Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Sleep Fragmentation and Negative Mood

The group with delayed bedtimes did showed a link with negative moods. However, when compared with the delayed bedtime group, the forced-to-wake group participants had shorter periods of deep, slow-wave sleep. The lack of sufficient slow-wave sleep showed a statistically significant association with a reduction in positive mood—suggesting that sleep fragmentation is especially detrimental to a person’s positive mood. The interrupted sleep also reduced energy levels as well as feelings of sympathy and friendliness. Researchers also said the study suggests that the effects of interrupted sleep on positive mood can be cumulative, because differences between the two groups showed up after the second night and continued the day after the third night of the study. “You can imagine the hard time people with chronic sleep disorders have after repeatedly not reaching deep sleep,” commented one of the researchers.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Insomnia and Sleep Quality

Uninterrupted sleep for the amount of time your brain requires, gives you the opportunity to move through all the sleep stages to receive the amount of slow-wave sleep that is key to feeling restored when you awaken. Frequent sleep disruptions is a relatively common occurrence among new parents, health care personnel who are on-call, and individuals with insomnia. A common symptom of insomnia involves negative mood changes, although the biological reasons for this have been unclear. A study by researchers at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine decided to investigate the link between insomnia and a depressed mood. To do this, they brought three groups of healthy participants into the sleep lab for three nights. The results of the study were reported in the journal Sleep.

  • The First group were allowed to sleep normally
  • The Second group had their usual bedtime delayed
  • The third group were awakened on purpose throughout the night

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Alpha Partner, 4

More questions I’ve received:

“Can two alphas ever partner successfully?”

(My brain’s opinion is certainly—as long as each is healthy and functional enough to compete with himself/herself only and never compete with each other—just collaborate with humor and genuine respect for each other’s innate giftedness.”


“Have you read Suzanne Venker’s book “The Alpha Female's Guide to Men and Marriage?”


(No, but I will look into that this week . . . see what she has to say and how that dovetails with my own observations and study . . . and then maybe I’ll write some more on this topic.)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Alpha Partner, 3

More questions I’ve received:

“Can an alpha female ever manage being in a relationship when she is usually right and it’s obvious that her partner is making big mistakes?”


(Being right in your own mind is one thing, and, yes, it’s tough when you have a track record of usually being correct. However, your brain has no right to prevent another brain from trying their way or attempting that person to conform to your perspective. Freedom of thought is one of the few freedoms a human being really has—and a brain convinced against its will is of the same opinion still.)


“How can an alpha female partner with someone she loves and then sit back and watch them take a course of action she knows from experience will not work?”


(Every human being has the inalienable right to be unwise and to follow unfortunate courses of action. There will be consequences but an alpha female is not jury and judge. She can make a suggestion but then must be wise and healthy enough to have no agenda about whether or not the other person will take the suggestion. And she can take steps to protect herself if the course of action could negatively impact her financially—often a prenuptial agreement is wise.)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Alpha Partner, 2

These are some of the questions I’ve received latelywhich no doubt reflect current issues in our societyalong with my initial response:

“Can an alpha female ever have a good marriage?”


(I should think so—and it will require skill and strategies.)


“Can an alpha female ever manage both a career and a rewarding marriage successfully?”

(Many do. If she wants both -- and both will require skills and strategies. Those needed to be “the boss” at work, however,  differ from the skills and strategies required at home because the environments are different.)


“Can an alpha female ever become subservient enough to keep peace in a relationship?”

(Subservient is never a desirable goal in any relationship. Honest discussion with the intent never to try to control another’s perspective—is.) More tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Alpha as Partner

As one person put it: Over the last fifty years women have become more powerful in the workplace—but the divorce rate has also risen. Interestingly, estimates are that 70% of divorce actions currently are initiated by females. The reason? I doubt anyone really knows. However, a contributing factor may be that an alpha female has had to learn to make decisions and take charge. Often in the work world she is “he “boss.” This pattern may not work so well in one’s personal life, however, which becomes a real dichotomy and challenge for many alpha females. How does one “be in charge during 10-hour days at work six days a week” and then suddenly “flip that coin at home?” It’s not easy, as many women who have partnered with an alpha male understand. And the kicker is, males are often attracted to alpha females in the dating world and then want something else once they marry. More tomorrow.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Alpha Female (so called)

Comments related to Alpha Females abound. I’ve received several lately. For example:

- This country rewards alpha females.
 Alpha females are the quintessential modern women.
Alpha females are successful in today’s marketplace.
I really enjoy alpha females until we go to dinner and she wants to “go dutch” or worse yet “pay for my meal! I’m the man!”
 What can you suggest or what can I read about Alpha females ‘cuz they’re tough to be married to or partnered with!

Alpha females can be just as problematic as are Alpha males. Both are often very assertive, quick, sharp, and try to be in control because it feels safer—even though much of “control” is illusion. More tomorrow.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bumper Stickers, 3

  • Humans come into the world naked, wet, and hungry—then things get sticky.
  • Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.
  • Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.
  • Out of my mind...Back in five minutes.
  • Hang up and pay attention to driving.
  • Take an IQ test. I did. Got an “F”
  • Ever stop to think and forget to start again?
  • Treat your kids kindly as they’ll be selecting your nursing home.
  • Always remember you're unique...Just like everyone else.
  • If you think nobody cares, miss a couple payments.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Exercise & Depression, 4

In a TV interview, the former first lady basically said that a sedentary lifestyle is killing Americans. Unfortunately, sedentary lifestyles are becoming even more common throughout the world. Rates of depression appear to be growing, as well. The results of this survey are particularly pertinent because they reveal that even small lifestyle changes can reap significant mental health benefits. Dr. Harvey, lead researcher, says they are still trying to determine the reason that exercise appears to have this protective effect. It may be due to the combined impact of the various physical and social benefits of physical activity. Harvey says he believes there is great potential to integrate exercise into individual mental health plans and broader public health campaigns. “If we can find ways to increase the population’s level of physical activity even by a small amount, then this is likely to bring substantial physical and mental health benefits.”

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Exercise & Depression, 3

Dr Samuel Harvey, lead author for the largest survey of its kind for any link between exercise and depression, said, “We’ve known for some time that exercise has a role to play in treating symptoms of depression, but this is the first time we have been able to quantify the preventative potential of physical activity in terms of reducing future levels of depression. These findings are exciting because they show that even relatively small amounts of exercise, from a minimum of one hour per week, has the potential to deliver significant protection against depression. Dr. Harvey found it fascinating that the first hour of exercise turned out to be crucial. Most of the mental health benefits of exercise were realized within the first hour of exercise undertaken each week. The researchers concluded that just one hour of exercise a week reduced the chances of developing depression by a massive 44%.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Exercise & Depression, 2

In the largest survey of its kind, researchers monitored 33,908 “healthy” Norwegians for more than 11 years. The cohort of adults were selected on the basis of having no symptoms of common mental disorder or limiting physical health conditions. Validated measures of exercise, depression, anxiety, and a range of potential confounding and mediating factors were collected. The practice of regular leisure-time exercise was associated with a reduced incidence of future depression but not of anxiety. The majority of this protective effect occurred at low levels of exercise and was observed regardless of intensity. After adjustment for confounders, the population attributable fraction suggests that, assuming the relationship is causal, researchers estimated that 12% of future cases of depression could have been prevented by just one hour of exercise per week. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Exercise & Depression

Dr. Samuel Harvey is the lead author of a study that evaluated the impact of exercise on depression and anxiety. The results were reported this month on line. According to the study abstract, the purpose of this study was to address:

1)   whether exercise provides protection against new-onset depression and anxiety

2) if so, the intensity and amount of exercise required to gain protection

3) The mechanisms that underlie any association between exercise, depression, and anxiety.

In the largest survey of its kind, the anxiety and depression levels of 33,908 Norwegians were monitored for more than 11 years.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Lectins, 2

Lectins may be harmful, at least for some people, if consumed in excess in uncooked or improperly-cooked forms. Some think that the negative effects of lectins are due to gastrointestinal distress through interaction of the lectins with cells in the intestines. Symptoms of toxicity may include diarrhea, nausea, bloating, and vomiting. Some have suggested that there are ways to reduce the toxicity of lectins. For example: soaking legumes and beans for a couple of hours in water with a little added lemon juice and then cooking them in a pressure cooker. Thinking back to my childhood, I recall that my mother always cooked legumes and beans in a pressure cooker. I think I’ll get one and try doing this myself. Can’t hurt!

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Lectin is the name for a type of protein that is concentrated more in some foods than others. Foods with the highest lectin activity include: grains (especially wheat), legumes (especially soy), some nuts, dairy, and nightshades (e.g. eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, etc.). The frequent consumption of large amounts of lectins has been shown potentially to damage the lining of the digestive system. An article published in April of 2017 suggests that lectins can cause disease. Some lectins can actually move through the intestinal wall and even deposit themselves in distant organs. If you are interested more information can be found at this link.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Rat Leptin Studies

Studies with rats have shown that Leptin resistance (in combination with insulin resistance and weight gain) is seen in rats after they are given unlimited access to palatable, energy-dense foods. This effect can be reversed when the rats are again fed a better diet and are not given unlimited access to the food. This suggests the value of human beings moving toward a balanced intake of foods that are unrefined along with appropriate portion control. Interestingly, this approach is what is mirrored in the Longevity Lifestyle Matters program. Studies in 2008 (led by Shapiro) and in 2010 (led by Oswal) suggest that that the main role of leptin is to act as a starvation signal when levels are low and to help maintain fat stores for survival, rather than a satiety signal to prevent overeating. Leptin levels signal when an animal has enough stored energy to spend it in pursuits besides acquiring food.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Leptin Sensitivity

In obesity, a decreased sensitivity to leptin can occur. The consequences of this result in the person’s inability to detect satiety, even though there may be high energy stores. No surprise, any decline in the level of circulating leptin impacts brain activity in areas that involve the cognitive and/or emotional control of appetite. In 1996 a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine [334 (5): 292–5] reported that while leptin typically reduces appetite as a circulating signal, obese individuals generally exhibit a higher circulating concentration of leptin than normal weight individuals This is likely due to their higher percentage of body fat. In addition, they also ten to show leptin resistance similar to the insulin resistance seen in people with type 2 diabetes. However, the elevated levels of leptin fail to control hunger or modulate their weight.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Leptin vs Lectin

I know it can be confusing since there is only a one-letter difference between these two words. It’s worth paying attention to what they mean or represent, however. Leptin is an extremely vital and valuable hormone. When you hear the word Leptin, think “thin.” Really. Because it comes from a Greek word meaning thin. Made by fat cells, this substance—known as the “satiety hormone” is designed to put on the hunger brakes. Leptin is opposite—no surprise—from grehlin, its opposing hormone known as the “hunger hormone.” Both hormones can bind to receptors in the hypothalamus to regulate appetite: Grehlin pushes you to eat; leptin says that you have enough energy and need no more food. More tomorrow.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Brain and Hugs, 2

Sheldon Cohen, who led the study on hugging at Carnegie Mellon University, said that the research” suggests that being hugged by a trusted person may act as an effective means of conveying support and that increasing the frequency of hugs might be an effective means of reducing the deleterious effects of stress. The apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioral indicator of support and intimacy. Either way, those who receive more hugs are somewhat more protected from infection." “But I live alone and there’s no one to hug,” some say. That may be a challenge although just because you live with someone doesn’t guarantee a good hug. There are families that live together but fail to hug each other. Fortunately, I have a few relatives and a couple close friends who are skilled huggers—it’s both an art and a science and may be the ultimate “being rather than doing” affirmation. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Brain and Hugs

Research at Carnegie Mellon University studying the impact of conflict and social support—including hugging by trusted persons. Lead researcher Sheldon Cohen and associates assessed 404 healthy individuals including the frequencies of interpersonal conflicts and receiving hugs. The 404 participants were then exposed to a cold virus and quarantined to assess for infection and symptoms of illness. They found?

  • Perceived social support reduced the risk of infection associated with experiencing conflicts. Hugs were responsible for one-third of the protective effect of social support

  • Among participants who became infected, greater perceived social support and more frequent hugs both resulted in less severe illness symptoms whether or not they experienced conflicts 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Are You A ‘Hugger?’

"Are you a “hugger?” Did you come from a family of “huggers?” Growing up I hugged my pets (the ones that were huggable – it’s a tad difficult to hug a snail or a box turtle or even a parakeet!) I sometimes hugged close friends (but not always as hugging was never a measure of how much I cared about and valued a specific individual). It’s commonly understood that ongoing stressors such as conflict with others can reduce immune system function and increase the risk of infection. And the brain and immune system have their hands in each other's pockets, so to speak. Recently research by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University looked at conflict and social support—including hugging by trusted persons—and its association with risk of infection and with severity of illness symptoms. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Tell Your Brain to Sleep

“Don’t Sleep Well!” I hear this from people all over the world! My first response is “Stop telling your brain anything that you do not wish to be true.” When you say ‘I don’t sleep well,’ a representation of what they means goes into working memory, located directly behind your forehead. Your brain perceives that ‘if you put it into working memory it must be information to you,’ and the brain does everything it can to help you achieve that goal. In this case, not sleeping well. Therefore, knowing that sleep is independently linked with longevity and that your brain appears to be cleared of toxins during sleep, change what you tell your brain. It can only do what it thinks it can do and you tell it what it can do through your thoughts, self-talk, and directions to your brain. I perceive of my brain as a connected although separate entity so I talk to my brain using the pronoun you. Most nights I tell my brain: “Arlene, you are falling asleep quickly and easily and waking up at ____________ am.” And in most cases that’s exactly what happens.