Why we need our 40 winks.


young sleeping woman seeing sweet dreamsProlonged loss of sleep either from anxiety or shift work is one of the prime causes of depression. Insomnia is also a major symptom of the disorder.


It is thought that all animals sleep, although some marine mammals such as the Porpoise, Bottlenose Dolphin, Beluga Whale and Pilot Whale and a variety of birds can put one side of their brain to sleep whilst the other remains active.


During sleep most animals are in an increased anabolic state with increased growth and rejuvenation of the immune, skeletal, muscle and nervous systems.


It is also thought that sleep is also a very important step in the process of  allowing new memories from the day to be laid down into storage.



Another reason has been found and reported in Science in October 2013.


Researchers showed that’s during the day waste products build up in the spaces between brain cells. These include proteins such as amyloid and tau proteins which are associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease


Their study showed that in mice the flow of Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) through the brain is increased by 60% during sleep thus bringing about an greater reduction in these dangerous wastes.




Science. 2013 Oct 18;342(6156):373-7. doi: 10.1126/science.1241224.

Sleep drives metabolite clearance from the adult brain.

Xie L1, Kang H, Xu Q, Chen MJ, Liao Y, Thiyagarajan M, O’Donnell J, Christensen DJ, Nicholson C, Iliff JJ, Takano T, Deane R, Nedergaard M.



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Connecting to Social Groups Alleviate Depression

art classA new research study has shown that developing a strong connection to a social group can help adults to reduce their depressive symptoms and to prevent them from experiencing relapse. This adds on to past research that advocates for interpersonal relationships for improved mood and managing depressive symptoms.

That is, having a sense of group identity (i.e. belonging to a group) as well as engaging in interpersonal relationships will greatly improve your recovery from depression as well as reducing the likelihood of you experiencing depressed mood again.

Haslam, Cruwys and colleagues (in press Journal of Affective Disorders) from the University of Queensland had depressed and anxious patients join groups in the community that focused on activities such as sewing, yoga, sports, art and group therapy. Patients who reported that they did not identify strongly with the social group had approximately 50% likelihood of continued depression one month later. However, those who developed a stronger connection to the group reported that they felt supported by the group and that they were “in it together”. Less than one third of these connected patients continued to experience clinical symptoms of depressed mood.

Know what to do to reduce depressive symptoms? Connect in with your community! It is not only important to relate to other people on an interpersonal level but also to join a group and develop a sense of group identity.


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Are you contributing to your community?

aus flagWith it being Australia Day yesterday I thought it timely to write a piece on community and it’s direct relationship on happiness.

International research has shown that happiness can be improved by contributing towards others and the local community. Not only does contributing to the community bring about a greater sense of belonging, it assists in the development of life purpose and meaning. Egocentrism and self preoccupation on the other hand dramatically impacts on negative mood states for the individual and everyone around them.

Many of us contribute to the life of those directly around them including family and friends by offering their services, giving them a helping hand and socially connecting and checking in about how they are going but how many of us contribute to the larger community?

You can belong to 1) yourself, 2) a family, 3) a social network, 4) a workplace or educational institution, 5) a community group, 6) a national community and 7) to the world.

While contributing to the community should not be at the detriment of your mental and physical well-being, finding a way to contribute in a meaningful way without too much consequence is important to well-being and long-term happiness and meaning.

What ways can you contribute to your community? It may be by attending and participating in a community event, it may be about contributing financially to a charity or not for profit organisation or volunteering your services to an organisation or educational institution for an event or on an ongoing basis. At the very least for those that are time or money poor, help someone across the street that needs it or take unwanted clothing to the community clothes bins for people less fortunate.

If you already contribute to your community! Well done and keep it up. The world needs more people like you.






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