News Briefs: Too Little Sleep May Lead to Dehydration; Happy Childhood Memories & Health in Later Years; Singing & Parkinson’s Disease

Study Suggests Too Little Sleep May Lead to Dehydration

If you wake up feeling groggy, it may not just be due to insufficient sleep. You may be getting dehydrated because you didn’t get enough rest the night before. Getting only six hours of sleep a night, instead of the recommended seven or eight hours, may raise your odds of becoming dehydrated, according to a study published in the journal Sleep. Researchers found that people who get less sleep tend to have more concentrated urine in the morning. The cause of low fluid levels may be due to a change in the hormone called vasopressin, which helps maintain hydration levels during the day or night. Vasopressin tends to be released more quickly and later on in the sleep cycle, so if you wake up too early, your body may miss its window to have more of the hormone released and a resulting better balance of fluids in the body. Dehydration, even in its early stages, can affect thinking skills, mood, and many other body systems. If you tend to be a short sleeper, one way to protect your health is to have an extra glass of water in the morning to start to get your fluid levels to a healthy level. Getting a little more sleep may help, too.

Happy Childhood Memories May Be Associated with Better Health in Later Years

If you haven’t had to cope with chronic illness or mood disorders, it may be due, in part, to happy memories from your youth. Researchers found that people with positive memories of their childhood, and in particular positive relationships with their parents, tend to be physically and mentally healthier later in life. In a study published recently by the American Psychological Association, researchers found that older adults who recalled affectionate mothers and supportive fathers reported fewer depressive symptoms and better overall health. The researchers suggest that part of the reason may be due to the way we use memories to guide our future behaviors and the way memories can affect our mood and stress levels. They note that people raised in a positive and healthy environment may be more likely to continue with that outlook and a healthy lifestyle well into adulthood. Conversely, sad memories and family relationships that were less than ideal can lead people to have a poorer sense of well-being as adults. Previous studies have looked at how childhood memories affect younger adults. But this is one of the first studies to suggest that the health of older adults may be strongly affected one way or the other by events and circumstances that go back half a century.

Singing May Provide People with Parkinson’s Disease a Medley of Benefits

Singing has long been a helpful therapy for people with Parkinson’s disease, as it can help counteract swallowing problems, respiratory difficulties, and a diminished speaking voiceÑall common effects of this progressive neurological condition. But recent research suggests that belting out a few melodies may provide other benefits, too. A pilot study out of Iowa State University and presented at the Society for Neuroscience 2018 conference suggests that singing may also help improve motor control, boost mood, and even reduce certain indicators of stress. Before and after hour-long singing group sessions, patients with Parkinson’s disease answered questionnaires about their mood and had their blood pressure, respiratory rate, and cortisol levels checked. Cortisol is a hormone whose release is associated with the stress response. Higher levels suggest higher levels of stress. Blood pressure, respiratory rate, and cortisol levels were lower after singing, although the differences were not dramatic. Participants did report lower levels of sadness and anxiety after singing, too. Researchers observed improvements in gait and other motor functions, which can be significantly impaired by Parkinson’s disease. The researchers found that singing appeared to produce benefits similar to those normally brought on by medication. This study included only 17 people, but researchers are looking to expand their efforts to explore more possible benefits of singing therapy and what approaches may be most effective. Community hospitals, public health programs, and retirement centers may provide singing programs for people with Parkinson’s disease in your community. After an hour or so of singing, you may feel better as well. MMM

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