It was twenty-four years ago as of this writing that I began to notice my father starting to show his age. That was when I began to do research on the human aging process, with the idea of learning all of the ways to deter aging, and discover or formulate new ways.
During these past twenty-four years I have earned a Masterís Degree in Gerontology (the study of the aging process) from California State University, and in 1976 I founded a California non-profit corporation to perform research on the aging process. After one name change it is now called The Carl I. Bourhenne Medical Research Foundation. Shortly after it was founded, it was granted Federal and State tax exempt status.
My studies and research have yielded many, many ways in which we can influence our own individual aging and help us to live the longest life possible, youthful and attractive. I have organized these lifestyle practices and information into seventeen categories, and my research and studies of the past (and continuing) twenty-four years is contained herein.
The seventeen categories of information and lifestyle practices which I have concluded we can use to live the longest life possible, youthful and attractive are:
Long life information for each of these categories follows. No one should do anything affecting their lifestyle without consulting their doctor first.
Carl Bourhenne, MA
Carl Bourhenne's Fitness and Long Life Manual
Your Inherited Genes
|Our beautiful bodies and our intelligent brains are entirely the product of the genes which we inherited from our parents. Each one of our genes, and the combinations of our genes are crucial to the way that we look and function. Perhaps no single fact shows this more dramatically than the small, yet so notable gene differences between man and the chimpanzee: Anthropologists tell us that we are evolutionary descendants of the chimpanzee. These creatures seem so very different from us, and yet our genes are 98.2 percent identical to the chimpanzee! So each one of our genes, and our gene combinations are vital to our make-up and our health.|
In addition to determining our make-up, our genes also determine how healthy we will be, and how long we can live. As I mentioned in the OVERVIEW, the research of Richard G. Cutler of the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health has shown that our genes presently limit human lifespan to an absolute maximum of about 120 years.
I mentioned that Cutler's studies of the evolution of human genes shows that, although the lifespan of our evolving species was growing rapidly, it leveled off about 100,000 years ago at about 120 years, and has remained there ever since. Once the mapping of the human genome is completed, Genetic Engineering may extend our youthful health and lifespan by...who knows how much? And, as I also pointed out in the OVERVIEW, diseases and handicaps of all kinds may slide into history, just as penicillin and other "miraculous" advancements have put so many infirmities into our history. Once the mapping of the human genome is completed, Genetic Engineering may allow us to cure and prevent every illness known to man, and even re-grow lost body parts. And since our genes control our lifespan, who knows how much we could extend the length of our lives?
In order to best use the information available to us, such as the information in "How To Live The Longest Life Possible", we must each look at our own genes as closely as possible and make special provisions for the weaknesses that we each may have inherited.
Each of us must pay special attention to our genetic background in order to provide for our own special needs for preventive medicine, special nutrition, and the other lifestyle factors that promote health and long life.
We can each adopt two strategies to assess our own genes: We can look at our family history ourselves and observe the health and longevity factors of our relatives and predecessors, and we can hire the services of a geneticist to do a more in-depth study.
The results could be the avoidance of minor and major illnesses, and the maximization of our own potential lifespan.
After assessing our genes we can contact the appropriate organizations for guidance in maximizing our health and long life. For example, if we have a family history of heart trouble, we can contact the American Heart Association for guidance. If there is a family history of a particular type of cancer, we contact one of the major cancer research organizations such as the American Cancer Society, and so on.
There is a new area of medicine called "Darwinian Medicine", which examines the traits developed during the long line of the evolution of man. One of the goals is to look at our inherited traits with the view toward compensating for those traits which are no longer useful and might be harmful, and enhancing those traits which are indeed beneficial.
It is important to note that we do not necessarily inherit any particular characteristic of either of our parents. Our gene pool is affected by previous generations as well as by our own parents. In fact, generally speaking, we stand only about a 25 percent chance of displaying any one particular characteristic of either of our parents. Whether or not we display a particular parental characteristic is the result of a combination of "dominant" and "recessive" genes which we inherited from both of them for that characteristic.
The information in "How To Live The Longest Life Possible" is generally for everyone. Adjustments may be made in the use of the information, based on your personal genetic background, but only after consulting your physician.
Carl Bourhenne, MA
Even in today's world of modern research with its abundant fruit of explanations and answers, there is as yet no agreement on why we sleep, or even what triggers sleep. As one researcher, W.C. Dement stated: "Never in the history of biological research has so much been known about some thing from a descriptive point of view with so little known at the same time about its function". Even so, research on Long Life clearly demonstrates that getting enough sleep is necessary for living a long, healthy life.
It is possible though, that no damage occurs from losing sleep - even large amounts - and then making it up. Our friend Dement watched while 17 year old Randy Gardner surpassed the Guinness world record for staying awake in 1965, by remaining awake for 11 consecutive days. Although there was increasing sleepiness, there were no signs of psychotic behavior, paranoia, or personality change. It took him only 14 hours and 40 minutes of sleep to awaken fully refreshed, and his second night's sleep was only 8 hours. Follow-up studies on Randy Gardner showed no long-term problems in sleep, no emotional upsets, and no personality changes.
Even though we would assume that without sleep the body would deteriorate in some important physical or biochemical way, research shows otherwise. After 2 days you might feel fatigued, depressed, lethargic, hostile, and less happy; experience a decline in the ability to concentrate or do motor, visual, or perceptual tasks; and may experience a ravenous appetite. After 5 days there might be hallucinations such as seeing a gorilla. Even after these prolonged periods of sleeplessness, though, there may be no remarkable changes in heart rate, blood pressure, perspiration, or body temperature. In certain individuals psychotic behavior may occur; but this is related to personality.
Interestingly, Dement concluded after his observations of Gardner: "The crucial factor in surmounting the effects of prolonged sleep loss is probably physical fitness. There is almost no degree of sleepiness that cannot be overcome if the subject engages in vigorous exercise. As the vigil wears on, almost continuous muscular activity is necessary to forestall overwhelming sleep iness. Many individuals simply would not be able to maintain this amount of activity, and would therefore appear to succumb to the debilitating effects of sleep loss."
So, while losing sleep and then making it up does not appear to cause physical, psychological, or biochemical damage, getting enough sleep generally, does appear to be a major factor in promoting Long Life.
How much sleep do we need, though? Why do you need 8 hours every night, and our neighbor only 6 hours; or vice versa? Vast amounts of research have been performed attempting to determine the ideal amount of sleep. The answer is that each person has their own ideal amount of sleep; and that it is probably inherited, at least partly. The research shows that 92% of people need between 6 1/2 and 9 1/2 hours of sleep per night (24 hour period); with the other 8% requiring either more, or less in varying amounts. There are records of people who functioned normally on 3 hours sleep per night, and it is not known if their brain chemistry was different from others'.
There are no observable personality differences among people based on their sleep requirement. There are no differences in intelligence; nor is there a difference in the amounts of sleep needed between men and women, generally. Those who sleep erratically and often miss the greater part of a night's sleep have the shortest life spans; and those who habitually sleep more than nine hours per night have the second-shortest life span.
The sleep requirement for an individual may be altered slightly, but only with great effort. After reducing sleep time from 8 to 5 hours by going to bed later and getting up at the same time, some subjects experienced extreme difficulty in getting up in the morning, fatigue, less vigor, difficulty in concentrating, and felt less friendly and happy. Unwanted mood changes discouraged them from going below 5 hours; but, when these subjects went back to a schedule of their choosing, most of them were found to sleep 1 to 2 hours less than before the study began. So, if you sleep 8 hours, you might, with great effort and probably much discomfort, be able to reduce your sleeping time to 7, or possibly 6 hours; but probably not less.
Does it make a difference what time of the day we sleep? What is this "jet-lag" business? Biological responses that have a 24 hour cycle are called circadian rhythms. Circadian means "about a day". Although you probably inherited your own circadian rhythm, you may be able to modify your sleep rhythm somewhat. Your circadian rhythms are probably controlled by chemical secretions from various areas in the brain. You would probably function on this cycle and sleep the same number of hours whether you were living in a cave, in an area of constant light, or in a hospital bed. Disabled people who lie in bed all day sleep about the same as active persons. Although most people are awake for about 16 hours each day and sleep for about 8 hours, there is no one answer to why you go to sleep or stay awake. The specific trigger is thought to be one of the chemicals involved in sleep; but if your circadian rhythm is interrupted you may be unable to go to sleep even though very fatigued. Most of us have experienced feeling too fatigued to sleep; but it is usually the deviation from our cycle that inhibits sleep.
Past research concentrated on 5 stages of sleep; but many theories regarding the various stages were disproved, and one recent scientist, Laverne Johnson, concluded that you can function normally after missing some of the stages.
Johnson suggested lumping the five sleep stages into two sleep states:
1. Quiet Sleep (QS) - also referred to as Non-Rapid Eye Movement sleep (NREM).
2. Active Sleep (AS) - also referred to as Rapid Eye Movement sleep (REM).
Let's use the newer terms QS (Quiet Sleep), and AS (Active Sleep) to denote these two sleep states.
The first sleep state, Quiet Sleep (QS), usually begins just after falling asleep, and lasts for 40 to 80 minutes. It is generally assumed, though not proven, that one function of QS is to help us recover from the fatigue of the day. So QS helps us to restore our energy for the coming day. We do dream during QS, but these dreams are usually fragmentary - one image or scene.
After 40 to 80 minutes of sleep, you enter the second sleep state, Active Sleep (AS). During AS your brain waves speed up, the muscle tension at your chin decreases, you have body twitches, your breathing becomes shallow, your heart rate speeds up, your blood pressure varies, men may have penile erection, your thoughts become dream-like and dramatic, and you commence Rapid Eye Movements (REM's) - that is, your eyes begin to dart around under your closed eyelids at a rapid pace 3 to 5 times a night in 20 minute segments. Our dreams during AS are detailed action sequences. In general, AS segments increase in duration as the night progresses.
Contrary to popular opinion, most of our dreams are not bizarre or unusual; but are very commonplace experiences. They include another person; but seldom an animal. Most are active but not strenuous, such as talking or walking. The length of a dream is about the same as the time it would take to imagine it awake - for seconds or minutes.
There is no reliable explanation for the meaning of dreams; but they are believed to represent a broad range of concerns rather than one, such as sexuality.
We do not know why we dream, or what dreams mean; but we do know that people deprived of AS and the accompanying dreams suffer no behavioral problems.
Two needs served by AS dreaming though are the consolidation of memories, and the assimilation of traumatic experiences. If there is no AS dreaming, there is no long term memory. That is why cramming before an exam without sleeping does not work.
Much research has been done on the subject of learning during sleep, and the research clearly shows that it is not possible to learn complicated material during sleep. However, we do respond to signals that our brain considers important or novel, so we can process information and perform simple discriminations.
Although total time spent asleep is the same in various age groups, some changes do occur in sleep patterns as we age:
The most beneficial sleep habit is to sleep at the same time every day, in the same place, wearing the same clothing if any, and in the same company. The more regular the schedule, and familiar the surroundings, the more relaxed will be the sleep; and therefore the more restful.
It is also easiest to fall asleep at the same time each day, and in familiar surroundings. If one does have difficulty falling asleep, it helps to think of relaxing each part of the body, beginning with the toes and moving up the body until finally the mind is cleared and made to try to think of nothing at all.
If sleep still does not come, it may help to get up and do something for a short time (nothing strenuous or stimulating); perhaps have a glass of warm milk (it contains the amino acid Tryptophane, which promotes sleep) or other non-caffeine beverage, then try again. A glass of wine with dinner sometimes relaxes one enough to prepare them for sleep later, as does a sexual release. Silence and darkness are both helpful in falling asleep.
All responsible research reported to date regarding sleep aids (drugs) points ever more dramatically in the same direction: sleeping pills and other forms of drugs used to induce sleep deteriorate the system dramatically. The conclusion is clear: don't use them unless prescribed by your doctor; and then we recommend getting a second opinion. Sleep-inducing drugs are prescribed much too often by doctors, according to recent studies. Habitual users of sleeping pills could add at least five more healthy years to their lives by discontinuing the use of such pills and drugs.
People who now have irregular sleeping habits could add at least another five healthy years to their lives by getting at least seven hours of sleep every night, at about the same time each night. Those who already get a full night's sleep every night could add at least five more healthy years of life by making it a practice of napping for at least half an hour each noon.
Be aware that, no matter what you may have heard or read, we still do not know the exact nature of sleep, or exactly what goes on during this physical and mental process. That is the reason that dreams still cannot be interpreted with any certainty of accuracy. There are people who speak convincingly about what a particular dream might mean, but their speculations are not likely to be any more accurate than yours.
Carl Bourhenne, MA
I have only included the first two sections of this chapter, "YOUR GENES", and "SLEEP". This chapter is very large, 17 categories! To obtain the entire chapter, WAYS TO LIVE THE LONGEST LIFE POSSIBLE, order now. and get the complete book.
Copyright © 1976 - 2001 Carl I. Bourhenne.
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Carl Bourhenne, MA
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