MIND & BODY AFTER 50

Is poor sleep a cause for mental health problems?

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Here's surprising new research published recently in 2021. It shows that poor sleep can be the cause of mental health problems!

This is a new perspective. Until recently, medical science usually considered a person’s poor sleep to be a part of their mental health problem. Poor sleep was a symptom, caused by the mental health problem.

But this study considers that poor sleep can sometimes be the cause of a mental health problem, not just a symptom. 

That's extra significant because sleep an…

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How's Your Sleep?

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Do you have sleep problems? If you’re saying ‘yes’, you’re certainly not alone!

Women often experience disturbed sleep during the perimenopausal years, and, by the age of 60, almost half say their sleep is a problem, at least from time to time.  

Usually, this is just occasional sleeplessness — maybe caused by a work deadline, or a noisy neighbour, or a headache, or too much coffee, etc. etc. The woman feels tired, but, eventually her mind-body rebalances, and she’s back to regular restorat…

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Why you want plenty of sleep!

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Sleep scientists used to be mild-mannered folks.

They usually stayed in the background, busy measuring brain-waves and lecturing at the university. They wrote scholarly articles to be read mainly by fellow-scientists -- and the occasional medical student like me, years ago.

But recently, that’s changed.

Modern sleep scientists now speak out publicly, sounding the alarm. They say our society suffers from chronic sleep deprivation. We risk serious health problems in the years ahead.

The sle…

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What about sleeping pills?

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People should avoid using most types of ‘sleeping pill’ for longer than 4 weeks. Sleep medications should be temporary.

That’s the standard instruction for best medical practice in most of Europe and North America. Official medical treatment guidelines recommend limited use only.

But, in reality, doctors and patients usually ignore this advice! More than half of patients use their prescribed sleeping pills for longer than than 4 weeks, and 20% continue beyond a year.  

Patients say they ke…

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Sleep procrastination?

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Do you find yourself delaying sleep? It’s your bedtime, but you stay awake for no definite reason? 

Scientists call this ‘sleep procrastination’.

Maybe you’re busy online or you’re watching screen-based entertainment? Maybe you’re checking your devices, reacting to messages, etc? You’re busy reading this... watching that... Caught up in vaguely purposeless activity that absorbs your attention. Time goes by and you don’t go to bed.  

You may even be in bed, but still you keep looking at an e…

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Hyperarousal, Sleep, and Mindfulness

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What is ‘Hyperarousal’?

Hyperarousal is a common mind-body state — so common that people often experience hyperarousal as ‘normal’! But science shows us that habitual hyperarousal is unhealthy for mind and body.

Hyperarousal refers to stress reactivity — especially the physical side of stress reactivity.  When people get stressed, their body goes into hyperarousal. 

The body is ‘on alert’ — with muscle tension, changes in blood pressure and heart activation patterns, characteristic effects…

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Your Amazing Brain!

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Maiken Nedergaard is a charming Danish neuroscientist who has changed sleep science forever — and she has helped explain why Alzheimer’s disease is connected to poor sleep! 

Your brain’s ‘glymphatic system’

In 2013, Dr. Nedergaard revealed her discovery of the ‘glymphatic system’ — your brain’s amazing system to cleanse itself during sleep. 

Every night, during deepest sleep, the ‘astroglial’ cells of your brain actively shrink in size and arrange to form special channels that open wide. T…

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Sleeping less than 6 1/2 hours?

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Sometimes people ask me:  “How much sleep should I be getting?”

That’s a hard question. Science usually depends on the statistics of what’s true for many people — but you’re a unique individual. No law can be applied to you. You sleep as you sleep! 

But here’s a study that will help you consider if your body needs more sleep.

The Study

This research paper was published last year in the respected Journal of the American Medical Association - Neurology. It’s from a large multinational study…

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Turn out the lights!

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Did you know? Your body is very sensitive to nighttime light. Here’s two surprising studies that could change the way you sleep.

In 2017, American researchers published a  study involving more than 43,000 women (average age 55 years). Their health and lifestyle had been followed for about 5 years. Researchers discovered that women who sleep with artificial light at night have an increased risk for significant weight gain and obesity. 

“In particular, sleeping with a light or television on in…

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Less blue light please!

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Science is learning that our sleep is especially sensitive to blue light (wavelength: 446 - 484 nm). If there’s too much blue light before bedtime, the quality of our sleep suffers -- deepest sleep is degraded. Scientists express concern that over-exposure to blue light could even affect the health of a woman’s unborn child.

Unfortunately, most electronic screens (smart phones, computers, tablets, many televisions) and some fluorescent lights release high levels of blue light. That’s why sle…

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