What chronic lack of sleep can cause to our overall health?

It’s been estimated that an average person spends a third of their life sleeping. Surprised? Don’t be: sleep plays a major role in healing, recovery, and recharge of both the body and the nervous system; as such, a decent nightly shuteye is integral to lasting health. Unfortunately, sleep is the first aspect of a healthy lifestyle that flies out the window when stress goes up a notch or work agenda takes a twist for the busier. And while an odd sleepless night won’t kill you, chronic lack of sleep can claim a hefty toll on your long-term wellbeing, emotional health, and brain function.

In case you have a habit of burning the candle at both ends, you may want to check out the effects of sleep deprivation on your organism listed below and take steps to improve your sleep quality and prevent large-scale damage before it’s too late.

The High Health Cost of Sleep Deprivation

Chronic lack of sleep won’t just chip off chunks of your physical and mental health: according to Harvard Medical School, getting too few Zzzs every night can shave your lifespan and increase the risk of mortality by as many as 15%. In addition to that, sleep deprivation can compromise almost every aspect of your wellbeing and contribute to a range of chronic conditions that will take more time to remedy than a simple bedtime routine tweak.

Here are only a few effects of lack of sleep to help you get a better idea of the extent of damage you can cause to your body by not allowing it to rest properly.

Immune System Dips

Unless you allow your body sufficient time to rest and recover, the immune system will be the first to suffer. Fewer than five or six hours of nighttime rest will increase your organism’s sensitivity to viruses and bacterial infections, which may leave you bed-locked and fever-ridden for days.

Anxiety and Depression

Mood swings are another telltale sign that you’re not getting enough sleep. Unless you take the steps to improve the quality of your nightly rest, mood oscillations can evolve into depression, anxiety, and memory problems.

Cognitive Function Issues

Sleep allows neurons in your brain to rest and replenish, so if you’re cutting your Zzzs short, your cognitive function may suffer. Apart from fatigue-induced focus dips, chronic lack of sleep can contribute to the development of memory problems, brain fog, and even hallucinations.

Diabetes and Weight Gain

If denied sufficient time to replenish through sleep, your brain will signal to your body that it needs more easily digestible fuel, which is a shortcut to weight gain and onset of diabetes type 2, both of which can lead to a host of other health complications and trim your lifespan by a few years.

Cardiovascular Hitches

Sleeping less than five or six hours a night can lead to elevated blood pressure and heart rate. With those factors in the mix, heart disease, arrhythmia, and stroke are not far away either. Drops in body temperature are one of the first symptoms that your body needs more sleep, so don’t take your sleep sessions lightly if you want to keep your cardiovascular health in check.

Tips to Unleash Superior Sleep Quality

Improving sleep quality isn’t an overnight affair, especially if the symptoms are already starting to show. In case you’re tossing and turning in bed every night, here are some tips which you can try to hack proper rest and prevent sleeplessness from evolving into a serious health issue.

Lay off Caffeine, Nicotine, and Alcohol

Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol stimulate the nervous system, but if consumed regularly and to excess, they can completely shatter your peaceful dreams. If possible, try to limit your intake of coffee and spirits, and lay off smoking to make sure you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your nighttime rest.

Set up Your Nest for Nighttime Rest

Visual and audio distractions can be another reason why you’re still counting sheep at 3 a.m. To nudge your sleep onto the healthy and uninterrupted track, clean your bedroom of clutter and consider reorganizing your bedroom based on the principles of Feng Shui design.

Scenting the Path to Dream Realm

Aromatherapy is a centuries’ old stress relief method that can help you fall asleep faster and get all the nighttime rest your body needs for another busy day. Pour a few drops of chamomile or lavender oil into your bedtime bath, or sprinkle bedclothes with relaxing essential oils to scent your way to the dream realm.

A Plateful of Sleep-Inducing Snacks

Carbohydrates are the nutrient sweet dreams are made of, so make sure to stock your dinner plate with complex carb-rich staples such as boiled rice, potatoes, or corn before turning in for the night. You can also try enriching your menu with tryptophan and melatonin enhancing foods such as cherry juice, milk, honey, walnuts, and kale.

Exercise your way to Quality Sleep

You know how you sleep much better if you’re tired? It’s simple really, your body needs to recover from the physical exertion it’s been through during the day. So, use this mechanism to improve both quality and duration of your sleep; do some moderate to intense exercise on a regular basis and don’t forget to stretch and breathe properly. Experts from Santosha Yoga Institute claim that a tiring exercise routine, accompanied by proper breathing and followed by stretching can significantly improve your sleep patterns.

Ditch the Screen to Hack Sound Sleep

A recent study found that exposure to light emitted by smart screens at bedtime impacts sleep quality. If you want to fall asleep fast, let your mind off the virtual hook: swap the e-book for a hardback at bedtime, try conscious breathing exercises, or go out for a quick jog in the park.

The negative effects of sleep deprivation don’t stop on the skin level and the puffiness and dark circles in the eye area. Unless you identify the problem and take steps to remedy it on time, lack of sleep can completely shatter your focus, energy, and mental faculties. Take active steps to prevent sleep deprivation today: don’t lose your health over lost sleep. Sweet dreams!

A team of Swedish researchers found that the presence of a receptor that regulates general serotonin activity in the brain correlates with people’s capacity for transcendence, the ability to apprehend phenomena that cannot be explained objectively. Scientists have for long suspected that serotonin influences spirituality. They found that drugs known to alter serotonin such as LSD also induce mystical experiences. If this neurotransmitter is released in huge quantities into the body, the individual will reach a higher state of consciousness. An immense feeling of joy and happiness takes over (4).

Have you ever come across the term LSD? Well, I’m sure you have. LSD or lysergic acid diethylamide is a powerful drug that can make or mar. While it can churn out millions for the peddler it can ruin the one who ingests it. So notorious is this one that the mere possession of it can see you to the gallows. Now what offence can LSD commit? Why are the ones introduced to it ready to throw away every penny they have just to buy it? Let’s find out.

In 1938 Albert Hoffman a Swiss Scientist, synthesized LSD while researching lysergic acid derivatives, from the ergot fungus that grows on rye. While re-synthesizing LSD he accidentally absorbed a small quantity of the same through his fingertips. He experienced something unfamiliar, something strong. It was the strong effects of LSD (1).

Related: The Perceptual Adaptation Experiment of George Stratton and Synaesthesia

Later on in the 1940s, LSD made its entry in the health market under the name Delysid. It was marketed to psychiatrists as a tool for understanding psychosis and for facilitating psychotherapy. A patient administered Delysid could capture repressed memories. The psychiatrist could get an insight into the patient’s mind via a primary process induced by the hallucinogen. The drug found widespread acceptance. Timothy Leary, a lecturer in Psychology at Harvard University in the 1950s, was a great advocate of LSD. But in 1965 it was banned in the US. Timothy Leary was tried for unlawful possession of marijuana cigarettes and put behind bars. He was sentenced to 30 years (1).

What actually happens when you ingest LSD?

When ingested LSD acts on specific receptors in the body and binds with them. A feeling akin to pleasure and ecstasy sweeps through the being. But what has LSD got to do with serotonin? Well, the specific receptors are none other than serotonin receptors themselves. 5HT type 2 receptors are the receptors where the entire serotonin binds. These receptors are there within all and the correct peptide that ought to bind there is serotonin itself. The power of serotonin peptide is so great that LSD is no match for it. But to experience it one needs to reach a point called unconditional love. Serotonin unlike other peptides has the power to hold sway over the human mind and body. Made up of tryptophan amino acid, serotonin peptide is a potent mood booster. It is a powerful antidepressant and anti- anxiety peptide. At the physical level it has amazing anti-aging properties. It eliminates the free radicals that accelerate the aging process. A low-level of the peptide can result in eating disorders and obesity (2,3).

Serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine is a monoamine neurotransmitter that was initially believed to be produced in just one location in the body i.e. the brain. However as research on the topic advanced, it was found that 95% of the total serotonin in the human body is produced in the gut, in the enterochromaffin cells. The rest of the serotonin is synthesized in the serotonergic neurons of the central nervous system. The brain cannot depend upon serotonin supply from outside sources i.e. the gut because it i.e. serotonin, is incapable of crossing the blood-brain barrier that protects the brain from external invasions. Hence, the brain has to source its requirement of the neurotransmitter from within (3).

Serotonin contributes to the feeling of well-being and hence, is often referred to as the ‘happiness hormone’. The gut bacteria aid in the production of this neurotransmitter. It imparts a sense of love within the gut in an individual and is also actively involved in preventing depression and regulating sleep, appetite and body temperature. However its influence is not limited to the gut alone (3).

Studies have revealed that serotonin is a potent accelerator critical to maturation of the brain. It has a powerful influence on the brain neurons responsible for mood, sexual desire and functioning, appetite, memory, learning and social behavior. Deficiency of the peptide can lead to autism and Down syndrome (3)

When serotonin is produced in a balanced  amount an immense spiritual feeling takes over. Serotonin is the hormone and the neurotransmitter that makes one feel the spiritual bliss and wellbeing.

References:

(1) Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond- Martin A lee
(2) LSD: Doorway to the Numinous: The Groundbreaking Psychedelic Research into Realms of the Human Unconscious – Stanislav Grof MD
(3) 5-HTP: Nature’s Serotonin Solution – Ray Sahelian
(4) The Science of Emotions: Dr Fahad Basheer

About the author

Dr. Fahad Basheer is an author, writer  and a trainer. He is a highly influential independent researcher of consciousness, mind body continuum system and its applications in medicine.He has specialized in NLP psycho therapeutics. He is the author of the book “The Science of Emotions”. He has published numerous articles to different magazines and Medical Journals. Follow Dr.Fahad Basheer on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dr.fahadbasheer/ & Twitter.

This article was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to WakingTimes.com.

Our mind and body are resilient and have the innate healing power.

You might not be who you think you are. Your very perception or idea of who you are has been weaved into your mind over time.

Surviving an accident was the easy part; coping with the chronic pain would prove more difficult. Danna Pycher shares her story about trauma and the transformative insight she gained that allowed her to harness the healing power of the subconscious mind.

We, all of us, are born as blank slates. Through our experiences, we are programmed to have certain beliefs about who we are, what we can achieve in life and what type of person we should be. From birth until six we’re essentially living life in a hypnotic trance. It’s why we learn languages so quickly at this young age. We are sponges just joyously absorbing everything around us.

At this precious age, we set up the rest of our lives. What we learned from the age of zero until six is essentially the patterns or programming we begin to develop from adolescence or from then and repeat again and again from adolescent into adulthood.

We are patterns. Sometimes our patterns do not serve us. Those patterns are called disease, depression, obesity, and the list unfortunately goes on and on. The mind and body, the disease and thought are all interconnected.

When events happen in life they’re recorded. When a stressful event happens it is recorded as is. And that creates a certain level of shock on the mind, which therefore sends the stress signals down the nervous system, which in turn will tell the endocrine system to increase adrenaline and cortisol, and while those levels are increased, our immune levels are lowered.

The fact that we have these stress responses initially is not a bad thing. And the fact that our minds compound all of these situations over time without ever letting them go, every situation builds upon each other.

So the real reason we experience stress in reality as for our own good, for our own safety. So, the initial stress isn’t bad, the continual attachment to this stress is bad.

When we experience stress, there’s a recording in the subconscious mind and enough of these recording over time will cause havoc and an overstressed nervous system, which in turn cause an overproduction stress hormones and a suppression of immune function.

So, now the gold question: How do we reverse all of this?

There’s a new study dedicated to all of this called psychoneuroimmunology. The best way that Danna has found to take the study off the paper and into real life to intervene in the influence of stress on immunity, is hypnotherapy.

The mind and body are resilient and have the innate healing power, yet sometimes they just need a bit of guidance.

Her message is: If you can heal your mind, you can heal your life.

In the video below she exposes the connection between your mind, who you think you are and the potential onset of disease:

 

Credits: The words of this article are of Danna Pycher.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

About Danna Pycher:

Danna Pycher is a certified Neuro-Linguistic Hypnotherapist specializing in chronic illness and trauma. She is also a motivational speaker and coach. Her first book 3rd Generation and Beyond is a beautiful, powerful book of life philosophies according to a third generation Holocaust descendant. ” A must read for the young and old who are trying to find an identity or just need a reminder on how to appreciate the little things in life.” She enjoyed many years in broadcasting as an on-camera host, reporter, and producer working in the fields of health reporting and corporate productions. Her curiosity about the nature of human beings is what guides her professional pursuits. Visit her website.

Is hypnosis a placebo effect or actual changes are occurring in the brain?

In this old question, the answer seems to be the latter, according to a new scientific study. This is the first study that specifically aimed to show what happens in the brain during the hypnotic state.

The researchers, led by Dr. David Spiegel, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University in California, who made the publication in the neuroscience journal Cerebral Cortex, studied the brain of 57 study participants – 36 who were highly hypnotizable and 21 who weren’t.

The functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) revealed that some vital brain regions operate differently at the hypnotic state, so the effect of the latter is not only in the person’s mind (at least not only), but is also a matter of neurophysiology. Hypnosis, which in the 19th century was used extensively, today is flourishing and is used by doctors and psychotherapists for the treatment of insomnia, phobias, pain, smoking, and other addictions, etc.

“I think we have pretty definitive evidence here that the brain is working differently when a person is in hypnosis,”

said Dr. Spiegel.

This knowledge could help hypnosis shed its reputation as a pseudoscientific slight-of-hand. And it might help researchers develop new hypnosis-based therapies or make it possible to hypnotize people, as the release states:

A treatment that combines brain stimulation with hypnosis could improve the known analgesic effects of hypnosis and potentially replace addictive and side-effect-laden painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs, [Spiegel] said. More research, however, is needed before such a therapy could be implemented.

However, it is certain that not all scientists are about to be convinced from this new study, as many insist that hypnosis is a state created not by biology but by the individual’s expectations and essentially located in the “software” of the mind and not in “material” of the brain. Functional imaging is a blunt instrument and the findings can be difficult to interpret, especially when a study is looking at activity levels in many brain areas.

Still, Dr. Spiegel highlighted that the findings might help explain the intense absorption, lack of self-consciousness and suggestibility that characterize the hypnotic state.

References:

In this cool infographic there’s a list of nine hobbies that will keep you neurologically stimulated and mentally healthy.

Finding time for yourself can be nearly impossible sometimes.

Balancing your professional, social, and family life probably leave you feeling the need just to collapse from exhaustion at the end of the day.

Trying to find the time to keep your mind sharp amid all the chaos while also trying to maintain your personal sanity is a difficult balance to strike.

This is especially true if your free time comes in small increments throughout the day. It can sometimes feel as though you have to choose between making yourself smarter and making yourself happier.

Lucky for you, research shows that several hobbies have the potential to ‘kill two birds with one stone’.

Take reading for example (the activity you are doing RIGHT NOW). Reading is perhaps the most obvious example of a hobby that can be both relaxing and mentally beneficial.

A study published in the Neurology Journal regarding cognitive aging and cognitive activity concluded:

More frequent cognitive activity across the life span has an association with slower late-life cognitive decline that is independent of common neuropathologic conditions…

So essentially, the more you use your brain, the less you lose it later in life.

Thankfully, hobbies like reading and writing have never been easier to do no matter where you are.

Between e-books, magazine articles, news feeds, and blogs there is never a shortage of content for you to choose.

If you have a few minutes where you are stuck waiting in a line, you can pull out your phone and begin reading while you wait.

Choosing a hobby that expands your intellect while also providing you with a much-needed leisure activity maximizes the limited time you have available.

The folks at Smarter Hobby created the infographic below which is a list of nine hobbies that will help keep you neurologically stimulated and mentally healthy.

Whatever your preferences are, it is important that you choose an activity that you both enjoy and fits into your hectic life.

An infographic with hobbies that can make you smarter

Well, what hobbies you pick? Let us know in the comments!