Stimulating This Nerve May Reduce Chronic Stress in the Body

Stimulating This Nerve May Reduce Chronic Stress in the Body

A flurry of new research has been pointing to one nerve that just may be the key to true health and wellbeing.

The vagus nerve, which comes from the Latin word for “wandering”, is the longest and most complex nerve in the human body, traveling from the brain stem all the way down to the colon.

Dr. Donese Worden is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor who has been closely following the research. “The vagus nerve is like an information superhighway, and it goes back and forth from the brain to the organs, and now we know it communicates with the microbiome,” she said.

“It specifically really works on talking to the heart, the lungs, the gut, and the brain. And the feedback goes both ways. So when we’re upset about something, if you feel hungry, you’re short of breath, your heart is beating fast, it’s because of that information traveling back up to the brain from the nervous system saying ‘something is up and we need to take care of it.'”

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Why Do We Sleep? For More Reasons Than You May Think

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.

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