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By Markham Heid As if physical fatigue and a foggy brain weren't bad enough, restless nights may also harm your heart. A new multi-year study published in the European Heart Journal finds evidence of a substantial link between insomnia and the risk of heart failure. For more than 11 years, a study team from several Scandinavian universities tracked the sleeping habits and heart failure rates of more than 50,000 men and women. The researchers focused on the three major hallmarks of insomnia: trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, and waking up still feeling fatigued. Unfortunately, the results of their analysis are enough to keep a person up at night: Among participants who experienced just one of those symptoms "occasionally" or "often," rates of heart failure increased 5% and 14%, respectively, compared to those who didn't struggle with sleep. But for those who experienced all three symptoms frequently, heart failure rates more than tripled, says study co-author Lars Laugsand, PhD, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. "Insomnia is a disorder marked by hyperarousal," Laugsand says. So instead of the restful state you should experience while sleeping, insomnia increases activity in your sympathetic nervous system, which in turn releases a flood of stress hormones into your bloodstream. This hormonal surge appears to boost blood pressure, which explains why periods of insomnia can make you feel like your heart is pounding or your body is overheating. © 2013 NBCNews.com

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 17971 - Posted: 04.01.2013

By Melissa Healy, Listening in on the electrical currents of teenagers’ brains during sleep, scientists have begun to hear the sound of growing maturity. It happens most intensively between the ages of 12 and 161 / 2: After years of frenzied fluctuation, the brain’s electrical output during the deepest phase of sleep — the delta, or slow-wave phase, when a child’s brain is undergoing its most restorative rest — becomes practically steady. That reduced fluctuation in electroencephalogram signals appears to coincide with what neuroscientists have described as major architectural changes in the brain that pave the way for cognitive maturity. While babies, toddlers and young children are taking in and making sense of the world, their brain cells are wiring themselves together willy-nilly, creating super-dense networks of interwoven neurons. But as we reach and progress through adolescence, neuroscientists have observed, a period of intensive “synaptic pruning” occurs in which those networks are thinned and the strongest and most evolutionarily useful remain. In a study published last week, scientists from the University of California at Davis say they believe the slowed fluctuations observed during the delta phase of teens’ sleep may be evidence of that pruning process at work. And since major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia appear to take root during adolescence, the authors of the study say the changing architecture of sleep may offer clues as to how and when mental illness sets in. © 1996-2013 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17961 - Posted: 03.28.2013

By Gary Stix A little shuteye refreshes. Right, but what does that really mean? Not talking here about leaping out of bed ready for a five-mile run upon awakening, but rather about what’s happening at the level of individual brain cells deep inside your head. A new study by R. Douglas Fields, a pioneer in researching out-of-the-mainstream brain areas and neural activity, holds one promising suggestion. Fields’s team at the National Institutes of Child Health and Development in Bethesda, Maryland, built on an earlier observation that during sleep (or even when just chilling out), neural signals travel the “wrong way” in cells of a critical region of the hippocampus, the brain structure involved with forming some types of new memories. The new study by Fields demonstrates, in a lab dish, that this reverse trafficking functions as a form of “editing,” a physical paring back of inessential parts of a brain cell to ensure that you don’t forget what you learned the previous day. Specifically, electrical signals in the CA1 area of the hippocampus reverse direction like the opposite flow of cars during the evening rush hour. The spiking electrical pulses move up instead of down the long extensions of nerve cells known as axons. The train of spikes pass through the cell body where the nucleus resides before reaching the ends of thousands of tiny branching tendrils called dendrites. © 2013 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 17938 - Posted: 03.23.2013

Nursing home residents who take a class of sleep medications that includes Lunesta and Ambien may be at higher risk for hip fractures compared with those who do not take these nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic drugs, according to a Harvard Medical School study. The study involved more than 15,000 nursing home residents who were on average 81 years old and were documented by Medicare to have had a hip fracture between July 2007 and December 2008. Nearly 11 percent of the residents with hip fractures took these drugs. Residents who took the prescription sleep medications were 66 percent more likely to sustain a hip fracture than those who did not. The risk was greater among new users of the medications and those suffering mild to moderate mental and physical decline. Those who took the medication for less than two months were more than twice as likely to fracture their hip, the study found. Nonbenzodiazepenes have been known to alter memory, attention, and balance, which may be why there is a greater risk of physical injury when taking the medication, the researchers wrote. Based on the findings, nursing home staff should try to treat sleep problems using nondrug strategies first, such as increased daytime activity and discouraging daytime napping, according to the researchers. © 2012 NY Times Co

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 17926 - Posted: 03.20.2013

By NICHOLAS BAKALAR Insomnia may be linked to an increased risk of heart failure, according to a large new study, and the more insomnia symptoms, the greater the risk. The study, published last week in The European Heart Journal, used questionnaires to gather data on difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and waking unrefreshed among more than 54,000 Norwegian adults in a population-wide health survey. All were free of heart disease at the start of the study; there were 1,412 cases of heart failure over an average of 11 years of follow-up. After controlling for numerous health, behavioral and demographic factors, the researchers found that having one symptom of insomnia was associated with a 17 percent increase in the risk of developing heart failure. Having two symptoms increased the chances by 92 percent, and having all three nearly tripled the risk. Insomnia was a risk independent of other cardiovascular risks, and the authors suggest that chronic insomnia leads to higher blood pressure and higher heart rate, known risk factors for heart failure. “We cannot claim that insomnia is causing heart failure,” said the lead author, Lars E. Laugsand, a postdoctoral fellow at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. “But observational studies are all going more or less in the same direction — showing that insomnia may play a role in heart problems.” Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 17895 - Posted: 03.12.2013

By David Robson, The dreams of Mary Shelley, author of “Frankenstein,” involved a pale student kneeling beside a corpse that was jerking back to life. Paul McCartney’s contained the melody of “Yesterday,” while director James Cameron’s inspired the “Terminator” films. With their eerie mixture of the familiar and the bizarre, it is easy to look for meaning in these nightly wanderings. But why do our brains take these journeys, and why do they contain such outlandish twists and turns? Unfortunately for armchair psychoanalysts, Sigmund Freud’s attempts to interpret dreams remain hotly disputed. Nevertheless, neuroscientists and psychologists have recently made big strides in understanding the way the brain builds our dreams and the factors that shape those curious stories. Along the way, they have found startling hints that our use of technology may be permanently changing the nature of this fundamental human experience. Anyone who has ever awakened feeling amazed by a dream, only to forget its contents before reaching the shower will understand the difficulties of studying such an ephemeral state of mind. Some of the best attempts to catalogue dream features either asked participants to jot them down as soon as they woke up or had volunteers sleep in a lab where they were awakened and immediately questioned at intervals in the night. © 1996-2013 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 17894 - Posted: 03.12.2013

by Elizabeth Norton The prospect of undergoing surgery while not fully "under" may sound like the stuff of horror movies. But one patient in a thousand remembers moments of awareness while under general anesthesia, physicians estimate. The memories are sometimes neutral images or sounds of the operating room, but occasionally patients report being fully aware of pain, terror, and immobility. Though surgeons scrupulously monitor vital signs such as pulse and blood pressure, anesthesiologists have no clear signal of whether the patient is conscious. But a new study finds that the brain may produce an early-warning signal that consciousness is returning—one that's detectable by electroencephalography (EEG), the recording of neural activity via electrodes on the skull. "We've known since the 1930s that brain activity changes dramatically with increasing doses of anesthetic," says the study's corresponding author, anesthesiologist Patrick Purdon of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "But monitoring a patient's brain with EEG has never become routine practice." Beginning in the 1990s, some anesthesiologists began using an approach called the bispectral (BIS) index, in which readings from a single electrode are connected to a device that calculates, and displays, a single number indicating where the patient's brain activity falls on a scale of 100 (fully conscious) to zero (a "flatline" EEG). Anything between 40 and 60 is considered the target range for unconsciousness. But this index and other similar ones are only indirect measurements, Purdon explains. In 2011, a team led by anesthesiologist Michael Avidan at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, found that monitoring with the BIS index was slightly less successful at preventing awareness during surgery than the nonbrain-based method of measuring exhaled anesthesia in the patient's breath. Of the 2861 patients monitored with the BIS index, seven had memories of the surgery, whereas only two of 2852 patients whose breath was analyzed remembered anything. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 17870 - Posted: 03.05.2013

By David Brown, Hey, you, yawning in your cubicle at 2 in the afternoon. Your genes feel it, too. A new study, paid for by the U.S. Air Force but relevant for anyone with a small child, a large prostate or a lot on the mind, is helping illuminate what’s happening at the genetic level when we don’t get enough sleep. It turns out that chronic sleep deprivation — in this experiment, less than six hours a night for a week — changes the activity of about 700 genes, which is roughly 3 percent of all we carry. About one-third of the affected genes are ramped up when we go with insufficient sleep night after night. The other two-thirds are partially suppressed. Hundreds of “circadian genes” whose activity rises and falls each day abruptly lose their rhythm. Among the genes disturbed by sleep deprivation are ones involved in metabolism, immunity, inflammation, hormone response, the expression of other genes and the organization of material called chromatin on chromosomes. These changes may help explain how inadequate sleep alters attention and thinking and raises the risk for illnesses such as diabetes and coronary heart disease. “The findings will identify some of the pathways linking insufficient sleep and negative health outcomes,” said Derk-Jan Dijk, a physiologist at the University of Surrey in England, who led the study. “But how these things ultimately lead to obesity or diabetes is an unanswered question at this moment in time.” © 1996-2013 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 17869 - Posted: 03.05.2013

Steve Connor Physical exhaustion can occur when the brain – as well as the muscles – grows tired according to a study that sheds fresh light on the role played by the mind in determining endurance levels. Scientists have found that a key neurotransmitter in the brain, which controls signalling between nerve cells, can determine whether someone feels exhausted following physical exercise or after taking anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac. Although levels of serotonin rise during exercise, which provides a psychological boost and “feel-good” factor, it can also result in a widespread central fatigue that ultimately leads to someone feeling exhausted and unable to carry on, scientists found. Researchers led by Professor Jean-Francois Perrier of the University of Copenhagen found that while serotonin helps to keep people going during the early stage of vigorous exercise, a build-up of the neurotransmitter in the brain can have the opposite effect by causing “central fatigue” of the nervous system even when the muscles are still able to carry on. “We can now see it is actually a surplus of serotonin that triggers a braking mechanism in the brain. In other words, serotonin functions as an accelerator but also as a brake when the strain becomes excessive,” said Professor Perrier, whose study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. © independent.co.uk

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 17868 - Posted: 03.05.2013

By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News A run of poor sleep can have a dramatic effect on the internal workings of the human body, say UK researchers. The activity of hundreds of genes was altered when people's sleep was cut to less than six hours a day for a week. Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers said the results helped explain how poor sleep damaged health. Heart disease, diabetes, obesity and poor brain function have all been linked to substandard sleep. What missing hours in bed actually does to alter health, however, is unknown. So researchers at the University of Surrey analysed the blood of 26 people after they had had plenty of sleep, up to 10 hours each night for a week, and compared the results with samples after a week of fewer than six hours a night. More than 700 genes were altered by the shift. Each contains the instructions for building a protein, so those that became more active produced more proteins - changing the chemistry of the body. Meanwhile the natural body clock was disturbed - some genes naturally wax and wane in activity through the day, but this effect was dulled by sleep deprivation. Prof Colin Smith, from the University of Surrey, told the BBC: "There was quite a dramatic change in activity in many different kinds of genes." Areas such as the immune system and how the body responds to damage and stress were affected. BBC © 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 17848 - Posted: 02.26.2013

An international team of biologists has successfully identified some of the brain chemicals that may help clarify some unanswered questions about how humans sleep. The research - conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Toronto - focused on seals and the chemicals found in their brain, as they are able to sleep with half their brain at a time. Professor John Peever of the University of Toronto said: "Seals do something biologically amazing - they sleep with half their brain at a time. The left side of their brain can sleep while the right side stays awake. Seals sleep this way while they're in water, but they sleep like humans while on land. Our research may explain how this unique biological phenomenon happens." The study's first author, PhD student Jennifer Lapierre, measured how the brain chemicals change while the seals are asleep and awake. She found that acetylcholine - an important brain chemical - was at low levels on the sleeping side of the brain, but high levels on the waking side. This discovery suggests that acetylcholine may be responsible for brain alertness. They also discovered - to their surprise - that the chemical serotonin was present in both sides of the brain whether the seal was awake or asleep. It was previously thought that serotonin caused brain arousal. Researchers hope that the discovery of the chemicals may make a breakthrough in understanding and curing sleeping disorders. The study's senior author, Jerome Siegel from UCLA's Brain Research Institute added: "Understanding which brain chemicals function to keep us awake or asleep is a major scientific advance. It could help solve the mystery of how and why we sleep." © independent.co.uk

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 17840 - Posted: 02.23.2013

Mo Costandi Deterioration of a specific brain region impairs sleep quality as people age, leading to poorer memory retention, according to research published today in Nature Neuroscience1. Ageing is associated with the gradual loss of brain cells, sleep disturbances and declining memory function, but how these factors are related to each other has been unclear. Neuroscientist Bryce Mander at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues recruited 33 healthy adults — 18 around the age of 20, and 15 ranging from late sixties to late seventies — all with normal mental function, and asked them to memorize a list of word pairs. The participants were asked to recall some of the word pairs ten minutes later, then left to sleep overnight while the researchers recorded the electrical activity of their brains. The next morning, volunteers were asked to recall selected words from the list again while having their brains scanned. In keeping with earlier studies, the older adults performed less well than the younger ones on the memory test, and showed significant reductions in the slow brain waves associated with deep sleep. The extent of deep-sleep disruption was related to the degree of memory impairment, with those exhibiting the least slow-wave activity performing the worst. These differences were also associated with a reduction of grey matter in a part of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex. © 2013 Nature Publishing Group,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17723 - Posted: 01.28.2013

By SABRINA TAVERNISE WASHINGTON — For two decades, millions of Americans have taken Ambien to help them sleep at night. But for years, the Food and Drug Administration has gotten complaints that people felt drowsy the morning after taking the medicine or its successors, and sometimes got into car accidents. On Thursday the agency said that women should be taking half as much, after laboratory studies and driving tests confirming the risks of drowsiness. The new recommendation applies to drugs containing the active ingredient zolpidem, by far the most widely used sleep aid. Using lower doses means less of the drug will remain in the blood in the morning hours, and will reduce the risk that people who use it will be impaired while driving. Sleeping pills have boomed in popularity with the increasingly frantic pace of modern American life. According to IMS, a health care information and technology company, about 60 million prescriptions were dispensed in 2011, up about 20 percent since 2006. About 40 million were for products containing zolpidem. The agency’s announcement was focused on women because they take longer to metabolize the drug than men. An estimated 10 percent to 15 percent of women will have a level of zolpidem in their blood that could impair driving eight hours after taking the pill, while only about 3 percent of men do, said Dr. Robert Temple, an official in the agency’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 17675 - Posted: 01.12.2013

By Laura Sanders Astronauts on a months-long mission to Mars and back will have more to contend with than boredom and a lack of gourmet cuisine: Disrupted sleep may be a serious side effect of extended space flight, potentially changing crew dynamics and affecting performance on high-pressure tasks. In an epic feat of playacting, a crew of six men lived for 520 days inside a hermetically sealed 550-cubic-meter capsule in Moscow. As the grueling experiment wore on, the crew drifted into torpor, moving less and sleeping more. Four men experienced sleep problems, scientists report online January 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Developed by the Russian Academy of Sciences, the “Mars 500” project was designed to test the feasibility of sending people on a journey to Mars and back. The simulation was realistic: The chamber was sealed, mission control was on standby 24 hours a day with built-in communications delays during parts of the mission, and the crew had specific jobs to do during transit and on a simulated landing on Mars. “If we at some point really want to go to Mars and we want to send humans, then we need to know how they will cope with this long period of confinement,” says study coauthor Mathias Basner, of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia. Basner’s team was one of many that conducted studies on the six men during the long simulation. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 17658 - Posted: 01.08.2013

By ANAHAD O'CONNOR A new study of driving behavior across the country found that slightly more than 4 percent of adults admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel. Certain people were particularly likely to report drowsiness while driving, including those who slept less than six hours daily and those who snored at night, a potential sign of a sleep disorder. Though only 4.2 percent of adults said they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the past 30 days, the researchers said they believed the true number was probably several times that, since people who doze or nod off for a moment at the wheel may not realize it at the time or recall it later on. Drowsy driving has a widespread impact on the nation’s highways, experts say. In 2009, an estimated 730 deadly motor vehicle accidents involved a driver who was either sleepy or dozing off, and an additional 30,000 crashes that were nonfatal involved a drowsy driver. Accidents involving sleepy drivers are more likely to be deadly or cause injuries, in part because people who fall asleep at the wheel either fail to hit their brakes or veer off the road before crashing. To get a sense of just how prevalent the phenomenon is, Anne G. Wheaton, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, led a study looking at 147,000 adults in 19 states and the District of Columbia. The subjects were asked detailed questions about their daily activities, including their driving, sleep and work habits. Dr. Wheaton and her colleagues found that men were more likely to report drowsy driving than women, and that the behavior increased with age. About 1.7 percent of adults between 18 and 44 admitted to it, compared to 5 percent or more of those age 65 or older. The findings were published in the latest issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 17651 - Posted: 01.05.2013

By ANAHAD O'CONNOR Chronic sleep loss has many downsides, among them weight gain, depression and irritability. But now scientists have found a new one: It also weakens your tolerance for pain. In recent studies, researchers have shown that losing sleep may disrupt the body’s pain signaling system, heightening sensitivity to painful stimuli. Though it is not clear why, one theory is that sleep loss increases inflammation throughout the body. Catching up on sleep if you are behind may reduce inflammation. Scientists believe this could have implications for people with chronic pain. It could also have an impact on the effects of painkillers, which appear to be blunted after chronic sleep loss. In one study published in the journal Sleep, scientists at the sleep disorders and research center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit recruited 18 healthy adults and split them into two groups. One was allowed to sleep for an average of nine hours, while the other averaged two fewer hours of sleep each night. To assess pain thresholds, the researchers measured how long the subjects were able to hold a finger to a source of radiant heat. After four nights, the group that was allowed to sleep the longest was able to withstand the painful stimuli much longer, by about 25 percent on average. Several studies in the past have had similar findings, including one in 2006 that showed that one night of cutting sleep in half could significantly reduce a person’s threshold for physical pain. Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 8: General Principles of Sensory Processing, Touch, and Pain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 17612 - Posted: 12.18.2012

One in five U.S. adults shows signs of chronic sleep deprivation, and a shortage of sleep has been linked to health problems as different as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Recent studies have found some interesting connections between illness and what is happening in our brains as we snooze. One in five U.S. adults shows signs of chronic sleep deprivation © 1996-2012 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 17575 - Posted: 12.04.2012

By BENEDICT CAREY Subtle breathing problems during sleep may play a larger role in causing insomnia than the usual suspects, like stress and the need for a bathroom, a small study of poor sleepers suggests. The report, published in the current issue of the journal Sleep, found that chronic insomniacs woke an average of about 30 times a night, and that a brief respiratory problem — a drop in the volume of oxygen inhaled, due to a narrowed airway, for instance — preceded about 90 percent of those interruptions. None of the people had any idea they had breathing problems during sleep. The study is hardly conclusive, experts said, because it included only 20 people and had no control group of normal sleepers for comparison. But these experts said that it was worth following up, because it challenged the predominant theory of insomnia as a problem of “hyper-arousal,” in which the body idles on high psychologically and physiologically. Earlier studies have linked measures of hyper-arousal to delays in falling asleep and problems nodding off after interruptions. But the theory does not satisfactorily explain what prompts awakenings in the first place. The new study compared chronic insomniacs’ opinions about why they awoke at night with data from a sleep test monitoring breathing and brain waves — and does provide a possible explanation. “It is a striking finding that by no means can be discounted,” said Dr. Michael J. Sateia, a professor of psychiatry and sleep medicine at Dartmouth College’s school of medicine, who was not involved in the research. Still, he added, “we know arousal can in and of itself promote instability of the upper airway,” and it is not always clear which comes first. Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 17574 - Posted: 12.04.2012

By David Levine People with depression or other mental illnesses often report trouble sleeping, daytime drowsiness and other sleep-related issues. Now a growing body of research is showing that treating sleep problems can dramatically improve psychiatric symptoms in many patients. Much of the latest work illustrates how sleep apnea, a common chronic condition in which a person repeatedly stops breathing during sleep, may cause or aggravate psychiatric symptoms. In past years sleep apnea has been linked to depression in small studies and limited populations. Now a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strengthens that connection. The CDC analyzed the medical records of nearly 10,000 American adults with sleep apnea. Men diagnosed with this disorder had twice the risk of depression—and women five times the risk—compared with those without sleep apnea. Writing in the April issue of Sleep, lead author Anne G. Wheaton and her colleagues speculate that in addition to interrupting sleep, the oxygen deprivation induced by sleep apnea could harm cells and disrupt normal brain functioning. Treating this disorder shows promise for reducing symptoms of depression, a recent study at the Cleveland Clinic suggests. In the experiment, patients went to bed wearing a mask hooked up to a machine that increases air pressure in their throat. The increased pressure prevents the airway from collapsing, which is what causes breathing to cease in most cases of this disorder. Using this machine, psychiatrist Charles Bae and his colleagues treated 779 patients who had been diagnosed with sleep apnea. After an average of 90 days of sleeping with the machine, all the patients scored lower on a common depression survey than before the treatment—regardless of whether they had a prior diagnosis of depression or were taking an antidepressant. The data were presented in June at the SLEEP 2012 conference in Boston. © 2012 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 17550 - Posted: 11.28.2012

By ANAHAD O'CONNOR Health officials are warning parents not to use a special device designed to help keep babies in certain positions as they sleep. The device, called a sleep positioner, has been linked to at least 13 deaths in the last 15 years, officials with two federal agencies said on Wednesday. “We urge parents and caregivers to take our warning seriously and stop using these sleep positioners,” Inez Tenenbaum, the chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said in a statement. The sleep positioner devices come primarily in two forms. One is a flat mat with soft bolsters on each side. The other, known as a wedge-style positioner, looks very similar but has an incline, keeping a child in a very slight upright position. Makers of the devices claim that by keeping infants in a specific position as they sleep, they can prevent several conditions, including acid reflux and flat head syndrome, a deformation caused by pressure on one part of the skull. Many are also marketed to parents as a way to help reduce a child’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, which kills thousands of babies every year, most between the ages of 2 months and 4 months. But the devices have never been shown in studies to prevent SIDS, and they may actually raise the likelihood of sudden infant death, officials say. One of the leading risk factors for sudden infant death is placing a baby on his or her stomach at bedtime, and health officials have routinely warned parents to lay babies on their backs. They even initiated a “Back to Sleep” campaign in the 1990s, which led to a sharp reduction in sudden infant deaths. Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17531 - Posted: 11.24.2012