Posts Tagged ‘Stress’

There are many reasons why you might wake up during the night and not be able to get back to sleep. To start, as the night wears on, your body naturally moves into lighter stages of slumber, during which it’s easier to be roused. That’s why wakeups are more likely to happen in the early morning hours.
Poor sleep hygiene can also play a role. Drinking caffeine in the afternoon or evening can prevent you from sleeping deeply. And having an alcoholic nightcap may make you fall asleep quickly, but often causes wake-ups later on in the night as your body metabolizes the alcohol. A less-than-ideal sleep environment—for example: a room that’s not dark enough, too noisy, or too warm—can result in fitful sleep, too. Over-the-counter sleep aids or prescriptions rarely offer significant help for this problem.

Various underlying conditions might also be to blame. People with sleep apnea, who experience pauses in breathing or shallow breaths as they sleep, often wake up countless times during the night. An enlarged prostate can cause men to wake up frequently to go to the bathroom. Restless leg syndrome, and the jumpiness associated with it, can jolt you awake, and chronic stress or anxiety can cause you to awaken frequently, too. And heartburn or a chronic cough associated with gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) can cause you to wake suddenly through the night. These are all serious conditions, so if you suspect that you might have one of them, speak to your doctor right away.

One reason older adults may be at higher risk for insomnia is that sleep itself changes with advancing age. Sleep latency (time to fall asleep) increases, early morning awakenings are more common, deep sleep (stages 3–4) decreases, and sleep efficiency (time asleep while in bed) is reduced. Because older people spend less time in the deeper stages of sleep and more time in the lighter stages of sleep, they are more likely to awaken, for example, from noise in the environment.

To help stay asleep through the night, try some of these strategies to relieve insomnia:
• Establish a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine. For example, drink a cup of non-caffeinated tea, take a warm shower or listen to soft music.
• Relax your body. Gentle yoga or progressive muscle relaxation can ease tension and help tight muscles to relax. Deep diaphragmatic breathing with longer exhales than inhales is very helpful.
• Make your bedroom conducive to sleep. Keep light, noise and temperature at levels that are comfortable and won’t disturb your rest. Don’t engage in activities other than sleeping or sex in your bedroom. This will help your body know this room is for sleeping.
• Put clocks in your bedroom out of sight. Clock-watching causes stress and makes it harder to go back to sleep if you wake up during the night.
• Avoid caffeine after noon, and limit alcohol to 1 drink several hours before bedtime. Both caffeine and alcohol can interfere with sleep.
• Get regular exercise. But keep in mind, exercising too close to bedtime may interfere with sleep.
• Go to bed only when you’re sleepy. If you aren’t sleepy at bedtime, do something relaxing that will help you wind down.
• Wake up at the same time every day. If you go to sleep later than usual, resist the urge to sleep in.
• Avoid daytime napping. Napping can throw off your sleep cycle.
• If you wake up and can’t fall back to sleep within 20 minutes or so, get out of bed. Go to another room and read or do other quiet activities until you feel sleepy.



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In “The Nature of Things” documentary, the essence of sleep was explained in detail.

Here are some key points:

Sleep helps us learn.
Memory processing and memory storage is sleep dependent.
Lack of sleep affects our emotional function and judgement is impaired.
Sleep affects our emotional switching system that guides our choices and decisions.

Our food intake goes up with less sleep. We eat more especially after dinner. Lack of sleep causes the breakdown of two hormones Leptin (tells us to stop/ decreases appetite) and ghrelin (says time to eat and increases appetite)

We spend 52,000 hours dreaming or equivalent to 6 years. Dreams provide a window into our psychological wellbeing. The more negative our interactions in our dreams, the more anxious and negative and less happy the individual. There is an extraordinary conversation taking place inside our sleeping brains. Dreams may seem chaotic to us but they have order. The brain gives meaning to all the events in our life

We have blood vessels inside our brain and it is a complex system providing oxygen and nutrients to its cells. At night the brain begins to change. The brain actually CLEANS ITSELF! Our bodies rely on our circulatory system to bring nutrients to its trillions of cells. These cells also produce waste. In our body we have a lymph vessel system that collects and carries waste to our liver where it is eliminated. BUT lymph vessels do not go to the brain.
So how does the brain clean itself of these waste products? During the day, the brain is protected by a sac filled with fluid that surrounds it. At night this sac empties and the fluid filters through the brain. The fluid washes away the waste particles between the cells.
This function is like a dishwasher for our brain. Amyloid beta which is a protein plaque is one of the waste products produced by the brain. This protein builds up in people with Alzheimer’s. While we sleep, the brain washes away these plaques of protein.

We know now that there is a direct relationship between memory impairment and dysfunction in individuals who do not sleep well or long.


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Do I really need to sleep?

The urge to sleep is a physiological drive that we cannot ignore.  There are many scientific reasons why we need to spend almost a third of our lives unconscious and horizontal.

According to a recent research piece in Scientific American magazine, ” sleep does not serve just a single purpose. Instead it appears to be needed for the optimal functioning of a multitude of biological processes – from the inner workings of the immune system to proper hormonal balance, to emotional and psychiatric health, to learning and memory, to the clearance of toxins from the brain. At the same time, none of these functions fails completely in the absence of sleep. In general, sleep seems to enhance the performance of these systems instead of being absolutely necessary. And yet anyone who lives for months without sleep will die.

Research also shows an association between sleep restriction and the development of type 2 diabetes.

Given all the latest research on the many functions of sleep and the likelihood that yet more will be discovered, skimping on sleep is looking like a worse and worse strategy for dealing with the demands of daily life. Taken together, the results of studies looking at the role of sleep in hormonal, immunological and memory functions suggest that if you do not get enough , you could – besides being very tired – wind up sick, overweight, forgetful and very blue.”


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For 30 Days try this ‘breathing minutes’ exercise 10 or more times a day. For a minute at a time, practise diaphragmatic breathing whenever you are waiting for something. Remember, you don’t need to be standing or lying down.

You can do this whenever:

  • You are stopped at a stoplight
  • You are on hold on the phone
  • You are waiting in line at a store
  • You are watching the commercials during a television show
  • You are waiting for the microwave to heat some food
  • You are waiting for a friend at work or school
  • You are waiting for the computer to boot
  • You are waiting for the teacher to hand out the test papers
  • You are waiting for an instant message or a phone or text message
  • You are waiting for a meeting to start

While this suggestion requires you to be mindful, the results are worth it.

You will feel calmer, and less stressed throughout the day.

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One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport.

We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us.

My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches!

The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us.

My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean he was really friendly.

So I asked, ‘Why did you just do that?

This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!’

This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, ‘The Law of the Garbage Truck.’

He explained that many people are like garbage trucks.

They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment.

As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it, and sometimes they’ll dump it on you.

Don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on.

Don’t take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day.

Life’s too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so…

Love the people who treat you right.

Pray for the ones who don’t.

Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it!

Have a great, garbage-free day.

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New research published in Science Magazine sheds new light on the impact of watching violent scenes in television shows, the news, and movies.

When you allow yourself, or a child, to watch violent media images, you change the functioning of the brain and shift it into survival mode also known as the fight or flight, and stress response.

In the first experiment, MRI equipment was used to monitor blood flow in the brains of 80 adult volunteers while they watched scenes featuring “extreme male-to-male aggressive behavior and violence in front of a crowd”. The researchers also took samples of the participants’ saliva to measure changes in stress hormones levels to see if there was a hormonal response to the violence.

In a second experiment, the researchers also used chemicals to block the production of certain stress hormones while the volunteers watched violent scenes to see how it affected the participants’ brains.

The results
Researchers noticed that when participants watched violent images, networks of nerve cells started to rapidly reorganize themselves throughout the brain: the participants’ brain function was changing in response to what they were seeing on the screen. The volunteers’ attention was re-orientated, their perceptions were heightened, and their autonomic nervous system became highly active, all of which are indicative of the stress response.

What if you don’t get frightened by violent images?
Even if you tell yourself that the fighting you saw in a movie, news broadcast, or TV show didn’t scare you, the stress response, which is governed by your unconscious mind, works fast. It is an active part of everything you do and is works like a virus checker, running quietly in the background of your mind, always alert and checking for threats.

When you are engrossed in watching a TV show, movie, or news footage, your unconscious sees the violent images and doesn’t know they are on a screen; your unconscious believes you are right there in the action. Seeing others get hurt triggers our unconscious to want to fight or flee to avoid injury, pain, and the potential for death because it thinks that you may be the next target of the serial killer, soldier, or alien who is being violent. The fight or flight response results in the heightened perceptions, reoriented attention, and nervous system stimulation observed in the volunteers.

Wider Implications
The wider implications of this research are that watching domestic violence between parents, being subjected to physical punishment, and seeing gory photographs in newspapers and online may also shift a child and adult into fight or flight (survival) mode.

Why would you, as an adult, continue to watch violence when you know that it makes you more stressed, changes your perceptions to the world towards it being unsafe place, and shifts your brain and physiology into fight or flight mode. People who are more stressed also have higher incidences of disease.

[1] Hermans, E. et al. (2011). Stress-related noradrenergic activity prompts large-scale neural network reconfiguration. Science, 334, 1151-1153.

[2] Zald, D. H. (2003). The human amgydala and the emotional evaluation of sensory stimuli. Brain Research Reviews, 41, 88-123.

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