Until recently, claims for the psychological benefits of physical exercise have tended to precede supportive evidence. Acutely, emotional effects of exercise remain confusing, both positive and negative effects being reported. Results of cross-sectional and longitudinal studies are more consistent in indicating that aerobic exercise training has antidepressant and anxiolytic effects and protects against harmful consequences of stress. Details of each of these effects remain unclear. Antidepressant and anxiolytic effects have been demonstrated most clearly in subclinical disorder, and clinical applications remain to be exploited. Cross-sectional studies link exercise habits to protection from harmful effects of stress on physical and mental health, but causality is not clear. Nevertheless, the pattern of evidence suggests the theory that exercise training recruits a process which confers enduring resilience to stress. This view allows the effects of exercise to be understood in terms of existing psychobiological knowledge, and it can thereby provide the theoretical base that is needed to guide future research in this area. Clinically, exercise training continues to offer clinical psychologists a vehicle for nonspecific therapeutic social and psychological processes. It also offers a specific psychological treatment that may be particularly effective for patients for whom more conventional psychological interventions are less acceptable.
One exception in this line of research is the finding that for highly creative individuals, a moderate noise level may lead to higher creative performance relative to both low and high noise levels (Toplyn and Maguire 1991 ). Toplyn and Maguire had participants complete a number of creativity tasks and used their performance on one such task (the RAT) to assess their baseline creativity level. They found that highly creative individuals (defined as those who scored high on the RAT) exhibited greater creativity on other tasks when presented with a moderate level of white noise than when the noise level was either high or low. Toplyn and Maguire speculate that arousal may underlie this effect. For less creative individuals, on the other hand, no significant difference was observed among low, moderate, and high levels of noise.
Newer medications help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. Some of these sleep-inducing drugs, which bind to the same receptors in the brain as do benzodiazepines, include Lunesta , Sonata , and Ambien . They are somewhat less likely than benzodiazepines to be habit-forming, but over time can still sometimes cause physical dependence. They can work quickly to increase drowsiness and sleep. Another sleep aid, called Rozerem , acts differently from other sleep medicines by affecting a brain hormone called melatonin, and is not habit-forming. Belsomra is another unique sleep aid that affects a brain chemical called orexin , and is not addictive or habit-forming.