Does the Moon affect your sleep?

Comment: Interesting study on the impact of a full moon on sleep. It appears from this research discussed at that in the days leading up to a full moon you are more likely to go to bed later and sleep less.

For centuries, humans have blamed the moon for our moods, accidents and even natural disasters. But new research indicates that our planet’s celestial companion impacts something else entirely — our sleep.

In a paper published Jan. 27 in Science Advances, scientists at the University of Washington, the National University of Quilmes in Argentina and Yale University report that sleep cycles in people oscillate during the 29.5-day lunar cycle: In the days leading up to a full moon, people go to sleep later in the evening and sleep for shorter periods of time.

The research team, led by UW professor of biology Horacio de la Iglesia, observed these variations in both the time of sleep onset and the duration of sleep in urban and rural settings — from Indigenous communities in northern Argentina to college students in Seattle, a city of more than 750,000. They saw the oscillations regardless of an individual’s access to electricity, though the variations are less pronounced in individuals living in urban environments…

Click here for original article at 


Change your lifestyle to impact your mental health

Comment: Over the years I have seen clients who experience a wide range of concerns, they are sometimes surprised when I focus on the basics of health –  nutrition, exercise, sleep, substance use, stress management. There is a complex relationship between these factors and mental health and it is often a “chicken and the egg” issue of which comes first. The bottom line is that we are one system  – mental health is supported by physical health and vice versa. This short article from the conversation highlights the importance of lifestyle medicine.

Remember: For physical health concerns, the first point of call should be your local doctor.

The majority of Americans are stressedsleep-deprived and overweight and suffer from largely preventable lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Being overweight or obese contributes to the 50% of adults who suffer high blood pressure10% with diabetes and additional 35% with pre-diabetes. And the costs are unaffordable and growing. About 90% of the nearly $4 trillion Americans spend annually for health care in the U.S. is for chronic diseases and mental health conditions. But there are new lifestyle “medicines” that are free that doctors could be prescribing for all their patients.

Lifestyle medicine is the clinical application of healthy behaviors to prevent, treat and reverse disease. More than ever, research underscores that the “pills” today’s physician should be prescribing for patients are the six domains of lifestyle medicine: whole food plant-based eating, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, addiction reduction or elimination, and positive psychology and social connection.

Click for article

High Blood Pressure – Take Action

Comment: I found a short article on myths associated with high blood pressure (Hypertension) – In the USA it is estimated that 45% of adults have hypertension. The bottom line get assessed by a medico and take preventive action to avoid health issues.

This is the list of myths in a newsletter by Medical news Today

  • Blood pressure is not serious
  • Hypertension runs in my family, so there is nothing I can do
  • High blood pressure is inevitable with age
  • I would notice symptoms if I had hypertension
  • I do not use table salt, so I do not need to worry about sodium intake
  • When my blood pressure responds to medication, I can stop taking it
  • Hypertension is curable

The article highlights the importance of being assessed and taking action – medication and or lifestyle modifications. The next time you see a doctor ask them to check your blood pressure.

Link to article

New Guidelines – Physical Activity

Comment: In reading these new WHO guidelines on amount of daily recommended physical activity we should be undertaking, it may be challenging to consider how will I achieve this goal as “I do not have the time”. Often the answer is not easy and involves a restructuring of how we undertake our daily activities. To restructure and maintain the behaviours involves (where possible) moving “health” up our list of priorities

The WHO Guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour provide evidence-based public health recommendations for children, adolescents, adults and older adults on the amount of physical activity (frequency, intensity and duration) required to offer significant health benefits and mitigate health risks. For the first time, recommendations are provided on the associations between sedentary behaviour and health outcomes, as well as for subpopulations, such as pregnant and postpartum women, and people living with chronic conditions or disability. 

Adults should do at least 150– 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity; or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week, for substantial health benefits.

Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities at moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these provide additional health benefits.

Link to WHO Report

Lifestyle, ageing and health – more research

Comment: This article from The Guardian examines findings from the global burden of disease study published in The Lancet in October 2020. Information about preventable diseases has long been known yet global/national preventive programs have in general failed. The reasons for the failure are complex and relate to social inequities, politics, access and beliefs/values. Itis a major area of focus for health psychologists.

Australians are living longer lives but in poorer health, as smoking, obesity and poor diets continue to leave people susceptible to disease and death.

The latest findings from the global burden of disease study, published in the international medical journal the Lancet, analysed 286 causes of death, 369 diseases and injuries, and 87 risk factors in 204 countries and territories.

It found that while healthy life expectancy in Australia has increased steadily over 30 years to 70 years in 2019 (a 4.1-year increase from 1990), this had not risen as much as overall life expectancy (82.9 years in 2019; a 5.9-year increase from 1990), indicating that people are living longer in poor health.

Link to original The Guardian Article ; Link to The Lancet edition

Exercise and health – More evidence

Published in the Business Insider – HIIT workouts are linked to better mental health and longer, healthier lives, according to a new study

  • High intensity interval training could boost health and lifespan for adults over 70, according to a new study.
  • Researchers found that people who did strenuous exercise twice a week had better mental and physical health and fitness than those who did moderate exercise.
  • They were also slightly less likely to die during the five-year period, suggesting HIIT could potentially extend lifespan, in addition to improving quality of life.

For original article click here

For the original research click this link: Effect of exercise training for five years on all cause mortality in older adults—the Generation 100 study: randomised controlled trial

Lifestyle and Dementia

Comment: As we get older forgetfulness can generate anxiety about underlying cognitive decline. There has been an on going debate about whether lifestyle changes could impact upon cognitive decline. A recent Australian study adds to the debate and supports the view that lifestyle change is potentially useful in slowing cognitive decline.

Some experts argue that about 50 per cent of dementia is preventable through things like maximising education early in life, keeping your blood pressure down, not smoking, having a good diet, avoiding diabetes and obesity, reasonably intense exercise and maintaining a good social network. Well, a consortium of Australian universities and research centres have just published the results of a randomised trial into a cocktail of non-drug interventions to see if they help people whose thinking and memory are impaired or declining.

Click here to the link of an ABC news broadcast with Dr Norman Swan interviewing Professor Anstey.


Comment: In the time of Covid-19 understanding the factors that govern loneliness has become even more important. A new approach is an attempt to examine whether loneliness can be measured in the brain.

Loneliness – empty swing in mysterious fog

Why do you feel lonely? Neuroscience is starting to find answers.

Long before the world had ever heard of covid-19, Kay Tye set out to answer a question that has taken on new resonance in the age of social distancing: When people feel lonely, do they crave social interactions in the same way a hungry person craves food? And could she and her colleagues detect and measure this “hunger” in the neural circuits of the brain?……Click here for original article in the MIT Technology Review