Exercise and sleep in Parkinson’s

Hot off the research press is a journal article with a self-explanatory title: Effects of exercise on sleep in neurodegenerative disease.

It starts by summarising the main things that affect sleep in people with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases as being:

  1. damage to the sleep-wake system in the brain, that affects the circadian rhythm and disrupts normal sleeping and waking patterns; and
  2. “secondary mechanisms” which include a raft of things like medication side effects, having to get up to the toilet during the night, poor sleep “hygiene”, sleep-related breathing disorders, and the environment in which you try to sleep.
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Magnificent mitochondria

Thomas Ryan and David Tumbarello, two British researchers, published a very interesting two-page review article due to be published in September 2021, but made available early.

It seems that mitochondria, the batteries in our cells, aren’t merely being driven by other, more high-status, parts of the cell. It looks like the mitochondria themselves might be in the driver’s seat, at least for some aspects of their activity. We should take more notice of them.

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Movement and Molecules

Below is an excellent article written by Gretchen Reynolds, first published in the New York Times and reprinted in The Age on 1 December 2020. Reynolds describes new research into the effect of movement on molecules in the blood and what that might mean for quality of life and length of life.

If you’ve ever thought that exercise of any degree or duration is over-rated, then this is the article for you: Link

Thanks to John Moeses Bauan from Unsplash for this gorgeous photo.

Does hair matter?

I’ve had several people ask whether it would be better to fit or shave off their hair so that the transcranial light device can penetrate further into the brain tissue.

I am a great fan of head hair. It looks lovely, feels nice and most importantly, it keeps your head warm. The has a lot of blood vessels close the to surface of the skin and being bald means that a lot of heat can be lost through the head. Hair serves a useful biological function as well as being of aesthetic value.

I would not recommend removing your hair, unless you have so little hair that the removal of the last strands will make no difference. If this is the case, then why bother! Keep those gorgeous strands.

Some people find that their head hair starts to regrow. Where there had been a shiny, bald pate, fuzz has started to appear. A comb may be required. Those remaining gorgeous strands might just proliferate. Don’t argue!

If you have a lot of hair, then flaunt it and enjoy it. Don’t cut it off or shave it off. You will still get red and near infrared light onto your brain cells. Remember that photobiomodulation works by the indirect effect as well as the direct effect.

Thanks to Neil in the photo, showing off his facial hair as well as his fine coiffure.

Sleep

Matthew Walker’s book Why We Sleep is a very good read. He writes beautifully and with well-argued clarity.

Prof Walker gives very compelling evidence that sleep is not an optional human behaviour – that if we want to live well and live long, then ensuring a good night’s sleep (every night and without drugs) will make that more possible.

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