Happy Thanksgiving: What I’m Thankful For

Thanksgiving is here, so our minds have turned
To what time has taught us, to what we’ve learned:
We often focus all our thought
On shiny things we’ve shopped and bought.
We take our pleasure in material things,
Forgetting the pleasure that friendship brings.
If a lot of our stuff just vanished today,
We’d see the foundation of each happy day
Is special relationships, constant and true,
And that’s when our thoughts go directly to you.

We wish you a Thanksgiving you’ll never forget,
Full of love and joy—your best one yet!

Weird and wonderful world of sleep technology

These gadgets aren’t just tracking your sleep — although many of them do that, too. Some are designed to help you fall asleep more quickly by calming your brain or making your environment more conducive to rest.

sleep-technology

Somnox Sleep Robot

This bean-shaped Somnox Sleep Robot is about the size of a small cushion, and pulses as it mimics soft breathing and emits soft music to help you get to sleep. “It’s a sleep robot that helps you get to sleep faster, but also sleep longer,” says Julian Jagtenburg, a robotics engineer and Founder of Somnox.

The sensation of feeling with one hand the falling and rising of a breathing robot is odd indeed, but the soft sounds of falling rain/ambient music/the purring of a cat give the robot an unquestionably calming influence, while its sensors enable it to switch off the moment you fall asleep.

Beddit

This is a great sleep sensor (a small strip that goes under your sheets) that uses a highly accurate method (cardioballistic sensors- very sensitive cardiac monitoring) to identify sleep parameters (you have different heart rate, breathing etc while in each sleep stage). In addition, it can communicate with other sensors in your home to help guide your environment for better sleep (e.g., Nest). One of its many great features is the set-it-and-forget-it mode, where you do not have to turn it on each evening. Beddit gives advice based on sleep, noticing needs for exercise, or if your nutrition is effecting your sleep ( these are all self-reported by the customer and then linked to their sleep variables). There is a smart alarm feature, that will wake you up from a lighter stage of sleep, and the app allows you to review your data easily.

Recovery Sleepwear

Brady UnderArmour has developed sleepwear where printed on the inside of the textile is a ceramic reflective technology using Far Infrared. According to their literature: “The soft bioceramic print on the inside of the garment absorbs the body’s natural heat and reflects Far Infrared back to the skin. This helps your body recover faster, promotes better sleep, reduces inflammation, and regulates cell metabolism.” An independent study was done on this technology where sleep was improved in animals and one insomniac. It feels like a cool idea.

SmartSleep headband

Why wear a Fitbit when you could sleep in some ridiculous-looking headgear? Designed partly in response to research showing that 40% of people between the ages of 25 and 54 have less than the recommended seven hours sleep per night, SmartSleep is a soft-touch, lightweight headband with two sensors. The sensors collect delta waves of the deep sleep phase, with Smart Sleep then amplifying them to intensify deep sleep, and also minutely recording sleep phases. Unlike other sleep trackers that only monitor a user’s sleep pattern, SmartSleep can actively help people sleep more restoratively. The headgear is charged via USB, and links to a SleepMapper app via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

HUMU Augmented Audio Cushion

We’ve seen pillows with built-in speakers before, as we have gaming chairs that vibrate, but this Audio Cushion combines the two. A reasonably firm pillow-cum-neck support that contains two vibrating sound boards, it takes any source of audio and produces a rippling, resonating effect that accentuates bass and low frequencies. Connecting to a tablet, laptop or phone via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm jack, HUMU is able to produce a wider range of frequencies than any speakers or headphones, although it nevertheless seems most likely to be destined for strapping to a gaming chair.

BedJet, a climate control system for beds

The BedJet smart comforter is a one-of-a-kind system that uses forced air and a smartphone app to help you regulate your temperatures while sleeping. The BedJet’s blower sends hot or cool air, depending on your preference, through a hose that is connected to the provided comforter. The comforter, which is more like a dual-layer flat sheet, fills with air that keeps you comfortable. The “smart” label comes into play because you can pair the BedJet with your phone using the app. This allows you to program different temperature settings throughout the night. The BedJet V2 Climate Comfort System is an expensive item but it can fill the role of other appliances, such as fans, space heaters, and more.

Glo to Sleep Mask

This is no simple eye mask—in fact, it almost looks like a pair of goggles. Once you put on the mask, you see a blue glowing light on the inside of it. As the light fades away, you are supposed to drift along with it into dreamland. A bonus is that the thick foam surrounding the mask claims to block out any extra light that could impact your sleep.

Courtesy of CES 2018 https://www.tomsguide.com/t/ces/

Brain Stimulation Therapies for Mental Health

Alternatives to Drugs in the Treatment of Depression

It’s estimated that around 30 percent of people with depression don’t respond to typical antidepressants. This is known as treatment-resistant depression. An important alternative which can be life-changing is brain stimulation therapy.

brain-stimulation-for-mental-health

Brain stimulation therapy involves the application of [electric] energy over specific brain regions to modulate the function of neural circuits. This can help alleviate symptoms of depression or other mental illnesses that aren’t responding to typical treatments, such as bipolar disorder. There are five main types of brain stimulation therapies used to treat mental illness: electroconvulsive therapy, vagus nerve stimulation, deep brain stimulation, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and magnetic seizure therapy. Let’s explore vagus nerve stimulation(VNS) and Deep brain stimulation (DBS).

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)

Vagus nerve stimulation was initially developed as a treatment for the seizure disorder epilepsy, and in a happy accident, scientists discovered that it could help with depression as well. The FDA approved VNS for treatment-resistant depression in 2005.

If you’re getting this kind of therapy, doctors will surgically implant a tool called a pulse generator into the upper left portion of your chest. An electrical wire connects the pulse generator to your vagus nerve, which runs from your brain through your neck and into your chest and abdomen. From its command center in your chest, the pulse generator will send bursts of electric currents to your brain every couple of minutes. Pulse generators typically work for around 10 years before they need to be replaced.

It appears as though VNS can improve issues like severe depression by changing levels of neurotransmitters in your brain including serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, and glutamate. A 2018 study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry analyzed quality of life reports from 599 people with treatment-resistant depression, finding that those who combined VNS with other antidepressant treatments experienced significant improvements in their quality of life, even if their symptoms didn’t disappear completely. That points to an important fact about VNS: anyone receiving it will need to continue their other treatments (like taking antidepressants). Even so, it can take months to see a difference when using VNS, and the device could shift or malfunction, which may require more surgery.

VNS is not a surefire fix. Some people’s conditions get worse after they try it, not better.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS)

This started as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Then doctors realized it shows promise for easing depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, too. FDA approved deep brain stimulation for obsessive compulsive disorder, but not yet for depression.

Like VNS, deep brain stimulation uses pulse generators in the chest to send electrical pulses to the brain. Unlike VNS, which delivers stimulation in bursts, DBS involves more continuous stimulation but you should be able to customize the exact frequency with your doctor’s help.

The Problem: Both Deep brain stimulation and Vagus nerve stimulation describe costly and intrusive procedure involving an implant.

The Solution:

There is another non –intrusive, non-invasive and  way to target the vague nerve: cranial electrotherapy stimulation using CES devices. CES devices can achieve good result at fraction of the cost; and there is no need for an implant.CES therapy is simple and easy. Pre-gelled electrodes are placed in such a manner as to directly The compact size and ear clip electrodes makes it easy to use just about anywhere and under a variety of circumstances. You can your portable CES unit  at home while watching TV, doing the dishes, walking, studying, at the office while poring over a report, etc. You can do so safely, with no serious negative side-effects and at a fraction of the cost and none of the risks of a major operation.

re: > https://www.self.com/story/brain-stimulation-therapies

CES Can Enhance Learning

CES is an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Any betterment of these conditions makes it easier and faster to learn. CES also helps to improve memory and attention.

U.S. Defense is testing Electrical Stimulation to improve learning and military skills

ces-military

It takes years to learn some of the most important national security skills, such as speaking foreign languages, analyzing surveillance images, and marksmanship. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) wants to speed up that training process using electrical stimulation to enhance the brain’s ability to learn. The Defense Department’s research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), announced it had awarded multimillion-dollar contracts to eight university groups that will study and develop such technologies.

DARPA wants to see a 30 percent improvement in learning rates by the end of the four-year program. Studies will be conducted on human volunteers and animals. DARPA did not disclose the total value of the research contracts.

This isn’t DARPA’s first foray into electrical and other kinds of nerve stimulation. In 2014, it sponsored direct brain stimulation research in a project called RAM that aims to restore memory in people with traumatic brain injuries. And in 2015, the agency bet on electrical stimulation as a therapeutic technique for treating disease, awarding contracts through its ElectRx project.

For the new stimulation project, dubbed targeted neuroplasticity training, or TNT, research teams will focus on peripheral nerves that project into the brain and tug at memories. By delivering electrical pulses into the body’s nervous system, the scientists aim to modulate the brain’s neural connectivity and production of key chemicals. That kind of neural tuning can influence cognitive state—how awake you are, or how much attention you’re paying to something you’re viewing or performing.

If it works — if researchers can improve a person’s ability to learn—the DoD could reduce the amount of time spent training soldiers and intelligence agents. “Foreign language training is one of our primary application areas because it’s very time intensive,” Doug Weber, a bioengineer at DARPA who heads up the TNT project. Language courses last more than a year, and only about 10 percent of trainees reach the level of proficiency needed for their jobs, he says.

Weber says he envisions intelligence agents or soldiers wearing some kind of noninvasive stimulation device that delivers precise electrical pulses as they practice their skills. And unlike caffeine or energy drinks, the stimulation can be turned off and, hopefully, causes fewer side effects.

The teams awarded the research contracts will start with the vagus and trigeminal nerves. A team headed up by Stephen Helms Tillery, a neuroscientist at Arizona State University, for example, will study the anatomy and role of the trigeminal nerve—a cranial nerve responsible for sensations and motor function in the face.

Evidence suggests that this nerve complex has access to areas of the brain stem that release norepinephrine, a chemical associated with attention, and dopamine, a chemical linked to the brain’s ability to adapt.

Other awardees are focusing on the vagus nerve—a major neural throughway that connects most of the body’s key organs.

The researchers will likely face some ethical questions, such as the ethics of using enhancement on war fighters; and if electrical stimulation proves effective at enhancing learning, how pervasive and mandatory it would become in the military is unclear.

ref> https://spectrum.ieee.org | https://asunow.asu.edu

Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) for Anxiety

James Lake, MD - cranial electrotherapy

Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) has beneficial effects on many mental problems

Micro-current electrical stimulation, also called cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES), has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of insomnia, depressed mood, and anxiety but is not widely used or recommended by psychiatrists and other mental health providers. Treatment consists of applying very weak pulsed electrical current to the earlobes or scalp.

CES changes the brain’s default mode network

The mechanism of action is probably related to changes in cortical brain activity that cause altered connectivity in the so-called ‘default mode network (DMN) (Feusner 2012).’ Small changes in the DMN translate into sustained changes in the brain’s resting state and overall level of arousal resulting in reduced anxiety.

Research findings are positive

Sham-controlled studies and meta-analyses show that CES is a safe and effective treatment of generalized anxiety. A meta-analysis of double-blind controlled trials comparing CES with a sham treatment (ie, electrodes applied but with no current) concluded that measures of generalized anxiety improved in 7 of 8 studies, and the magnitude of improvement reached statistical significance in 4 of these. A larger review encompassing 34 sham-controlled trials conducted between 1963 and 1996 concluded that regular CES treatments resulted in short-term symptomatic relief of generalized anxiety symptoms mediated by direct effects on autonomic brain centers (DeFelice 1997). In a 10-week open trial of daily self-administered CES therapy in 182 individuals diagnosed with DSM-III anxiety disorders, 73% of patients reported significant reductions in anxiety that were maintained at 6-month follow-up. Significantly, one-fourth of patients enrolled in this study had failed trials on conventional drugs, and 58% had received no previous treatment of any kind for their anxiety symptoms. In general, patients who receive at least 4 to 6 CES treatments experience more sustained reductions in anxiety compared to patients who receive fewer treatments.

Individuals diagnosed with one or more phobias by DSM criteria reported significant reductions in transient anxiety when exposure to the phobic stimulus was followed by 30 minutes of CES treatment. Comparable anxiety reduction was achieved with CES and conventional anti-anxiety medications suggesting that CES may be an effective approach for phobic patients who wish to discontinue prescription medications. Hospitalized patients with histories of drug or alcohol abuse reported significant reductions in anxiety compared to matched patients who received sham CES.

Few mild transient side effects but no serious adverse effects of micro-current electrical brain stimulation have not been reported.

by James Lake, M.D. who works to transform mental health care through the evidence-based uses of alternative therapies. Ref: https://www.psychologytoday.com