Saturday December 16, 2017

Sleep benefits: People who love sleeping have another reason to doze off!

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New Delhi: Sleep is said to take one-third of our life. And there must be a good reason why nature makes us sleep for this long. A large number of studies all over the world has shown the beneficial effects of good sleep.

Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, results in impairment of judgement, depression, heart problems, obesity and a drastic reduction in the general well-being of an individual. In an extreme case, sleep deprivation has also resulted in death through heart failure. In fact, the first sign of sickness is fretful sleep.

How lack of sleep produces ill health has remained a mystery. Now, slowly, scientific investigations are solving this puzzle.

One of the accepted theories so far has been that sleep helps in both consolidation and removal of memories. We perceive the world during the day through our senses and it results in memory formation both shallow and deep. Sleep, it seems, helps in consolidating and removing some of these memories uncluttering the brain.

Another recent, but fascinating, theory (backed with experiments) has shown that sleep helps in flushing out toxic protein waste and biological debris from the brain, formed during waking hours. It seems that during sleep the relaxation of the brain helps in opening up the channels through which the debris flows into the blood streams and is removed from it.

Studies have also shown that sleep helps flush out harmful protein plaque (beta amyloid) which is responsible for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Thus good sleep is extremely essential for a healthy brain and body.

The build-up of toxins in the brain due to inadequate sleep also affects the body. Though there is very little understanding of how this happens, a probable cause is the passage of this information by the vagus nerve to different parts of the body.

Scientific investigations have also shown that information of any slight change in the brain chemistry is transmitted to various organs by the vagus nerve, which plays an important part in keeping the brain and body in unison.

As the brain starts getting affected by the debris build-up, the message via the vagus nerve to various organs might be to slow them down, resulting in their lethargic action.

Just like deep sleep, meditation also enables dissolution of memories. In fact, deep sleep and meditation have similar characteristics and it is quite possible that during meditation the flushing of toxins from the brain may also take place.

A possible mechanism could be that since meditation results in the relaxation of the brain, it may help in opening up the channels for flushing off the chemical debris.

Memory is formed both by producing new neural pathways and certain chemical changes in the brain. Memory removal, therefore, is affected by changes in both these mechanisms.

In deep meditation (where the focus is on a single thought for a long time, also called Sanyam) new neural pathways are formed and the old ones get dissolved. This dissolution may have a chemical signature thereby producing toxic debris which needs to be flushed out.

How can we induce good sleep? Generally, when the body is healthy and the person follows a good exercise regime, then this helps to produce deep sleep. Production of deep sleep can also be helped by meditation. Studies world over have shown that long-term practice of meditation helps in toning both the mind and body.

A good meditation practice to follow for quickly falling asleep is to close the eyes and focus attention on the center of the forehead. This can be done just before going to sleep and also when one wakes up at night and has difficulty in falling asleep again. (Anil K Rajvanshi, IANS)

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Depression related to brain mechanism, identified by a new research

Brain mechanism is identified as the reason behind depression which has been found by a new research

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Depression related to brain mechanism.
Depression related to brain mechanism. IANS
  • A new research finds out the relation between brain mechanism and depression
  • Brain and memory related areas involved in depression

London, Dec 13, 2017: People suffer from major depressive disorders because of alterations in the activity and connectivity of brain systems underlying reward and memory, suggests new research.

The findings, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, provide clues as to which regions of the brain could be at the root of symptoms, such as reduced happiness and pleasure, or negative memories, in depression.

For the study, the researchers used a new approach to measure the influence of one brain region on another, referred to as effective connectivity, in depression.

The approach goes beyond the limitations of previous brain imaging studies, which show if — but not how — activity of different brain regions is related.

“The new method allows the effect of one brain region on another to be measured in depression, in order to discover more about which brain systems make causal contributions to depression,” said one of the researchers Edmund Rolls, Professor at University of Warwick in England.

The researchers compared 336 people with major depressive disorder to 350 healthy controls.

Brain regions involved in reward and subjective pleasure received less drive (or reduced effective connectivity) in patients, which may contribute to the decreased feeling of happiness in depression, the study showed.

In addition, brain regions involved in punishment and responses when a reward is not received had increased activity, providing evidence for the source of sadness that occurs in the disorder.

Memory-related areas of the brain had increased activity and connectivity in people with depression, which the authors suggest may be related to heightened memory processing, possibly of unpleasant memories, in depression.

“These findings are part of a concerted approach to better understand the brain mechanisms related to depression, and thereby to lead to new ways of understanding and treating depression,” Rolls said. (IANS)

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Poor Dental Health can Lead to Obesity in Children

The study found a direct relationship between poor dental health leading to a rise in BMI (Body Mass Index) and extra body fat.

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Poor Dental Health can Lead to Obesity in Children
Poor Dental Health can Lead to Obesity in Children. Pixabay
  • Worried about your child’s obesity problems? It’s high time you curbed his love for sugary drinks and junk food. A little focus on dental care may also prevent your child gaining excess weight, says a new study.

The study found a direct relationship between poor dental health leading to a rise in BMI (Body Mass Index) and extra body fat.

“Weight can be a sensitive subject, but if you talk about eating behaviors alongside dental health, you are looking at the issue from a different angle,” said Louise Arvidsson, a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

“The question is whether a healthy diet can have the effect also in young children. There has been a lot of focus on physical activity and mental health in children, but diet is an increasingly recognized aspect.”

The researchers reviewed the eating behavior, body fat and dental health of 271 small children. The height, weight and food intake of the children were kept under observation for one day and then checked for the prevalence of cariogenic microorganisms in saliva.

The results found that the children who had a higher amount of carries bacteria also had higher BMI and worse eating habits.

The children were suggested to consume whole grain products, 400-500 grams of fruit and vegetables per day, fish two to three times a week and a low intake of sugar and saturated fat.

Arvidsson mentioned in the thesis, conducted at the University’s Sahlgrenska Academy, that with good food comes increased self-esteem, better relationships with friends and fewer emotional problems

Rather, parents who try to change the regime of their children by asking them to eat less during childhood can see serious repercussions of overweight problems in later life.(IANS)

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‘At one point, I even had suicidal thoughts and wanted to end things’, says Bollywood Actress Ileana D’Cruz

Actress Ileana D'Cruz was once suffering from depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Watch out what she has to say.

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Actress Ileana D'Cruz
Actress Ileana D'Cruz . wikimedia commons
  • Actress Ileana D’Cruz, who suffered depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder, says at one point in her life she felt suicidal.
  • But once she accepted herself, she started feeling better.

Actress Ileana D’Cruz suffered from Body Dysmorphic Disorder

At the 21st World Congress of Mental Health here on Sunday, Ileana had a tete-a-tete with Organising Chairman Sunil Mittal on her struggle with depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Ileana was also awarded the Woman of Substance Award for her efforts towards raising awareness about mental health, read a statement.

She said: “I was always a very self-conscious person and was picked on for my body type. I used to feel low and sad all the time but didn’t know I was suffering from depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder till I got help. All I wanted to do was to be accepted by everyone.

“At one point, I even had suicidal thoughts and wanted to end things. However, all of it changed when I accepted myself and what I was going through. I think that is the first step towards fighting depression.”

The “Barfi!” and “Rustom” actress said depression is “real” and people shouldn’t shy away from seeking help.

“It is a chemical imbalance in your brain and needs to be treated. Don’t sit back and think it will get okay but go get help. Like you have a sprain and go get yourself checked if you have depression, seek help,” she said, urging people to be like Winnie the Pooh. “He wore a crop top, ate his favorite food all day and loved himself, you can too.”

Ileana D’Cruz, whose mother was her biggest pillar of strength throughout, also said imperfections are a part of life.

“I am not saying that I had this miraculous recovery, every day is a process, every day is a step towards healing yourself and getting better. You are a human being and are allowed to be imperfect, and you are allowed to be flawed. There is a lot of beauty in your imperfections, in your uniqueness.

“You may look at us actors and think that ‘Oh my God, they are so pretty, so perfect’. But that’s not how it is. It takes two hours to get ready and look like this. Love yourself for who you are and trust me if you are happy from within, you are the most beautiful person and your smile is your best asset.”

Ileana D’Cruz said she decided to open up about her struggle because “as someone people look up to, even if I can help a handful of people cope, it is worth talking about it”.

The World Congress was organized by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), a global alliance of mental health professionals, national health associations, NGOs, policy experts and other institutions.( IANS)