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HEALTH

The Healthy Geezer with Fred Cietti Walking in Your Sleep

Q

. Is it true that sleepwalkers can’t be hurt when they walk in their sleep?

A

. This is a common misconception.

Sleepwalkers (aka somnambulists) are often injured when they trip and fall in their sleep. Another myth is that you should not wake up a sleepwalker. It is not dangerous to awaken a sleepwalker. In fact, it can be quite dangerous not to wake a sleepwalker. The only problem with rousing a sleepwalker is that the person will be disoriented for a while. The term sleepwalking is defined as a disorder that occurs when people are active while sleeping. The activities are not limited to walking. Some sleepwalkers can perform complex functions. Some can get dressed, walk out the door and drive all while asleep. Sleepwalking is classified as a parasomnia. Parasomnias are abnormal things that can happen to people while they sleep such as nightmares, sleep paralysis, sleep aggression and sexomnia. Yes, people are capable of performing sex acts while sleeping. Most sleepwalking episodes last for less than ten minutes. However, they can go on for a half hour or even more. Sleepwalking usually occurs during deep sleep, early in the night. Sleepwalking episodes can occur multiple times a night for a few consecutive nights. Sleepwalking can occur at any age. It is much more common in children than adults. It seems to be an inherited trait. Fatigue, lack of sleep, and anxiety are all associated with sleepwalking. So are alcohol, medications, mental disorders, sleep-disordered breathing, restless legs syndrome, migraines, head injuries, and sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings. Occasional episodes of sleepwalking aren’t usually a cause for concern. However, consult your doctor if the sleepwalking episodes become more frequent or lead to dangerous behavior or injury. Most people don’t need any specific treatment for sleepwalking. In some cases, short-acting tranquilizers have been helpful in reducing sleepwalking. Treatment for adults who sleepwalk may include hypnosis. The primary problem with sleepwalking is potential injury. If you are sleepwalking, you should move any objects that are tripping hazards such as wires and small furniture. Expandable gates on stairways are advisable. The prevalence of sleepwalking in the general population is estimated to be between one percent and 15 percent. Ask The Healthy Geezer a question at: fred@healthygeezer.com

To Your

PAGE FIVE • MAY 11-17, 2017

Living with MS with Dee Dean Smoking Reduces Levels of Circulating Immune Cells that Protect Against MS

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New research suggests that smoking decreases frequencies of mucosal-associated invariant T cells in circulating lymphocytes

ew research published in the May 2017 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology provides another reason why smoking tobacco is harmful. In the report, researchers from Denmark show that smokers have reduced levels of mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, a cell type involved in autoimmune diseases. Not only does this information shed more light on the effects of smoking, but it also reveals possible strategies to mitigate these effects. “We believe that our study represents an important contribution to the understanding of systemic immune cell alterations in smokers,” said Cecilie Ammitzbøll, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Danish Multiple Sclerosis Center in Copenhagen, Denmark. “From our findings

we hope that focused research in specific cell populations might reveal pathogenic mechanisms contributing to the understanding of diseases associated with smoking.” To make their discovery, scientists investigated circulating immune cells from cohorts of healthy individuals and patients with Multiple Sclerosis. The researchers looked for differences in smokers compared with non-smokers and found that the frequencies of certain cell types were altered. These findings were evident in both healthy individuals and patients with Multiple Sclerosis. Further, by using two different techniques, the scientists found that T cells from smokers were not more easily activated when they encountered foreign- and self-antigens. “It is clear that smoking is detrimental to overall health and can predispose to many diseases,” said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. “These new studies shed

ddean@echerald.com

like on how smoking can also influence the immune system, an effect that may have implications in autoimmunity and also in other settings such as cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases.”

Source: University of Copenhagen

Dean has been fighting Multiple Sclerosis for 30 years. She continually studies and researches the disease to educate herself. She writes this column as a community service to share her findings and to raise public awareness about MS. The opinions and experiences shared are her own. Dean is NOT a medical doctor. ALWAYS check with your doctor first before trying a new therapy. This column is intended for informational purposes only. Dean can be reached at ddean@echerald.com. NOTE: Dean is the recipient of the 2004 STAR Community Outreach Award by the MS Society Dec. 2, 2004, the American Red Cross Real Hero Wendell Cutting Humanitarian Award, Oct. 13, 2006 , the Stoney Community Service Award, February 29, 2008, Women in Leadership Award for Art/Media/ Culture Oct. 29, 2010, El Cajon Citizen of The Year Nominee Feb. 2013 and 2017 and Recipient of the National MS Society’s 2014 Media Partner of The Year, Feb. 10, 2015.

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