Hyperarousal, Sleep, and Mindfulness

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What is ‘Hyperarousal’?

Hyperarousal is a common mind-body state — so common that people often experience hyperarousal as ‘normal’! But science shows us that habitual hyperarousal is unhealthy for mind and body.

Hyperarousal refers to stress reactivity — especially the physical side of stress reactivity.  When people get stressed, their body goes into hyperarousal. 

The body is ‘on alert’ — with muscle tension, changes in blood pressure and heart activation patterns, characteristic effects…

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Sleeping less than 6 1/2 hours?

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Sometimes people ask me:  “How much sleep should I be getting?”

That’s a hard question. Science usually depends on the statistics of what’s true for many people — but you’re a unique individual. No law can be applied to you. You sleep as you sleep! 

But here’s a study that will help you consider if your body needs more sleep.

The Study

This research paper was published last year in the respected Journal of the American Medical Association - Neurology. It’s from a large multinational study…

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Turn out the lights!

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Did you know? Your body is very sensitive to nighttime light. Here’s two surprising studies that could change the way you sleep.

In 2017, American researchers published a  study involving more than 43,000 women (average age 55 years). Their health and lifestyle had been followed for about 5 years. Researchers discovered that women who sleep with artificial light at night have an increased risk for significant weight gain and obesity. 

“In particular, sleeping with a light or television on in…

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Less blue light please!

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Science is learning that our sleep is especially sensitive to blue light (wavelength: 446 - 484 nm). If there’s too much blue light before bedtime, the quality of our sleep suffers -- deepest sleep is degraded. Scientists express concern that over-exposure to blue light could even affect the health of a woman’s unborn child.

Unfortunately, most electronic screens (smart phones, computers, tablets, many televisions) and some fluorescent lights release high levels of blue light. That’s why sle…

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Sleep more -- Lose weight!

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Here’s a surprise:  Getting more sleep can help people lose weight!

In this well-designed study, people who usually sleep less than 6.5 hours lost weight by sleeping longer.

This research was published February 2022 in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association - Internal Medicine.

Researchers recruited 80 overweight adults who had a habit of sleeping fewer than 6.5 hours per night.

Half the group (40 people) were randomly assigned to attend sleep counselling sessions. In…

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The Problem of Sleeping Pills

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The over-use of sleeping pills is a significant medical problem. And it’s a problem that’s especially harmful to women 50+. A survey from the American CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) [1] showed that nearly 14% of women over 45 took sleeping pills on most days of the previous month.  

For decades, medicine has known about serious risks associated with sleeping pills — even while many trusting women have damaged their health with these drugs.

Since at least 2002, various researc…

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What is a sedative hypnotic?

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Dr. Kripke uses the phrase 'hypnotic prescriptions'. What does that mean?

'Hypnotic' is a technical word that refers to a sleeping pill. The most usually prescribed sleeping pills are classified as 'sedative hypnotics'.

A 'hypnotic prescription' is a prescription for this type of sleeping pill.

Here's Dr. Kripke's quotation again:

Receiving hypnotic prescriptions was associated with greater than threefold increased hazards of death even when prescribed fewer than 18 pills/year. This asso…

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Yoga is good medicine!

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Yoga has been popular in health & fitness for decades. Maybe there’s a yoga studio in your neighbourhood, or yoga classes at the gym or community centre.  

But you might not realize that yoga is more than just relaxation and fitness. Yoga is a potential therapy. Yoga is good medicine!

That was highlighted in a significant research review published in 2017:  Yoga for improving health-related quality of life, mental health and cancer-related symptoms in women diagnosed with breast cancer”.


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Yoga feedback!

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Thank you for all the feedback about last week’s post “Yoga is good medicine!”. It seems many of us are interested in yoga! Here’s some of your comments and my replies too.

Yes, I’d say yoga is a self-care practice supporting mental health. It’s been part of my life for many years, and I’ve seen many patients benefit from yoga in our MBSR programs. That’s why I highlighted the research in last week’s email. 

One member emailed to say she’s cautious about COVID so she’s not at the yoga studio…

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Want more purpose?

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In recent emails, you read that research shows people who score low on ‘purpose in life’ tests are at higher risk for cognitive decline & dementia. Clearly, we all want to feel a strong ‘purpose in life’!

Several of you sent reply emails, asking: What is 'purpose in life'?  Where can I find it?

Here below are two recent research papers that offer clues for finding more 'purpose in life'. These studies involved several hundred research participants, so they could be relevant for you too.


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