Regular readers know that I am a big fan of WebMD. I often quote from them to share ideas with readers. They have just run an item on living longer that has some wonderful suggestions. By no small coincidence, I have also included many of the same suggestions in this blog over the past nine plus years. However, here are a few that were new to me:
Profiles of two partners looking at each other while arm wrestling
“Be Conscientious – An 80-year study found one of the best predictors of a long life is a conscientious personality. Researchers measured attributes like attention to detail and persistence. They found that conscientious people do more things to protect their health and make choices that lead to stronger relationships and better careers. “
As a person who considers himself to be conscientious I was happy to learn that it may be instrumental in my living longer.
Simple, but not easy, is a common description that I seem to hear all the time. I have accumulated some simple, and I hope easy, tips for successful aging. These are from Dana Corp.’s Brain in the News.
1. Be physically active – 30 minutes a day – three days a week. Easy peasy.
2. Reduce your cardiovascular risk factors – including hypertension, diabetes and smoking.
3. Manage your medications by reviewing them with a clinician and learning about their effects on your cognitive health.
4. Be socially and intellectually active.
5. Get enough sleep. I can’t stress this enough. If you want to know more about this utterly simple step, please check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep?
6. Guard against delirium, a decrease in cognitive function that can be triggered by hospitalization, medications and certain illnesses.
I started writing this blog in March of 2010. In the beginning my only concern was losing weight. I have since developed my focus to living a healthy and long life with my mental faculties intact in the home stretch. In order to achieve that, some very important, but often overlooked aspects of living must be observed. Regular, hopefully daily exercise, will keep our organic machine humming. By all means one needs to avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Intelligent eating is a sine que non. And. last, but not least, one needs to get enough sleep. Sleep is a reboot for the brain. Essential for a healthy life. Herewith, some superb guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation.
Common lore would have you believe that everyone needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night to feel their best—and for the majority of adults, that’s true. However, there is (unfortunately!) no one-size-fits-all answer. Many factors (like age, your body’s base or innate need for sleep, age, sleep quality, pregnancy, and sleep debt) play a role in establishing your particular “magic number.” As you age, your sleep needs change — older adults may need less sleep, seven to eight hours after age 65, for example, than their younger counterparts. Continue reading
I think that a good night’s sleep is possibly one of the most singularly unappreciated aspects of living a healthy life. There is a Page – How important is a good night’s sleep? with tons more information on the subject. I stumbled across the following infographic, however, and thought it was particularly interesting.
An international team of researchers has found that a single sleepless night can alter metabolic processes leading to weight gain and lack of muscle maintenance. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the team describes their study of the impact of a sleepless night on several volunteers.
Prior research has shown that interfering with normal sleep patterns can lead to weight gain—night shift workers, for example, have a tendency to gain weight. But until now, the mechanism responsible for such metabolic changes has not been known. To learn more, the researchers with this new effort enlisted the assistance of 15 adult volunteers. Each volunteer was tested in a lab on two separate occasions. One of the occasions was after getting a good night’s sleep, the other was after the volunteer had stayed up all night. Each submitted blood, fat and muscle samples, which the researchers then studied looking for differences.
They found differences in gene activity linked to the production of proteins associated with lipid absorption and cell proliferation in the volunteers between the two visits. More specifically, they found that when volunteers missed a night of sleep, they had elevated levels of both metabolites and proteins that are involved in the process of storing fat. They also experienced a breakdown of proteins that are involved in muscle buildup and repair. The researchers also found that missing a single night of sleep caused changes to genes that have been associated with a type of inflammation linked to the development of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
The team reports that they do not know how long the metabolic changes lasted after the volunteers returned to normal sleep patterns. But they point out that their study shows that sleep serves more functions than previously thought—it is not just to rejuvenate the brain or to conserve energy, it also plays a role in overall metabolism. They suggest more study is required to determine if such changes due to episodic sleep disruptions become long-term.
To read further on the value of sleep check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep?
Nighttime snacking and junk food cravings may contribute to unhealthy eating behaviors and represent a potential link between poor sleep and obesity, according to the University of Arizona Health Sciences.
Nighttime snacking and junk food cravings may contribute to unhealthy eating behaviors and represent a potential link between poor sleep and obesity, a study by University of Arizona Health Sciences sleep researchers stated.
The study was conducted via a nationwide, phone-based survey of 3,105 adults from 23 U.S. metropolitan areas. Participants were asked if they regularly consumed a nighttime snack and whether lack of sleep led them to crave junk food. They also were asked about their sleep quality and existing health problems. Continue reading
I find myself writing something every week on how exercise benefits the brain as well as the body. I hope you are getting yours regularly. The other side of the coin includes actions we do or omit on a regular basis that harm our body as well as our brain. Here are some from WebMD.
Not surprisingly, their first is not getting enough sleep. ” … lack of sleep may be a cause of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. It’s best to have regular sleeping hours. If you have trouble with sleep, avoid alcohol, caffeine, and electronics in the evening, and start a soothing bedtime ritual.”
I feel strongly about getting enough sleep. Check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep? for lots more details. Continue reading
This is kind of a yin/yang thing with exercise vs rest. Just as I write about the myriad benefits of exercise regularly here, it seems there are almost as many ways that not getting enough sleep damages us. If you would like to learn more, check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep?
Losing just one night of sleep led to an immediate increase in beta-amyloid, a protein in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a small, new study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In Alzheimer’s disease, beta-amyloid proteins clump together to form amyloid plaques, a hallmark of the disease.
While acute sleep deprivation is known to elevate brain beta-amyloid levels in mice, less is known about the impact of sleep deprivation on beta-amyloid accumulation in the human brain. The study is among the first to demonstrate that sleep may play an important role in human beta-amyloid clearance.
“This research provides new insight about the potentially harmful effects of a lack of sleep on the brain and has implications for better characterizing the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease,” said George F. Koob, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the study.
Beta-amyloid is a metabolic waste product present in the fluid between brain cells. In Alzheimer’s disease, beta-amyloid clumps together to form amyloid plaques, negatively impacting communication between neurons.
I started taking courses in various aspects of good health and nutrition back eight years ago when I first started working on this blog. I created the Page – How important is a good night’s sleep? in 2013, so regular readers have been hearing about that aspect of good health since at least then. Here, we have a fresh insight into sleep habits that adds to the import of it.
A new study reports being a night owl might have significant consequences for your health, including an increased risk of dying earlier.
“Night owls” — people who like to stay up late and have trouble dragging themselves out of bed in the morning — have a higher risk of dying sooner than “larks,” people who have a natural preference for going to bed early and rise with the sun, according to a new study from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom (UK).
The study, on nearly half a million participants in the UK Biobank Study, found owls have a 10 percent higher risk of dying than larks. In the study sample, 50,000 people were more likely to die in the 6½ -year period sampled.
“Night owls trying to live in a morning lark world may have health consequences for their bodies,” said co-lead author Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Continue reading
With 10,000 baby boomers becoming 65 every day, the question of sleep becomes highly relevant. The Washington Post says, “Scientists have also discovered the role of telomeres in aging. These are caps on the ends of strands of DNA that protect a cell’s genetic material when it divides. But they get a little shorter with each division, and once they get too short, a cell can no longer function normally. Older people have shorter telomeres, but so do people with high stress and poor sleep habits.”
First of all the myth that seniors need less sleep is – a myth. Dr. Michael W. Smith of WebMD offers the following definitive answer, “As children and adolescents, we need more sleep than we do as young adults. But by our senior years, we need the same seven to nine hours a night we did as teens.”
On the other hand, the nature and quality of sleep does change as we age.
Hrayr P. Attarian, MD, in a talk before Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Transitions Program® said that although we get less sleep as we age, we need the same amount. Older people take slightly longer to fall asleep than younger ones. Also, sleep efficiency falls as we age. The 18 to 30 year olds have 95 percent sleep efficiency; 31 to 40 year olds enjoy 88 percent sleep efficiency; 41 to 50 year olds have 85 percent sleep efficiency and 51 to 70 year olds are down to 80 percent sleep efficiency.
So the bottom line seems to be seniors need as much asleep as ever, but they have a harder time achieving it.
Medications play a part in senior sleep habits, too. As we age we often need more medications to get us through the day and night. Dr. Attarian warned about Tylenol and Advil PM specifically. He said that they worsen prostate conditions in men and that they impair reflexes in both sexes into the next day.
To read further on sleep, check out my page How Important is a good night’s sleep.
As an old retired guy, I have to look backwards to remember the intensity of the engagement I felt when I was in the working world. I remember that I considered going to sleep an intrusion on my productive day. I often failed to get a good night’s sleep. Ditto on weekends, you could usually find me in the office on Saturdays. Turns out that neither of those actions was wise.
I am now in my 18th year of retirement. I have been writing this blog for nearly eight years. I think one of the best posts I have done is my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep? I hope you will check it out. Recharging is one of the best and healthiest activities there is for our brain and body. A kind of corollary of not enough sleep is that prolonged sitting hurts us. You can check out my Page – Do you know the dangers of too much sitting? for more details.
I have written extensively about how important a good night’s sleep is to living a healthy life. Now, it seems there are potential psychological vulnerabilities, too. I will give the link at the end of post.
Sleeping less than the recommended eight hours a night is associated with intrusive, repetitive thoughts like those seen in anxiety or depression, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.
Binghamton University Professor of Psychology Meredith Coles and former graduate student Jacob Nota assessed the timing and duration of sleep in individuals with moderate to high levels of repetitive negative thoughts (e.g., worry and rumination). The research participants were exposed to different pictures intended to trigger an emotional response, and researchers tracked their attention through their eye movements. The researchers discovered that regular sleep disruptions are associated with difficulty in shifting one’s attention away from negative information. This may mean that inadequate sleep is part of what makes negative intrusive thoughts stick around and interfere with people’s lives . Continue reading
I wrote about the dangers of sleep deprivation earlier this week. Here is the opening paragraph of that post: Regular readers know that I am an old man and very highly value a good night’s sleep. That is not the way I felt 20 years ago when I was in the working world. In those days I felt strongly that sleep was an intrusion on my life and activities and resented having to do it. I got a little wiser as the years went by. Please check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep? for significantly more details on this very important aspect of living a long healthy life.
Have you resolved to take better care of yourself in the new year? Here’s a relatively painless way to do it: Catch a few more zzz’s every night. A third of American adults don’t get enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention..
Chronic poor sleep has been linked to cognitive decline, and a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis explains why: As a wakeful brain churns away through the night, it produces more of the Alzheimer’s protein amyloid beta than its waste-disposal system can handle. Levels of the protein rise, potentially setting off a sequence of changes to the brain that can end with dementia.
“This study is the clearest demonstration in humans that sleep disruption leads to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease through an amyloid beta mechanism,” said senior author Randall Bateman, MD, the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Distinguished Professor of Neurology. “The study showed that it was due to overproduction of amyloid beta during sleep deprivation.” Continue reading
Filed under aging brain, Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimer's risk, brain, brain damage, brain function, brain health, good night's sleep, sleep, sleep deprivation
Regular readers know that I am an old man and very highly value a good night’s sleep. That is not the way I felt 20 years ago when I was in the working world. In those days I felt strongly that sleep was an intrusion on my life and activities and resented having to do it. I got a little wiser as the years went by. Please check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep? for significantly more details on this very important aspect of living a long healthy life.
Losing sleep in favor of some good holiday fun a few times each year is nothing to worry about, but chronic sleep deprivation can have adverse health effects. Some of us are affected more than others, however, and new research helps us understand why.
For some of us, it may be harder to perform certain cognitive tasks after a sleepless night.
With 50 to 70 million adults in the United States having a “sleep or wakefulness disorder,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider sleep deprivation a “public health concern.”
Sleep loss is especially alarming given its status as a significant risk factor for traffic accidents and medical mishaps, as well as posing a danger to one’s health.
Insufficient sleep could increase the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and cancer, among others conditions.
Cognitively, sleep deprivation has a wide range of adverse effects. In fact, the CDC report that 23.2 percent of U.S. adults aged 20 and above have trouble concentrating, and another 18.2 percent say that they have trouble remembering things as a result of losing sleep. Continue reading
Children who eat fish at least once a week sleep better and have IQ scores that are 4 points higher, on average, than those who consume fish less frequently or not at all, according to new findings from the University of Pennsylvania published in Scientific Reports, a Nature journal.
Previous studies showed a relationship between omega-3s, the fatty acids in many types of fish, and improved intelligence, as well as omega-3s and better sleep. But they’ve never all been connected before. This work, conducted by the School of Nursing’s Jianghong Liu, Jennifer Pinto-Martin and Alexandra Hanlon and Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor Adrian Raine, reveals sleep as a possible mediating pathway, the potential missing link between fish and intelligence. Continue reading
Elsewhere in the blog I have written repeatedly about the how valuable it is to get a good night’s sleep. For a full rundown, please check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep?
In the meantime, here is an excellent study from Harvard Medical School on our vulnerability to our evening illumination.
Exposure to blue light at night, emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs, harmful to your health.
Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted.
But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Continue reading