Before I was licensed I was the director of a Rape Trauma program and initially trained in what was called “Immersion Therapy” – Trauma survivors were suppose to tell and retell and retell their trauma experience until the trauma had “lost” it’s emotional impact. After only a few sessions, watching clients get worse, I knew there needed to be a better way so I studied alternate treatments that did not re-tramautize people.
This experience was invaluable to both me professionally and the people who came to see me during my psychotherapy career. I successfully treated people with all manners of traumatic experiences from being in airplane crashes to buried alive. Although I’m no longer in practice, trauma research still interests me.
“Researchers from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst asked more than 100 healthy adults to rate their emotional responses to a series of images, some depicting unsettling scenes. Twelve hours later, they rated the images again. The difference: Half of the subjects slept during the break; the other half did not.”
“Not only did sleep protect the memory, but it also protected the emotional reaction,” said Rebecca Spencer, a neuroscientist at UMass Amherst and co-author of the study that was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Study subjects who stayed awake for 12 hours had a weaker emotional response to the unsettling images the second time around, suggesting sleep serves to preserve and even amplify negative emotions. Their memories were also weaker than those of their well-rested counterparts, as they struggled to remember whether they had seen the images before.
Spencer said people often find it difficult to sleep after a traumatic event.
“This study suggests the biological response we have after trauma might actually be a healthy,“ she said. “Perhaps letting people go through a period of insomnia before feeding them sleeping meds is actually beneficial.”
While the findings may have implications for post traumatic stress disorder, Spencer emphasized that daily emotional ups and downs are not grounds for sleep deprivation.”
Although sleep gives the body some much-needed rest, the brain stays active. Spencer used polysomnography to monitor brain activity in some sleeping subjects.
“REM sleep in particular was associated with a change in how emotional you found something,” she said. “We think there are parts of the brain being activated during sleep that allow us to process those emotions more than during day.”
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the UMass Amherst Commonwealth Honors College.
“As life evolved, new abilities and new forms of life were not started anew, but grew out of what was there already. What existed just changed a bit, and those changes gave a new ability, a new advantage. Since new life was built on what already existed, the perfect solution to a new environment wasn’t always available, only what could easily develop from what already existed.”
“The research gives an insight into the “flaws that make us all different, sometimes with different expertise and different abilities, but also different predispositions in diseases,” said Prof David Cooper of Cardiff University, the other lead researcher of the study.”
“Not all human genomes have perfect sequences,” he added. “The human genome is packed with pervasive, architectural flaws.”
*The evidence comes from the 1,000 Genomes project, which is mapping normal human genetic differences, from tiny changes in DNA to major mutations.
Mowing my lawn always makes me feel good. I’ve figured it was because I love being outside and mowing was good exercise. However, it’s a pretty small lawn and I don’t get a lot of exercise. I was surprised to read about research done at The University of Queensland in Australia finding that the smell of freshly cut grass increases feel-good neurochemistry in the brain.*
lavender, cinnamon, vanilla, citrus, baby powder, pine, rose, rosemary, sunscreen and peppermint
*University of Queens land researchers found that the scent of cut grass works directly on the amygdala and hypo-campus and makes you happier and less stressed. They created a spray with the scent of cut grass called SerenaScent
Few know that the feeling of chronic fatigue is the fact that the body makes negligibly small amount of the hormone serotonin, responsible for feelings of joy and happiness.
Daniel Pink* (born in 1964 and he’s NOT a seenager) says our ability to think changes throughout the day, consequently we function better, smarter and even more creative at various times. Research suggests these effects can be as large as 20%.
Generally, we have a peak, a slowdown and a rebound during the day.
One in 5 people is a night owl, then the order is reversed–rebound, slowdown, peak.
When is best time to exercise? Depends on your goals-here is Pink’s guide:
Take short breaks-this helps keep you able to focus, especially when you move during the breaks. Taking a 5 minute walk every hour will increase your energy, focus and mood, lessening afternoon fatigue. It’s better than one 30 min. walk. Researchers at Stanford found motivation, concentration and creativity went up with short walking breaks.
(Frankly, I’m not sure about any of this. Peggy told me this is how we evolved – pick some food from a plant, walk a bit, pick more food . . . I tried this and gained 10 pounds which depressed me and now I’m going to bed to sleep at 3 pm when my slowdown starts.)
Pink says social breaks are the best as they increase mood and decrease stress. The best breaks may be ones in nature, people feel happier and more rested.
Wall Street Journal article Feb. 16, 2018,
*“How to be Healthier, Happier and More Productive: It’s All in the Timing” by Daniel H. Pink