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8/27/2018 - Sleep deprivation makes people more emotionally sensitive; and various of my coping methods

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Sleep deprivation makes people more emotionally sensitive; and various of my coping methods
Monday, August 27th, 2018
14:24:30 GMT


Blog Post by Apollia, owner and administrator of Non24.Com and Non24.Org

I always had the impression that sleep deprivation and poor sleep make me a lot more emotionally sensitive, socially anxious, and more anxious in general than I am when I'm well-rested.


This old article I found recently on Scientific American confirms my impression:

Can a Lack of Sleep Cause Psychiatric Disorders?
Study shows that sleep deprivation leads to a rewiring of the brain's emotional circuitry
Oct. 23, 2007 from ScientificAmerican.com


Quotes:

In fact, psychologist Matthew Walker of the University of California, Berkeley, says that "almost all psychiatric disorders show some problems with sleep.'' But, he says that scientists previously believed the psychiatric problems triggered the sleep issues. New research from his lab, however, suggests the reverse is the case; that is, a lack of shut-eye is causing some psychological disturbances.

[...]

Fourteen subjects spent 35 straight hours without getting a wink before being rolled into a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanners where their brains were observed while they viewed a set of 100 photos that became increasingly disturbing as they progressed.

[...]

The researchers mainly monitored the amygdala, a midbrain structure that decodes emotion, and observed that both sets of volunteers had a similar baseline of activity when shown the innocuous images. But, when the scenes became more gruesome, the amygdalae of the sleep-deprived participants kicked up, showing 60 percent more activity relative to the normal population's response. In addition, the researchers noticed that more than five times more neurons in the area were transmitting impulses in the sleep-deprived brains.

Walker described the heightened emotional response in the weary as "profound," noting, "We've never seen a magnitude of increase between two groups that big in any of our studies before."

[...]

"I think we may start to think about a new potential function for sleep," says Walker. "It does actually prepare our emotional brains for next-day social and emotional interactions."

End of quotes.


Sounds right to me! No wonder I was such a socially withdrawn hermit for most of my life, especially in recent years, when I often had to struggle with fatigue (possibly from low iron or low ferritin) on top of my possible Non-24. (And I still have trouble with fatigue if I revert to my bad habits of self-neglect.)

I suspect part of the reason I became such a so-called "left-brained" person (one of my favorite hobbies is computer programming), and why I've often wished I could be even more like Spock from Star Trek, is because I often had to overcompensate for my intense anxiety by trying very hard to use logic to try to rationalize myself out of being so emotional.

I'm very glad the "left-brained" aspects of my character are as strong as they are. They help me tremendously, and without them, my life and emotions would probably often be a lot more difficult to endure.


So, that might actually be a good thing my sleep issues have done for me - they might have made me a lot more "left-brained" and logical than I might have been if I had never had to cope with such intensified emotions inflicted upon me by sleep issues.

And when sufficiently well-rested, I might actually have more self-discipline than the average person, due to having had to somehow get through my days despite often being exhausted.


But I think what actually helps me even more, and often feels much easier than just trying to stifle my emotions through logic and sheer willpower, is physical solutions such as getting enough restful sleep, eating better, taking various vitamin and mineral supplements, exercising more, and trying to get enough iron in my diet.

I've heard great things about veganism, but haven't tried that yet.


A lot more details of what I do (or used to do) are in my health diary blog posts part 1 and part 2 on my personal website.

And some newer details are in my food vuemaps and self-help vuemaps - though I am still pretty far from having what I would consider an ideal diet, health, and exercise routine.

Also, rather than a health expert, I'm just a layperson who hasn't seen a doctor since 2008 (if I recall correctly). So, please don't blindly mimic me or assume I always know what I'm talking about.


I definitely feel like drinking tea helps me quite a lot, and I think I'm much happier and better off with it than without it.

I feel like even caffeine alone often helps me to some extent, as long as I don't overdo it. I have to be careful, since I am far more caffeine sensitive than a lot of people. (Not sure if caffeine sensitivity might have been what made me get possibly Non-24 in the first place. But quitting caffeine for most of a year definitely didn't cure my possible Non-24.)


I like caffeine + theanine (found in tea) even more than I like just caffeine. I also like theanine without caffeine, but I think I usually prefer it with caffeine. Either way, theanine seems to greatly improve my mood and make me feel less stressed out.

I believe theanine might be the top reason why I usually preferred tea over coffee, and always felt like tea made me feel different and better than coffee does. I've read that theanine helps take some of the edge off of caffeine and is very helpful for stress.


I typically start my day with a mug of tea made using a paper teabag which I filled myself with 1 teaspoon of a caffeinated organic black tea, plus almost 2 teaspoons of whatever decaf organic black tea(s) I want.

I used to just use pre-packaged tea. But my tea-drinking is even more enjoyable now that I put both caffeinated and decaf tea in the same teabag, for both extra theanine, and for flavor.


I usually get tea from Arbor Teas, which sells organic, fair-trade tea, which is some of the best-tasting tea I've ever had.

And they have the best decaf tea I've ever had. It's made with the carbon dioxide method of decaffeination, which is reputedly much healthier and leaves much more of the flavor intact than other methods of decaffeination.

Another tasty way to imbibe some theanine is decaf organic iced tea. I find it especially good with lemon juice.

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