For the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to a series of 24 lectures from Great Courses. These were taught by a professor named Robert Sapolsky, who was an excellent speaker. Not only was the subject matter something that strongly interested me, but Sapolsky made each lecture informative, entertaining, and engaging.
I’m not going to really talk much about the thousand things I learned about the way stress affects our bodies. There’s a reason this is a 12+ hour long series of lectures, and even then, we were just getting the basics. However, I did was to put this information out there. If you’ve ever been interested in the way psycho-social stress affects our biology, hormones, sleep, mental health, aging, in-utero children, digestive track, memory, metabolism, and a ton more, this is an excellent course. I got mine from Audible, but apparently you can get some kind of print copy with diagrams and such as well.
A sampling of interesting things I learned:
– People with major depressive disorder (one of several of my diagnoses) sleep differently from other people. Instead of sleeping more the way many people do when they’re depressed, they fall asleep like normal and wake super early (say, 4:00 am) feeling completely unrested but unable to go back to sleep. Their sleep patterns while actually asleep are disordered and unusual. Well…that’s about spot-on for me. I guess my upcoming sleep study – assuming I can get insurance approval – will show whether I’m disordered as well as unable to stay asleep with sleep aids!
– The evolution of hyenas is a fascinating subject. They are unlike other mammal species in so many ways. Look it up!
– Doctors should do more to test inflammation when they do regular blood exams. I’ve only had my inflammation level (CRP) tested once ever, but that level can affect cholesterol, blood pressure, and many other things that are tested for. (PS – Not talking about mythical fad diet inflammation here, but inflammation in the circulatory system and other parts of your body caused by certain hormones released when the stress response goes on too long. That’s over-simplified, but I didn’t want this to sound like I’m talking about something Mr Avocado might say. If you don’t know who that is, be thankful. Heh.)
– More tests need to be done for women. Too many tests are done on men only, but their results aren’t often accurate for female physiology. There’s been improvement in this area, but there’s still not enough known. Of course, I didn’t really need this lecture series to tell me that…
There you go. Just a tiny sampling. This is a great way to get a lot of good information. A lot of it is bad news for us, yes, but personally I believe that knowledge is power. When I know why things are going wrong inside me, I can more easily correct the circumstances that cause those things. Especially when it comes to psycho-social stress. It helps to me to understand why my metabolism when to hell a few years ago and why all my metabolic disorders appeared, and I can now make plans to reverse the process and improve my biological, hormonal, physiological selves. So I loved this lecture series and I’m so glad I took a chance in buying it. I definitely need to see what else Great Courses has to offer.