If you google just about any health ailment or nagging symptom, sleep deprivation will be on the list of possible causes. Why is that? Because people are just too (potentially dangerously so) busy and plugged in to sleep these days. When we do sleep, we don’t sleep well.
From small children to retirement age, our lives are jam-packed with structure and technology, leaving no (or very little) downtime. If you ask a retiree, they will most likely tell you one of the most enjoyable things about retiring is the ability to nap when you want.
Improve the Quality of Your Sleep to Avoid Sleep Deprivation
What can you do to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep to ward off sleep deprivation? Start by unplugging yourself, literally and figuratively, at least four hours before your bedtime. Instead of focusing on the screens of a television, game console, computer, or cell phone, shut them down. Read a book, cook and savour a nice meal, or go out for a drink or meal with a friend or loved one. Without the phone.
Children Need Quality Sleep Too
This applies to your children too. Remember, you are their most influential teacher. They will pick up your unhealthy habits just as easily as your good ones. They do need routine in their lives but organized structure not so much. Kids also need downtime instead of being shuttled from event to event.
Sleep deprivation shows up in their behaviour and their health. Research has shown that overly active (organized) kids tend to suffer from anxiety, which in turn leads to poor quality of sleep. It is very easy to cut back on their organized activities. Let them play at home with their siblings and parents. Bring back the board games of our youth. Encourage older kids to read books or experiment in the kitchen. Simply slow down their lives, especially before bedtime.
Downtime is a Healthy Way to Reboot
Think of your brain as a computer that controls your body. Even the best computers need to reboot or update regularly to stay efficient and healthy.
Similarly, every cell in your body, especially those in your brain, needs downtime to repair and recuperate from everything we throw at them. Unfortunately, they can only recuperate or repair when we sleep. When we don’t provide these cells with quality sleep to perform this maintenance on a regular basis, sleep deprivation sets in and cells start to break down, causing all those symptoms you are googling about.
One minute of anger, stress, or anxiety weakens the immune system for four to five hours, while one minute of laughter boosts the immune system for over twenty-four hours. I’ve read these profound statements in several different places recently. I believe scientists are on to something. When chatting with a friend recently, I was reminded that anger causes stress. That conversation provided inspiration for this post. Read on to see how stress and laughter affect the immune system.
The immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that defends the body against infection.
The immune system keeps a record of every germ (microbe) it has ever defeated so it can recognize and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again.
Abnormalities of the immune system can lead to allergic diseases, immunodeficiencies, and autoimmune disorders.
For those reasons, it is important to keep our immune systems at peak performance.
Why Anger and Stress Are Unhealthy
Think about it for a minute. When something or someone angers you, your blood pressure rises, your heart races, and you get a sick feeling in your stomach. I know I do. But did you realize that the sick feeling you get can manifest into something more sinister if it persists?
The sick feeling resulting from anger or stress spreads throughout the body, wreaking havoc on all organs. It has been scientifically proven that stress has been linked to many health conditions and disease states.
Why Laughter is Healthy
Conversely, after a good laugh, you feel great and stress or tension is relieved. This improves your mood, your outlook, and even your physical appearance! Check out a previous article listing the specific scientific benefits of laughter.
Laughter is contagious as well. Difficult or awkward conversations or situations can be diffused with some levity.
Have you ever noticed that some people giggle or laugh awkwardly when stressed? It may appear that their laughter is insensitive or inappropriate, but alternatively, most likely their way of trying to diffuse the stress or awkwardness. I am one of those non-confrontational people that prefer to diffuse rather than fuel a volatile reaction.
Replacing Anger and Stress in Your Life
If you find yourself in any situation that evokes prolonged and unresolvable anger, angst, tension, stress, or sadness, move on and let it go before you cause any permanent damage to your health
Personal relationships are trickier to remove yourself from, especially the long-term ones. The process is much easier said than done, with lots of complications. Professional counseling, however, will most likely encourage extrication from these relationships and offer detailed steps on how to do so.
The Covid pandemic has resulted in a major increase in mental health issues. Fortunately, awareness of these issues and support for those affected have increased as well. Many governments are now willing to spend money on mental health programs, including online options.
Stress and laughter both affect the immune system. Stress impairs it while laughter improves it. In other words, aim for more laughter and less stress in your life for maximum health beneffits.
John Cleese, the English actor, and comedian of Monty Python fame has a theory on why political correctness is getting out of hand. Jon Miltimore published this theory on Intellectual Takeout.
Political Correctness Killing Comedy
He’s hardly the first comedian to say so, of course. Funny men such as Jerry Seinfeld, Mel Brooks, and others have complained that political correctness is killing comedy. Cleese, like Seinfeld, says he no longer performs on America’s college campuses, where political correctness enforcement is particularly strident.
In a recent monologue with Big Think, Cleese said the effort to protect people from negative feelings is not just impractical, but suffocating to a free society.
“The idea that you have to be protected from any kind of uncomfortable emotion is one I absolutely do not subscribe to,” Cleese says.
Cleese, who spoke to psychiatrist Robin Skynner about the phenomenon, posited an interesting theory on why many people feel compelled to control the language and behaviors of others.
“If people can’t control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people’s behavior,” Cleese says.
You can watch the entire monologue below. What do you make of Cleese’s theory? Is he right?
I agree political correctness is getting way out of hand in our culture, and not just comedians are noticing.
Political Correctness in Sports
For example, it is ridiculous that in our children’s sporting events everyone gets the same award, just for participating. No winners and no losers allowed; treat everyone the same. Competition is healthy. It should not be discouraged, especially if a child shows interest in an activity. Kids need to learn that people will be better than others in all of their endeavours. This includes sports, scholastic abilities, job skills, and any other activity. You excel at some, others not so much. You learn to win graciously and accept defeat just as graciously. That is a healthy skill that all kids need to learn.
My three sons were (are) very athletic and good at any sport they chose to play. Were/are they the best? No, but they learned to recognize and respect those that were/are better, more successful than they were/are. This is an important life lesson and important for developing self-esteem. Sadly, it appears that this valuable lesson is low on the priority list these days.
Anxiety, Depression, and Suicide
It is no small wonder that more teens today suffer from anxiety and depression than ever before. Teen suicide too is rampant, doesn’t it make you wonder if there is a connection to our current excessive demand for political correctness and the rise of anxiety and depression?
Suicide Prevention Hotline (USA and CANADA) 1-800 273 8255 It’s OK not to be OK
If you or a loved one suffers from anxiety disorders, PTSD or Autism Spectrum Disorder, mark your calendars for this mental health conference. Join Dr Douglas Turkington and Helen Spencer, both world-renowned experts from the UK, this coming (2019) October, here in Ottawa. They promise to share new insights into these increasingly common mental health issues.
It has taken years, but people are finally realizing that mental health is just as important as physical health. The stigma associated with mental health issues is subsiding and those affected are seeking the help they deserve. Research and information on the subject is changing constantly, but sometimes the medical jargon is hard to decipher. A conference like this, featuring respected experts, helps to demystify the information, sorting the facts from fiction.
TIPES (Teaching in Pictures Education System) is proud to support this “New Insights into Mental Health” conference; I in turn am proud to support TIPES and their incredible, devoted staff.
If attending this conference does not appeal to you, TIPES is also involved in another fundraiser in support of Ottawa’s autism community. Geared for family fun, this one collaborates with the Ottawa Redblacks football team…
If you were already thinking of attending the game or are looking for something fun to do Saturday, September 7, please order your Redblacks tickets through this link to support Ottawa’s autism community. Be sure to choose TIPES as the autism charity you wish to support.
Written by Jamie Witherby• December 7, 2018. Originally published by HVMN, modified for use here on Loreeebee.
In this article, we won’t just stick to why tea is so tasty. We’ll talk about the positive effects that L-theanine (L-thee-uh-neen) can have on your stress levels, cognitive performance, cardiovascular and immune health.
Tea is coffee’s coy competitor in the cutthroat, yet throat-soothing, world of hot beverages. Both provide daily stimulant boosts, both are great to share with a loved one, and both are steeped in rich and complex histories. But popular teas (like green tea, black tea, and even tea extract and tea constituents) have something coffee doesn’t.
If you have a cup of green or black tea in front of you, take a sip. Savor those tocopherols and flavonoids lending the cup its signature color and flavor. The tea leaves’ distinct bitterness is supplied by natural antioxidants known as catechins.1
There’s another flavor you should be experiencing, however. A pleasant, mouth-filling sensation that creates a rounded and savory taste, umami is often called the fifth taste after bitter, sour, sweet, and salty. Tea’s umami flavor is all thanks to the non-protein amino acid, L-theanine.1
A healthy body starts with a healthy brain. L-theanine has proven itself to be a powerful supplement for brain health by assisting with stress, sleep, attention, and memory.
Stress and Anxiety
If you’ve ever brewed a cup of tea to decompress from a stressful day or share with an anxious friend, congratulations—you have fabulous instincts.
Researchers have found L-theanine can reduce our physiological stress responses by altering the behavior of neurotransmitters in the brain.2 This isn’t a slow, thirty-days-to-better-behavior modification process. L-theanine is tough, immediately jumping on defense to supply these benefits.
Taking L-theanine is like hiring a bodyguard for your brain.
Our brains balance activity through excitatory (upper) and inhibitory (downer) neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of some of the major excitatory neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. The balance can shift, however, through an excess of these excitatory neurotransmitters. A shift can cause classic responses we’re familiar with like stress, anxiety, and the activation of the sympathetic nervous system (AKA the fight-or-flight response).
Taking L-theanine to mimic gamma-aminobutyric acid (a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain) can inhibit these excitatory responses and ease their physiological stress responses. This will allow you to enjoy a lower heart rate,2 lower blood pressure,3 attenuation of the fight-or-flight response,2 and reduced cortisol levels (major stress hormone).2,3
If the classic calming effect isn’t revealing enough, let’s pull back the covers on how deeply relaxing L-theanine can be.
To catch some Zs, first we have to catch some waves.
During sleep, it’s all about theta waves and delta waves. Theta waves occur in the first stages of sleep, generating two distinct rhythms of greater amplitude and lower frequency than the waking beta waves. Delta waves are the lowest frequency, highest amplitude waves generated during the deepest stages of sleep. Right before sleep, when you’re still in that daydream-like, relaxed state, it’s all about the alpha waves. The brain generates alpha waves during deeply relaxing activities such as meditation.4,5
If you struggle to feel peaceful during meditation or get your mind to achieve that quiet calm right before bed, L-theanine can take you there. Studies have shown that L-theanine can generate alpha brain waves in the parietal and occipital regions of the brain, leading to a prolonged calming effect.4,5 In a placebo-controlled study of young individuals with ADHD, L-theanine proved especially effective in helping them get to sleep and experience deep sleep.6
Sleep problems are often a concern for individuals with ADHD, and L-theanine proved to be a safe and effective therapy to improve sleep quality.
Focus and Attention
L-theanine has the power to both calm you down in the evenings and provide a boost in the morning. You know those days; lack of quality sleep the night before leaves you dull, each excruciating minute stretched out between sips of coffee. All that coffee can have a negative build-up, leading to a jittery, on edge feeling while desperately trying not to fidget during your conference room presentation.
The same amino acid that ushers you into dreamland can also deliver an attentive state of mind. Multiple human studies show that consuming L-theanine can increase focus, reaction times, and visual processing while reducing mental fatigue.7,8 Essentially, subjects in these human studies performed attention tasks better after taking L-theanine. Their overall mental performance improved.
Even when the mind is in a relaxed state and creating those alpha waves, it’s focused. Consider meditation: its goal is mindfulness, focusing on an inner calm. Meditating is a form of dialed-in concentration that also happens to be calming.
Maybe you’re a master of mornings but you can’t remember the names of many of your closest coworkers. Enter L-theanine, which can assist with memory.9
To be clear: drinking a single cup of green tea will not suddenly remind you of where you left your keys. However, consuming L-theanine over time could help protect the neurons in your brain from injury or cognitive impairment and contribute to the development of the hippocampus. That’s the part of your brain responsible for storing memories9 not the future academic grounds of the large semi-aquatic African mammal.
Start young, and you could even stand a better chance against the oxidative damage and memory impairment of Alzheimer’s.1 Oh, and remember how we talked about L-theanine reducing cortisol levels? Cortisol can negatively impact memory retrieval.11 Reduce cortisol levels, and you may be able to retrieve those memories a little more easily.
We’ve touched upon what L-theanine can do for the brain, but let’s not forget about its benefits for the body. L-theanine couldn’t let your brain have all the fun. So freshen up your tea, and let’s talk about what your new amino acid can do for your body.
Unfortunately, L-theanine is not the cure for the common cold. It has however been linked to increased protection against the flu and a boost in immune function when combined with another amino acid, L-cystine.12 This combination improves the production of Immunoglobin G (IgG), an antibody with a vendetta against infection, and glutathione (GSH), an antioxidant.12
Antioxidants are valuable because they help our bodies remove free radicals. Free radicals are these unpaired, unstable, thieving little molecules that steal electrons from our lipid cell membranes (also called lipid peroxidation). The theft causes tissue and muscle damage and contributes to some of the big name diseases out there: diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. L-theanine has demonstrated powerful antioxidative properties.13,14,15
Because antioxidants help us remove the free radicals that lead to cardiovascular problems like heart disease, L-theanine can do some pretty amazing things for heart health.
Leaves from both green and black tea have been shown to improve cardiovascular health all on their own.16,17 L-theanine sweetens the deal through its ability to mitigate blood pressure increases when the user undergoes acute stress. Translation? Less strain on the heart.18
Supplementing with L-theanine
Not a fan of green tea or black tea? Healthy adults can safely and easily supplement L-theanine at a dosage of 100-200 mg per day, a staggering five to ten times higher concentration than what you’ll find in a cup of green tea.1 So even if you’re already pounding cup after cup of the umami taste bomb, you may not be enjoying all of its benefits…or at least not as efficiently. Consider supplementing with L-theanine to warm up for your day or to cool down at the end of it.
L-theanine hasn’t been linked to any adverse side effects or symptoms in the neuropharmacology sphere. Keep in mind though, that it should not be mixed with medications for high blood pressure because L-theanine reduces blood pressure. As with all new supplements and medications, consult with your healthcare provider before taking it.
Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or a tenacious tea drinker, your mind and body will enjoy the benefits of adding L-theanine to the mix. To recap, those are:
Reduced levels of stress and anxiety
Increased sleep quality
Increased focus, attention, and memory
Increased immune function
Increased cardiovascular health
No matter what’s in your cup, we can all raise a glass to those benefits.