COPE CopeLine Supervisor

June 2019

Your Wellness & Work-Life Newsletter

How Sleep and Mood Impact Working Memory

A team of researchers from the University of California, University of Michigan and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has recently conducted two new studies to assess how the memory we use for day-to-day decision-making is affected by age, mood, and sleep quality and whether these factors impact memory together or on their own.

"Other research has already linked each of these factors separately to overall memory function, but our work looked at how these factors affected the strength and accuracy of working memory and how it is stored in the brain," explains lead researcher WeiWei Zhang, Ph.D."All three factors are interrelated. For example, seniors are more likely to experience negative moods than younger adults. Poor sleep quality is also often associated with depressed mood."

The research confirmed what most of us already know: that the more we age, the less accurate our working memory becomes. At the same time, researchers found that experiencing depressed moods combined with poor sleep quality is linked to worse quantitative day-to-day memory. "For the mind to work at its best, it is important that adults ensure they have good sleep quality and be in a good mood." concluded Dr. Zhang.

Source: MedicalNewsToday

Understanding Depression

Depression ranges in seriousness from mild, temporary episodes of sadness to severe, persistent depression. Clinical depression is the more-severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn't the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder.


People Who Need People

Genes account for just 25% of your longevity; the other 75% is lifestyle, according to a 2010 report in the The Journal of Health and Social Behavior. And as the chart to the left demonstrates, avoiding loneliness is one of the most important factors in maintaining good health and quality of life.

Recognizing loneliness isn't as easy as you might think. "We assume that an 80-year-old woman living by herself in an apartment must be lonely, yet she may have plenty of positive social interaction with others outside the home," says Marcia Ory Ph.D., M.P.H., and director of the Active for Life program at Texas A&M University. "At the same time, we think that a 70-year-old man living with his son's family cannot be lonely, yet he spends all day in front of the TV set and shuns all social activities."

Build Your Own Blue Zone

Casual and daily social interactions are one of the strongest predictors of how long you will live. In 2008, Dan Buettner published a best-selling book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest. It looked at places like Sardinia, Italy, where many clusters of people interact with others daily and live well into their 90s and beyond. Unlike Sardinians, we tend to live our daily lives without a similar beneficial level of social integration. Our immediate family members and childhood friends are often a plane-trip away. The number of people we engage with in person each day continues to drop as our reliance on smartphones climbs. We rarely know the grocer, postman or barista by name. Especially the younger generations among us may be more isolated than we realize.

Why does in-person versus online interaction matter? According to Susan Pinker, a psychologist, author and speaker at TEDTalks in 2017, "Face-to-face contact releases a whole cascade of neurotransmitters, and like a vaccine, they protect you now in the present and well into the future." Simply making eye contact with someone or shaking hands is enough to release oxytocin which increases your degree of trust and lowers your cortisol levels, the primary stress hormone. When it comes to a long life, social media can't replace the real thing.

For insight into the science behind these findings, check-out Dr. Pinker's presentation beginning at the 10 minute mark.

Cope Incorporated