Lack of sleep looks the same as severe anxiety in the brain

“If you’ve ever found that a poor night’s sleep has left you feeling not only a bit groggy, but also on edge, you aren’t alone. People with insomnia have double the risk of developing an anxiety disorder, and 70 to 80 percent of people with clinical anxiety have trouble either falling or staying asleep. However, until now, how this relationship works in the brain was unknown.”

“Sleep loss triggers the same brain mechanisms that make us sensitive to anxiety to begin with—regions that support emotional processing and also regions that support emotion regulation,” says Eti Ben-Simon, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley. “If we are chronically sleep deprived, if we keep losing sleep, it could sensitize us to greater anxiety levels and help develop an anxiety disorder.”

(Nap poster available on Zazzle click here)

“In the study, the researchers had 18 healthy people come into their sleep lab for two nights: one of total sleep deprivation, followed by a normal restful night. The scientists measured the sleepers’ anxiety levels in the evening and in the morning after each session. When the participants were sleep deprived, their anxiety levels increased by 30 percent the next day, with half the participants reaching the threshold for a clinical anxiety disorder.”

“The researchers also probed what was happening in the brain after a night of sleep loss. They put the participants in an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scanner the next morning and showed them distressing video clips, like of child or elderly abuse, to evoke an emotional reaction. Following the night of no sleep, there was significantly more activity in emotion-generating regions of the brain, such as the amygdala and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. Both of these areas process negative emotions like fear, and they are hyperactive in patients with anxiety disorders.”

“When in a sleep-deprived state, the participants also had less activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that is directly connected to the amygdala and helps control negative emotions. For example, this area turns on when we try to calm ourselves down, and less activity there is associated with greater anxiety. The participants who had the most decline in activity in the region also had the biggest increase in anxiety, suggesting that emotional control is especially important in the link between sleep loss and anxiety.”

“When we are well rested, regions that help us regulate emotions are the ones that help keep us less anxious and keep us calm, and those regions are very sensitive to sleep loss,” says Ben-Simon, who led the research. “Once we are losing a certain amount of sleep or a whole night of sleep, these regions are basically going offline and we’re not able to trigger those processes of emotion regulation.”

“The good news is that after the participants got a full night of sleep, their anxiety levels went back to normal. But it wasn’t only the quantity of sleep that mattered, it was also the quality.”

“There are two main stages of sleep: REM (rapid eye movement) when we’re dreaming and nonREM, which is typically a deeper and more restful sleep. An EEG (electroencephalography) helps scientists figure out which sleep stage people are in. After the recovery night of restful sleep, participants who spent more time in deep nonREM sleep were less anxious the next morning and showed more activity in the medial prefrontal cortex.”

“We think that during deep sleep, some of these emotion regulation mechanisms that are so susceptible to sleep loss are actually being restored, and that allows us to start our day with lower anxiety in the morning,” explains Ben-Simon.”

“The overlap between anxiety and insomnia is not new. However, the discovery of how one causes the other and the connection between the two conditions in the brain is. “What [this] work does is to show that this is a two-way interaction. The sleep loss makes the anxiety worse, which in turn makes it harder to sleep,” Clifford Saper, a professor of neurology and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School, “For many people this is clearly a vicious cycle.”’

“Deep sleep is particularly impaired in anxiety disorders, leading the researchers to conclude that enhancing this sleep stage could help treat anxiety. In fact, one way anti-anxiety medications may work is by improving nonREM sleep. However, some sleep medications, such as benzodiazepines, don’t actually increase the time spent in this stage. Saper says that because of this, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which attempts to break the sleep–anxiety cycle, has emerged as the best treatment option available.”

It’s “that” time year – Isolation, Not Loneliness, Shortens Life

We often believe that during holidays everyone, except us, is having a wonderful festive time, surrounded by loving family, caring friends, filled with fun, festivity and happiness.

At the risk of “bah humbug” what I most often heard from clients was holidays were filled with stress, trepidation, family feuds or deep pain at being alone while everyone else seemingly was partying.  

Coupled with studies which suggest that the Christmas/New Year’s holidays are a risk factor for cardiac and noncardiac mortality.* the United Kingdom study on loneliness and isolation of 6,500  had an interesting conclusion:

Loneliness hurts, but social isolation can kill you. 

“The study, by a team at University College London, comes after decades of research showing that both loneliness and infrequent contact with friends and family can, independently, shorten a person’s life. The scientists expected to find that the combination of these two risk factors would be especially dangerous.”

“We were thinking that people who were socially isolated but also felt lonely might be at particularly high risk,” says Andrew Steptoe, a professor of psychology at University College London.”

“To find out, the team studied 6,500 men and women ages 52 and older. All of them had answered a questionnaire back in 2004 or 2005 that assessed both their sense of loneliness and how much contact they had with friends and family. The researchers looked to see what happened to those people over the next seven or eight years.”

“And Steptoe says he was surprised by the result. “Both social isolation and loneliness appeared initially to be associated with a greater risk of dying,” he says. “But it was really the isolation which was more important.”‘

‘”At first, it looked like people who reported greater levels of loneliness were more likely to die, Steptoe says. But closer analysis showed that these people were also more likely to have other risk factors, like being poor and having existing health problems. Once those factors were taken into account, the extra risk associated with loneliness pretty much disappeared, Steptoe says.”‘

“But people who spent very little time with friends and family, or at social events, were more likely to die regardless of income or health status the team reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

“It’s not clear why social isolation is linked to mortality. But one possibility is that having other people around has practical benefits as you get older, Steptoe says. For example, they may push you to go see a doctor if you are having symptoms like chest pain, he says. And if you were to lose consciousness, they would call for help.”

Do Facebook friends count? How about texting?

“Other researchers say they are surprised and not necessarily convinced by the new study, even though they say it’s large and well-done.”

‘”It doesn’t negate the loneliness work that’s been done to date,” says Bert Uchino, a University of Utah psychology professor. He says this study may have reached a different conclusion than earlier ones because people’s definition of loneliness is changing in the Internet age.”‘

‘”People … may think that they’re connected to other people because they’re on Facebook,” Uchino says. So they may not report feeling lonely. But that sort of connection, he says, may not have the health benefits of direct contact with other people.”

*https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/01.cir.0000151424.02045.f7   (There are multiple explanations for this association, including the possibility that holiday-induced delays in seeking treatment play a role in producing the twin holiday spikes.)

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/03/26/175283008/maybe-isolation-not-loneliness-shortens-life

WINE On!  

FIVE healthy supplements to add to your daily diet in ONE glass:

It’s National antioxidant, phenol, silicon, resveratrol, procyanidin Day

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Pawsitively Tuesday – Nuts to you

Here’s the good news

Eat nuts for your health

Pecans, walnuts, cashews

macadamias, if you choose

Just remember please

Peanuts are not nuts

They’re legumes, just like peas

no ifs, ands or buts

Legume by Peggy

The analysis of tree nut consumption included 826 patients.  Previous studies showed positive associations between regular consumption of nuts reduction in cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance.*

The results showed that patients who consumed two or more 1-oz servings of nuts weekly had a 42% lower risk of cancer recurrence and a 57% lower risk of death from any cause during the follow-up period.

“The associations were limited to tree-nut intake and were not significant for consumption of peanuts or peanut butter,” said Fadelu. “The biologic mechanism is unknown but is likely related to the effect of nuts on insulin resistance.”

*Temidayo Fadelu, MD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Four cups of coffee a day could cut the risk of early death by two thirds.

In “our” never-ending quest not to be bound by time/event constraints this wasn’t posted on National Coffee Day.

(I should say “my” and exonerate Peggy who is punctual and remembers special occasions)

I drink a cup of coffee every morning but according to researchers I need to drink more so I can live a few months longer than I otherwise would . . . .

“People who drank at least four cups of coffee a day were 65 per cent less likely to die during the study than those who never drank it, adjusting for lifestyle and class. The risk of dying early was 25 per cent lower for each extra two cups drunk, according to the results presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Barcelona.”

Photo by Betty Rawlings

(Thanks Betty for permission to use your great photo!)

“Although the results do not prove that the drink benefits health directly, they come a month after two large studies found that coffee drinkers were less likely to die of several fatal conditions, suggesting that on average they would live a couple of months longer than non-coffee-drinkers.”

“Scientists said that while they were not recommending a daily brew, it was fairly clear that healthy people did not need to worry about caffeine intake.”

“In the latest study, researchers looked at data on 20,000 Spanish graduates with an average age of 38 at the start of a ten-year study, during which 337 of them died.”

“Coffee drinkers tend to be healthier in other ways which may not have been entirely adjusted for. However, Adela Navarro, of the Hospital de Navarra in Pamplona, who led the study, suggested that the anti-inflammatory polyphenols in coffee could play a role.”

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/the-times/four-coffees-a-day-cuts-risk-of-early-death/news-story/ac0895d91096bbdb7fc29cebc67c7ac9

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What is “Over Fat” . . . like me?

I’m writing this post to give myself and my brother Rick (you too, if it fits) more motivation.

A year ago Rick and I made a pact.  Whoever lost 20 pounds first got to choose who visited whom. (He lives in Denver, I live in Southern California).  The first year we did really well, albeit falling short of our 20 pound goal.  The beginning of the second year we both gained back the weight we’d lost the first year . . .

We have very different approaches.  He weighs once a week and I obsesssssively stand on the scale every morning (sometime every night in anticipation of my morning weigh-in).  When I tried his approach I gained 5 pounds in a week.

Neither of us look over-weight by most standards.  We both know that the weight distributed around our mid-section is not healthy, particularly considering we both have heart problems.

Why’s belly fat so bad

“Abdominal fat is one of the most dangerous kinds of fat you can have. The reason it’s so bad is that unlike your love handles — which are the pinchable fat right beneath your skin — the fat that is in your stomach area grows deep inside your body and it wraps around your vital organs. Your liver borrows this fat and turns it into cholesterol that can sneak into your arteries and start collecting there. When it collects, your arteries start to harden, and when they get hard, this can lead you to having a heart attack or stroke.”

 “A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health suggests the number of people who meet the criteria for overfat in the top 30 industrialized countries are more than all of the obese and overweight people in the world. In fact, they estimate that 90% of the men and 50% of the children in the US, New Zealand, Greece and Iceland are overfat. In the top overfat countries, researchers found 80% of the women were overfat, too.
This adds to previous research published in January that first suggested “the term more accurately encapsulates the problem itself.”
And if doctors rely only on the definitions we use to consider someone “obese,” or “overweight,” they may not be helping all the patients they should.”

What is overfat?

Overfat is a term created to describe if you have a body fat level that can actually hurt your health. Even people who are considered “normal weight” or “non-obese” by traditional standards can fall into this category.

 BMI, which stands for body mass index, is determined based on a person’s height and weight. You’re considered overweight if your BMI is between 25 to 29.9 and you’re obese if your BMI is 30 or above.
Chances are, even if you are not “fat,” by definition of these traditional measurements, you may still be “overfat.” And that’s going to have some seriously negative consequences for your overall health.

“If a doctor is relying on BMI to assess your potential danger from your fat, they miss the risk. Earlier studies have also shown that doctors that rely solely on BMI may miss other warning signs for people of different ethnicities put them at greater risk for heart problems and other health issues.

“The authors of this new study argue that BMI misses about 50% of the people who still have dangerous amounts of fat. Those are typically people who have the proverbial beer belly, but are otherwise in decent shape.”
“We shouldn’t be as much worried about weight,” said author Paul Laursen, an adjunct professor and performance physiologist at the Sports Performance Research Institute in New Zealand. Your scale or that BMI calculator don’t know that you could be an athlete and have a lot of muscle mass, or a growing teen. “What we should really be worried about is the fat part and where your fat is concentrated.”

Can apple cider vinegar help with weight loss?

This deep layer of belly fat is also what:

  • Makes your body insulin-resistant, which can lead you to having type 2 diabetes.

  • Cause inflammation, which scientists are finding at the root of many chronic diseases and even cancer and Alzheimer’s.

  • Raise your glucose levels and

  • Decrease your muscle mass. You need good muscle mass to help keep good heart health.

It’s no wonder earlier studies have shown that excess belly fat, even if you are skinny elsewhere, may be even more deadly than being obese or overweight. And that’s saying a lot, since good old fashioned obesity is related to all sorts of diseases and potentially life threatening problems like cancer, heart attacks, stroke, asthma, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and a handful of other problems.

A better measure

“What may be a better way to assess if you are overfat is for your doctor to look more like a tailor and take a tape measure to your waist, the authors argue. If you want to try this at home, measure your circumference at your belly button. If your waist circumference is half your height or less, you are at a healthy fat level. If you are over that number, your fat could put you at risk for ill health.”

“It’s not as perfect a measure as if your doctor were to calculate your fat using an X-ray, but it’s a good indicator, suggests Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a cardiologist and obesity expert at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.”

 You could even do something simpler and look at your hip to waist ratio —

“If the waist is bigger than the hips, it tells me that the risk carried with that weight is much higher for that person for premature death,”

All doctors agree that dealing with excess fat needs to be a priority,as it truly can put someone’s life in jeopardy.

Are you listening, Rick?

xxxx jw

Read CNN article Overfat & Obesity Study

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Sleep better – 6 cool cat tips & 4 human techniques

Sleep isn’t for your body.  Sleep is for your brain.  When completely deprived of sleep, for only a few days, research shows that at best our immune system is depressed, we have trouble concentrating or processing information and at worst become paranoid and schizophrenic.

sleep-small

Maui was a superb sleeper. No matter where I went in the house I found him stretched out. Whatever magically found its way to the floor (I certainly never put it there) I’d find him asleep – on pillows, magazines, empty boxes, dirty clothes . . . new clothes. A particular comfy spot was in the middle of a pathway like the top or bottom of the stairs.

As far as I could tell Maui was never sleep deprived, paranoid or schizophrenic.

sleepfoot

Superbly Sleeping

 

Maui’s Tips for a Good Nights Sleep . . . for humans only

  1. Exercise every day but never just before bedtime. (Chasing things like children and dreams doesn’t count)
  2. Stay away from alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine (catnip is fine).
  3. Have a relaxing bedtime routine (stretch, turn in circles and always clean your paws and teeth).
  4. Keep the room temperature cool.  It helps us hibernate.
  5. Limit catnapping during the day to 10 minutes, 20 minutes max.  Any longer and your brain goes into deep sleep (and you’ll be a ornery cat when you wake up)
    Keep your bedtime consistent. 
  6. Don’t sleep all day and be up all night – it messes with your circadian rhythm.

Peggy’s Tips on Sleeping Well

  • Mind won’t shut off? Do a brain dump 30 minutes before bed. Write down your worries, things to do, random thoughts until your brain is empty. (takes about 3 days for this to work, but it works!)
  • Talk to your brain.  Assure your brain it can solve any problem or cope with difficulties much better when you are rested.  Your unconscious mind is always working and give you solutions while you sleep.
  • Get bright sunlight in the morning when you first wake up.  Go outside if you can.  Even if it is cloudy you get 3000 lumens vs 200 inside. (That’s a lot of lumens!)
  • Turn off cell phones, computers – anything that emits blue light.  It keeps the brain awake. 

Here’s a bonus tip to help you sleep well!!

Buy Guatemalan Worry Cats from the Greater Good Site .

images

Handmade Guatemalan Worry Cats

 http://GreaterGood.com

Tell them your troubles and they’ll worry for you while you sleep!

Sleep even better knowing you’ve contributed to worthy causes.

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