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As pointed out in a recent report by CNN’s Erin Gabriel, color permeates all aspects of our lives. It shapes how we perceive the world and is an essential part of our cultural identity. Yet how often do we think of how a spectrum of color can benefit our health and mind?

We may love the spectacular colors of the outdoors or a backyard garden, but still feel reluctant to bring these vivid colors inside the home. Yet color specialists remind us that a simple color can have a significant impact on our lives.

When comforting is needed, think of the color orange and the warm glow of a fireplace.

As pointed out by CNN, some scientists and researchers believe that because our eyes are at the peak of their perception when they detect the color green, it creates a calming effect. The color red is believed to have a powerful effect on our brain, making us stronger, more alert and competitive.

Living a colorful life can be used as medicine to make us stronger. It is a prescription you can write for yourself.

On March 16, the 11th Annual World Sleep Day created hardly a yawn. A good night’s sleep continues to be underappreciated as a source of good health. As much as 93 percent of the population in our country fails to get the proper amount of sleep. Chronic lack of sleep can usher in a host of physical ailments and adversely affect mental well-being and longevity. World Sleep Day is intended not just as a celebration of sleep, but also as a wakeup call.

Approximately 60 million American adults report insomnia ranging from long-term or chronic, to brief and temporary. About 10 percent of the population is said to experience chronic insomnia. Yet, at the same time, there are those among us who can nod off at the sound of the crinkling of paper or getting a haircut. For these folks, certain sounds stimulate a physical reaction and a tingling sensation in their head or neck, followed by deep relaxation. The condition is known as “autonomous sensory meridien response,” of ASMR.

What seems clear is that all of us are capable to some extent of responding to various stimuli and behavioral changes to address this problem, setting sleeping pills aside.

Studies show that as many as 20 percent of all active military personnel have insomnia. In addressing the issue, researchers at the University of North Texas in Denton recently conducted a short-term test involving 151 active-duty U.S. Army personnel stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. All those involved in this experiment suffered from chronic insomnia and had served at least one military deployment in or around Iraq or Afghanistan.

Researchers used a form of “talk therapy” that has been around since the 1960s to treat insomnia as well as other clinical problems, and to address destructive thinking and behavior. The therapy also included relaxation training and other helpful common tips. Eleven weeks later, participants receiving the talk therapy reported sleeping longer and waking less during the night. Based on the results, researchers are recommending this approach be incorporated as a first line treatment of insomnia for active-duty military.

Researchers stress more studies are needed to determine whether treating insomnia could reduce depression, substance abuse and PTSD symptoms, as well as optimize work safety and operational readiness of military personnel.

We are tactile creatures, and equally powerful is the power of personal touch. Supporting this concept is a new study from Sweden demonstrating that light massage, when applied to terminally ill patients, reduced pain, anxiety and the need for pain-killing medication.

“All end-of-life patients experience existential pain or existential suffering,” Linda Bjorkhem-Bergman, coauthor of the study recently told Reuters Health. “This pain is difficult to treat pharmacologically and complementary methods, such as massage, provide an alternative.”

Bergman and colleagues studied 41 hospice patients who received tactile massage of the hands, feet and/or back, depending upon the individual’s preference. Patients received an average of three treatments lasting 15 to 45 minutes. Afterward, their perceived pain, well-being and anxiety decreased by approximately two points on a 10-point scale. According to the report, patients requested just half their typical “rescue dose” medication in the 24 hours following the superficial touch therapy.

Yet touch therapy is not for everyone or every disorder. With one type of chronic pain called neuropathic pain, people can experience severe pain from even the lightest touch, even if something gently brushes against their skin. For these patients, it is now hoped near-infrared light shined on their bodies could someday provide relief.

In the new study on mice published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers in Italy have identified the type of nerve cell that appears to cause this sensitivity to gentle touch. They have also developed a light-sensitive chemical that binds to this nerve cell. When mice with neuropathic pain were injected with this chemical, and then had a near-infrared light shined on their bodies, the treatment appeared to lead to pain relief. While much more research is needed to see if the therapy will also provide pain relief to people with neuropathic pain, researchers are on a path beyond pharmaceuticals that shows great promise.

For the growing number of patients suffering from pain to sleep disorders, the desire for more natural approaches may be reaching critical mass. Some answers could be within our grasp.

Write to Chuck Norris with your questions about health and fitness. Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook’s “Official Chuck Norris Page.” He blogs at ChuckNorrisNews.blogspot.com.

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