The Brain, Stress and Sleep

Today we're going to talk about something that may help you to feel a little less stress, maybe even a little bit less depressed a study was done in the University of California Berkeley. And what they did is they took 26 undergraduate students ages 18 to 30 and they had the experimental group and the control group. The experimental group was to stay awake for 35 hours and then look at some pictures and see what it did to their brains. The other group, the control group, was to sleep like you normally would. So what they would do if they would be awake for the day, they would sleep at night and be awake the next day. Then they did fMRI scans on both groups while they were looking at pictures to see how the brain would respond. Now part of your brain that has to do with fear and emotional memory is called the amygdala. What they discovered as they were showing them pictures. Some of them were just neutral pictures other pictures were to be disturbing, meaning things like mutilated bodies, also children with tumors. What they discovered is that those who had been awake for 35 hours, the experimental group, their amygdala was 60% more responsive meaning that it was as if it was over active so that the fear center, this emotional memory part of the brain, was over active. I bet you've notice. Maybe you have had a couple of nights where you didn't sleep as well and maybe you just didn't feel as good. Maybe you were a little more cranky.  

It seems you were constantly thinking about negative things. Science now shows that when this happens, when we haven't had enough sleep. . . now we know this from personal experience. One of the ways that you can feel maybe a little less cranky, and maybe even a little less depressed is getting more sleep. There is a fantastic book that was written over a hundred years ago called, "Mind, Character and Personality" and it talked about this. It said, “The mind does not wear out or break down so often on account of diligent employment and hard study as on account of eating improper food, food at improper times, and of careless inattention to the laws of health. . .  Irregular hours for eating and sleeping sap the brain forces.”  So when you don't have regularity in your sleeping or eating. . . We talked about earlier in a video that if you eat late at night, or if you have food digesting in the stomach while you should be sleeping, that it can actually cause brain deterioration as a result. So too if you are not sleeping well, not getting regular hours of sleep and adequate amounts of sleep, you may have much more stress and maybe ought to get back to trying to get regular sleep maybe you'll feel much better as a result.