Scientists study loneliness

Oct 31, 2006

A U.S. scientist studying physiological dynamics of day-to-day experiences say older adults who go to bed lonely have higher cortisol levels the next day.

The Northwestern University researcher found when older adults go to bed lonely, sad or overwhelmed, they have elevated levels of cortisol shortly after awaking the next morning.

Elevated levels of cortisol -- a stress hormone linked with depression, obesity and other health problems when chronic -- actually cue the body on a day-to-day basis that it is time to rev up to deal with negative experiences, according to Northwestern University's Emma Adam, the lead investigator of the study.

"You've gone to bed with loneliness, sadness, feelings of being overwhelmed, then along comes a boost of hormones in the morning to give you the energy you need to meet the demands of the day," said Adam, an assistant professor of education and social policy.

Adam said her study, the first of its type, shows a sensitive day-to-day dance between experience and cortisol. Experience influences stress hormones, and stress hormones influence experience, she said.

The research appears online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: What makes a good horror movie?

Related Stories

'Map of life' predicts ET. (So where is he?)

34 minutes ago

Extra-terrestrials that resemble humans should have evolved on other, Earth-like planets, making it increasingly paradoxical that we still appear to be alone in the universe, the author of a new study on ...

Baby seals that practice in pools make better divers

36 minutes ago

Being able to dive is what matters most for seal pups, but how do they learn to do it? Grey seal pups that can play in pools may have better diving skills once they make the move to the sea, and this could ...

Insect legs give clues to improving aircraft design

37 minutes ago

Insect legs could help engineers improve the safety of long tubular structures used in aircraft to reduce weight and in hospital equipment, such as catheters. Scientists from Trinity College Dublin are looking ...

Australia hails 'tremendous' UN barrier reef decision

37 minutes ago

Australia Thursday hailed a United Nations decision to keep the Great Barrier Reef off its in danger list as "tremendous", but activists warned more must be done to improve the marine park's health.

Recommended for you

What makes a good horror movie?

Jul 03, 2015

Like them or hate them horror films are big business and a string of new horror films are hitting the big screen this year. But what creates the intensity of suspense? And was Alfred Hitchcock – the master ...

Decoding the statistical language of the brain

Jul 02, 2015

Let's make a bet. You will throw a dart 10 feet and – if you hit a two-inch circular target on the wall across the room – I will give you a dollar. Otherwise, you pay me a dollar.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.