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Can Exercise Cure Alcoholism?

Post by Sarah Wilde

 Exercise may be an effective and nonpharmacologic treatment option for alcohol dependence.

Likewise, according to ScienceDaily, circadian disruptions can also lead to alcohol abuse as well as relapse in abstinent alcoholics.   Circadian rhythms, which refers to the timing of daily rhythms, can be - no surprise - highly disrupted by alcohol abuse.   A new animal study has used hamsters to test for the influence of wheel-running on alcohol intake.  Results indicate that exercise, perhaps through stimulation of brain reward pathways, may be able to reduce alcohol intake in humans. 

“Alcohol abuse, characterized by routine craving for and consumption of alcohol as well as an inability to function normally without it, disrupts both the timing and consolidation of daily circadian rhythms — when to sleep, eat, and mate — driven by the brain circadian clock,” explained J. David Glass, professor of biological sciences at Kent State University and corresponding author for the study. “With continual alcohol use, one may go to bed too early or late, not sleep across the night, and have an unusual eating regime, eating little throughout the day and/or overeating at night. This can lead to a vicious cycle of drinking because these individuals, in response, will consume more alcohol to fall asleep easier only to complain of more disrupted sleep across the night and additionally have a greater craving for alcohol.”

In other words, said Alan M. Rosenwasser, professor of psychology at the University of Maine, chronic alcohol abuse and circadian disruption become reciprocally destructive and result in negative effects on physical and emotional health.  By getting  proper exercise at key points in the day, alcoholics and others alike can improve their circadian regulation to improve their sleep habits and reduce their need for alcohol.  While this does not mean that exercise is the cure for alcoholism, it is further evidence that exercise is important to the regulation of Circadian rhythm, which is why both areas are key components in the LifeSkills Authorities Recovery Coaching programs.   

Results will be published in the September 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental ResearchRead the full article at Science Daily.

Have you used exercise as part of your recovery plan?    Tell us more.

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Are the “Big Six” Your Key to Health and Happiness? Part 1 of 6

Post by Michael Plahn

This is the first installment of a six-part series to describe what I believe is the key to health and happiness as I have learned and personally experienced.  It is doubtful that each of these areas will be controversial, and when followed, the changes that I will suggest have proven without fail to help every one of my clients, when they take the suggested actions.  In just six installments, you may have the answer to achieve optimal health just by reading the LifeSkills Authorities Blog. With the goal to help identify the keys to optimal health for my own life and clients, I have read books, attended classes, acquired certifications, and listened to lectures by amazing individuals.  What I have learned through countless hours of studying, learning, and experimenting, can be summarized in a simple acronym: “To Be Healthy Never Eat Carrots.”  That’s it you ask?   Here’s what the acronym TBHNEC actually stands for:

  • Thoughts
  • Breathing
  • Hydration
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Circadian Rhythms

It is not about having a rigid stance of boycotting that beautiful orange produce…far from it.  I’ll start explaining The Big Six, as I call them, with the last one first, Circadian Rhythms.  Since this one can be extremely complicated, I will focus on one system of the body under this topic.  Basically, it means sleep patterns.  I promise you, it is important not just how much total sleep you get each night.  There are other areas that are crucial to achieve success in this area.  Ask yourself, not just how much sleep you get regularly (by the way I have heard experts say that their studies show that we need between 8.5-10.5 hours every night!), but all of the following questions:

  • Is your sleep continuous or do you wake up throughout the night?
  • What time did you go to sleep? (studies suggest optimum is near sundown)
  • What time did you wake up? (studies suggest optimum is near sunrise)

I work with two groups of people on these questions:  1) Busy executives who are highly stressed and have poor stress management strategies, or who travel extensively. 2) People not feeling well or whose health has begun to suffer and their physician has told them they need to get more sleep and take better care of themselves.  The reason it is only these two groups is because this is a very difficult area to effectuate change in people.  I have much more success with nutrition, exercise and the other areas in the Big 6, but nobody wants to go to bed early it seems.  I am not entirely certain why this is, but my suspicion is that people are so over-stimulated and attempt to pack so much into their lives, personally and professionally, that they simply cannot afford to “waste” valuable hours sleeping. There are some  techniques that fall into what is called “sleep hygiene” that can make a tremendous difference to help some people fall asleep and stay asleep.  Sleep hygeine can be described as the actions, habits, or predictable things people do to tell their bodies that it is time to prepare to sleep.  Experts suggest to turn off lights, the computer, and the television an hour before it is time to sleep, otherwise the body will release stress hormones that actually trigger you to stay awake. As someone who spent most of his life using the television to put me to sleep, I chuckled at how impractical this idea from the supposed experts was because I did not want to live my life like this.  I didn’t want to waste my life going to bed at 8PM!  The suggestion of having a predictable routine was fine, but doing this right about sundown (or as soon after as possible) again sounded nice, but maybe in my elder years.  I mean this is absurd, right?  Who is going to do this?  You know who will be compliant to suggestions like these?  People who are completely unable to sleep without strong sleeping medication (which still doesn’t completely do the trick), those who are sick, and those who are just miserable and atribute part of it to poor sleep.  Those are the people who are willing to take such suggestions. My suggestion to you is the same I would give any of my clients, use balance to guide you.  It is unrealistic to go from a bedtime of 1AM to sometime near sundown in a week or two.  And, this may not be necessary at all.  A good suggestion is to try 15 minutes earlier every week, keep the TV off in the bedroom (use your BR for two things, sleeping and the other “s” word), and try to develop some predictable patterns like brushing your teeth and then washing your face thirty minutes prior to climbing into bed.  The key is to make sure that the changes you implement are realistic and they work for your life.  Just because a supposed expert recommends something doesn’t necessarily mean that I would recommend it for you.  If you are happy, healthy, and your lack of sleep is not a big deal to you, then keep doing what you are doing.  It is none of mine or anyone else’s business to tell you to change just because the experts have spoken.  It is simple: if it is not broken, no need to fix it.   Yet, if you think your approach to sleep may need some work then maybe try some of the strategies I suggested. Have you tried sleep hygeine or can you provide personal experience on this topic?   Give my recommendations a shot and let us know how they worked for you.   As always, we love to hear from you so please comment. Next, I will tackle the topic of exercise, so make sure you are properly rested.

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Contents on LifeSkillsAuthorities.com including any images, text, external links, graphics or any other material posted on this website is intended solely for informational purposes. The information contained herein is written by non-medical professionals and not a substitute for professional medical advice, treatment or diagnosis of any disease or disability. Please seek advice from a qualified medical professional with any questions that you may have regarding your physical or mental health condition(s). If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or any other medical emergency, dial 911 or visit your local emergency room immediately. The thoughts and views expressed here are not necessarily those of LifeSkills Authorities, its owners, employees, or management.