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Chronic Illness Q&A with Dr. B.

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

The purpose of this blog and the entire website is to provide evidence-based information on how to live a vibrant, meaningful life while living with chronic health challenges or other life challenges.

Every Tuesday I post a new, very brief video from my presentations or interviews. Every Friday this Q&A column appears.
Here is this week’s question:
THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: continuation of answer to respiration question from a few weeks ago

ANSWER: Heart rate variability (HRV) at respiratory frequencies is called Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia (RSA). It is controlled by the vagus nerve. RSA is associated with a high frequency of HRV. RSA relates to the natural heart-rate fluctuations that are influenced by respiration, the baroreceptors, and limbic activity. In RSA breathing, exhalation, which is parasympathetic, is consciously self-regulated to be roughly twice as long as inhalation, which is sympathetic. One can intentionally reverse this at times to create specific physiological responses, such as to wake up when tired or when concentration is dull. Neurologist Richard Mendius, MD, once told a group of us that a treatment for daytime sleepiness is to focus on the in-breath in order to increase sympathetic drive. For example, sympathetic drive can intentionally be increased by making the inhalation longer than the exhalation. I often do this to increase alertness when I am getting sleepy at inopportune times. Although drinking coffee has been strongly associated with health, reliance upon any drug is orthogonal to living with conscious intention, mindfulness, and mastery. In addition, drinking coffee in the evening in order to perk up can interfere with sleep, whereas breathing as a form of self-regulation is easily reversible simply by switching from longer inhalations to longer exhalations.

This website is offered as a free public service, supplying information that has been found helpful to certain people living with chronic health challenges or issues related to wellbeing. No treatment is offered on this website. The advice is general, and may or may not apply to your individual situation, and is not a substitute for psychotherapy or medical treatment.
What questions do you have about living a life of mindfulness-based mastery or about the relationship between the mind and health or wellbeing?
Just scroll down and type your question in the comment box below. An answer to your specific question may not appear in this column. The reason for that is I wait until I get a certain number of related questions, then I pick one that covers them all and I answer that one. People attending my presentations asked most of the questions appearing in this column, and I repeat them here so you may benefit.

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