Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sleep Before Midnight

My mother used to say, “The two hours of sleep I get before midnight are the best two hours of the night.” I wondered about that until I read comments by Matthew P. Walker, PhD, director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The earlier in the night, the greater the propensity for deep non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, and the later in the morning, the greater the propensity for REM sleep. Therefore, someone who sleeps from 9p.m. to 5a.m. (8 hours total) will have a different overall composition of sleep—biased towards more non-REM—than someone who sleeps from 3a.m. to 11a.m. (also 8 hours total), who is likely to experience more REM. Going to bed too late, then, will deprive you of some of the restorative functions that non-REM sleep normally provides. More tomorrow.

Monday, August 31, 2015

I Don’t Sleep Well

I hear this from people all over the world! My first response is “Stop telling your brain anything that you do not wish to be true.” When you say ‘I don’t sleep well,’ a representation of what they means goes into working memory, located directly behind your forehead. Your brain perceives that ‘if you put that into working memory it must be important to you,’ and the brain does everything it can to help you achieve that goal. In this case, not sleeping well. Therefore, knowing that sleep is independently linked with longevity and that your brain appears to be cleared of toxins during sleep, change what you tell your brain. It can only do what it thinks it can do and you tell it what it can do through your thoughts, self-talk, and directions to your brain. I perceive of my brain as a connected although separate entity, so I talk to my brain using the pronoun you. Most nights I tell my brain: “You are falling asleep quickly and easily and staying asleep until ____________ am.” And in most cases that’s exactly what happens.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Clearing Your Brain of Toxins, 3

Results of the new study, funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the NIH, suggests that during sleep the brain is cleared of damaging molecules associated with neurodegeneration. Sleep changes the cellular structure of the brain. It appears to be a completely different state,” said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., leader of the study. Not only is sleep important for storing memories, it may be also be the period when the brain cleanses itself of toxic molecules. It appears that during sleep a plumbing system called the glymphatic system opens, letting fluid flow rapidly through the brain. Glial cells help control the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a clear liquid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, through the glymphatic system by shrinking or swelling. Since this appears to happen only during sleep, it highlights the critical importance of sleep in clearing the brain of toxins.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Clearing Your Brain of Toxins, 2

Researchers measured how long the dye lasted in the brain when the mice were asleep versus awake. They found that the dye flowed rapidly through mice brains when the mice were unconscious, either asleep or anesthetized. In contrast, the dye barely flowed when the same mice were injected with labeled beta-amyloid, a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Beta-amyloid disappeared faster in mice brains when the mice were asleep, suggesting sleep normally clears toxic molecules from the brain. “These results may have broad implications for multiple neurological disorders,” said Jim Koenig, Ph.D., a program director at NINDS. It also suggests a new role for sleep and may highlight the critical importance of sleep for prevention as well as healthy on-going brain care. “We need sleep. It cleans up the brain,” said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, and a leader of the study.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Clearing Your Brain of Toxins

It is believed that toxic molecules involved in neurodegenerative disorders accumulate in the space between brain cells. In a new study funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the NIH, researchers hoped to discover mechanisms by which these toxins are cleared from the brain. Using mice, researchers showed for the first time that the space between brain cells may increase during sleep, allowing the brain to flush out toxins that build up during waking hours. To determine whether the glymphatic system controls this process, researchers initially injected dye into the CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) of mice and watched it flow through their brains while simultaneously monitoring electrical brain activity.

 Scientists watched dye flow through the brain of a sleeping mouse.

Courtesy of Nedergaard Lab, University of Rochester Medical Center.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

San Antonio, TX

Steve Horton just sent me this shot taken at the Pacific Health Education Center booth in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Sharlet Briggs is sitting at the left (in a turquoise blouse), and I am on the right with my laptop open on the table. At that very moment, a clip was being shown on the screen of an interview I'd done with Michael Hudson. Fun.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sydney, Australia

As you know, travel (local or abroad) to see something new is touted as one way to help age-proof your brain. I had so much fun locating pictures last week, I decided to do a few more just for fun. On another lecture tour to Australia, Linnie Pohan took me to see kangaroos. No, they were not in a zoo, just hanging out in the country. It was quite an experience to be there among them, up close and personal, to say the least.