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It’s Dreams We Miss, Not Sleep

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We need to dream regularly as a vital release for our emotions, a leading psychologist says. Like yoga for the soul.

It has become one of the most cherished neuroses of Western culture that we exist in a state of acute sleep deprivation, a dearth to which legions of casual complaints and magazine headlines testify. Nevertheless, the psychologist and sleep guru Rubin Naiman is equally disturbed by another deficit: namely, that 21st-century society is undergoing an epidemic of dreamlessness.

In tones of soporific calm, Dr Naiman, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at Dr Andrew Weil‘s University of Arizona Centre for Integrative Medicine, explains: “We are at least as dream deprived as we are sleep deprived.”

He says it is vital to dream. “An essential function of dreaming is psychological stretching, a kind of yoga for the soul: gently expanding, releasing, opening, and softening.” Like stretching a muscle, a dream can release emotional pain, tightness from earlier in the day – or even hurt from childhood. Dreaming provides “a poetic cushion” for our sharply literal lives, he says.

Modern lifestyles interfere with healthy dreaming. Overexposure to light at night suppresses melatonin and thus dreaming. Many commonly used medications, including sleeping pills, also restrict our ability to dream, or the REM [rapid eye movement] sleep that yields it. Sleep apnoea, usually associated with snoring, can significantly diminish dreaming too. “And, last, but certainly not least,” Dr Naiman says, “we live in a world where the dream has become devalued. ‘Forget it,’ we say to a loved one who has a nightmare, it’s just a dream’.”

The majority of dreams flit by in episodes of between five and 20 minutes, four or five times a night. Nevertheless, during an average life span, this nightly couple of hours will add up to a good six years enmeshed in fantasy. From the 1940s to 1985 the psychologist Calvin S. Hall collated more than 50,000 dream narratives at Case Western Reserve University, Ohio. He argued that sleepers the world over conjure the same sort of visions. Universal motifs include: education, being chased, an inability to move, tardiness, nudity and humiliation, flying, shedding of teeth, death, falling in love with or having intercourse with random individuals, car accidents and being accused of a crime.

Anxiety is the most common emotion experienced and negative sentiments tend to be more prevalent (or better recalled). America ranks the highest among industrialised nations for aggression in dreams, while sexual themes occur about a tenth of the time.

Theories about the function of dreams differ radically from the notion that they are Nature’s own form of psychotherapy to their being merely the brain’s mode of dejunking. Dr Naiman’s take is a fusion of the practical and the poetic. “Dreaming plays a critical role in learning and the formation of certain kinds of memory. It also helps us to heal from emotional losses.

“Much of the depression explosion we witness today is associated with an actual loss of dreams,” he says. If we cannot sleep on it, so the evidence suggests, the “it” in question may threaten to overwhelm us.

How might such a deficit be rectified? Better sleep as a whole will conjure better dreams. Thus, the dreamless are advised to avail themselves of the potions born of Dr Naiman’s collaboration with Origins, the natural skincare company: products designed to get us back to what he terms “deep-green sleep”, that is, chemical-free repose in a nurturing environment.

Beyond this, it may not be too complicated. “The simple act of directing our attention back towards our dreams will encourage them to come out of hiding,” he says. Once they begin to flow, make a note of them and share them. “The bottom line is about befriending our dreams and remaining open to all they bring.”

Another reason that we turn away from dreams is that so many of them are, in fact, “bad”. One study suggests that about two thirds of the emotional content of our dreams is negative. But they are bad only when viewed from a waking perspective. “We are a wake-centric culture,” he says. “We presume that waking consciousness is it: the gold standard for our experiences, happiness, sanity.”

He says that youngsters should be encouraged to talk about their dreams. “So many learn that dreams are of little consequence in the adult world … so, although they may experience them vividly, they tend to avoid discussing them and lose interest.” Parents, he says, should ask their children about their dreams, as well as share their own.

So what he advocates is an embrace of deep-green dreaming? “Why not? Healthy dreaming and healthy sleep are reciprocal. I dream best in deep-green forests.”

Sweet dreams :-

Limit your exposure to artificial light

This includes television screens, because the blue component restricts melatonin and thus dreaming. Invest in some blue light-eliminating bulbs and glasses (www.lowblue lights.com) or opt for candlelight.

Avoid excess alcohol and dream-suppressing medications
But you must treat conditions such as sleep apnoea that may interfere with dreaming. Melatonin, which requires a prescription in the UK, is a safe way to rekindle dreaming.

Look at dreaming as a form of psychological stretching
Keep a dream journal and discuss your dreams with your family and friends. Encourage children not to feel inhibited about sharing their nocturnal adventures.

Try to foster an awareness that you are dreaming when it’s happening
This is especially important when it comes to nightmares. Yield to the message of a nightmare rather than becoming embroiled in it

CLICK TO SEE:-
>Beating insomnia without popping sleeping pills
>Why can’t I get to sleep?

Sources:TIMES ON LINE  DATED:28TH.FEB ’09

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‘Brushing Teeth Prevents Preterm Birth’

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Preterm births are easier prevented than thought. Researchers in the United States have found that brushing your teeth properly and maintaining  proper oral hygiene reduces the chance of early labour by a large extent.

……………………..…CLICK & SEE

Researchers from Case Western Reserve and Yale Universities Previously undiscovered bacteria usually found in the mouth could be responsible for up to 80% of early preterm labours.

The research could help doctors prevent preterm births by encouraging oral hygiene or stop early labour from developing by prescribing targeted antibiotics, Discovery News reported on its website on Wednesday.

“The earlier the woman goes into preterm labor, the higher the chance that she will be infected,” said Yiping Han, a doctor at Case Western University and the first author on the study.

Most human pregnancies last about 40 weeks. A birth prior to 37 weeks is classified as preterm. Babies born preterm can face many hurdles: vision and hearing loss, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, even death.

Labour itself is still somewhat of a mystery to science, which makes puzzling out preterm labour even more difficult. Anything from socioeconomic status and race to bacterial infection and genetics have been linked to preterm births, but a definitive cause is still elusive.

Han and her colleagues think they have found a major cause, at least in mice. By infecting the rodents with Bergeyella, a previously unknown bacteria found in the mice, the researchers caused preterm births.

In humans, the scientists showed a strong correlation between infection and preterm births. Doctors removed amniotic fluid from 46 different women with potentially higher risk pregnancies. Of that group, 21 delivered an early preterm baby (32 weeks or earlier). Nineteen of those women, or about 85%, were positive for previously undetected bacteria.

The bacteria normally live in the mouth, but if a cut, cavity or other wound allows the bacteria to enter the blood stream, they can travel and eventually colonize the uterus. That triggers an immune response, which can inflame the uterus and eventually cause a mother to go into labour prematurely.

To identify bacteria behind preterm labour, doctors used polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Using PCR, the scientists identified the Bergeyella bacterium, as well as DNA belonging to 10 or 11 different strains of newly identified bacteria. Now that doctors know about another link to preterm labour, the next step is to treat it. Antibiotics that specifically target these new bacteria are currently being tested.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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High blood sugar tied to cancer risk

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Results of a study involving nearly 65,000 people point to an association between cancer and abnormally high
blood sugar levels.

These results “have obvious implications for lifestyle guidance, as it is well known what factors cause blood glucose increases,”Dr Par Stattin from Umea University Medical Center, Sweden noted in comments to Reuters Health.

By avoiding excessive fat and other dietary risk factors, and by getting regular exercise, “you can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes — and cancer,”he added.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with an increased risk of liver, pancreas, colon cancer, as well as other cancers, Stattin and colleagues note in the journal Diabetes Care.

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However, less is known about the effect on cancer risk associated with moderately elevated blood sugar levels among non-diabetic subjects.

To investigate further, the researchers examined data from 31,304 men and 33,293 women who participated in a larger study and had glucose (blood sugar) measurements available. In total 2,478 cases of cancer were identified in this group.

In women, the total cancer risk increased with rising blood sugar levels. The relative risk of cancer was 26% higher for women with the highest fasting blood sugar compared with women with the lowest fasting blood sugar.

Adjustment for errors in measurement further increased the relative risk of cancer for women with abnormally high blood sugar levels.

Overall, there was no significant association between total cancer risk and blood sugar measurements in men.

However, for men and women, high fasting glucose was significantly associated with an increased risk of cancer of the pancreas, endometrium, urinary tract and malignant melanoma. These associations were independent of body weight.

These findings, the authors say, provide “further evidence for an association between abnormal glucose metabolism and cancer.”

Source:The Times Of India