Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Brain & Daydreams

Einstein is often quoted about his belief in daydreaming. For example, he lived his daydreams in music. Many of his ideas reportedly came from daydreaming or his “thought xperiences.” I agree that imagination is more important than just knowing a bunch of facts. As Einstein pointed out, logic can get you from point A to point B, while imagination will take you everywhere. There are indications that other personages appear to have similar perspectives.

-     Deepak Chopra: Daydream, imagine, and reflect. t’s the source of infinite creativity.

-     Neil Gaiman: You get ideas from daydreaming . . .The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it.

-     Students of scripture may recall the phrase that you are as you think in your heart. That’s daydreaming.

Let 2020 be the year you learn how to daydream effectively (if you don't already do so) and give yourself permission to do it . . .



Monday, December 30, 2019

Brain & Daydreaming


I grew up being told by parents, teachers, and other adults to “stop daydreaming and get down to business!” I still do it and have felt guilt during these 50+ years. My brain still wants to do it, however. What’s the deal here?

Many human beings will likely be able to relate to your experience and  could tell a similar story—unfortunately. “You a such a daydreamer—get working!” was NOT a compliment or an encouragement to problem solve or use the creativity that is built in the brain and that needs to be honed. I compare it to being born with innate musical ability but never doing anything with that. The “deal” is that there is definitely a time to pay attention in the present moment and there is definitely a time to daydream. Many of the world's greatest scientists, inventors, writers, playwrights, and artists in almost any genre knew /or know how to “daydream!” More tomorrow.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Sleep and Holidays


Sleep and Holidays

As you know, holiday seasons change the usually routine for most people. This often means “LESS SLEEP” than usual, and a tendency toward lower quality goods and sometimes even less water intake. Studies of top-level athletes have shown that these three strategies: Sufficient intake of water, choice of high-quality foods, and adequate sleep can help you stay younger and healthier for longer. As one person put it: “You may or may not be an Olympic gold medalist, Super Bowl champion, or French Open winner, but lessons from top-tier athletes can help you achieve better performance and improve your health.” Build these strategies into your Longevity Lifestyle because it Matters.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Sleep Habits


According to the CDC, healthy sleep duration in adults can be promoted by sleep health education and behavior changes, including:

-       Setting a pattern of going to bed at the same time each night and rising at the same time each morning
-       Ensuring that the bedroom environment is quiet, dark, relaxing, and neither too hot nor too cold
-       Turning off or removing televisions, computers, mobile devices, and all distracting or light-emitting electronic devices from the bedroom
-       Avoiding large meals or late-evening meals, nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine before bedtime.
Studies have shown that difficulty falling or staying asleep can usually be resolved with improved sleep habits or psychological or behavioral therapies. If this has not been your style, you might want to implement it now and in the New Year.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Happy Day!


It’s the 25th and here in my house,
There’s gratitude—no fires to dowse.

There might be a mouse that’s creeping around,
But way down the hill where the grasses abound.

Stockings still hang from the mantle, I see
Now that lights are back onand happy are we!

The sun’s shining through a light misting of rain,
And the temperature really is quite humane.

Delightful odors of food in the air,
Ensure we’ll enjoy our holiday fare.

Deliberately add to your memory’s store,
With hugs and fun and laughter galore.

Because in the end—and time goes by fast—
The love of true friends is what really does last.  

Wherever you are and whatever you do,
I’m sending good wishes from me to you.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Sleep Duration Studies


The first CDC state-specific estimates of the prevalence of a ≥7 hour sleep duration in a 24-hour period was reported in the MMWR. It showed geographic clustering of lower prevalence estimates for this duration of sleep in the southeastern United States and in states along the Appalachian Mountains. These are regions with the highest burdens of obesity and other chronic conditions. Non-Hispanic black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and multiracial populations report a lower prevalence of ≥7 hours sleep compared with the rest of the U.S. adult population. The highest prevalence was observed in the Great Plains states.
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Liu Y., et al. Healthy Sleep Duration among Adults – United States, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:137-141. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwer.mm6506a1external icon

Monday, December 23, 2019

Quality and Quantity of Sleep


Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are that 35% of Americans are getting insufficient sleep—and that this is not only a serious problem but may be getting worse. The quality of sleep is important as well as the quantity of sleep., both of which can be related to developing healthy sleep habits. Studies have shown that “sleep extension” as well as napping can boost athletic performance (and likely performance in general) as well as recovery from the performance. Sleep extension (obtaining extra sleep for a few nights or even weeks) can help with reparation.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Sleep and Winning


According to the Sleep Foundation, the key to winning for athletes is often the quality and amount of sleep they receive. REM sleep in particular provides energy to both the brain and body. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to repair memory, consolidate memory, and release critical hormones. “A study in the journal SLEEP confirms the role of sleep in performance with results that show declines in split-second decision making following poor sleep. Results also showed increased accuracy in well-rested subjects.” No surprise, exercise depletes energy, fluids, and breaks down muscle. Plenty of water and quality nutrition for fuel are part of training and recovery. So is adequate quality sleep. Together they help maintain endurance, speed, and accuracy.

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-athletic-performance-and-recovery

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Sleep and Sports


In an article by Kate Robards, she pointed out several instances where sufficient sleep was believed to contribute to athletic success. Meeta Singh, a sleep doctor, has worked with the Nationals since 1917 to improve their sleep routines. Together they have focused on creating better sleep schedules and rethinking travel arrangements to prioritize a good night’s sleep. She wrote, “It’s not just baseball players who recognize that sleep is key to achieving peak performance. Representing a wide variety of sports, athletes such as Usain Bolt, Maria Sharapova, Michael Phelps, Steph Curry and Lindsey Vonn . . . have opened up about their sleep habits.” So, yes. Sufficient amounts of quality sleep are being linked with athletic success.

http://sleepeducation.org/news/2019/11/12/is-sleep-the-secret-to-athletic-success

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Leep and Teenagers


Sleep plays a critical role for everyone, but especially for teenagers. It impacts their health, mental set, grades, and and doing well in sports. Studies have linked electronics with sleep deprivation. An increased amount of screen time throughout the day has been linked to insomnia and symptoms of depression in adolescents. This can include social messaging, web surfing, watching TV, and gaming, in addition to using the internet for schoolwork. The presence of electronic devices in the lives of human beings—teenagers and athletes included—is here to stay. Therefore, success strategies include understanding the important of sleep to performance and developing habits that provide the appropriate balance between sleep and wakefulness.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Sleep-Athletic Link


What’s this about sleep being linked with success in athletics? I’ve read that sleep is independently linked with longevity, but athletic endeavors?

Bottom line: sufficient sleep for brain is way more important than many would believe. And, yes, studies are beginning to link adequate amounts of sleep with how successful an individual is athletically. Short sleep duration of less than seven hours per night is associated with a greater likelihood of developing obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, frequent mental distress, reduced athletic performance, and even a shortened life. There are some interesting pieces to this puzzle. For example, athletic performance appears to be best in the evening when one’s core body temperature is highest. On the other hand, training exercises done late at night interferes with the brain’s circadian rhythm. This can make it more difficult to fall asleep and, depending on when you get up in the morning, can actually result in insufficient sleep.

Monday, December 16, 2019

OUtgrowing Sleepwalking


I learned a lot about sleepwalking from your recent blogs. My mother says I outgrew sleepwalking—which I did for about 5 years during early childhood. What does that mean?

It means that sometimes sleepwalking in childhood does not continue into adulthood. The reason for this is unclear. As I mentioned earlier in a blog, studies revealed that all of the sleepwalkers in the family studied had a specific genetic code that the non-sleepwalkers did not possess. Those individuals with the specific genetic code had a 50% chance of passing it on to the next generation. The mutated gene appears to be located in chromosome 20 but further studies are needed to identify the exact location of the gene in chromosome 20. The studies also noted that individuals who were sleepwalkers in childhood did not always continue as adult sleepwalkers—that is, they outgrew sleepwalking just as you did. Studies continue as some believe this means several other genes may be involved beyond the one mutant gene located in chromosome 20. All interesting . . . 

Friday, December 13, 2019

Adult Sleepwalking, 13


Results of Dr. Dauvilliers’ research:

     22.8 percent of sleepwalkers studied presented with nightly episodes
     43.5 percent presented with weekly episodes.
     58 percent had a positive history of violent sleep related behaviors was found in 58 percent
     17 percent with violent sleep-related behaviors had experienced at least one episode involving injuries to the sleepwalker or to the bed partner that required medical care.

The injuries that were reported related to sleep walking included, bruises, nose bleeds, and fractures (one participant had sustained multiple fractures and serious head trauma after jumping out of a third-floor window.” According to the lead researcher, “Sleepwalking is an underdiagnosed condition that may be clearly associated with daytime consequences and mood disturbances leading to a major impact on quality of lifeThe burden of sleepwalking in adults needs to be highlighted and emphasized.”

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Adult Sleepwalking, 7


Sleepwalking does tend to run in families. In addition, some individuals seem to be more susceptible than others although contributing factors for this have not specifically been identified. A study published in the British Journal of Psychology concluded that a first-degree relative of a sleepwalker is ten times more likely to sleepwalk than the rest of the population. A study published in the journal Neurology concluded that twins are more likely to sleepwalk than non-twin siblings. Back to the original question, my brain’s opinion is that adults who sleepwalk need to be evaluated by health care professionals competent in the field, especially since additional information is being identified related to this potentially serious that may induce violent behaviors and affect health-related quality of life.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Adult Sleepwalking, 6


Sleepwalking is a common parasomnia affecting up to four percent of adults. It involves complex behaviors that occur during arousals from non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. During an episode of sleepwalking the brain is partially awake, resulting in complex behaviors, and partially in NREM sleep with no conscious awareness of actions. Triggering factors that increased both the frequency and severity of episodes were reported in 59 percent of the study participants. These factors , related mainly to:

    - stressful events
    - strong positive emotions
    - sleep deprivation
    - drug or alcohol intake
    - intense evening physical activity

Such factors tend to promote increased slow wave sleep (SWS) and NREM sleep instability.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Adult sleepwalking, 5


The reported largest prospective cohort study on adult sleepwalkers seen in a clinic, the results of which appeared in the journal SLEEP, involved a case-control study of 100 adult patients in whom primary sleepwalking was diagnosed from June 2007 to January 2011. 

Exclusion criteria included a positive clinical history of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), a similar parasomnia that involves violent dream-related behaviors emerging during REM sleep. 

The age of the sleepwalkers ranged from 18 to 58 years with a median age of 30. Results were compared with 100 healthy control subjects without any history of sleepwalking. More tomorrow.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Adult Sleepwalking, 4


A variety of undesirable symptoms can accompany sleepwalking. When compared with a control group of non-sleepwalkers, symptoms for sleepwalkers may include:

     A higher frequency of daytime sleepiness
     Generalized fatigue,
     Insomnia,
     Symptoms of anxiety and depression
     Lowered quality of life.
     Placing themselves in harm’s way
     Acting out dangerous behaviors

Dr. Dauvilliers has pointed out that “Adult sleepwalking is a potentially serious condition and the consequences of sleepwalking episodes should not be ignored.”

Friday, December 6, 2019

Brain & Adult Sleepwalking, 3



Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine explored the theory that genetics plays a role in the sleep disorder of “sleepwalking.” To do this, they went on a genome-wide search and studied the DNA of a large family of sleepwalkers. Interestingly, they discovered that there was a DNA difference between sleepwalkers and non-sleepwalkers. They discovered that all of the sleepwalkers in the family studied had a specific genetic code that the non-sleepwalkers did not possess. Those individuals with the specific genetic code had a 50% chance of passing it on to the next generation. The mutated gene appears to be located in chromosome 20. Now the task will be to identify the exact location of the mutated gene.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Brain & Adult Sleepwalking, 2



Some apparently have thought it to be a type of wild goose chase if not overkill to attempt to locate the underpinnings or contributors of sleepwalking, especially since for most children who exhibit this behavior, they tend to outgrow it by puberty. . However, others say that sleepwalking is not a “benign behavior” for everyone. In the Washington University School of Medicine, researchers studied the behavior of a 12-yar-old girl who sleepwalks. They found that she leaves the house and wanders around the neighborhood, all the while being  completely unaware of what she is doing. Furthermore, she has absolutely no memory of having done so when she wakes up. For some individuals, such parasomnia behaviors dramatically interfere with their lives and can even be life threatening. However, if a specific gene(s) can be identified, then researchers believe that treatment that focuses on the cause rather than just the symptoms be able to be developed.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Brain & Adult Sleepwalking



I have a grandchild who walks in her sleep, wand I appreciated your comments about that. However, I also have an adult niece who sleepwalks. What about sleepwalking in adults? Has that been studied?

Among other researchers, Dr. Dauvilliers, professor of physiology and neurology and director of the sleep lab at Gui-de-Chauliac Hospital in Montpellier, France, was principal investigator and author of a study on adult sleepwalking. In a nutshell, conclusions were that adult sleepwalking is a potentially serious condition that may induce violent behaviors and affect health-related quality of life. According to A. Kales in the British Journal of Psychology, sleepwalking and night terrors share a common genetic predisposition. Sleepwalking appears to be a more prevalent and less severe manifestation of night terrors. Inherited factors appear to predispose a person to develop sleepwalking or night terrors. However, how these traits are expressed may be influenced by factors in the person’s environment.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Brain and SAD, 2



Where to look for light boxes used in light-box therapy? Have your asked your physician to point you in a helpful direction? Personally, I neither evaluate nor recommend specific products or treatments. However, I do know that Amazon.com carries a whole range of light therapy boxes. And studies have shown light therapy to be helpful in SAD as well as for bipolar depression and depressions that have been very treatment resistance. Nothing works for every brain because every brain on the planet is different. But the answer is always “no” unless you have tried something for your brain.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4998929/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/in-depth/seasonal-affective-disorder-treatment/art-20048298

https://www.verywellmind.com/light-therapy-for-bipolar-disorder-380665

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Brain and SAD


Do people with SAD really benefit by light-box therapy? It seems ridiculous to me but I am also exhausted from being depressed! I wouldn’t know where to start looking!

When sunlight enters the eye, it triggers the Circadian rhythm clock, that not only wakes up the brain but tends to result in a pleasant mood.  Studies have shown that some brains are very susceptible to the lack of sufficient sunlight, due to living in the arctic circle or in other parts of the globe where the days are very short. This can result in the development of SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, which tends to result in depression during very short days in the winter months and tends to lighten up as the days become longer and more sunlight is available. Light therapy has been used for decades to treat this type of light-deprivation depression.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Dangling Participles V – a grammatical faux pas 
  •       Spitting out hot lava, the ranger took pictures as the volcano exploded.
  •        When in third grade, my aunt went back to college.
  •        Starting out over the ocean, the hurricane force winds were terrifying.
  •        She saw a puppy and a kitchen on the way to the store.
  •        She wore a purple sunhat on her head, which was clearly too large.
  •        The policeman was riding a motorcycle with a broken leg.
  •        Please use caution when hunting pedestrians on walking trails.




Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thankgiving



Quite frankly, I cannot think of much to be thankful about today. The world is in a mess, to say nothing of the US, and Australia and California due to all the fires. Just saying!

Well, “Just saying,” I have many things for which to be thankful. I have outlived my parents and am in good health. I am privileged to write and speak, sharing brain function with other brains that can make their lives better—if they practically apply it. I have a wonderful family of choice, and although we cannot all be together on Thanksgiving, I know they are thinking of me and I am definitely thinking of them. My home was not destroyed in the California earthquake or the many fires—although I had to evacuate several times. Everywhere I look there are those less fortunate than I am and on this day I am doing what I can to brighten their day. Are you looking down and back or up and forward? It’s your choice.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Parkinson's and Essential Tremor, 2


Is there a difference between Parkinson’s Disease and Essential Tremor? If so, can they explained in language that a lay person can understand?

Good question. There have been multiple studies and many descriptions of these two conditions. Essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease are both neurological conditions. It so happens that tremors are a characteristic feature of both. One description pointed out that Essential Tremor has an autosomal dominant trait (e.g., a pattern of inheritance in which an affected individual has one copy of a mutant gene and one normal gene on a pair of autosomal chromosomes). Parkinson’s disease appears not to have this pattern of inheritance and is related to dopamine. The characteristic clinical feature of Essential Tremor is bilateral, low amplitude tremor, prominently in the upper limbs. Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that can eventually include cognitive impairments as well—especially in the late stages.  The reference below is written in easy-to-understand language.
https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-essential-tremor-and-parkinsons-disease/

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Parkinson's and Essential Tremor



Is there anything new about treating these tremors? The medication is killing me and doing little good and my hand shakes so badly I need someone to hold my arm steady just so I can put a pill into my mouth!

Essentially tremor is a challenge that most people have no idea about when they neither have it or know someone with Parkinson’s. Late last year, the FDA reportedly approved a new noninvasive treatment for both types of tremors. Known as Noninvasive Exablate Neuro, it utilizes MRI to guide ultrasound waves directly to the areas of the brain that are most affective. It destroys misfiring brain cells without requiring the opening of the skull or the implanting of electrodes, both of which require opening the skull. You might want to discuss this with your Neurologist and see if you are a candidate for this relatively new procedure.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Brain and Music Recognition


Brain and Music Recognition

Does anything different happen in the brain when it hears familiar versus unfamiliar music?

Good question. A study showed a couple of things show that the brain has recognized a piece of familiar music. According to the abstract, researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) and pupillometry to reveal the temporal signatures of the brain processes that allow differentiation between a familiar, well liked, and an unfamiliar piece of music. Professor Chait pointed out that the eye pupil dilated within 100-300 milliseconds after the start of a song if the subject recognized a familiar song; and a burst of electrical activity in the brain occurred around 500-800 milliseconds after the start of the song. These effects do not occur when the brain does not recognize familiar music. So, yes, something different does happen in the brain when it recognizes familiar music--especially when it likes the music!