yet know exactly what form they take, reduced sleep overall or trouble staying asleep or something else entirely.”
However, findings in mice do not always apply to people as there are many reasons for disrupted sleep.
Dr Marie Janson, from the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, called for more studies in people to see if there was a link between sleeping patterns and Alzheimer’s.
She added: “There has already been research linking changes in sleep patterns to a decline in thinking skills, but these results suggest that disrupted sleep may also be a warning sign of Alzheimer’s.
“If research confirms specific sleep changes as a possible early marker of Alzheimer’s, it could prove a useful strategy for doctors to identify patients at risk of the disease.”