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healthbriefs


Sufficient Sleep Supports Immunity A


study from the University of Washington, in Se- attle, tested the relationship of immune system functioning to lack of adequate sleep. To rule out genetic factors, which experts say account for 31 to 55 percent of individual sleep patterns, researchers tested blood samples from 11 pairs of adult identical twins (genetic matches) with differing sleep habits.


They found that the immune system was depressed in the twin that slept less. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans are sleeping 1.5 to two hours less than they did 100 years ago, and more than 30 percent of working people average fewer than six hours a night. Dr. Nathanial Watson, lead author and co-director of the university’s Sleep Medicine Center at Harborview Medical Center, observes, “Seven or more hours of sleep is recommended for optimal health.”


NATURAL SOUNDS


SOOTHE THE BRAIN Sussex University researchers in the UK tested the brain activity of 17 healthy subjects as they listened to a series of soundscapes from either natural or artificial environments. Brain scans and questionnaires found that natural sounds led to relaxation and positive feedback, while artificial sounds activated stress and anxiety-related brain activity.


Meditating Raises Spirits More than a Vacation S


cientists from the University of California at San Francisco, and


Harvard Medical School, in Boston, tested the effect of vacations and meditation on the genes of 64 women between the ages of 30 and 60 that were novice meditators. They all spent six days at the same resort in California. Half participated in a meditation program that included yoga, self-reflection exercises and mantra meditation; the other half did not engage in onsite medita- tion. The researchers also studied a group of 30 experienced meditators already participating in the resort’s meditation program.


Blood sample tests and surveys


from all 94 women were conducted at intervals: once right before their stay, once right after, a third one month post-vacation and then 10 months after the trip. All the women displayed significant changes to their molecular network pattern after the six days, with the most substantial genetic changes related to immune function and stress response. One month after the resort experience, all groups continued to display improvements. However, the novice meditators showed fewer symptoms of depression and stress for a significantly longer period than the women not participating in the meditation exercise.


8 Austin Edition AustinAwakenings.com


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