Sustain Attention, Vigilance, and Energy in Nurses with Mindfulness

Sustain Attention, Vigilance, and Energy in Nurses with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As attention is rooted more firmly in the present and less on the past and/or future, depression, rumination, and anxiety decrease,” the article explains. “The resulting effect is energy that was once spent clinging to the past or worrying about the future can now be spent in the present.” Mindful nurse leaders are likewise aware of the employees and organizations behind their day-to-day work. They’re authentic. They connect with others. They stay in touch with their values.”

 

Medical professionals have to pay close and sustained attention to their jobs. The consequences of lapses and error can be catastrophic. Yet often their jobs are repetitive which can tax attention and reduce needed vigilance. Contemplative practices have been shown to improve attention and vigilance and to maintain high levels of performance on the job. In today’s Research News article “Positive Effects of Mindfulness-Based Training on Energy Maintenance and the EEG Correlates of Sustained Attention in a Cohort of Nurses.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5838011/ ), Wong and colleagues investigate the effectiveness of mindfulness training to improve attention and vigilance in nurses tested in a laboratory environment.

 

They recruited nurses and trained them in mindfulness with an 8-week, once a week for 90 minutes, program based upon the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, containing meditation, body scan, and yoga practices. Training attendance was monitored and recorded. They were measured before and after training with a 20-minute psychomotor task requiring sustained attention and vigilance. In addition, the nurses were measured for sleep duration for two nights. They also completed scales of energy and mood and had their brain activity monitored during rest and during meditation, and with an electroencephalogram (EEG). They also recorded the event related potentials (ERP) in the EEG evoked by stimulus presentation during the attention and vigilance task.

 

They found that following mindfulness training the nurses had significantly smaller reduction in energy during performance of the attention and vigilance task and the greater the attendance at the mindfulness training sessions, the greater the energy sustainment. This was also true for their attention and vigilance, with nurses with high training attendance having significantly smaller reductions in response speed and significantly smaller increases in attentional lapses over the 20-minute task duration. Hence, those nurses with high mindfulness training attendance sustained their energy and attention better over the task period.

 

With the electroencephalogram (EEG), they found that after mindfulness training there were significantly smaller reductions in alpha rhythm power during meditation, suggesting improved attention. These improvements were higher in nurses who attended training more regularly. Similar findings were present with the EEG event related potentials (ERP), such that P3 amplitude reductions were lower over the attention and vigilance task, indicating greater sustainment of arousal and attention. Hence, brain electrical activity also suggested greater sustainment of attention following mindfulness training.

 

The results are interesting and potentially important. They suggest that mindfulness training can improve nurses’ abilities to sustain attention and vigilance over a prolonged period. This was evidenced by both behavioral and EEG indicators of sustained attention and vigilance. This is potentially important as it may suggest that mindfulness training may improve performance on the job, reducing lapses and errors. Future research is needed to verify if, indeed, mindfulness training has similar effects on the job that it has in the laboratory.

 

So, sustain attention, vigilance, and energy in nurses with mindfulness.

 

“Burnout continues to be a significant occupational hazard in the nursing profession. Mindfulness may be the necessary approach to help combat nursing burnout, affording considerable promise for the future of the nursing profession.” – Pamela Heard

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wong, K. F., Teng, J., Chee, M. W. L., Doshi, K., & Lim, J. (2018). Positive Effects of Mindfulness-Based Training on Energy Maintenance and the EEG Correlates of Sustained Attention in a Cohort of Nurses. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 12, 80. http://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00080

 

Abstract

Mindfulness based training (MBT) is becoming increasingly popular as a means to improve general wellbeing through developing enhanced control over metacognitive processes. In this preliminary study, we tested a cohort of 36 nurses (mean age = 30.3, SD = 8.52; 2 male) who participated in an 8-week MBT intervention to examine the improvements in sustained attention and its energetic costs that may result from MBT. Changes in sustained attention were measured using the psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) and electroencephalography (EEG) was collected both during PVT performance, and during a brief period of meditation. As there was substantial variability in training attendance, this variable was used a covariate in all analyses. Following the MBT program, we observed changes in alpha power across all scalp regions during meditation that were correlated with attendance. Similarly, PVT performance worsened over the 8-week period, but that this decline was mitigated by good attendance on the MBT program. The subjective energy depletion due to PVT performance (measured using self-report on Likert-type scales) was also less in regular attendees. Finally, changes in known EEG markers of attention during PVT performance (P300 and alpha-band event-related desynchronization) paralleled these behavioral shifts. Taken together, our data suggest that sustained attention and its associated costs may be negatively affected over time in the nursing profession, but that regular attendance of MBT may help to attenuate these effects. However, as this study contained no control condition, we cannot rule out that other factors (e.g., motivation, placebo effects) may also account for our findings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5838011/

 

Reduce Blood Pressure and Improve Vigilance with Yogic Alternative Nostril Breathing

Reduce Blood Pressure and Improve Vigilance with Yogic Alternative Nostril Breathing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Alternate Nostril Breathing helps calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and bring a feeling of relaxation to the entire body.” – Art of Living

 

Yoga practice is becoming increasingly popular in the west, for good reason. It has documented benefits for the individual’s psychological and physical health and well-being. It has also been shown to have cognitive benefits, improving memory. Yoga, however, consists of a number of components including, poses, breathing exercises, meditation, concentration, and philosophy/ethics.  So, it is difficult to determine which facet or combination of facets of yoga are responsible for which benefit. Hence, it is important to begin to test each component in isolation to determine its effects.

 

Alternate nostril yoga breathing is a regulated breathing alternating between the left and right nostril. Breathing through each nostril is thought to affect its respective hemisphere in the brain producing differential effects. In today’s Research News article “Alternate-Nostril Yoga Breathing Reduced Blood Pressure While Increasing Performance in a Vigilance Test.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5755948/ ), Telles and colleagues recruited male college students and had them practice either Alternate-Nostril Yoga Breathing, Breath Awareness, or quiet rest for 18 minutes on three separate days in random order. The participants were measured before and after each practice for blood pressure and vigilance. To measure vigilance, they had the participants perform a digit vigilance test in which they were asked to cancel the numbers 6 and 9 from a page of 1500 random digits and recorded the time to complete the task and the number of errors made.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the control conditions of breath awareness and quiet sitting there was a significant reduction in systolic and arterial blood pressure following alternate nostril breathing. They also found that after alternate nostril breathing there was a significant reduction in the time to complete the vigilance task. But, this was also true for the quiet sitting condition. Hence, alternate nostril breathing appears to reduce the level of activation and improve vigilance. But, the improvement in vigilance may be simply due to the rest provided by the task. This suggests that yoga practice has its beneficial effects, in part, by the ability of the breathing practices to reduce physiological activation.

 

So, reduce blood pressure and improve vigilance with yogic alternative nostril breathing.

 

“Alternate Nostril Breathing: This simple yet most powerful technique is a pranayama that is easy to do, and it creates a deep sense of well-being and harmony on the physical, mental, and emotional levels. It is integrating and grounding, and balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain.” – Yogi Bhajan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Shirley Telles, Sadhana Verma, Sachin Kumar Sharma, Ram Kumar Gupta, Acharya Balkrishna. Alternate-Nostril Yoga Breathing Reduced Blood Pressure While Increasing Performance in a Vigilance Test. Med Sci Monit Basic Res. 2017; 23: 392–398. Published online 2017 Dec 29. doi: 10.12659/MSMBR.906502

 

Abstract

Background

Reports suggest that vigilance or sustained attention increases sympathetic activity. A persistent increase in sympathetic activity can lead to an increase in blood pressure. Alternate-nostril yoga breathing has been shown to be useful to (i) improve attention and (ii) decrease the systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Earlier studies did not report simultaneous recordings of the blood pressure and performance in vigilance tests after alternate-nostril yoga breathing. With this background, the present study was planned to determine if 15 minutes of alternate nostril yoga breathing could improve the performance in a vigilance test without an increase in blood pressure.

Material/Methods

Fifteen healthy male volunteers participated in the study (group mean age ±SD, 22.4±2.4 years). Participants were assessed on 3 separate days in 3 different sessions. These were (i) alternate nostril yoga breathing, (ii) breath awareness, and (iii) sitting quietly as a control. Blood pressure and the digit vigilance test were simultaneously assessed before and after each session.

Results

Systolic blood pressure (p<0.01), mean arterial blood pressure (p<0.05), and the time taken to complete the digit vigilance test (p<0.05) significantly decreased following alternate-nostril yoga breathing. The time taken to complete the digit vigilance test differed significantly between sessions (p<0.05). The time taken to complete the digit vigilance test was also significantly decreased after sitting quietly (p<0.01).

Conclusions

Alternate-nostril yoga breathing appears to improve performance in the digit vigilance test, along with a reduction in systolic blood pressure. This is suggestive of better vigilance without sympathetic activation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5755948/