Tag Archives: Archives of General Psychiatry

10 Reasons Not to Skimp on Sleep

You may literally have to add it to your to-do list, but scheduling a good night’s sleep could be one of the smartest health priorities you set. It’s not just daytime drowsiness you risk when shortchanging yourself on your seven to eight hours. Possible health consequences of getting too little or poor sleep can involve the cardiovascular, endocrine, immune and nervous systems. In addition to letting life get in the way of good sleep, between 50 and 70 million Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder—insomnia or sleep apnea, say—that affects daily functioning and impinges on health. Consider the research:

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1) Less may mean more. For people who sleep under seven hours a night, the fewer zzzz’s they get, the more obese they tend to be, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report. This may relate to the discovery that insufficient sleep appears to tip hunger hormones out of whack. Leptin, which suppresses appetite, is lowered; ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, gets a boost.

2) You’re more apt to make bad food choices. A study published in the October 15, 2008 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that people with obstructive sleep apnea or other severely disordered breathing while asleep ate a diet higher in cholesterol, protein, total fat, and total saturated fat. Women were especially affected.

3) Diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance, its precursor, may become more likely. A 2005 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people getting five or fewer hours of sleep each night were 2.5 times more likely to be diabetic, while those with six hours or fewer were 1.7 times more likely.

4) The ticker is put at risk. A 2003 study found that heart attacks were 45 percent more likely in women who slept for five or fewer hours per night than in those who got more.

5) Blood pressure may increase. Obstructive sleep apnea, for example, has been associated with chronically elevated daytime blood pressure, and the more severe the disorder, the more significant the hypertension, suggests the 2006 IOM report. Obesity plays a role in both disorders, so losing weight can ease associated health risks.

6) Auto accidents rise. As stated in a 2007 report in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 20 percent of serious car crash injuries involve a sleepy driver—and that’s independent of alcohol use.

7) Balance is off. Older folks who have trouble getting to sleep, who wake up at night, or are drowsy during the day could be 2 to 4.5 times more likely to sustain a fall, found a 2007 study in the Journal of Gerontology.

8) You may be more prone to depression. Adults who chronically operate on fumes report more mental distress, depression, and alcohol use. Adolescents suffer, too: One survey of high school students found similarly high rates of these issues. Middle schoolers, too, report more symptoms of depression and lower self-esteem.

9) Kids may suffer more behavior problems. Research from an April issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found that children who are plagued by insomnia, short duration of sleeping, or disordered breathing with obesity, for example, are more likely to have behavioral issues like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

10) Death’s doorstep may be nearer. According to three large studies published in the journals Sleep and the Archives of General Psychiatry, people over age 30 who slept five hours or less per night had approximately a 15 percent greater risk of dying—regardless of the cause—over the periods studied, which ranged from six to 14 years.

You may click to see:->
Finding Dreamland: 13 Insomnia Remedies
What’s the Cause of My Sleep Disorder?
Is Sleep Really Necessary?

Sources: MSN Health

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Does Exercise Really Ease Anxiety?

Exercise doesn’t seem to ease anxiety or depression, says a recent study conducted in the Netherlands among twins, one of whom exercised, while the other didn’t.

Marleen HM De Moor of VU University Amsterdam and colleagues studied 5,952 twins from the Netherlands Twin Register, along with 1,357 additional siblings and 1,249 parents.

Participants, aged between 18 and 50, filled out surveys about leisure-time exercise and completed four scales measuring anxious and depressive symptoms.

Associations observed between exercise and anxious and depressive symptoms “were small and were best explained by common genetic factors with opposite effects on exercise behaviour and symptoms of anxiety and depression,” the authors note.

“In genetically identical twin pairs, the twin who exercised more did not display fewer anxious and depressive symptoms than the co-twin who exercised less.”

Exercise behaviour in one identical twin predicted anxious and depressive symptoms in the other, meaning that if one twin exercised more, the other tended to have fewer symptoms.

However, the same was not true of dizygotic (fraternal) twins or other siblings, who share only part of their genetic material.

In addition, analyses over time showed that individuals who increased their level of exercise did not experience a decrease in anxious and depressive symptoms.

The results do not mean that exercise cannot benefit those with anxiety or depression, the authors noted, only that additional trials would be needed to justify this type of therapy.

These findings were reported in the August issue of Archives of General Psychiatry .

Sources: The Times Of India

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The Vulnerable Lobes

Medical students have always been fascinated by the story of Phineas Gage, a normal, hard working 26-year-old labourer. He became famous in 1848, when an iron rod pierced his skull and brain and exited on the opposite side. He survived this extensive trauma and was physically normal. His life aroused scientific curiosity as physicians suddenly realised that, contrary to popular opinion at that time, all parts of the brain where not essential for life.

The brain controls the physical functions of the body, determines our intelligence, memory, personality and ability to respond to change. It has four paired lobes. Of these, the parietal, temporal and occipital lobes have well elucidated mapped areas for functions like sight, speech, hearing and movement. The frontal lobes (through which the rod pierced Gage), situated just behind the forehead, are responsible for subtle psychological functions like mental maturity, recognition of social norms of behaviour, emotional development and appropriate responses to society.

English: Four brain lobes frontal lobe(red) pa...

English: Four brain lobes frontal lobe(red) parietal lobe(orange) temporal lobe(green) occipital lobe(yellow) and insula(purple) is also shown. others are Brain stem(black) Cerebellum(sky blue). Polygon data are from BodyParts3D maintained by Database Center for Life Science(DBCLS). ???: ????? ???(??) ???(?????) ???(??) ???(??) ??? ?????? ? ??(??) ??(??) ????????Database Center for Life Science(DBCLS)???????BodyParts3D??? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The frontal area of the brain is protected to some extent by the skull bones. However, damage to the frontal lobes can occur as a result of accidents. Surgery may be performed on the frontal lobes to remove cysts or tumours, to treat intractable epilepsy, or very rarely for psychiatric disorders. The effects of injury to the frontal lobes are often subtle and difficult to pinpoint as the IQ (intelligence quotient) may remain normal. There may be weakness without actual paralysis, inability to perform sequential movement (like dressing for work), lack of flexibility and spontaneity, poor attention and difficulty in expressing thoughts lucidly despite increased talking. Sexual habits may change with promiscuity or disinterest or socially inappropriate behaviour. The entire personality of the individual may change, making him or her unpleasant, obnoxious and intolerable.

The brain fibres in the frontal lobes mature as we grow older and develop fully around the age of 25. Genetic defects or injury in the uterus, during birth or within this time frame, can result in faulty connections, inadequate development and poor release of brain chemicals like dopamine. This can cause learning disabilities, antisocial personalities and sometimes even major psychiatric illnesses like schizophrenia. Also the size of our brain, particularly of the frontal lobes, shrinks over time. This affects important human abilities such as planning, reasoning and problem solving.

Not all brains age or deteriorate at the same rate. Part of this process is genetic and the degeneration sets in at a certain chronological age triggered by an in-built biological alarm. This apparently inevitable mental decline is further influenced by environmental factors, which can be modified favourably.

The concept of retraining ageing brain circuits has been gaining popularity. There are DVDs and books available on brain exercises. The numbers game Sudoku is in almost every newspaper. Retraining the frontal lobes can also be done quite simply by memorising passages or poetry from books. Repetition of a task makes performance rapid and more efficient with less room for error, as the cascading chemical reactions in the brain then occur on accustomed pathways. Older adults who regularly participate in cognitive activity improve their memory, speed of thought and attention span. This helps them to efficiently manage their day-to-day activities and their finances. The benefits of brain training can be enhanced by regular physical activity.

Look after your brain as it is the only one you have.

* Protect it from injury by wearing seat belts and using helmets.

* Do not hit anyone on the head (this particularly includes corporal punishment).

* If anyone has had an accident or brain surgery, tolerate their idiosyncrasies, changes in personality, unreasonable anger and emotional outbursts.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)