New Study Indicates New Understanding of Placebo Efficacy
Can a sugar pill help you feel better, even when you know it’s just a placebo? Groundbreaking new studies indicate just that.
A placebo is defined as an “inert preparation prescribed more for the mental relief of the patient than for its actual effect on a disorder.” It has been used in most modern clinical studies, to measure the effects of a drug against what has been deemed “no treatment.” However, starting in the 1950s, researchers started to see the power of the placebo in healing the body, and today cutting-edge science is showing just how.
Former organic chemist David Hamilton has been researching the placebo effect for years. He wrote about it in his book “How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body.”
Why Do We Sleep? For More Reasons Than You May Think
Most of us spend about a third of our lives asleep, despite not really having an answer to the question, ‘why do we sleep?’ Now neuroscientists are realizing that sleep is more important than previously thought. They’re also realizing that the worn-out platitude, “you can sleep when you die,” is terrible advice, as that day will undoubtedly come sooner if you short yourself on a good night’s sleep.
According to most contemporary research, you should be getting around seven to eight hours of sleep every night, and if you think you can get by on fewer than that, there’s a really good chance you’re fooling yourself.
Why is Sleep Important?
While the exact mechanisms of sleep are still being studied, neuroscientists including Matthew Walker have made interesting learnings about what happens when we deprive ourselves of sleep and the impacts sleep (or lack thereof) has on society as a whole.
When we’re awake, Walker says that essentially, we’re causing low-level brain damage. By this, he is referring to the build-up of the sticky, toxic junk in our brain known as beta-amyloid. This accumulation of beta-amyloid has been found to correspond with the onset of Alzheimer’s, among many other adverse health effects correlated with a lack of sleep.
Sleep is beneficial as more than just a healing function; it also replenishes spent resources and regulates hormone levels that dictate our appetite, cognitive function, and motor skills. The two hormones that dictate whether we are hungry or full, ghrelin and leptin, have been observed to flare up and down, respectively, when we’re sleep deprived. This inevitably leads to an increase in hunger, but even worse, it leads our bodies to crave unhealthy and fattening foods — those heavy on carbs and light on greens. In fact, people who run on four to five hours of sleep per night tend to eat 200-300 more calories per day.
For men, sleep is an important regulator of hormones, most notably testosterone. Sleep-deprived males can have the same virility and strength as a man 10 years their senior. For women, a lack of sleep can lead to a significantly increased risk of breast cancer and drops in immune hormones.
According to Walker, just introducing a single night of just four hours of sleep among a normal eight-hour sleep schedule, can bring about a 70 percent drop in natural cancer-killing cells, the immune assassins that target malignant carcinogens. Every day our bodies produce these cells and others to fend off disease and maintain our health, and while a cat nap might make you feel refreshed, it won’t make up for the loss of these cells.