A new study of nurses shows the importance of sleep—and staying aware on the job.
- A study of nurses found that an extra 29 minutes of sleep dramatically improved job-related mindfulness.
- Nurses that reported higher mindfulness scores were 66 percent less likely to experience symptoms of insomnia.
- Roughly 70 million American adults suffer from some form of sleep disorder.
Should you "hack" your sleep pattern? | Vanessa Hill | Big Think<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="af84e812903700afbdc0c73e6b7c619e"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1Y-qLKZWyDs?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>It shouldn't be surprising that more sleep leads to greater capacity to focus. Specifically, the nurses that reported greater sleep sufficiency, higher sleep quality, and less insomnia fared best the next day at work. The goal, however, was to track more than awareness. As Lee <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/uosf-shd101320.php" target="_blank">notes</a>,</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Mindful attention is beyond just being awake. It indicates attentional control and self-regulation that facilitates sensitivity and adaptive adjustment to environmental and internal cues, which are essential when providing mindful care to patients and effectively dealing with stressful situations."</p><p>In a sort of feedback loop, the nurses that reported higher mindfulness scores were 66 percent less likely to experience symptoms of insomnia. About <a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/almost-one-third-americans-sleep-fewer-six-hours-night-180971116/" target="_blank">one-third of American adults</a> sleep less than six hours per night. <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/insomnia-brain-health" target="_self">Problems</a> ranging from cognitive decline and weight gain to automobile accidents and immune system issues result from too little sleep. </p><p>If car crashes are more likely when drivers aren't sleeping enough, just think of the number of workplace accidents—an especially harrowing prospect if your job requires sticking needles into patients and monitoring their vitals. With an <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/sleepless-nation-why-eight-plus-hours-is-necessary-for-optimal-health" target="_self">estimated 70 million Americans</a> suffering from some form of sleep disorder, this is an under-discussed public health crisis. </p><p>The feedback loop from Lee's study shows the necessity of cultivating both more awareness and sleeping better. When you work in health care, it's not only your health on the line. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His new book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>
You're always in control of your breath.
- Anxiety is triggered environmentally and emotionally, but a physiological response quickly follows.
- Calming breathing techniques help to tamp down the physiological response of anxiety.
- The following four exercises are known to help calm anxiety and develop focus.
Stressed? Use This Breathing Technique to Improve Your Attention and Memory, with Emma Seppälä<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ac308f8ef7490814bcb4c1841725cf35"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/NrJZu6bGyHg?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><h3>Alternate Nostril Breathing</h3><p>Emma Seppälä, science director at Stanford Center For Compassion And Altruism Research And Education, says American culture values intensity yet undervalues calmness. We never shut off. While intensity has its place, every animal in nature inherently knows the necessity of rest in order to store up energy for when it's actually needed. Americans are careless with our energy reserves, which is why so many of us are chronically tired, overworked, and stressed out. </p><p>Seppälä knows that breathing changes our state of mind. She recommends a popular yogic breathing technique, <em>nadi shodhana</em>, also known as alternate nostril breathing. </p><p>Place the index and middle fingers of your right hand on your forehead. Use your thumb to close your right nostril while inhaling through the left nostril, then close the left nostril with your ring finger and exhale through your right nostril. Repeat this for at least two minutes, then sit quietly for another minute or two, breathing normally. </p><p>There are many variations of this technique. My favorite is a four-cycle breath: inhale for a count of four through one nostril, retain your breath for a count of four, exhale for four, hold your breath out for four. If you're new to this breathing technique, retention might initially create more anxiety than it relieves, so try the basic inhale-exhale pattern until you can last for at least five minutes before moving onto breath retentions.</p>
Mind Hack: Combat Anxiety with This Breathing Technique<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0cd55bb6ac6c7dd5daab3c29b7a82843"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7xalaT2FwS8?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><h3>Power Breath</h3><p>Game designer and author of "Superbetter," Jane McGonigal, recommends the Power Breath: exhale for twice as long as you inhale. She says this will shift your nervous system from sympathetic to a parasympathetic tone—you'll calm down. Simply sit comfortably, close your eyes, and begin by inhaling for a count of four and exhaling for a count of eight. </p><p>This is also a popular yoga breathing technique. As with <em>nadi shodhana</em>, it can initially kick up rather than diminish anxiety. If you find long exhales challenging, begin by inhaling and exhaling at an even rate: a count of four in both directions. Then try to slowly increase your exhale to a count of five, six, and so on. Longtime practitioners can inhale for a count of four and exhale for a count of 50. As with any muscle, you can train your breathing. The benefits are immense. </p>
Breathing Techniques to Help You Relax<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="56511aaa4d1c06cc65077b8daf7670fb"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RHpTR2wRc8c?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><h3>Focus Word Breathing</h3><p>Lolly, a Mind-Body Specialist at the University of Maryland Heart Center, offers what she calls Focus Word Breathing. Traditionally, this is known as Mantra meditation. Choose a word that has meaning to you—<em>calm</em>, <em>grace</em>, <em>ease</em>—and repeat it during every inhalation and exhalation. As your mind wanders, the word becomes a sort of flagpole that you've mentally planted to bring you back to this moment. </p><p>As a former sufferer of anxiety disorder, I remember how important my thoughts were when having a panic attack. The power of the physiological symptoms increased when I dwelled on negative thoughts. This spiral felt like being sucked into a vortex. By contrast, when I was able to redirect my thinking, the symptoms lessened. </p><p>Mantra meditation never completely worked during an attack. By that point, my physiology had been hijacked. But as a regular practice, this breathing technique is powerful. Think of it as training for the big game of life. You teach yourself to focus on beneficial words. Your attention goes where thinking leads you, but you also have control of your thoughts. By integrating a mantra with breathing, you're priming your mind to focus at will.</p>
How to do Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall) w/ AnaMargret Sanchez<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6ebcd48808f1ef73d5d35b9b4f58e8e8"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/YHxoiq1YivE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><h3>Deep Belly Breathing</h3><p>This exercise is commonly used by yoga instructors to bring their students into Corpse Pose (Savasana). Place your hands over your stomach while lying down and focus your attention there. Take deep, even breaths into your hands. As with the last technique, focus your mind there. Relax the muscles at your extremities: your toes, fingers, and forehead. Allow yourself to melt into the floor. </p><p>I love doing this breath while in <em>Viparita Karani</em>, otherwise known as Legs Up the Wall posture. The video above explains how to enter this pose; a blanket or pillow under your lower back makes the posture comfortable. Once there, I practice deep belly breathing. This technique always calms me down. I've recommended it to friends suffering from insomnia; they all responded with positive anecdotal feedback. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Reaching beyond the stereotypes of meditation and embracing the science of mindfulness.
- There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to what mindfulness is and what meditation can do for those who practice it. In this video, professors, neuroscientists, psychologists, composers, authors, and a former Buddhist monk share their experiences, explain the science behind meditation, and discuss the benefits of learning to be in the moment.
- "Mindfulness allows us to shift our relationship to our experience," explains psychologist Daniel Goleman. The science shows that long-term meditators have higher levels of gamma waves in their brains even when they are not meditating. The effect of this altered response is yet unknown, though it shows that there are lasting cognitive effects.
- "I think we're looking at meditation as the next big public health revolution," says ABC News anchor Dan Harris. "Meditation is going to join the pantheon of no-brainers like exercise, brushing your teeth and taking the meds that your doctor prescribes to you." Closing out the video is a guided meditation experience led by author Damien Echols that can be practiced anywhere and repeated as many times as you'd like.
A groundbreaking Stanford University study explains the areas of the brain that are impacted by hypnosis.
- Hypnosis refers to a trance state that is characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation, and heightened imagination.
- According to a Stanford University School of Medicine study, there are three areas of our brains that change during a state of hypnosis.
- This groundbreaking study provides information on how hypnosis impacts the brain, which could lead to new and improved pain management and anxiety treatments in the future.
Hypnosis: a brief history<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM4MDUzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODE0NTIxMn0.8i-niurp_iqtQtLAItVe4bYVzsCvP510dhMITGPs47E/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C52%2C0%2C52&height=700" id="ec42b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1af341304e578f5bf20858cb7e872c86" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="swinging pocket watch" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Along the way, there have been many pioneers in the feild of hypnosis research.
Photo by Brian A Jackson on Shutterstock<p>The "modern father" of hypnosis was Austrian physician Franz Mesmer, who gave us the word "mesmerism", which can be another word referencing a hypnotic state. Mesmer had an idea for which he called "animal magnetism" - and the idea was that there are these kinds of natural energy sources that could be transferred between organisms and objects.</p><p>Along the way, hypnotism has had many other pioneers who have furthered the fascinating phenomenon. One of the most notable is James Braid, an eye doctor based in Scotland who became intrigued with the idea of hypnosis when he discovered a patient in his waiting room had fallen under something of a trance after staring at a lamp. He gave the patient come commands, and the patient obliged, remaining in a trace-like state the entire time. </p><p>Braid's fascination grew and through more tests, he determined that getting a patient to fixate on something was one of the most important components to hypnosis. He later would publish a book on what we now know as the <a href="https://books.google.be/books/about/The_Discovery_of_Hypnosis.html?id=Vs35STwQYQoC&redir_esc=y" target="_blank">discovery of modern hypnosis</a>.</p><p>Later, James Esdaile, a British surgeon based in India during the mid-1800s established that this kind of trance hypnotic state was extremely useful in pain relief practices. He performed hundreds of major operations using hypnotism as his only anesthetic. When he returned to England in an attempt to convince the medical establishments of his findings, they paid no mind to his theory in favor of new chemical anesthetics such as morphine, which was <a href="https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/painkillers/a-short-history.html" target="_blank">relatively new at the time</a>. This is where the use of hypnotics for medicinal purposes halted and much of the reason why hypnosis is considered an alternative approach to medicine in today's society.</p><p>Jumping forward to the 1900s, Frenchman Emile Coué moved away from the conventional approaches that had been pioneered with hypnotism and began his work with the use of auto-suggestion. </p><p>He is most famous for the phrase: <em>"Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better." </em>This technique was one of the first instances where affirmation hypnosis was used and it has been growing through various counseling programs and therapy techniques ever since.</p><p>In modern times, one of the most recognized authorities on clinical hypnosis remains to be Milton Erikson, a well-known psychotherapist who did most of his work around 1950-1980. He was fascinated with human psychology and devised countless innovative ways to use hypnosis in his clinical practices. </p>
Scientists scanned the brains of 57 people during a guided hypnosis session.
Image by vrx on Shutterstock<p><strong>Changes found in three areas of the brain during hypnosis may suggest future alternative treatments for anxiety and pain management.</strong><br><br>Over the years, hypnosis has gained a lot of traction and respectability within both the medical and psychotherapy professions. According to a 2016 Stanford University School of Medicine study, there are three areas of our brains that change during a state of hypnosis - and this could actually be used to benefit us.</p><p>Scientists scanned the brains of 57 people during a guided hypnosis session, similar to one that may be used to help treat anxiety, pain, or trauma. </p><p><strong>First, there is a decrease in dorsal anterior cingulate activity. </strong></p><p>This is part of the brain's salience network that is responsible for <a href="https://www.alleydog.com/glossary/definition.php?term=Anterior+Cingulate+Cortex" target="_blank">psychological functions</a> like decision making, evaluation processes, and emotional regulation as well as physiological functions such as blood pressure and heart rate. </p><p><strong>Next, there is an increase in the connection between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the insula. </strong></p><p>The <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/dorsolateral-prefrontal-cortex" target="_blank">dorsolateral prefrontal cortex</a> is associated with executive functions such as working memory and self-control. The <a href="https://www.spinalcord.com/insular-cortex" target="_blank">insula</a> is a small region of the cerebral cortex that plays a significant role in pain perception, social engagements, emotions, and autonomic control. </p><p>This is described by the lead researcher of the study as a kind of "brain-body connection" that helps the brain process and control what's going on in the body. </p><p><strong>Finally, there are reduced connections between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the medial prefrontal cortex. </strong></p><p>The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex becomes less connected to the medial prefrontal cortex and the <a href="https://www.jneurosci.org/content/32/1/215" target="_blank">posterior cingulate cortex</a>, both of which are strongly associated with neural activity and cognitive tasks.</p><p>This decrease very likely correlates to the disconnect between someone's actions and their awareness of their actions, according to the lead researcher on the project. </p><p><strong>How does this change the way we view hypnosis?</strong></p><p>Understanding exactly which areas of the brain are impacted during hypnosis can pave the way for groundbreaking research into the use of hypnosis for medicinal purposes.</p><p>"Now that we know which brain regions are involved," says David Spiegel, MD, professor and researcher on the project, "we may be able to use this knowledge to alter someone's capacity to be hypnotized or the effectiveness of the hypnosis for problems such as pain control." </p><p>While more research is needed, the study is certainly a groundbreaking head-start in what could eventually be known as hypnotic treatments for things like anxiety, trauma and pain management. </p><p>"A treatment that combines brain stimulation with hypnosis could improve known analgesic effects of hypnosis and potentially even replace addictive and side-effect-laden painkillers and anti-anxiety medications," explains Spiegel. </p>
Ever want to move forward but find you're in your own way?
- Many of us are held back by the idea of ourselves that our egos have built and will do anything to maintain.
- Oftentimes this manifests as a fear of failure, an inability to start on new projects, or the evasion of responsibility.
- Here we have five suggestions on how to keep your ego in check.