Archive for June, 2012

That bad night’s sleep just might kill ya

Okay, not just one night, but persistent insomnia – constant waking in the middle of the night and difficulty falling asleep – can have life-threatening – and too often unexpected – effects. The news reflects the findings of teams of researchers across the country, many of them publishing their studies at June’s Sleep 2012 Conference in Boston.

Insomnia – the inability to fall asleep or remain asleep – may increase the likelihood of developing hypertension.

“The cause of hypertension in insomniacs is due to the number of times the individual wakes during the night as well as their sleep latency — the length of time it takes to accomplish the transition from full wakefulness to sleep,” reports Christopher Drake, associate scientist at the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center (Detroit) and lead author of the study.

Thirty to forty percent of American adults say they have some symptoms of insomnia in a given year, according to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health. About 10 to 15 percent of adults say they have chronic insomnia.

The researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center compared 5314 subjects Internet-based questionnaires on insomnia symptoms, presence and severity of hypertension and sleep health habits. “We found that the longer it took the subjects to fall asleep and more times they woke during the night, the more severe their hypertension,” reported Drake. Normal sleepers were compared to insomniacs for the prevalence of hypertension.

Cure-Insomnia-Brain-TrainingIn another study – of 5,666 working adults aged 45 older and all free from strokes and stroke symptoms, transient ischemic attack, or sleep-disordered breathing problems who were followed over a three-year period – researchers found that middle- to older-aged subjects who regularly get fewer than six hours of sleep a night have an increased stroke risk, even if they don’t have a history of stroke, aren’t overweight and don’t have an increased risk for sleep apnea. Importantly, the researchers found a link between getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night and strokes is strong among normal weight subjects but did not find the same link in overweight and obese study participants.
It is possible that short sleep affects stroke risks by acting on other, known risk factors: increasing blood pressure, spurring inflammation and altering metabolic hormones. Even after adjusting for sleep apnea, a known risk factor for strokes, the researchers found that a nightly sleep of less than six hours was strongly associated with a greater incidence of stroke.
Their findings are especially important because it is estimated that 30 percent of working adults get fewer than six hours of sleep each night. “We speculate that short sleep duration is a precursor to other traditional stroke risk factors, and once these traditional stroke risk factors are present, then perhaps they become stronger risk factors than sleep duration alone,” reported researcher Megan Ruiter of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “A lot of people say that when things get stressful and schedules get tight sleep is the first thing to get sacrificed. It turns out that it’s a lot more problematic than we previously realized.”

“These people sleeping less than six hours had a four times increased risk of experiencing these stroke symptoms compared to their normal weight counterparts that were getting seven to eight hours,” note Ruiter.

In a new report at the 2012 American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, researchers noted that individuals with sleep apnea may have an increased risk of so-called “silent strokes” and small lesions in the brain. “We found a surprisingly high frequency of sleep apnea in patients with stroke that underlies its clinical relevance as a stroke risk factor,” noted Jessica Kepplinger, M.D., stroke fellow in the University Stroke Center’s Department of Neurology at the University of Technology (Dresden, Germany).

“Sleep apnea is widely unrecognized and still neglected,” noted Kepplinger. “Patients who had severe sleep apnea were more likely to have silent strokes and the severity of sleep apnea increased the risk of being disabled at hospital discharge.”

The researchers report that 91 percent of patients studied – 51 of 56 – who had a stroke had sleep apnea and were more likely to have silent strokes and white matter lesions in the brain that increased the risk of disability at the time of their discharge; having more than five sleep apnea episodes per night was associated with silent strokes; more than one-third of patients with white matter lesions had severe sleep apnea and more than 50 percent of silent stroke patients had sleep apnea; correlations between sleep apnea and silent strokes were thje same for men and women.

“We have been extremely successful in helping our clients improve their sleep!” reports Dr. Flynn, PsyD, the psychological director at The Brain Training Centers of Florida.

Posted in: Health & Exercise, Sleep Issues

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New Study Shows Help for Depression

In Press: Frontiers in Neuroscience (July 2009)
Overcoming Depression through Brain State Conditioning

Vijendra K. Singh and Lee Gerdes
Brain State International Research Center, Brain State Technologies Inc.

Depression or major depressive disorder (MDD) is a very serious medical illness affecting an estimated 25 million Americans and millions more worldwide. It significantly changes an individual’s ability to function on a daily basis. Symptoms include persistently sad or irritable mood, pronounced changes in sleep, appetite, and energy, difficulty thinking, concentrating, and remembering, physical slowing or agitation, lack of interest in, or pleasure from, activities that were once enjoyed, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, and emptiness, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide and persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain. The cause of depression is not very well understood, but the disorder has a neurobiological basis (Mayberg, 2007). We hypothesized that depressed individuals have an imbalance in the brain (Gerdes, 2008) and conducted a pilot study of brain training using brain state conditioning (BSC). We found that depressive tendencies can be suppressed by BSC.
The study included four subjects (two males, aged 35 and 38 years, and two females, aged 41 and 60 years). Their goal was to overcome depression and improve sleep deprivation, cognitive performance, social interaction, decision making, attention and focus, drug addiction and dependency, motivation, mood stabilization, happiness and well-being, and physical health and balance. Depressed subjects were recruited by telephone interview, followed by the completion of an objective survey. To administer BSC, subjects were given an initial assessment of about 60 min. during which their brains were mapped, followed by four to six consecutive sessions of 90 min. each spread over two to five days. They were asked to complete Beck’s Inventory pre-BSC and post-BSC (Beck, 1996). Our observations were recorded and stored in a computer database and subsequently analyzed. The method of BSC was according to Gerdes (2008).
After the administration of BSC, all four subjects showed positive outcomes, including reduction of Beck’s Inventory score. The response to BSC was divided into two test scores: (i) BAI score for anxiety behavior; and (ii) BDI-II score for depressive behavior. Despite individual differences, all four subjects responded to BSC and showed noticeable reduction in the two test scores. The BAI score for anxiety was reduced by 54 to 100%. The BDI-II score for depression was reduced by 43% in subject code #2 and 80 to 95% in subject code #1, #3 and #4. Reduction in these test scores is a direct reflection of their response to BSC and the depressive tendencies were either completely diminished or significantly suppressed. Their sleep improved and they also showed lower level of stress, anxiety, and substance abuse.
Depression has a neuroanatomical basis (Mayberg, 2007). Patients with depression show dysfunctional neuronal systems in the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, temporal cortex and basal ganglia (Mayberg, 2007). They also showed neuronal loss in the hippocampus (McMaster et al., 2008) and low levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) (Sen et al., 2008). Since the hippocampus is the primary brain region involved in memory function, hippocampal loss of neurons may explain cognitive decline in patients with depression. Amongst all mental health issues, depression is the single most common problem in adults. The disorder is no longer restricted to adults since many children are also diagnosed with depression. Although depression has a common clinical presentation, symptoms vary from one patient to another, which may imply that depression is a heterogeneous disorder possibly comprised of subsets. This also means that no single treatment will be solely effective for depression and each subset will require highly personalized modalities. In this respect, we suggest that BSC is a novel approach to brain training for alleviating the suffering from depression.
Acknowledgment: We thank the entire BST staff for their help with this study.
References
Beck, A. T. (1996). Beck’s Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and Beck’s Depression Inventory, 2nd Edition (BDI-II), The Psychological Corporation, Harcourt Brace & Company, San Antonio, Texas, USA.
Gerdes, L. (2008). Limitless You: the infinite possibilities of a balanced brain. (Vancouver BC., Canada, Namaste Publishing ), pp. 1-281.
MacMaster, F. P., Mirza, Y., and Szeszko, P. R. (2008). Amygdala and hippocampal volumes in familial onset major depressive disorder. Biol. Psychiatr. 63, 385-390.
Mayberg, H. (2007). Brain pathway may underlie depression. Sci. Am. 17, 26-31.
Sen, S., Duman, R., and Sanacora, G. (2008). Serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor, depression, and antidepressant medications: meta-analysis and implications. Biol. Psychiatr. 64, 527-532.

In Press: Frontiers in Neuroscience (July 2009)
Overcoming Depression through Brain State Conditioning

Vijendra K. Singh and Lee Gerdes
Brain State International Research Center, Brain State Technologies Inc.

Depression or major depressive disorder (MDD) is a very serious medical illness affecting an estimated 25 million Americans and millions more worldwide. It significantly changes an individual’s ability to function on a daily basis. Symptoms include persistently sad or irritable mood, pronounced changes in sleep, appetite, and energy, difficulty thinking, concentrating, and remembering, physical slowing or agitation, lack of interest in, or pleasure from, activities that were once enjoyed, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, and emptiness, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide and persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain. The cause of depression is not very well understood, but the disorder has a neurobiological basis (Mayberg, 2007). We hypothesized that depressed individuals have an imbalance in the brain (Gerdes, 2008) and conducted a pilot study of brain training using brain state conditioning (BSC). We found that depressive tendencies can be suppressed by BSC.
The study included four subjects (two males, aged 35 and 38 years, and two females, aged 41 and 60 years). Their goal was to overcome depression and improve sleep deprivation, cognitive performance, social interaction, decision making, attention and focus, drug addiction and dependency, motivation, mood stabilization, happiness and well-being, and physical health and balance. Depressed subjects were recruited by telephone interview, followed by the completion of an objective survey. To administer BSC, subjects were given an initial assessment of about 60 min. during which their brains were mapped, followed by four to six consecutive sessions of 90 min. each spread over two to five days. They were asked to complete Beck’s Inventory pre-BSC and post-BSC (Beck, 1996). Our observations were recorded and stored in a computer database and subsequently analyzed. The method of BSC was according to Gerdes (2008).
After the administration of BSC, all four subjects showed positive outcomes, including reduction of Beck’s Inventory score. The response to BSC was divided into two test scores: (i) BAI score for anxiety behavior; and (ii) BDI-II score for depressive behavior. Despite individual differences, all four subjects responded to BSC and showed noticeable reduction in the two test scores. The BAI score for anxiety was reduced by 54 to 100%. The BDI-II score for depression was reduced by 43% in subject code #2 and 80 to 95% in subject code #1, #3 and #4. Reduction in these test scores is a direct reflection of their response to BSC and the depressive tendencies were either completely diminished or significantly suppressed. Their sleep improved and they also showed lower level of stress, anxiety, and substance abuse.
Depression has a neuroanatomical basis (Mayberg, 2007). Patients with depression show dysfunctional neuronal systems in the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, temporal cortex and basal ganglia (Mayberg, 2007). They also showed neuronal loss in the hippocampus (McMaster et al., 2008) and low levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) (Sen et al., 2008). Since the hippocampus is the primary brain region involved in memory function, hippocampal loss of neurons may explain cognitive decline in patients with depression. Amongst all mental health issues, depression is the single most common problem in adults. The disorder is no longer restricted to adults since many children are also diagnosed with depression. Although depression has a common clinical presentation, symptoms vary from one patient to another, which may imply that depression is a heterogeneous disorder possibly comprised of subsets. This also means that no single treatment will be solely effective for depression and each subset will require highly personalized modalities. In this respect, we suggest that BSC is a novel approach to brain training for alleviating the suffering from depression.
Acknowledgment: We thank the entire BST staff for their help with this study.
References
Beck, A. T. (1996). Beck’s Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and Beck’s Depression Inventory, 2nd Edition (BDI-II), The Psychological Corporation, Harcourt Brace & Company, San Antonio, Texas, USA.
Gerdes, L. (2008). Limitless You: the infinite possibilities of a balanced brain. (Vancouver BC., Canada, Namaste Publishing ), pp. 1-281.
MacMaster, F. P., Mirza, Y., and Szeszko, P. R. (2008). Amygdala and hippocampal volumes in familial onset major depressive disorder. Biol. Psychiatr. 63, 385-390.
Mayberg, H. (2007). Brain pathway may underlie depression. Sci. Am. 17, 26-31.
Sen, S., Duman, R., and Sanacora, G. (2008). Serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor, depression, and antidepressant medications: meta-analysis and implications. Biol. Psychiatr. 64, 527-532.

Posted in: Brain Training, Depression

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