The 7 Keys To A Long And Healthy Life: Sleep

Sleep is such an integrated part of our lives that we tend to not give it much thought. Some people get just a few hours of sleep, and some are able to function on even less. What’s the big deal, anyway? We all get at least a bit of sleep, right? Does sleep really matter? If so, what’s considered “enough” sleep and is it possible to get too much?

In a previous article, we discussed the seven keys to longevity found by the Alameda County Health Study. The keys were:

  1. Sleeping seven to eight hours per night
  2. No eating between meals
  3. Eating regular breakfasts
  4. Maintaining a proper weight
  5. Exercising regularly
  6. Moderate or no drinking of alcohol
  7. Not smoking

Let’s start with number one: sleep.

How much sleep do you need?  

Studies have shown that it is possible to get too little and too much sleep, but in general, six to nine hours of sleep tend to be ideal for most people. It was shown that those that got less than six hours of sleep or more than nine hours of sleep had 60-70% increased the risk of dying during the nine-year period of the study. 1

The importance of sleep versus exercise

Can getting proper sleep be as important as exercise? In men, it was found that too much or too little sleep carried the same risk to of dying as not exercising regularly. Within the nine-year period of the study, those that did not exercise regularly were found to have a 50% increased risk of dying compared to those that exercise regularly.1

From this data, it appears that getting proper sleep can be even more important than exercise in order to preserve life and vitality. Obviously, getting both proper rest and exercise would be even better! In fact, they’re connected. Getting an hour of exercise can boost your natural melatonin levels by two or three times!Melatonin has been shown to increase sleep quality and is also linked to increased longevity.3

The link between sleep and stroke risk

Researchers have been increasingly interested in sleep and its effect on health. In a recent study, scientists in Japan followed 100,000 middle-aged men and women for fourteen years. Upon observation, those that got four or fewer hours of sleep and those that got ten or more hours of sleep had a 50% increased risk of dying from stroke.4

In 2014 a similar study was conducted among 150,000 Americans. Individuals that slept for six hours or less or more than nine hours had the highest stroke risk. The lowest risk was found among those that got seven to eight hours of sleep per night.5 Other studies conducted in China, Europe, and elsewhere have confirmed that seven to eight hours of sleep is optimal for health and longevity.

Tips for better sleep 

  • Make sure to get natural light during the day and avoid nighttime light exposure, such as light from television and phone screens. This has been shown to boost melatonin production. 6
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat foods with natural melatonin, like oats, corn, rice, ginger, tomatoes, bananas, and barley). 7
  • Sleep as early as possible. In general, the closer your bedtime is to sundown, the better for restful sleep. You know what they say, “Early to bed, early to rise.”
  • Eat foods high in tryptophan, such as tofu, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, and black walnuts. Tryptophan is one of the eight essential amino acids and is a precursor for melatonin production.

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Global Wellness Day

Have you heard of “Global Wellness Day”? Wellness is far more than spa and beauty. They define wellness as:

“Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices towards a healthy and fulfilling life.  It is more than being free from illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth. A good or satisfactory condition of existence; a state characterized by health, happiness, and prosperity; welfare.

“Wellness is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” – The World Health Organization.”

In their 7 step manifesto they promote

  1. walking an hour a day
  2. drinking more water
  3. don’t use plastic bottles
  4. eat healthy food
  5. do a good deed
  6. have a family dinner with your loved ones
  7. sleep at 10:00pm

Sound familiar to anything you know?

This year its on Saturday June 10. Is there a way we can use this to connect with people?

Check out there website for more info at http://www.globalwellnessday.org

Successful long-term learning happens after sleeping

Credit: xiaphias/WikipediaResearchers

Successful long-term learning happens after sleeping on the new material from the University of London. 

Academics from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway taught a group of people new words from a fictional language, which unknown to them, was characterised by a rule relating the new words to one another. They found that although learners became aware of the rule within the new language shortly after being taught it, they were unable to apply it to understanding new, untrained words until after a period of rest.Kathy Rastle, Professor of Cognitive Psychology at Royal Holloway, said: “Teachers have long suspected that proper rest is critical for successful learning. Our research provides some experimental support for this notion. Participants in our experiments were able to identify the hidden rule shortly after learning. However, it was not until they were tested a week after training that participants were able to use that rule to understand a totally new word from the fictional language when it was presented in a sentence.”She added: “This result shows that the key processes that underpin long-term learning of general knowledge arise outside of the classroom, sometime after learning, and may be associated with brain processes that arise during sleep.”

More: Successful long-term learning happens after sleeping on the new material

Your brain transports special liquids only during sleep

I saw this talk in San Francisco and it was one of the most amazing new findings I recently heard of:

At TEDMED 2014, neuroscientist Jeff Iliff illuminates a newly discovered, critical function of the brain during sleep, a natural cleansing system that keeps toxic proteins at bay.

The other side of stress

Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

Bats not bothered by forest fires, study finds

A survey of bat activity in burned and unburned areas after a major wildfire in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains found no evidence of detrimental effects on bats one year after the fire. The findings suggest that bats are resilient to high-severity fire, and some species may even benefit from the effects of fire on the landscape.

 

The study, led by bat ecologist Winifred Frick of the University of California, Santa Cruz, will be published in the journal PLOS ONE on March 6. The findings are important because current understanding of how wildlife responds to fire is based almost entirely on studies of a limited number of species, most of them birds, Frick said. Bats make up a large component of mammalian diversity in forest ecosystems, where they play an important role as insect predators.

“This is the first study to directly address species-level response by bats to stand-replacing fire, and our results show that moderate to high-severity fire has neutral or positive impacts on a suite of bat species,” Frick said.

Studies that show how animals respond to fire help inform the ongoing public policy debate over the role of fire in ecosystem management and whether fires should be suppressed or allowed to burn on public lands, according to coauthor Joseph Fontaine, a fire ecologist at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.

“A great deal of tension exists between public land managers, environmental groups, and other stakeholders–including homeowners, ranching interests, and the timber industry–over allowing stand-replacing crown fires on public forests,” Fontaine said. “This study fills a critical gap on how fire affects an important group of animals.”

The researchers conducted the study in an area of Sequoia and Inyo National Forests where the 2002 McNally Fire burned more than 150,000 acres. The fire burned with mixed severity, leaving a mosaic of low- to high-severity damage, as well as patches of unburned forest. The study compared bat foraging activity in areas of unburned, moderately burned, and severely burned forest.

The researchers conducted surveys in 2003, using high-frequency microphones to record the ultrasonic echolocation pulses that bats use to hunt insects. Of the 16 bat species known to live in the area, some have distinctive sonic signatures, while others can be sorted into groups with similar echolocation sounds and foraging behaviors. In this study, the researchers identified six “phonic groups,” including three individual species and three groups of species.

The results showed that the responses of the six phonic groups to moderate and high-severity fire were either neutral or positive. The heterogeneity such fires create in the landscape may be an important feature, resulting in a habitat structure that benefits a range of species, Frick said.

“Bats could be resilient to this kind of natural disturbance,” she said. “We go out there and see a charred landscape and we think it’s totally destroyed, but the bats may find it a productive habitat for their needs.”

Some species seem to prefer burned areas for foraging. This could be due to reduced clutter and increased availability of prey and roosts after a fire, although further research on these topics is needed, according to coauthor Michael Buchalski, a doctoral student at Western Michigan University. “Fire may provide a pulse of insects immediately after the fire and create roosting habitat later on as snags decay and their bark peels back,” he said.

Buchalski and Fontaine share first authorship of the paper. Frick led the survey of echolocation activity, and coauthors Paul Heady of the Central Coast Bat Research Group and John Hayes of the University of Florida also contributed to the study.

Tim Stephens | Quelle: EurekAlert!
Weitere Informationen: www.ucsc.edu