What Does Adrenaline Do?

iStock/SomkiatFakmee
iStock/SomkiatFakmee

Reader Noah wrote in with a question—"Why does the human body need adrenaline?"

Adrenaline, or epinephrine, is a hormone and neurotransmitter produced by the adrenal glands that participates in the sympathetic nervous system's "fight-or-flight response" (or "acute stress response") to situations that are high-stress, dangerous and/or physically exhilarating. This release is an evolutionary adaptation that allows us to better cope with these situations.

Upon its release into the body, adrenaline binds to a variety of adrenergic receptors and causes several metabolic changes, like inhibition of insulin secretion and promotion of glucagon secretion by the pancreas, stimulation of glycogenolysis in the liver and muscles and stimulation of glycolysis in muscles. These changes and others together lead to increased blood glucose and fatty acids in the body and more energy production within the body's cells. The release of adrenaline further results in increased heart rate, contracted blood vessels and dilated air passages.

Ultimately, these changes allow more blood to get to the muscles and get more oxygen to the lungs quickly—so your physical performance improves and you're primed to either flee from danger or defend yourself.

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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Want to Fall Asleep Faster? Try This Breathing Technique

Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels
Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

Struggling to fall asleep can feel like a hopeless battle. It often seems like the harder you try turning your brain off, the less likely it is to happen. One way to trick yourself into falling asleep fast is finding something to concentrate on other than how long you've been awake. For nights when your thoughts just won't stay quiet, try the 4-7-8 technique.

According to Simplemost, the 4-7-8 breathing method is meant to combat anxiety, restlessness, and other enemies of a good night's sleep. The actual technique is simple: Just inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. Like counting sheep, measuring out your breaths gives your brain something to do that isn't obsessing about your hectic day or the day ahead.

Taking slow, deliberate breaths has also been proven to reduce stress. Neurons that influence calmness have been found in the breathing control centers of mouse brains. In humans, deep breathing has long been central to mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation. The 4-7-8 breathing technique functions as both a distraction from your thoughts and a way to combat any anxious sensations that may be keeping you awake.

The next time you find yourself tossing and turning at night, try anywhere between three and eight rounds of this breathing technique to calm your body and mind. And to get the best rest possible, make sure you're settling into the best sleep position for your health.

[h/t Simplemost]