Diurnal and Nocturnal; Log-Blog #09; Tuesday, September 18, 2007

(a journal entry about special topics regarding "brain strain" and "hypersomnia")

A message from someone about "It's All Greek to Me!"

I wasn't able to make much progress today because of being involved with efforts to get more images for the English history project; however, there was an e-mail message that included something about, "It's all Greek to me!" This compelled me to see if I had anything in the Word Info site about the origin of the quote.

After making searches, I found that I had a Latin quotation which gives information about this fairly well-known comment which is listed in the Latin Proverbs, Mottoes, Phrases, and Words: Group G" and is written as: Graecum est; non potest legi. This quote is said to have existed before the one spoken by Casas in William Shakespeare's play, "Julius Caesar".

Articles from Discover Magazine

After writing the above, Discover Magazine sent an e-mail about some articles it was presenting and there are a couple of them which have some interesting points which I would like to include in today's log.

Strain is potentially bad for the brain

  • Nobody likes stress. Not only can it cause sleepless nights and irritable days, we all suspect, at some level, that it can’t be good for our health
  • Now we can add another reason to reduce the stress in our lives: It may impair our thinking when we’re older, adding tarnish to the luster of our golden years.
  • Recent study in the journal Neurology concludes that people who experience chronic psychological distress, such as anxiety or depression, are up to 40 percent more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI) than people not prone to distress.
  • What is MCI? Well, it’s not dementia, but it does represent a measurable decline in thinking ability and may affect more than 15 percent of the older population.
  • The study found that psychological distress did not appear to correlate with age, education, or gender.
  • People who are prone to chronic distress have been shown to be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. They also are more likely to have their thinking decline at a faster rate.
  • Reducing the stress in our lives is good for many reasons. First off we’re happier, as are the people around us.
  • It’s good for our complexions, probably good for our hearts, and maybe even good for our brains.
  • Whether you exercise, meditate, talk to a therapist, or just spend time on the beach, managing stress is a great investment in your short-term and long-term health.
—Excerpts from "Health Trends: Strain Bad for Brain;
Another great reason to avoid chronic distress" by Robert W. Lash, M.D.
"Health Trends", Discover Magazine, July 13, 2007.

"Rip Van Winkle Disease"

  • Teens fall into a slumber, dozing weeks or even months at a stretch.
  • Marathon sleeping spells come and go, cropping up intermittently for roughly a decade.
  • Then, symptoms vanish as mysteriously as they first appeared.
  • Called Kleine-Levin syndrome, the condition is so rare that only a few cases have been reported in the world medical literature.
  • A few centuries ago, KLS might have been attributed to a witch’s curse.
  • Now the hunt for its cause focuses on genes and infectious agents.
  • Stephen Maier is among the unlucky few who know the groggy misery of KLS firsthand.
  • He developed the disorder at age 13, after what seemed like a severe case of the flu.
  • "My parents couldn't wake me up, and even when they succeeded, I was incoherent," says Maier. "So they took me to an emergency room."
  • KLS typically comes on with a vengeance at puberty, gradually abates by the midtwenties, and vanishes altogether by about 30.
  • "Owing to its rarity, few sleep specialists have seen a single case of the disorder," says Emmanuel Mignot, an authority on KLS at Stanford University.
  • "For that reason there is skepticism about it in the medical profession, but KLS is without question a distinct disorder, with symptoms that are unique and very consistently manifested by those who fit the diagnosis."
  • Sufferers often report that the onset of the illness coincides with a flu-like infection, leading many doctors initially to mistake the disorder for mononucleosis or viral encephalitis.
  • At regular intervals after that the patient is afflicted by hypersomnia, a sleeping bout that typically lasts around 10 days. In one of the longest episodes on record, one young woman slept nearly a year.
  • During these periods of hypersomnia, patients usually get up only to shovel food into their mouths, bathe, and take care of bodily functions.
  • Even then, they’re in a hazy, confused state. Light and sound may be irritating, and they have tremendous difficulty focusing.
  • "About the only thing I can do during episodes, apart from sleep, is watch mindless videos that I’ve seen a dozen times," says 17-year-old Eric Haller of Placentia, California, who has suffered bouts of KLS since age 12. "Anything new is too taxing on my brain."
  • Another common feature of KLS, seen in about 60 to 70 percent of cases, is a ravenous appetite for sweets, potato chips, and other high-calorie comfort foods.
  • In one study conducted in Taiwan, the researchers uncovered abnormal activity in the hypothalamus and thalamus—parts of the brain that play a critical role in regulating sleep, eating, and sex.
  • Given that the disease is frequently preceded by fever and other flu-like symptoms, it seems that a combination of factors may cause the illness.
  • One leading hypothesis suggests that KLS is caused by a virus or bacterium which some individuals are more genetically susceptible to.
  • For now, medicine has little to offer sufferers.
  • No magic kiss from a handsome prince (or princess) will awaken sufferers from their long slumber; however, in keeping with its fairy-tale symptoms, KLS does have a happy ending: Virtually everyone outgrows it.

—Excerpts from "Rip Van Winkle Disease;
Adolescents sleep for weeks solid, sometimes bingeing or becoming hypersexual."
by Kathleen McAuliffe; "Health and Medicine",
Discover Magazine, August 15, 2007.

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