Sunday, November 29, 2020
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Keys to a sane existence

Covid-19   Neurology   Leadership   Sleep  Stress Reduction

Today’s Read: 4 minutes

The way we see it, the way to a saner existence includes: a competent government response to the Covid-19 pandemic, restful sleep, more reading, and more nurses in leadership. Plus, a funny video.


The second coronavirus task force

On Monday, President-elect Biden named a Covid task force of 13 advisers that got a lot of attention—most notably for its lack of nurses. Then, yesterday, POLITICO reported that a coronavirus transition team will be named. 

This group of 52 people is expected to lay the groundwork for a White House coronavirus team after the inauguration. This team is responsible for coordinating the response across the government and consists of transition officials that cover numerous federal agencies, plus additional state-level health experts and academics who will serve as experts who can aid specific policy efforts. In addition, the coronavirus transition team’s work will be broken down into three subgroups: domestic, national security/foreign policy, and tech strategy delivery. 

While this team hasn’t been formally announced, there are some differences between it and the task force unveiled this week. The task force is primarily responsible for advising Biden and handling Covid-19 messaging for the new administration. It may eventually be rolled into this larger transition team that seems to be handling all the processes and policies. Maybe we can get a nurse–or a few–named to this group.

Lack of sleep may perpetuate PTSD

How many times can we talk about the importance of sleep? Infinite. That’s because science continues to unlock its secrets to how it helps us and the lack of it hurts us. Case in point: a study published yesterday in the Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging reports that getting only half a night’s sleep—as many healthcare professionals do—hijacks the brain’s ability to unlearn fear-related memories. This places them at greater risk for conditions such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Researchers studied 150 healthy adults in a sleep laboratory. One third of subjects got normal sleep, one third were sleep restricted—sleeping only the first half the night, and one third were sleep deprived—no sleep at all. In the morning, subjects were presented with three colors, two of which were paired with a mild electric shock. Following this fear conditioning, the subjects underwent fear extinction, in which one of the colors was presented without any shocks to learn that it was now “safe.” That evening, subjects were tested for their reactivity to the three colors, a measure of their fear extinction recall, or how well they had “unlearned” the threat.

Using brain imaging, the researchers found that among the three groups, those who had only gotten half a night’s sleep showed the most activity in brain regions associated with fear and the least activity in areas associated with control of emotion. Surprisingly, people who got no sleep lacked the brain activation in fear-related areas during fear conditioning and extinction. During the extinction recall 12 hours later, their brain activity looked more similar to those with normal sleep, suggesting that a limited night of sleep may be worse than none at all.

The study provides a window of understanding about how sleep deprivation disrupts the normal fear extinction mechanisms and how individuals who experience interrupted or curtailed sleep are especially vulnerable to PTSD symptoms.

Read more books

Reading can be an amazing stress reliever: it transports you to other situations and it puts you into a meditative state. However, most of us don’t read enough. This is where Neil Pasricha comes in. His eight tips for reading more might help you pick up a book more often:

  1. Put books everywhere—on coffee tables, night stands, near the door, in the car, in your bag.
  2. Read before bed, specifically, “go red in bed.” Pasricha uses a red reading light in bed because he claims that it helps melatonin production. Bright lights have the opposite effect.
  3. Make your phone less additive. One way is to make the display black and white. Another is to move all of the apps off the main screen so it’s blank when you open it. Pasricha also suggests not fixing your cracked screen and other tips.
  4. Organize your books into the Dewey Decimal System.
  5. Solve what-to-read-next with podcasts, BookTube, and websites like GoodReads. Pasricha has a show called, “3 Books,” during which he asks guests to share three books that most shaped their lives. We listen to a pod called, “Literary Disco.” 
  6. Unfollow all news, since it leads to the great rabbit hole called the internet.
  7. Read on something that is only for reading, like real paper books, or an e-reader that isn’t connected to the aforementioned internet.
  8. Talk to your local bookseller. They will have recommendations for what you need whether it is a book to escape your last shift or prepare you for a local hike.



The percentage of nurses who wish nursing professionals had more of a voice during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a University of Phoenix-Harris poll.


Every Hallmark movie ever!

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