Posts Tagged ‘mood’

Overcoming Lack of Sleep

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

SFA author Jim Evans is a 42-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and an internationally recognized senior fitness consultant. Today Jim offers some healthy advice for getting sufficient, good quality sleep.

DEAR JIM: For the past several years I’ve been tossing and turning all night and can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep. Worse, when I look in the mirror I can’t believe how old I look. I realize that at 74 I’m not a "spring chicken" anymore, but my age seems to be accelerating. I eat a well balanced diet and try to stay physically active, but I just can’t sleep as soundly as I used to and I’m tired all the time. Any suggestions? SLEEPY IN SANTA CRUZ

DEAR SLEEPY: For starters I would recommend a complete physical examination to see if there are any underlying medical issues that might be causing your sleeplessness. A lack of sleep can have numerous undesirable side effects.

Research indicates that the consistent lack of a good night’s sleep can negatively impact your ability to handle stress, compromise your health, increase motor and neurological deterioration, hasten the aging process, and ultimately shorten your life. You might have been able to tolerate less sleep when you were younger without any immediately noticeable side effects but not so when you are older.

"We’re beginning to identify some of the underlying mechanisms that may help explain why organisms age," said Natraj Krishnan (krishnan@science.oregonstate.edu), a research associate in the Oregon State University Department of Zoology. He noted that "… young individuals may be able to handle certain stresses, but the same insults at an older age cause genetic damage and appear to lead to health problems and earlier death. And it’s linked to biological clocks."

If your physical doesn’t turn up anything unusual, try some of the traditional methods of improving your sleep such as curtailing physical activity before you go to bed, avoiding caffeine for several hours before bedtime, and not going to bed hungry (but don’t eat too much late at night either). And, no, a warm glass of milk before you go to bed may not help you sleep despite what your grandmother used to tell you, but if you think it does, go for it. Most of us already know that drinking too much fluid before bedtime is usually asking for trouble, so go easy on beverages of any kind.

Your room temperature can make a big difference in how you sleep, too, so turn off the heat at night (or at least turn it down if you live in a colder climate) and snuggle under the covers. You might even try reading in bed to help you wind down from the day’s activities.

There are also other ways to improve your sleep habits, but definitely start with the physical check-up to rule out any medical issues. The important thing is to get to the source of the problem so that you can start looking — and feeling — more refreshed in the morning.

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Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Older Adults

Monday, May 17th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

There’s both good news and bad regarding the incidence of mood and anxiety disorders in older adults. When researchers of the University of California at San Francisco studied a national survey of 9,282 participants ages 18 and older (including 2,575 who were ages 55 and older), they found that prevalence rates of mood and anxiety disorders tend to decline with age. However, the conditions remain very common in older persons, particularly in women.

Only non-institutionalized adults took part in the survey, which was conducted in the continental United States. Approximately five percent of the senior participants reported experiencing a mood disorder (for example, depression) during the past year, while more than 10 percent had experienced some form of anxiety disorder (for example, panic disorder). About three percent reported having had both mood and anxiety disorders.

No differences were found between race/ethnicity groups. However, women had a significantly higher rate of disorders than did men. The study’s authors wrote, "These results highlight the need for intervention and prevention strategies."

This research was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry (67:5). To read the abstract, click on http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/67/5/489.

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Funny Research

Monday, May 3rd, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Seth Borenstein, science writer for the Associated Press, recently interviewed scientists whose research goals include establishing a better understanding of laughter and its potential benefits. His resulting article notes that laughter is fundamentally a primal, social behavior often performed involuntarily. Not only do human beings laugh — so do apes, chimpanzees, dogs and even rats who, current research has disclosed, take delight in being tickled and will laugh during the pleasurable experience!

Laughter has been linked to the production of a chemical that acts as an anxiety-reducer and antidepressant. Although researchers quoted in the piece did not assert that laughter alone has been proven to provide direct health benefits, it was pointed out that this may be because it is scientifically difficult to isolate laughter from distraction and mood improvement, two variables which have been found beneficial to patients. Interviewed for the article, Baltimore neuroscientist and laughter researcher Dr. Robert Provine observed: "Isn’t the fact that laughter feels good when you do it, isn’t that enough?"

To read Borenstein’s complete article, click here.

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