Healing & Emotional Wellness Roundup

This week: Is ADHD a sleep disorder? Headphones & masks protect against dementia; why obesity is metabolic dysfunction, not a habit problem; 6 Strategies for Exhausted working parents; Sleep & work right for your type: how chronotypes affect alertness time and sleep schedule.

My mom once forwarded me this story about a school for animals, where they were all taught and tested the same. Rabbits had to swim as fast as fish, and fish had to learn how to hop, etc. They were miserable and all felt like failures. Until they were allowed to do what they did best individually.

The recurring theme of this weeks roundup is: why you should do you, because science.

Many times, we feel like failures for not being able to do what everyone else swears works: the morning routine so many productivity people swear by, not getting results by following eating right and living healthy, or not being able to focus even with a full night’s sleep until halfway through the day, or even feeling wired right before bedtime after being tired all day.

Increasingly, the science shows we’re not all wired the same. And knowing how we are wired and optimising for that allows us to thrive. And to not feel like something is “wrong” with us.

Best Reads on health and & Emotional Wellness this week

  1. Is ADHD a sleep disorder?
  2. Transport noise linked to increased risk of dementia, study finds and masks protect against dementia.
  3. How a ‘fatally, tragically flawed’ paradigm has derailed the science of obesity
  4. Intuitive eating success or failure is tied to your genetics.
  5. Sleep (& work) right for your type: are you a dolphin, bear, lion or wolf? ideal schedules for each type.
  6. 6 Strategies for Exhausted Working Parents (or anyone burned-out by pandemic stress)
  7. Apps and sites making my life calmer this week

1 . Is ADHD actually a sleep disorder?

Last week I shared a link about brain fog, the inability to focus or think clearly, and how it’s often linked to sleep deprivation. Adhd people often struggle to sleep too, but that’s always been attributed to our supposed “hyperactivity”. A new study in Paris finds that giving drugs that treat narcolepsy help adhd people function better than ADHD drugs. Causing the researchers to wonder if inattention and distractibility might be the result of lack of sleep. The researchers suggest it could be the result of misaligned circadian rhythms (our sleep-wake cycle), which we’re gonna read more about further down.

2. How commutes increase your risk of dementia

A few studies have or are looking at how separate elements of transport like noise, pollution, and smell increase the likelihood of dementia later on. The noise study controlled for the effects of inhaling pollution by train and car. A separate study looks at how pollutants might reach the brain through our sense of smell (this is ongoing, so no results yet), as well as through community noise. A third study in Seattle shows that wearing masks while commuting may protect against cognitive decline in areas of high pollution. What’s clear is that pollution is becoming strongly linked to all manner of health problems, from asthma to lung infections to heart attacks.

So why does noise lead to brain damage over time? The study can only speculate that perhaps it’s due to noise triggering stress hormones chronically, and disrupting sleep. So noise cancelling headphones for people who aren’t driving, and maybe something like loops for those of you who are.

3. Obesity is a metabolic disorder, not a behavioural issue.

This is a long article, but the author (a journalist, and he has a book on keto, so I can’t say he’s unbiased) fires shots at the orthodoxy around obesity thinking (calories in vs calories out) in the medical world. He points to studies that show that in the obese, fat cells do not behave the same as in naturally thinner people – they simply hold on to fat much longer. Further more, there are many animal studies where the obese animals had their calories controlled and still gained weight. The author suggest that it might be time to acknowledge that we haven’t made strides in controlling obesity. That prior to WW2 there was an accepted idea that there were two reasons for obesity: one group ate too much, and another had a metabolic disorder around depositing excess fat. He asks that if we are to make progress in treating obesity, we need to go back to treating that model as valid, rather than kooky. It’s a compellingly written article.

“Among the most troubling [effect believing obesity is caused by excess calories] is that it inescapably transforms a physiological disorder — the accumulation of excess body fat — into a behavioural disorder, a character flaw. This makes fat-shaming a seemingly unavoidable consequence.”

Gary Taubes, journalist. Author of “the case for keto”

4. Feel like a failure at intuitive eating? It could be in your genes

Mutations in the MC4R gene prevent a sense of fullness. But one such mutation leaves people uninterested in eating, scientists report. The frequency of mutations for the “never full” variation are recorded as between 0.5% to 5.8% among severely obese British children. In addition, chronic inflammation – present in many medical conditions, including depression, schizophrenia and anxietyaffects the function of a hormone necessary to feel full. And that’s before we take into account “shallow dippers” vs “big dippers”, people who feel dramatically more hungry 2-4 hours after a meal because of big glucose dips.

Don’t feel bad about not being successful at eating “intuitively”. It’s not for everyone. I myself am probably in all three categories, but very much a big dipper. I personally prefer a 12 hour overnight fast, eating at the am equivalent I had dinner at. Relaxed and easy.

As with dealing with brain fog, dealing with the root causes you can have effect on – such as inflammation – goes a longer way in helping you feel better inside and out.

Give yourself a break about what/how you eat. Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

5. Sleep and work right for your type

Chronotypes are the sleep-wake cycle equivalent of blood types, says Dr. Michael Breus, Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. These cycles of alertness and restfulness are determined by a PER3 gene. Yeah, genes again. You’re not lazy or unmotivated.

The gene determines when different people are most physically or mentally alert and when they are most relaxed and able to sleep. Unlike bloodtypes, it’s possible to transition between one type and the next, and being a hybrid of two is also very common. I loved this article by casper describing an ideal work day for each chronotype, mostly because the one I identify with – a wolf – has their ideal day almost exactly aligned with how I discovered I work best.

Find your chronotype and calculate your ideal bedtime.

One tip for sleeping better? No alcohol 3 hours before bedtime. It makes sleep shallow and disrupted. A bonus tip for people who work late: no exercise 4 hours before bedtime. It keeps you up.

6 Strategies for Exhausted Working Parents – or anyone who is struggling with pandemic uncertainty.

Best tips?

1.keep a “got done” list. 2.Focus on the longterm outcome that makes the struggle right now worth it. 3 create names for the “seasons” of this pandemic 4. find an area where you have control: if it’s diet, a craft, a routine, a game you play. I’ve been pimping out my planner, for example. 5. do a little career planning – but not too much. 15 mins a week is fine. 6. mentor or support someone else. The whole article is gold.

Apps and sites making my life calmer this week

  1. The mighty (website and app) : like a hybrid of Instagram for people with health or mental health struggles to share memes and inspiration 🤝 Facebook groups for support chat. It sounds like it could be grim but it’s actually.. pleasant. The newsletters they send are supportive and informative too.
  2. Tayasui sketches app : I’m learning to draw on procreate and love it, but I also tried out sketches app this week and love that it has a little section with fun doodling exercises and adult colouring book activities. It’s perfect for low creativity/ low energy days to just wind down with a silly-but-creative activity.
Doodling activity of the day from sketches app. “Draw the wings”

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