Dr. Michael DeSanctis, PhD, LP, ABPP, DBSM, Licensed Psychologist April 2021 What price do we pay for irregular sleep-wake patterns and circadian clock mistiming? One cost is an unhappy and dysregulated gut. Our central circadian clock, residing in a concentration of cells in the hypothalamus of our brain and referred to as the suprachiasmatic nucleus, engages in cross-talk with all our peripheral organs, including the liver and gastrointestinal tract. This communication occurs along hormonal and neural pathways with signaling playing an important role in our mental and physical wellbeing. The gut operates on a daily rhythm just like our alertness,
During this prolonged siege of COVID-19, every facet of our lifestyle and daily activity has been called into question or challenged in some way. Sleep has been a casualty of these extraordinary times. It is obvious that insufficient sleep, night after night, will cripple our daytime focus, energy levels and mental clarity. We are all familiar with the feelings of surgency and buoyancy that derive from a solid night’s slumber. We are better prepared for the rigors of the day. Our stress tolerance is greater, and we are less likely to be irked by trifling matters. For those in practice,
To sleep during the day, perchance to restore clarity of mind? This is a subject of ongoing scientific research. Napping is viewed by many as a compensatory restorative process due to poor sleep the night before or for mitigating daytime somnolence. Studies have demonstrated that partial acute or chronic sleep deprivation at night leads to errors in thinking, mathematical calculations and erosion of working memory – the ability to hold information on our mental screen and act upon it.
In the COVID pandemic, preliminary research and anecdotal experience suggest that for some individuals nocturnal dream experiences have become vivid and recur regularly. Dream content may involve themes of helplessness, anxiety, fear about being infected or worry about death or debility.
It’s the time of year in the Northern Hemisphere when daylight length and sun angle relative to the horizon shrink to their lowest levels of the year, and the darkness of night descends in the late afternoon hours. And with that comes the mental doldrums of winter Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Individuals vulnerable to seasonal effects may experience anxiety, sadness, sleep problems, loss of focus, mental fog, weight gain and loss of energy or drive. Suicidal thinking is always a factor to consider when significant depression sets in. Body image can take a hit as there may be a