The brain of a sleep-deprived person is imbued with excess of two proteins that are substantially associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the study published in the journal Science, a protein called tau is found in excess in the fluid that fills the brain and spinal cord of individuals with chronic sleep deprivation. The protein also drives neuron degeneration, and during Alzheimer’s, it scatters throughout the brain.
Similarly, sleep deprivation also induces accumulation of protein called amyloid-beta – a chunk of which dots the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
In the study, researchers went over the samples of cerebrospinal fluid of eight adult participants who were sleep-deprived for nearly 36 hours. They found 51.5 percent increase in their tau levels. Similarly, mice that were rob of sleep were found to have twice the level of tau compared to well-rested ones.
Another study also reported that the lack of sleep to be the legitimate cause of increased level of A-beta in the cerebrospinal fluid, and if preceded by a week of poor sleep, the levels of tau also increased.
Since lack of sleep increases the levels of tau and A-beta in the brain, it appears that the only way to curtail the risk of developing Alzheimer’s symptom is to treat sleep disorders during mid-life and get good amount of sleep as much as possible. Proper sleep helps our brain get rid of excess proteins and other unnecessary stuffs, so getting less sleep means that wash cycle is disturbed.
Lack of sleep is tied to increases in two Alzheimer’s proteins (Science News)
The sleep-wake cycle regulates brain interstitial fluid tau in mice and CSF tau in humans (Science)
Association of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness With Longitudinal β-Amyloid Accumulation in Elderly Persons Without Dementia (Jama Neurology)
This 4-minute video shows how Alzheimer’s disease changes the brain and looks at promising ideas to treat and prevent the disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most basic form of dementia, and scientists are trying to understand how the affects the nervous system. This video illustrates how neurons communicate in a healthy brain compared to that of a person with Alzheimer’s disease. In a healthy brain, cells such as astrocytes and microglia help keep neurons healthy by clearing away debris that builds up over time. In a person with Alzheimer’s disease, toxic changes in the brain destroy the ability of these cells to maintain a healthy environment for the neurons in the brain, ultimately causing a loss of neurons. Researchers believe that the Alzheimer’s disease process involves two proteins: beta amyloid protein and tau protein. Within the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s disease, these proteins become compromised. Over time, abnormal tau accumulates and eventually forms tangles inside the neurons, and the beta amyloid clumps into plaques, which build up between the neurons. As the level of amyloid increases, tau rapidly spreads throughout the brain. Other changes that affect the brain may play a role in the disease, such as the inability of the vascular system to deliver enough blood and nutrients to the brain. These factors cause the brain to shrink in size, starting with the hippocampus. A person with Alzheimer’s gradually loses the ability to think, remember, make decisions, and function independently. Researchers are working on the key to understanding Alzheimer’s disease so that Alzheimer’s disease research can lead to the development of more effective therapies with the hope that we can delay or even prevent the devastation of dementia. This video was developed by the National Institute on Aging (https://www.nia.nih.gov/), part of the National Institutes of Health (https://www.nih.gov/). Want to learn more? Subscribe to the National Institute on Aging’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/NatlInst…. Find more information about Alzheimer’s disease from the National Institute on Aging: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzhei…. Find more health information from the National
As a psychotherapist, I spend a fair amount of time completing paperwork that convinces insurance companies to pay for someone’s mental health treatment.
In order to help people get their services covered, I have to help patients answer questions like, “How do you hope your life will be different in 90 days?”
Asking people with a mental health problem to look that far ahead can feel like torture. People struggling with depression often can’t see 10 minutes into the future, let alone 3 months down the road.
And individuals experiencing anxiety are often consumed with the future–and they’re usually making catastrophic predictions. They might imagine themselves losing their jobs, becoming homeless, or contracting a rare disease all within the next three months.
But even if you aren’t experiencing a mental health issue, pinpointing how your life will be different 90 days in advance is tough.
Establishing a 30-day challenge can be a more effective way to create positive change. In fact, 30-day challenges (or sometimes 30-day experiments) are how I stay motivated to reach my goals–especially my fitness goals.
Most recently, I set out to see if I could get six-pack abs in 30 days. I hired Robert Brace, a fitness trainer who is known for getting people in shape fast, to help me reach my goal.
And just as he promised, over the course of one month, I saw my formerly flabby stomach morph into a muscular set of abdominal muscles. Almost every day, I could see progress, and it helped me stay on track to reach my goal.
Had I set out to do the same challenge in 90 days, I’m certain it wouldn’t have worked. Having more time would have led to fewer results. Not only do I know this from personal experience and anecdotal evidence from my therapy clients, but science also backs up this notion.
Your Brain Is Designed for 30-Day Challenges
Studies show our brains view time according to either “now deadlines” or “someday deadlines.” And “now deadlines” often fall within this calendar month.
For example, if you have a project due at the end of the month, studies show that you’re likely to start working on it earlier in the month, because your brain tells you that your deadline is looming. You’ll prioritize the project as something that is due “now.”
If however, that same project is due at the beginning of the next month, your brain will categorize it as a “later project”–even if the calendar is set to roll over to the next month within a few days
You’re more likely to procrastinate when it comes to working on the goals you categorize as “later.”
So whether you’re trying to quit smoking, or you want to lose weight, your brain will categorize a 90-day goal as something you can work on later. And if you don’t start out filled with motivation and momentum right from the beginning, you aren’t likely to pick up steam as time passes.
Why 30-Day Challenges Work So Well
Whether your goal is to pay down debt, or you want to start going to the gym, design your own 30-day challenge. In addition to your brain viewing it as a “now” goal, you’re more likely to succeed because:
You won’t have time for excuses. When you have a short-term goal, there isn’t time to take days off because you feel tired. And you don’t have time to make up missed work later. You have be all in if you want to reach your goals.
Fast progress builds momentum. Your hard work will begin to pay off fast. And when you begin to see results, it’s easier to stay motivated. Building momentum early can help you stay on course and finish your month-long challenge strong.
Short-term pain feels tolerable. Working hard to reach a new goal means you’ll have to give something up.It’s easier to give up time with your family or your daily latte when you know there’s an end in sight.
Create Your Own 30-Day Challenge
There are many 30-day challenges that can improve your physical health, mental health, social life, or spiritual life.
And as we approach the beginning of a new year–where many people will be setting gigantic annual goals that they never reach–it’s a great time to launch a 30-day challenge. You might find that a short-term objective is a much more effective way to create big changes in your life.
Wellness is seeping into every aspect of our lives, from exercise and diet to sleep and work. According to the Global Wellness Summit, complete health also has become a big business, raking in $4.2 trillion a year worldwide.
As GWS prepares for its annual conference of industry professionals at Grand Hyatt Singapore October 15 to 17, we asked organizers to share their insights on the latest trends in approaches to wellness.
Nature Immersion Getaways
GWS reports that there’s a wave of global urbanization, with 55 percent of the world population living in cities. That number is projected to jump to 68 percent by 2050. A consequence of this surge in urban living is that people are seeking ways to immerse themselves deeper into nature. Hotels are accommodating by moving workouts and spa treatments into the great outdoors. But nothing captures this trend more than the rise in forest bathing.
Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, began in Japan in the 1980s. Despite the translation, the practice doesn’t literally mean to take a bath among the trees. Instead, it focuses on soaking up the essence of the forest. The practice is supposed to aid immune systems, reduce blood pressure, ease stress, boost energy and improve sleep.
Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star L’Apothecary Spa at L’Auberge de Sedona in Arizona steeps you in its pristine Oak Creek surroundings with its Connecting with Nature offerings. Led by a certified forest bathing facilitator, the personalized sensory sessions encourage you to absorb the gushing waters, towering trees, red rocks, blue skies and local wildlife. You’ll receive a journal to record your experience. Another option is a nighttime forest immersion. Star bathing helps you find peace under the serene starlit sky amid the wooded backdrop. When the darkness of night envelops your sight, your other senses are heightened.
Tough and Transformative Wellness
Travelers want to visit wellness destinations that push them harder to conquer challenges, engage in extreme experiences and, ultimately, transform them, GWS reports.
Four-Star Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire in England has devised The Escape, an antidote to boring old fitness routines. Amid the property’s 500 countryside acres, the two-day bootcamp includes an outdoor meditation session, two “extreme” exercise classes, a nutrition masterclass, tailored treatments in the spa, yoga, tai chi and a highwire adventure.
Chatham Bars Inn hosts an ongoing Wellness Weekend series that features interactive itineraries hosted by wellness experts in stunning Cape Cod. The activities consist of mindfulness workshops, motivational lectures, personal coaching and plenty of exercise at the Four-Star hotel.
In Mexico, Four-Star Grand Velas Los Cabos targets women with its five-night Alpha Female Adventure Getaway. The rigorous schedule includes a power hike through the Sierra de la Laguna biosphere reserve, swimming in a hot spring, snorkeling and paddleboarding. The getaway also comes with a four-handed tequila massage, an 80-minute treatment that releases muscle tension. A therapist rubs the liquor into the skin to reduce inflammation.
Alongside exercise and diet, sleep is essential for optimal health. And the focus on rest across the travel industry has been one of the biggest wellness trends.
Hotels are rethinking the sleep experience. Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner is attacking stress-induced insomnia with a holistic approach. Partnering with sleep experts at Longeva, the D.C. hotel created a spa treatment that fosters a good night’s rest, a special snooze-inducing room service menu with dishes like almond butter banana dark chocolate toast (the treat’s high magnesium relaxes muscles, and bananas have tryptophan, the same amino acid in turkey that makes you drowsy after Thanksgiving dinner), a TV station that serves as a sleep machine and a take-home kit so that you can continue deep slumbers in your own bed.
The newly opened Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards in New York City was built with sleep in mind. The wellness hotel’s rooms have total soundproofing, blackout blinds and mattresses made with temperature-regulating natural fibers to prevent night sweats. If that’s not enough send you to dream land, you can employ the assistance of an Equinox sleep coach.
For all the good they provide, smartphones also have sparked a slew of problems: they cause an “always on” work mentality, the overconsumption of negative news and a social media addiction that has led to an anxiety and depression crisis, GWS says.
More travelers want to go to a place to unplug, clear their minds and recover. Mandarin Oriental launched a digital wellness initiative at all of its spas in 2018. In collaboration with the Mayo Clinic, the program teaches ways to manage your relationship with technology and the stress that can accompany a constantly connected digital lifestyle. Experience it at Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou’s luxurious Five-Star spa. The 100-minute Digital Wellness Escape homes in on the head, eyes, neck, shoulders, hands and feet.
Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing turned its offerings into a two-night package that includes a 90-minute treatment, a class pass to nearby Pure Yoga in WF Central as well as breakfast and a healthy lunch at Café Zi.
For one patient, a decade of recovery took determination, persistence and the courage to weather repeated setbacks.
Strange as it may seem, the stroke Ted Baxter suffered in 2005 at age 41, leaving him speechless and paralyzed on his right side, was a blessing in more ways than one. Had the clot, which started in his leg, lodged in his lungs instead of his brain, the doctors told him he would have died from a pulmonary embolism.
And as difficult as it was for him to leave his high-powered professional life behind and replace it with a decade of painstaking recovery, the stroke gave his life a whole new and, in many ways, more rewarding purpose.
Before the stroke, Mr. Baxter’s intense work-focused life as a globe-trotting executive in international finance had eroded his marriage and deprived him of fulfilling relationships with family and friends. Unable to relax even on vacation, he rarely took time to smell the roses. Now, he told me, he leads a richer, calmer, happier life as a volunteer educator for stroke victims and their caregivers and for the therapists who treat them.
The stroke began with a cramping pain in his leg after a long international flight during which he wore compression hose to support his varicose veins. He didn’t take the pain seriously until suddenly he couldn’t talk or move the right side of his body. The clot that caused his leg pain had broken loose and cut off blood flow to the left side of his brain.
He nearly died. But once stabilized, the doctors discovered that he was born with a hole in his heart that had allowed the clot to bypass his lungs and go directly to his brain. Two of his siblings turned out to have the same defect, called patent foramen ovale, which they subsequently had repaired.
Mr. Baxter readily admits that his Type A personality, which was the driving force behind his professional success, was also a major factor that helped him reverse the extensive losses he suffered when the clot severely damaged his brain. And it inspired him to recount his 14 years of recovery and renewal in a fascinating book, “Relentless: How a Massive Stroke Changed My Life for the Better,” an apt title for what it took for him to regain full physical function, comprehension and intelligible speech.
His mantra, which could help many others facing a devastating health setback, is that recovery takes determination, focus, resiliency, persistence and courage — the courage to weather repeated setbacks and frustrations. He admits, however, that it can also take the financial resources and personal support he had to get the kind of help that can make a difference.
At first, his goal was to get right back in the saddle, working nonstop in finance. But after months of intense rehab, he still could neither use nor understand language, spoken or otherwise.
“It took seven or eight months for me to realize I wasn’t going back to my job,” he said. “I didn’t even understand that the words coming from my mouth weren’t making any sense.”
The learning curve was steep: “I couldn’t read; I couldn’t write. I could see the hospital signs, the elevator signs, the therapists’ cards, but I couldn’t understand them,” he wrote. The aphasia — the inability to understand or express speech — “had beaten and battered” his pride.
But he refused to give up. With age and prestroke physical conditioning on his side, he had convinced himself that “100 percent recovery was possible as long as I pushed hard enough.”
Mr. Baxter figured if he could get his body functioning again, his language facility might also return. The brain, he learned, was plastic and capable of renewal. So he devoted countless hours to physical therapy, worked out in the gym long and hard, and had his left arm tied behind his back, forcing himself to use the right. He found that as his physical abilities improved, so did his comprehension and communication skills.
When what he tried to say came out garbled, many people assumed he was either mentally slow or a foreigner with limited English. As one of his speech therapists said of people with aphasia, “It’s hard to understand that they have their intellectual faculties and know what they want to say, but they don’t have the ability to communicate it.”
Mr. Baxter researched and enrolled in several different aphasia programs throughout the country. For many hours a day, he did language practice, starting with books and flash cards for preschoolers and doing endless repetitions to relearn speech until eventually — after years of hard work — he was finally able to read books and have real conversations.
His original therapists at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, admittedly amazed at the progress he made, asked what benefited him the most and solicited his help developing a new, intensive aphasia program. He was also invited to participate in Archeworks, a design program in Chicago for students working to solve urban problems.
“I faced the challenge of using my right hand, making new friends, and communicating effectively with a team,” he wrote. He was building things with his hands and tools and suddenly he realized he was problem-solving, a skill he had used often in finance.
Sports also aided his recovery. As he slowly regained use of his right side, he took lessons in golf and boxing, aided by watching others do things correctly.
“If I could see somebody do something, then I could follow it and mimic what they did,” he wrote. “I had to focus on visualization — picturing the task, the actions needed to perform that task, and the intended result.”
Art therapy was another helpful pursuit, which he said reduced his stress, countered depression and improved his self-esteem and emotional health. With art as a new source of fulfillment came an invitation to join a museum board that gave him additional conversational practice and “withered away my aphasia every day.”
Gradually, Mr. Baxter said he “started to realize that by doing more for others, I’d be happier with myself.”
Living now in Newport Beach, Calif., with his second wife, the 55-year-old stroke survivor devotes his life to inspiring other survivors and their caregivers. “I go to universities and hospitals to present my story — what I had experienced, how I rehabbed myself, how it changed my life for the better, and what it took to get my life back,” he wrote.
“Sometimes, I can’t believe how far I’ve come,” he said. He credited family members and friends who “never gave up on my recovery, nor did they ever treat me as if I were lost, and because of that, I never felt lost. None of it would have worked without a positive attitude.”
The results of a new brain imaging study may have just answered a big question about how stress changes the brain. Using a combination of genetic editing and brain scanning in mice, researchers found that stress triggers a chemical cascade that radically changes how brain networks communicate, and the results could sharpen our understanding of anxiety disorders in humans.
Breaking down the research
Stress serves an important purpose in preparing us to react to danger. Anything the brain perceives as threatening triggers multiple brain networks to synchronize and communicate, all in just a fraction of a second. With systems humming, we make immediate decisions to survive the threat.
But what facilitates all of those brain networks to connect and communicate? That’s been a difficult question to answer in the human brain, because doing so would require examining brain function during the split-second window of facing a threat.
Enter our friends the mice to help solve the problem. Researchers followed a trail of previous studies and zeroed in on the neurotransmitter noradrenaline (aka norepinephrine, a chemical that floods the brain during stress) as a likely facilitator of brain-network connectivity.
The twist was that they had genetically manipulated the rodents’ brains to allow for selectively controlling when noradrenaline was released (not possible in human brains). While controlling the chemical faucet, they also scanned the mouse brains using fMRI to see what would happen.
And what happened, it turns out, was pretty amazing. The release of noradrenaline “rewired” the mouse brains, allowing different brain networks to instantly cross-communicate. But the neurotransmitter wasn’t just facilitating communication, it was restructuring neural connections beyond anyone’s expectations.
“I couldn’t believe that we were seeing such strong effects,” said the study’s first author Valerio Zerbi, a brain imaging specialist from the University of Zurich.
The researchers found the strongest rewired effects in brain areas responsible for processing sensory stimuli (auditory and visual, for example), and in the amygdala, the epicenter of the brain’s threat response system.
What does this mean for us?
It’s the part about threat response that may hold the most promise for better understanding what stress does to our brains.
Allowing for the fact that this was research in mice, the particular dynamic studied here is probably quite similar between us and our rodent counterparts. If noradrenaline rewires the human brain as it appears to rewire the brains of mice, it’s possible the long-term effects of stress are more profound than we’ve realized.
Previous research has linked the flood of noradrenaline to changes in brain connectivity, but it seems likely we’ve underestimated the effects, especially in the small but powerful part of our brain sitting at the center of anxiety disorders: the amygdala.
At a minimum, this research opens new doors for better understanding how both acute and chronic stress effects the brain, and could enlighten new ways of deconstructing anxiety conditions, now the most prevalent mental health disorders worldwide. The study was published in the journal Neuron.
David DiSalvo is the author of the best-selling book “What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite”, which has been published in 15 languages, and the books “Brain Changer: How Harnessing Your Brain’s Power to Adapt Can Change Your Life” and “The Brain in Your Kitchen”. His work has appeared in Scientific American Mind, Forbes, Time, Psychology Today, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Esquire, Mental Floss and other publications, and he’s the writer behind the widely read science and technology blogs “Neuropsyched” at Forbes and “Neuronarrative” at Psychology Today. He can be found on Twitter @neuronarrative and at his website, daviddisalvo.org. Contact him at: disalvowrites [at] gmail.com.
Mounting evidence of the impact of contemplative practices like meditation (which we now know can, quite literally, rewire the brain) are finally bringing modern science up to speed with ancient wisdom. Mindfulness and compassion — the practices of cultivating a focused awareness on the present moment, and extending a loving awareness to others — are part of every religion and wisdom tradition, and we’re at last beginning to understand the profound impact that they have on the brain, says psychiatrist and mindfulness expert Dr. Dan Siegel………..
Change happens. Adversity happens. Conflict happens. Then your brain and body tries to cope with it. Your brain releases stress hormones, like cortisol, which then fire up excessive cell-signaling cytokines which alter your physiology. Suddenly your ability to regulate your behavior and emotions is compromised. Your ability to pay attention is compromised, your memory, learning, peace, happiness are all compromised. Why? Because all that change has caused your system to be overloaded with stress…….
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Be honest: How is your progress so far on those New Year’s resolutions you lined up just a few weeks ago? As January wears on and the cold, dreary weather continues for many of us, sticking with your resolutions can quickly start to seem more challenging than you’d expected–and sometimes completely impossible. If you’ve made and broken countless resolutions in the past and are already struggling this year, don’t give up hope just yet. It simply might be time to take a different approach to your resolutions. Understanding a little bit more about how the brain reacts to rewards and motivations could make the difference between forming a new habit for life and giving into temptation or laziness after a few weeks.