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.

  1. Claustrat B, Brun J, et al. Melatonin and jet lag: confirmatory results using a simplified protocol. Biol Psychiatry. 1992 Oct 15; 32(8):705-711.
  2. Carr DB, Reppert SM, et al. Plasma melatonin increases during exercise in women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1981 Jul;53(1):224-225.
  3. Reiter RJ. The ageing pineal gland and its physiological consequences. Bioessays 1992 Mar;14(3):169-175.
  4. Ikehara S, Iso H, Date C, et al. JACC Study Group. Association f sleep duration with mortality from cardiovascular disease and other causes for Japanese men and women: the JACC study. Sleep. 2009;32(3):295-301.
  5. Fang J, Wheaton AG, Ayala C. Sleep duration and history of stroke among adults from the USA. J Sleep Res. 2014;23(5):531-7.
  6. Lewy AJ, Wehr TA, et al. Light suppresses melatonin secretion in humans. Science.1980 Dec12;210(4475):1267-1269.
  7. Dubbels R, Reiter RJ, et al. Melatonin in edible plants identified by radioimmunoassay and by high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. J Pineal Res. 1995 Jan;18(1):28-31.



How brains see

At the micro-scale the brain is a mess; a thick tangle of nerve cells connected at synapses. Mapping just a tiny portion of this mess, a few hundred cells, is a huge challenge. You have to wonder if it’s worth the effort. But seeing exactly how brain cells are wired together is giving us new insights into brain function. The researchers who made the 3D maps in this video discovered a new type of cell and worked out how insects see movement. If you’ve ever tried to swat a fly you’ll know how good they are at sensing motion!

Read about the three studies on our website:…

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.

Anxiety and sleeping pills ‘linked to dementia’

pillsLong-term use of pills for anxiety and sleep problems may be linked to Alzheimer’s, research suggests.

A study of older Canadian adults found that past benzodiazepine use for three months or more was linked to an increased risk (up to 51%) of dementia. NHS guidelines say the drugs should be used for eight to 12 weeks at most. The French-Canadian team says while the link is not definitive, it is another warning that treatments should not exceed three months. “Benzodiazepine use is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” lead researcher, Sophie Billioti de Gage of the University of Bordeaux, France, and colleagues wrote in the BMJ.

“This study shows an apparent link between the use of benzodiazepines and Alzheimer’s disease although it’s hard to know the underlying reason behind the link.” Dr Eric KarranAlzheimer’s Research UK

“Unwarranted long-term use of these drugs should be considered as a public health concern.” The study involved about 2,000 cases of Alzheimer’s disease in adults aged over 66 living in Quebec. All had been prescribed benzodiazepines. They were compared with about 7,000 healthy people of the same age living in the same community. While an increased risk was found in those on benzodiazepines, the nature of the link was unclear.

Dr Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This study shows an apparent link between the use of benzodiazepines and Alzheimer’s disease although it’s hard to know the underlying reason behind the link. “One limitation of this study is that benzodiazepines treat symptoms such as anxiety and sleep disturbance, which may also be early indicators of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Long-term use

Prof Guy Goodwin, president of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, said the findings “could mean that the drugs cause the disease, but is more likely to mean that the drugs are being given to people who are already ill”.

Dr James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said with 1.5 million people in the UK being prescribed benzodiazepines at any one time, “evidence that their long-term use increases the risk of dementia is significant, and raises questions about their use”. Benzodiazepines are used to treat anxiety disorders and insomnia. Despite published guidance on their appropriate use for short-term management, inappropriate prescribing of the drugs is still a concern. Experts are calling for better monitoring of side-effects, particularly in older adults. Source: BBC Health News

Die immensen Auswirkungen der Muttermilch auf Kind und Mutter

Empfehlung der WHO: ausschließliches Stillen während der ersten 6 Monate, d.h. keine andere Nahrung oder Flüssigkeit ➝ danach neben geeigneter Beikost bis zum Ende des 2. Lebensjahres und darüber
hinaus weiter stillen (solange Mutter und Kind es wünschen)

bei uns werden mit 6 Monaten nur noch 10% der Kinder gestillt (obwohl 85% stillend aus dem
Krankenhaus entlassen werden, danach gibt es aber gleich den ersten Knick ➝ 2 Wochen später werden nur noch 66% gestillt)

Auswirkungen auf die mütterliche Gesundheit:
•schnellere Rückbildung der Gebärmutter ➝ durch Oxytocin
•Anpassung an SchlafS/WachSRhythmus des Kindes ➝ durch Prolaktin
•mehr Gelassenheit, Stressfähigkeit ➝ ebenfalls durch Prolaktin (postnatales Depressionssyndrom
bei stillenden Frauen deutlich geringer)
•schnelleres Erreichen des Gewichtes, das man vor der Schwangerschaft hatte ➝ durch
•weniger Insulinbedarf bei diabetischen Müttern ➝ weil sie in einer anabolen Phase sind
•positiver Einfluss auf Endometriose
•Laktationsamenorrhoe und Kontrazeption
•stillende Frauen haben während der Laktation eine verringerte Knochendichte, danach kehrt sie
aber wieder zum Ausgangswert zurück
Auswirkungen auf die kindliche Gesundheit:
•Verdaulichkeit der Muttermilch ist gut ➝ fördert die Mekoniumausscheidung (Frühgeborene
haben geringere Neigung zur nekrotisierenden Enterocolitis, wenn sie mit Muttermilch ernährt
werden ➝ Milch passt sich an Bedürfnisse des Kindes an: bei Frühgeborenen andere
Zusammensetzung als bei Termingeborenen)
•weniger Allergien (Asthma)
•weniger DurchfallsS/Atemwegserkrankungen, Otitis media (weniger Paukenröhrchen , … )
•geringeres Risiko für chronischSentzündliche Darmerkrankung (Mb. Crohn, Colitis ulcerosa),
Erkrankungen des rheumatischen Formenkreises (juvenile rheumatoide Arthritis) und Diabetes
mellitus Typ 1
•weniger Inzidenz von kindliche Lymphome und Leukämien
•seltener SIDS, Vernachlässigung (bonding)
•direkte Vorteile im Krankenhaus: kürzere Nahrungskarenz vor und nach geplanter OP (weil
Muttermilch schnellere Darmpassage hat)
•weniger Arbeitsausfall berufstätiger Eltern (Kinder sind seltener krank)
•Muttermilch kostet kein Geld (Formulanahrung kostet etwa 75 Euro pro Monat)
•seltener Übergewicht/Adipositas ➝ je länger ein Kind gestillt wird, desto geringer ist das Risiko für Adipositas (unterschiedlicher Proteingehalt ➝ Muttermilch hat <1 g Protein/100 ml, während
Formulanahrung deutlich mehr enthält, nämlich 1,2S1,3 g/100 ml)

Langzeitauswirkungen auf:
•Diabetes mellitus Typ 2

Physicists push new Parkinson’s treatment toward clinical trials


The most effective way to tackle debilitating diseases is to punch them at the start and keep them from growing. Research shows that a small ‘molecular tweezer’ keeps proteins from clumping, or aggregating, the first step of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease.

Research at Michigan State University, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, shows that a small “molecular tweezer” keeps proteins from clumping, or aggregating, the first step of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease.

The results are pushing the promising molecule toward clinical trials and actually becoming a new drug, said Lisa Lapidus, MSU associate professor of physics and astronomy and co-author of the paper.

“By the time patients show symptoms and go to a doctor, aggregation already has a stronghold in their brains,” she said. “In the lab, however, we can see the first steps, at the very place where the drugs could be the most effective. This could be a strong model for fighting Parkinson’s and other diseases that involve neurotoxic aggregation. Read more.

Additional article: Michael J. Fox: No more surgery for Parkinson’s Disease

Source: Michigan State University // Science Daily resp., Photo: BMJ Learning

Molecular hub links obesity, heart disease to high blood pressure

Targeting pathway may lead to better hypertension treatments for at-risk patients

Obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure (hypertension) are all related, but understanding the molecular pathways that underlie cause and effect is complicated.

A new University of Iowa study identifies a protein within certain brain cells as a communications hub for controlling blood pressure, and suggests that abnormal activation of this protein may be a mechanism that links cardiovascular disease and obesity to elevated blood pressure.

"Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, and hypertension is a major cardiovascular risk factor," says Kamal Rahmouni, UI associate professor of pharmacology and internal medicine, and senior study author. "Our study identifies the protein called mTORC1 in the hypothalamus as a key player in the control of blood pressure. Targeting mTORC1 pathways may, therefore, be a promising strategy for the management of cardiovascular risk factors."

The hypothalamus is a small region of the brain that is responsible for maintaining normal function for numerous bodily processes, including blood pressure, body temperature, and glucose levels. Signaling of mTORC1 protein in the hypothalamus has previously been shown to affect food intake and body weight.

The new study, which was published April 2 in the journal Cell Metabolism, shows that the mTORC1 protein is activated by small molecules and hormones that are associated with obesity and cardiovascular disease, and this activation leads to dramatic increases in blood pressure.

Leucine is an amino acid that we get from food, which is known to activate mTORC1. The UI researchers showed that activating mTORC1 in rat brains with leucine increased activity in the nerves that connect the brain to the kidney, an important organ in blood pressure control. The increased nerve activity was accompanied by a rise in blood pressure. Conversely, blocking this mTORC1 activation significantly blunted leucine’s blood pressure-raising effect.

This finding may have direct clinical relevance as elevated levels of leucine have been correlated with an increased risk of high blood pressure in patients with cardiovascular disease.

"Our new study suggests a mechanism by which leucine in the bloodstream might increase blood pressure,” Rahmouni says.

Previous work has also suggested that mTORC1 is a signaling hub for leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells, which has been implicated in obesity-related hypertension.

Rahmouni and his colleagues showed that leptin activates mTORC1 in a specific part of the hypothalamus causing increased nerve activity and a rise in blood pressure. These effects are blocked by inhibiting activation of mTORC1.

“Our study shows that when this protein is either activated or inhibited in a very specific manner, it can cause dramatic changes in blood pressure,” Rahmouni says. "Given the importance of this protein for the control of blood pressure, any abnormality in its activity might explain the hypertension associated with certain conditions like obesity and cardiovascular disease."

Rahmouni and his team hope that uncovering the details of the pathways linking mTORC1 activation and high blood pressure might lead to better treatments for high blood pressure in patients with cardiovascular disease and obesity.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (HL084207 and HL014388), the American Diabetes Association, and the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center at the UI.

In addition to Rahmouni, the UI team included Shannon Harlan, Deng-Fu Guo, Donald Morgan, and Caroline Fernandes-Santos.


Kamal Rahmouni, Pharmacology, 319-353-5256

Jennifer Brown, UI Health Care Marketing and Communications, 319-356-7124

Jennifer Brown | Quelle: EurekAlert!
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