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Irritable? Get more sleep
October 31, 2007

Midlife Wisdom For Men Issue #093, October 31, 2007

=========== TABLE OF CONTENTS ==========

· Irritable? Get more sleep

· Ever Hear of Peyronie’s Disease?


Written by Noel McNaughton
(c) copyright 2007


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Welcome to this issue of Midlife Wisdom for Men.

I don't know about you, but I get less sleep than I did when I was young. I used to think that was just a natural part of aging, but neuroscientists say that is not necessarily so. We still need a full night's sleep (8 1/4 - 8 1/2 hours) at middle age and older, but few of us get it. In fact our society in general is sleeping less than we did 100 years ago, and it may be showing up in the increasing anger and irrationality we see around us.

If you have noticed a peculiar bend 'down there', you may have Peyronie’s Disease. It is not fatal, but it can be painful. And it is a mistake to avoid talking with your doctor, and your partner about it.

There are about 900 words in the articles in this newsletter, which should take you about three minutes to read.




"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all" -- Helen Keller


Irritable? Get more sleep

When I was in my early fifties, I noticed I was more irritable than I used to be. Things that never used to upset me, or at least upset me very little, would suddenly cause a flash of anger.

When I was an occasional guest on a CBC radio talk show, talking about issues with middle aged men, I mentioned my new-found irritability one day, and the board lit up with callers saying they were experiencing the same thing. They were relieved to know they weren't alone!

Wives also called in, wondering what they could do about their husbands, who used to be nice, and were now, as one woman described, 'like living with an angry brick'.

There may be several causes for this irritability at midlife, and Jed Diamond, in his book The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression describes a number of them.

However, one cause may well be lack of sleep.

I don't know about you, but it has been a long time since I had the recommended eight hours of sleep without some kind of sleep aid. I started taking Sleepees a few months ago, and they do help me get a better night's sleep, but without them, I usually only sleep for five or six hours.

I know I am not alone. I have some online pharmacy links on the links page at, and when I checked on the kinds of drugs people were buying when they clicked through, almost half the sales were for sleeping medications.

An article by Celia Milne in the national Canadian paper The Globe And Mail this week talks about how a lack of sleep can make us grouchy.

Dr. Matthew Walker is director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. He and his colleagues did a study using 26 young adults, who were divided into two groups.

One group stayed awake for 35 hours, and the other group got a normal night's sleep during the same period.

Members of both groups then underwent brain scans while they looked at 100 images that were increasingly negative, starting with neutral pictures of spoons or baskets, and moving to disturbing pictures of mutilated bodies and children with tumours.

Brain activity during this time was drastically different between the two groups. The diffence was in the amygdala, which is the part of the brain responsible for emotional responses.

"In those who are sleep-deprived, the amygdala goes into a hyperdrive situation so that it is approximately 60 percent more reactive than in those who got a good night's sleep", said Dr. Walker, who publisehd the reseasrch with colleagues from Harvard medical school.

Lack of sleep also inhibits the activiy of the medial-prefrontal cortex of the brain, which normally put the brakes on the amygdala, he said.

The bottom line: when you are tired, you are wired to be cranky.

All kinds of bad things can happen when you are tired. Snapping at your wife or kids is never very productive, but road rage, mistakes and accidents on the job, and high staff turnover (due to grouchy bosses), are some other costly consequences of sleep loss.

We are busier now than we have ever been, and accourding to Statistics Canada, almost half the population admits to voluntarily cutting down on sleep. Not to mention the one in seven who is an insomniac.

No wonder people seem increasingly irrational.

Been feeling irritable? Maybe more sleep would help.


We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress. -- Will Rogers


Ever Hear of Peyronie’s Disease?

A while back, I noticed a slight sideways curve in my 'instument of love' (I can't use the actual name, or your spam filter will delete this newsletter).

I didn't think too much of it, until I ran across this article at The Femine Zone website.

In a nutshell, Peyronie’s Disease is a curvature (either up, down, or sideways), in the organ in question, that can appear suddenly, or slowly, and that is caused by a plaque, or hard lump of scar tissue. It can cause the organ to bend, and even to shorten significantly.

It can be painful, and even inhibit love-making.

Apparently it affects about one man in one hundred.

Drs. generally take a 'wait and see' approach to treatment, as the symptoms often go away by themselves. If they don't, a variety of approaches can be tried, with surgery (cutting the shortened muscle that causes the bending) being the last resort.

The psychological distress can be worse than the physical symptoms. Men are often afraid to talk about this situation with anyone, and become worried about their ability to 'perform', so will begin to avoid intimacy, feel irritable and defensive, and in general withdraw. This of course is hard on the marriage, and things spiral down from there.

If you have noticed an unusual bend 'down there', and it is worrying you, talk to your doctor.


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Got your copy of Picking Up The Burning Feather yet? It will help you on your spiritual journey.

Just go to Picking Up The Burning Feather: A Spiritual Guide For Midlife Men , and follow the instructions.



I Need Your Questions and Feedback!

Got comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.

Just email your suggestions and/or questions to . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.


Well friend, that's it for now. Again, if you enjoyed this and/or found it useful, and know of anyone else who might like it, please pass it forward. And if you have questions or recommendations, I would love to hear from you.

All the best, Noel

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