Posts tagged: insomnia

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Found To Reduce Insomnia

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Found To Reduce Insomnia
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults typically need seven hours or more of sleep to be healthy. However, statistics from a study conducted in 2018 by researchers from Perelman School of Medicine (which is part of the University of Pennsylvania) found that about 25 percent of Americans were affected by acute insomnia. Out of these people with acute insomnia, 75 percent were able to recover without their condition developing further into chronic insomnia while 25 percent developed poor sleep habits and chronic insomnia. [1]

How Do You Know If You Have Insomnia?

The researchers involved with this particular study defined acute insomnia as difficulty falling or staying asleep for a minimum of 3 nights a week for two consecutive weeks within three months. Chronic sleep, on the other hand, was defined as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep three nights a week for two consecutive weeks for more than three months. The University of Pennsylvania’s study is one of the first of its kind to include data from good sleepers: people who need less than 15 minutes to fall asleep and/or people who wake up during sleep but only for 15 minutes or less. They used this data to study the transition of good sleepers to people with acute and chronic insomnia. Apparently, 75 percent of the people affected by insomnia were able to recover good sleep within 12 months. 21 percent continued to experience poor quality sleep with episodes of acute insomnia, and six percent developed full blown chronic insomnia. [1]

What Can You Do To Improve Your Sleep?

Reports from a study conducted by Northwester Medicine and Rush University Medical Center found that living a ‘purposeful’ life leads to few sleep disturbances during the night, therefore improving overall sleep quality in the long run. This study was based on older adults aged 60 and older but the researchers are confident that the data they were able to collect could likely be applied to the general public. The actual number of participants in the study was 823 non-demented older adults who were aged between 60 and 100. To give you an idea of the study’s demographics, more than 50% of the participants were African-American while 77% were female. [2]

While there are many factors that are related to poor quality of sleep, one of the more common among the aging population is sleep apnea – and it becomes more prevalent with age. This kind of sleep disturbance can cause excessive tiredness during waking hours. Restless leg syndrome interrupts sleep because of uncomfortable sensations in the legs that make falling asleep more difficult.

Out of all these participants, those who believed they had a purpose in life were 63 percent less likely to experience sleep apnea and 52 percent less likely to have restless less syndrome: two factors which contributed to moderately better sleep quality. [3]

Dr. Jason Ong, one of the senior researchers of the study who is an associate professor of neurology at Northwestern says that having purpose could potentially be an “effective, drug-free strategy” for a population that is being plagued with sleep problems and insomnia. Through various therapies, this purpose in life could be developed and turned into an actual treatment modality for this condition. [3]

Mindfulness therapy is what lead author Arlene Turner suggests, which can be used to specifically target purpose in life and sleep quality. Specifically, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or MBCT uses cognitive-behavioral therapy and stress reduction in a set number of sessions, usually in group therapy. This type of therapy was initially used to manage depression but can be used for a variety of other conditions as well. Stress-reduction plays a big role in mindfulness therapy; since stressors can hinder the formation of a life purpose. Therapeutically, MBCT encourages participants to “adopt a new way of being” by focusing their thoughts and feelings which can improve emotional regulation and help develop a sense of purpose in one’s life. [4]


[1] Penn Medicine News. 1 in 4 Americans Develop Insomnia Each Year.

[2] Turner, A., Smith, C. & Ong, J. (2017). Is purpose in life associated with less sleep disturbance in older adults?

[3] Paul, M. (2017). A purpose in life by day results in better sleep at night.

[4] Sipe, W. & Eisendrath, S. (2012). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: theory and practice.

Health Benefits Of Glycine

Health Benefits Of Glycine
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Glycine is a nonessential amino acid produced by our bodies from serine. This amino acid possesses a few characteristics that set it apart from other amino acids, the most fascinating perhaps being the fact that it is the smallest and the only achiral amino acid so far discovered. Glycine mainly functions as a nonpolar precursor to proteins and is an ambivalent amino acid, rendering it capable of being inside or outside the protein. [1] In the brain, majority of inhibitory neurons utilize glycine as a neurotransmitter in their synapses. Together with glutamate, glycine is a co-agonist for N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors.

Glycine and Inflammatory Disorders

To date, there have an astounding number of clinical trials and studies associating glycine with anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and cytoprotective effects against inflammatory diseases. A review of recent findings by a research team from the University of North Carolina in 2003 notes the protective action of glycine against hemorrhage-, endotoxin-, and sepsis-triggered shock as well as its ability to put off ischemia/reperfusion and cold storage/reperfusion injury in several tissues and organs such as the liver, kidneys, heart, intestines, and skeletal muscles. The list of glycine’s health-promoting and inflammation-warding actions goes on, from its diminishing effect against injury in the liver and kidneys caused by toxins and drugs to its defensive power against peptidoglycan-related arthritis and various types of ulcers in the gastric mucosa brought about by either stress or a range of harmful substances. The research review further elaborates the anti-inflammatory mechanism of glycine in inflammatory cells such as macrophages, where it suppresses the activation of transcription factors and the formation of free radicals and inflammatory cytokines, and in the plasma membrane, where it turns on the chloride channel that stabilizes or hyperpolarizes the plasma membrane potential, holding back the agonist-induced opening of L-type voltage-dependent calcium channels and the consequent elevation of intracellular calcium ion levels. [2]

Glycine and Schizophrenia

Due to glycine’s affinity to receptors of NMDA, which mediate glutamatergic neurotransmission and in turn are involved in the pathophysiology of negative symptoms of schizophrenia, the amino acid has been explored by a few studies as a potential ameliorating strategy against schizophrenic negative symptoms. To date, treatments capable of theoretically increasing the function of NMDA receptors through enhancing actions at the glycine cotransmitter site are being developed in the hope that not only negative but also cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia may be improved. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover treatment trial by Heresco-Levy et al. (1999), who augmented the antipsychotic medications taken by twenty-two treatment-resistant schizophrenic patients with 0.8 g/kg per day of glycine, glycine treatment led to a significant reduction in negative symptoms and an improvement in Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale scores of patients, who manifested good tolerance to glycine administration. [3] Javitt et al. (2001) similarly reported significant improvements with respect to negative and cognitive symptoms among schizophrenic patients medicated with high-dose glycine plus antipsychotic treatment. In their study, glycine treatment induced a significant 34% reduction in negative symptoms among study participants and was associated with an 8-fold increase in serum glycine levels. [4]

Glycine and Insomnia

According to the study of Bannai et al. (2012), glycine enhances the sleep quality of individuals suffering from insomnia or difficulty in sleeping. In this study, study participants had 25% less than their usual sleep time for three consecutive nights and took either 3?g of glycine or placebo prior to bedtime. Those individuals on glycine treatment manifested reduced fatigue and improved daytime sleepiness, with improvements in psychomotor vigilance. Moreover, glycine appears to modulate certain neuropeptides found in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which may indirectly explain the role of glycine in improving sleep restriction-triggered occasional sleepiness and fatigue. [5]

Glycine and Cancer

Several recent studies have proposed glycine supplementation as an effective preventive approach against cancer caused by carcinogens. Rose et al. (1997) reported that dietary supplementation of glycine prevents an increase in hepatocyte replication resulting from a potent peroxisome proliferator, which is a nongenotoxic carcinogen and tumor promoter. After 3 weeks of glycine administration, basal rates of cell proliferation decreased by 50% and peroxisome proliferator-induced sustained increase in cell proliferation was hindered, possibly through glycine’s inhibition of tumor necrosis factor-alpha production. [6] Another research team in 1999 presented findings that indicate that glycine inhibits angiogenesis in tumors and endothelial cell proliferation dose-dependently, thereby preventing tumor growth. In this study, the tumors arising from B16 melanoma cells implanted subcutaneously in experimental mice had 50-75% less size among mice fed with diet supplemented with 5% glycine and 15% casein; the tumors in mice on glycine-supplemented diet also weighed nearly 65% less than the control group. [7]


[1] Glycine. The Biology, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, University of Arizona.

[2] Zhong Z. et al. (2003). L-Glycine: a novel antiinflammatory, immunomodulatory, and cytoprotective agent. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 6(2): 229-240.

[3] Heresco-Levy U. et al. (1999). Efficacy of high-dose glycine in the treatment of enduring negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry. 56(1): 29-36.

[4] Javitt D. C. et al. (2001). Adjunctive high-dose glycine in the treatment of schizophrenia. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 4(4): 385-391.

[5] Bannai M. et al. (2012). The effects of glycine on subjective daytime performance in partially sleep-restricted healthy volunteers. Frontiers in Neurology. 3: 61. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2012.00061.

[6] Rose M. L., Germolec D., Arteel G. E., Schoonhoven R., Thurman R. G. (1997). Dietary glycine prevents increases in hepatocyte proliferation caused by the peroxisome proliferator WY-14,643. Chemical Research in Toxicology. 10(10): 1198-1204.

[7] Rose M. L., Madren J., Bunzendahl H., Thurman R. G. (1999). Dietary glycine inhibits the growth of B16 melanoma tumors in mice. Carcinogenesis. 20(5): 793-798. doi: 10.1093/carcin/20.5.793

If You Don’t Sleep Well, You’re Not Going To Be Optimally Healthy

If You Don't Sleep Well, You're Not Going To Be Optimally Healthy
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Over the past few decades, researchers identified poor sleep as a primary risk factor for several physical and mental ailments. In fact, sleep experts believe that poor sleep will wreak havoc on the normal functioning of your organs – regardless of how balanced your diet is or how physically active you are. In this article, we will briefly cover the definition of healthy sleep, as well as the potential side effects of poor sleep.

The Definition Of Healthy Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation [1], healthy sleep consists of several elements, including:

• Short duration (15-20 minutes or less) between lying on the bed and falling asleep
• Regular sleep that lasts 7–9 hours every day
• Non-interrupted sleep during the night
• Feeling energized and refreshed in the morning
• Being able to be productive the next day without periods of exhaustion
• The absence of any abnormal behavior associated with sleep, such as snoring, sleep apnea, or restlessness.

Sleep Disorders

By far, insomnia is the most prevalent sleep disorder out there. The causes of this condition are multifactorial and include chronic anxiety, stress, and poor sleep hygiene. According to statistics, around 24-36% of insomniacs suffer from a type of anxiety disorder. [2] Moreover, researchers identified sleep disorders to have a primary role in many medical conditions, including depression, neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease), and heart disease.


[1] Sleep Foundation: “What Is Healthy Sleep?”

[2] Staner, L. (2003). Sleep and anxiety disorders. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 5(3), 249.