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The 5 minute 'Health' read - Lifestyle: recent research (December)

I read a fair amount of research and thought some people might be interested in recent studies that I've found helpful.  I plan to write a blog post pretty much every week, highlighting helpful material that has emerged in the previous couple of months.  I'll rotate through six topic areas ... Lifestyle, Positive Psychology, Relationships, Ageing, Psychedelics, and Meditation.  I also plan to write occasional posts where I go into more detail about particular related subject areas. 

Here, for example, are ten Lifestyle posts mostly published in the last few weeks.  I found it intriguing that in addition to expected benefits for depression & anxiety (see Singh et al below), there is growing evidence that episodes of exercise improve brain functioning within minutes ... and for wide-ranging age groups (see Kekäläinen et al, Legrand et al, Monserrat et al and Polevoy et al below). 

To nap or not to nap ... ?

       There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.  Homer, the Odyssey

Modern life doesn't feel well adapted to having a siesta.  Even if I'm happily asleep in the afternoon, most of those who I might communicate or interact with are likely to be busily in the heart of their work days.  Is being tempted to sleep a bit after lunch more a sign of age, infirmity, lack of adequate night time sleep or possibly excessive alcohol with my meal.  Or is sleeping in the afternoon a skilful response to our natural circadian rhythms and a solidarity with much of the animal kingdom who regularly sleep at some stage during the day ... for example, male lions sleep for 18-20 hours daily!

Chronotherapy: rapid treatment of depression by altering sleep & light

         

           The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.   Eden Phillpotts

At the recent World Congress of Behavioural & Cognitive Therapies in Berlin, David Veale from King's College & the Maudsley reported on a randomised controlled trial of 'triple chronotherapy' for depression.

David pointed out that depression can come in all kinds of shapes & sizes, and this treatment probably works best in the subtype where circadian rhythms have become desynchronised.

How to live well: 2nd meeting - mindset, motivation, positive emotions, exercise & sleep

             

                      "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right."     Henry Ford                

                        "Knowledge is only rumour, until it is in the muscle."   New Guinea proverb

Ch.3: Sleep (and Light)

“ Better keep yourself clean and bright. You are the window through which you must see the world. ” - George Bernard Shaw

This chapter will aim to cover such questions as - How much sleep is needed?  How much sleep do people get? Prevalence not just of insomnia, but also of other sleep problems e.g. sleep apnoea.  How do we know if we’re not getting enough sleep?  Value of medication and value & instructions for behavioural management of sleep problems.

 

Sleep: what is it, why does it matter, and how much do we need?

Yesterday I listened to Professor Colin Espie lecture on "What is sleep ... and why does it matter?".   I then went on to his packed two hour workshop on "Assessing and treating insomnia in everyday clinical practice".  I've heard Colin lecture before and been to a full day workshop with him as well, but it's great to get an update on where sleep research & treatment has got to.  Colin is a professor of Sleep Medicine linked with the Oxford 'Sleep & Circadian Neuroscience Institute' and is very much a world expert in this area. 

Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - aspects of self-compassion

I've woken early.  Lying here I feel an unfamiliar hollow pressure in my gut.  What is this?  Fear?  Anxiety? Tension?  "Tense apprehension" seems to fit.  I'm lying here in the early hours of the morning, a hollow tense apprehension in my belly.  And it isn't surprising.  Pretty normal in fact as I move closer & closer to major surgery.  Consciously.  By my own decision.  On this journey, travelling down the "kidney donation river", I can hear the roar of the approaching rapids.  Surgery soon.  It's a pretty standard, basic, healthy response to tense a bit as I move towards the crux, possibly the most intense section of this "donation river".  And I don't have to tighten the rest of my body around the belly apprehension.  I can let go, loosen in my arms, my face.  It's OK. Nothing to do right now.

Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - goals and journey

I'm due to donate a kidney soon, and I have been writing about what's involved - see "Kidney donation: why it's well worth considering", "Kidney donation: what are the risks?" and "Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - values are central".  Primarily these posts are for other donors, but aspects of what I write are also relevant for facing challenges more generally as well.

Sleep apnea: how is it recognised & what can be done about it?

I have already written a couple of posts on sleep apnea -"Sleep apnea - what is it, how common is it and how does it affect mortality & physical health?" and "Sleep apnea - how does it affect psychological health?".  In this third & last post of the sequence, I'll explore how we can recognise sleep apnea and what we can do about it.

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