Chapter 10. Biological Rhythms and Sleep

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By Nicholas Bakalar Night owls may be at greater risk for depression than early birds. Previous studies have found a link between a person’s unique circadian rhythm, or chronotype, and depression, but none were able to tell whether sleep habits were a cause or an effect of the disease. This new prospective study, in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, is a step closer to establishing causality. Researchers gathered health and behavioral data on 32,740 women whose average age was 55. Each categorized herself as a definite evening or morning type, a somewhat morning or evening type, or neither. All were free of depression at the start of the study, and over the following four years 2,581 of them developed depression, defined by antidepressant use or a clinical diagnosis. After adjusting for marital status, living alone, being retired, alcohol consumption and other variables, the researchers found that compared to the intermediate types, morning people were 12 percent less likely to develop depression, and night owls 6 percent more likely to develop it. The relationship was linear: the more a woman tended toward the night-owl type, the more likely she was to develop depression. “The effect is modest, a modest association for chronotype and incident depression,” said the lead author, Céline Vetter, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado. “But the overall pattern remains constant. We need to get much deeper into what the genetic and environmental contributions are between mood and chronotype.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Biological Rhythms; Depression
Link ID: 25113 - Posted: 06.21.2018

By Julia Jacobs Humans, it turns out, can annoy more than just one another. In fact, some animal populations are escaping their Homo sapien cohabitants by sleeping more during the day, a new study finds. Mammals across the globe are becoming increasingly nocturnal to avoid humans’ expanding presence, according to the study, published Thursday in Science magazine. The findings show that humans’ presence alone can cause animals across continents — including coyotes, elephants and tigers — to alter their sleep schedules. “We’re just beginning to scratch the surface on how these behavioral changes are affecting entire ecosystems,” said Kaitlyn Gaynor, an ecologist and graduate student in environmental science at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the study. Previous research has found that mammals went from being noctural to being active during both day and night about 65.8 million years ago, roughly 200,000 years after most dinosaurs went extinct. “Species for millions of years have been adapting to diurnal activity, but now we’re driving them back into the night and may be driving natural selection,” Ms. Gaynor said in an interview. The researchers compiled data from 76 studies of 62 species living on six continents in reaching their conclusions. On average, human disruption is making these animals 1.36 times more nocturnal, according to the study. “For example,” it says, “an animal that typically split its activity evenly between the day and night would increase its proportion of nocturnal activity to 68 percent of total activity near human disturbance.” In California’s Santa Cruz mountains, for example, coyotes are opting to sleep more during the day in response to recreational human activities such as hiking and bicycling. As a result, coyotes are eating more nocturnal prey, whose waking hours match up more closely with theirs. Recent research such as this was used to provide data for the new study, Ms. Gaynor said. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Biological Rhythms
Link ID: 25093 - Posted: 06.15.2018

Alex Fox Northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) can forgo rapid eye movement sleep for up to two weeks while at sea with no visible hardship, according to new research. This flies in the face of previous studies on land mammals such as rats, in which depriving the animals of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep for a week or more led to problems including weight loss, hypothermia and eventually, death. Nearly all land mammals and birds experience REM sleep. This is the brain's most active sleep phase and has been associated with learning and processing memories. But now, results1 published on 7 June in Current Biology point to another function: regulating brain temperature. Like whales and dolphins, northern fur seals switch off half of their brain to catch some Zs at sea in order to maintain a low level of alertness. The researchers wanted to see whether the seals skipped REM sleep in the water, as whales and dolphins do2. They also thought that the fur seals could offer a good way of investigating the functions of REM sleep without causing the stress of interrupted sleep that can muddy the results of similar studies in other mammals. The study authors used four captive northern fur seals, fitting them with electrodes that recorded electrical activity in the animals’ brains, eyes, muscles and hearts. The scientists allowed or prevented the seals from sleeping on land by raising or lowering the water level in their pool — thereby exposing or submerging a platform they could use to rest. © 2018 Macmillan Publishers Limited,

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 25073 - Posted: 06.09.2018

By Carl Zimmer On a December evening in 1951, Eugene Aserinsky, a physiologist at the University of Chicago, placed electrodes on the scalp of his 8-year-old son, Armond, before putting him to bed. Then the scientist retired to another room to watch a row of pens quiver across a rolling sheet of paper, recording the electrical activity in the boy’s facial muscles. Hours later, the pens started to swing wildly. To judge from the chart, it seemed as if Armond were awake, his eyes darting about the room. But when Aserinsky looked in on him, his son was fast asleep. Aserinsky had discovered R.E.M. sleep. Eventually he and other researchers learned that during this state, the brain shifts from low-frequency to high-frequency electrical waves, like those produced in waking hours. When Aserinsky woke his subjects from R.E.M. sleep, they often reported vivid dreams. Almost all mammals experience R.E.M. sleep, but even today researchers debate why it exists. On Thursday, a team of American and Russian researchers reported that fur seals may provide an important clue. While they swim, fur seals switch off R.E.M. sleep entirely. It returns when they come back to land — a pattern never seen before. Jerome M. Siegel, a sleep expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a co-author of the new study published Thursday in Current Biology, said that the seals provide evidence that our brains switch to R.E.M. sleep from time to time to generate heat in our skulls. “R.E.M. sleep is like shivering for the brain,” he said. Many scientists have argued that our brains require R.E.M. sleep each night to function properly. One clue comes from experiments in which researchers deprive rats of R.E.M. sleep for a few days. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 25070 - Posted: 06.08.2018

By Ruth Williams The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a major cause of skin cancer, but it offers some health benefits too, such as boosting production of essential vitamin D and improving mood. Today (May 17), a report in Cell adds enhanced learning and memory to UV’s unexpected benefits. Researchers have discovered that, in mice, exposure to UV light activates a molecular pathway that increases production of the brain chemical glutamate, heightening the animals’ ability to learn and remember. “The subject is of strong interest, because it provides additional support for the recently proposed theory of ultraviolet light’s regulation of the brain and central neuroendocrine system,” dermatologist Andrzej Slominski of the University of Alabama who was not involved in the research writes in an email to The Scientist. “It’s an interesting and timely paper investigating the skin-brain connection,” notes skin scientist Martin Steinhoff of University College Dublin’s Center for Biomedical Engineering who also did not participate in the research. “The authors make an interesting observation linking moderate UV exposure to . . . [production of] the molecule urocanic acid. They hypothesize that this molecule enters the brain, activates glutaminergic neurons through glutamate release, and that memory and learning are increased.” © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Keyword: Learning & Memory; Biological Rhythms
Link ID: 25052 - Posted: 06.02.2018

By Benedict Carey That’s how Roseanne Barr explained her now-infamous slur about Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to President Obama. On Thursday, Ambien’s manufacturer was quick to respond: The scientific research, too, suggests there’s good reason to be skeptical. It’s true that Ambien on occasion produces significant side effects, including hallucinations and memory lapses. But blaming the drug for bilious tweeting is a stretch. Could Ms. Barr’s use of Ambien have led to a racist taunt? It’s a far-fetched claim at best. Since they were introduced in the 1980s, the so-called “Z-drugs,” like Ambien (zolpidem) and Lunesta (eszopiclone), have become enormously popular. They are sedatives used primarily to treat insomnia, and users have reported all variety of adverse reactions. The best known (and yes, these are most often associated with Ambien) are sleepwalking and memory blackouts, as well as nighttime feasting — the discovery on waking that, say, an entire bowl of spaghetti has been consumed, and the only plausible culprit is oneself. Many people have described zombielike behavior when on Ambien. Former Representative Patrick Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island and current mental health activist, in 2006 blamed the drug in part for his crashing a car into a security barricade at the United States Capitol. But stories of such side effects tend to involve physical actions, often taken at night in a state of near amnesia — not specific and cogent comments made with apparent conscious awareness. It’s possible, to a point. Most of the Z-drugs can have lingering mental effects the morning after use, and not just drowsiness. Verbal memory may slip; so may mental focus, the ability to read through a news article, to follow a complex email chain. So-called working memory — the mental scratchpad where the brain manipulates numbers, names and images — may shrink temporarily. The evidence for these thinking effects is strongest for Ambien and Zimovane (zopiclone), compared to the others, according to a recent review, which also noted that other drugs in this class have not been so well studied. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 25040 - Posted: 05.31.2018

Mark Brown Arts correspondent Teenagers are being damaged by the British school system because of early start times and exams at 16 when their brains are going through enormous change, a leading neuroscientist has said. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore said it was only in recent years that the full scale of the changes that take place in the adolescent brain has been discovered. “That work has completely revolutionised what we think about this period of life,” she said. Blakemore, a professor in cognitive neuroscience at University College London, told the Hay festival that teenagers were unfairly mocked and demonised for behaviour they had no control over, whether that was moodiness, excessive risk-taking, bad decision making or sleeping late. The changes in the brain were enormous, she said, with substantial rises in white matter and a 17% fall in grey matter, which affects decision making, planning and self-awareness. All parents know that teenagers would sleep late if they could but it is all to do with brain changes, she said. “It is not because they are lazy, it is because they go through a period of biological change where melatonin, which is the hormone humans produce in the evenings and makes us feel sleepy, is produced a couple of hours later than it is in childhood or adulthood.” They are then forced to go to school when their brain says they should still be sleeping. That is then exacerbated at weekends when teenagers try to catch up by sleeping until lunchtime – what Blakemore called “social jetlag”. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Development of the Brain; Biological Rhythms
Link ID: 25035 - Posted: 05.30.2018

By Nicholas Bakalar Bedtime reading with a tablet or smartphone can interfere with a good night’s sleep, some studies and many anecdotal reports suggest. Now researchers have conducted a small experiment to test the idea. Scientists had nine people spend 10 nights in a sleep laboratory. For five consecutive nights, they read before sleep with an iPad; then they read print for five nights. In both scenarios, they read in a dimly lit room until they felt ready to go to sleep. The experiment, described in Physiological Reports, found that when people used iPads instead of reading print, they selected a later bedtime and had a later sleep onset. They also had suppressed levels of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, and delayed time to melatonin secretion. Periods of REM sleep — the rapid eye movements of the dreaming stage of sleep — were reduced when they used the iPad rather than printed material. The volunteers also reported feeling less sleepy in the evening, and less alert in the morning after using the electronic device. “These devices are not benign,” said a co-author of the study, Jeanne F. Duffy, a neuroscientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “They have biological effects on us. They can be bad for adults, but really bad for kids and adolescents who already don’t get enough sleep.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Biological Rhythms; Sleep
Link ID: 25023 - Posted: 05.26.2018

Nicola Davis Many people complain they do not get enough sleep, and it seems they are right to be concerned. Researchers have found that adults under the age of 65 who get five or fewer hours of sleep for seven days a week have a higher risk of death than those who consistently get six or seven hours’ shut-eye. However the effect of short sleeps over a few days may be countered by a later lie-in. The research found that individuals who managed just a few hours’ sleep each day during the week but then had a long snooze at weekends had no raised mortality risk, compared with those who consistently stuck to six or seven hours a night. “Sleep duration is important for longevity,” said Torbjörn Åkerstedt, first author of the study, at the Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, and Karolinska Institute, also in the Swedish capital. The study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, is based on data from more than 38,000 adults, collected during a lifestyle and medical survey conducted throughout Sweden in 1997. The fate of participants was followed for up to 13 years, using a national death register. Åkerstedt said researchers had previously looked at links between sleep duration and mortality but had focused on sleep during the working week. “I suspected there might be some modification if you included also weekend sleep, or day-off sleep.” Once factors such as gender, body mass index, smoking, physical activity and shift work, were taken into account, the results revealed that those under the age of 65 who got five hours of sleep or under that amount seven days a week had a 65% higher mortality rate than those getting six or seven hours’ sleep every day. But there was no increased risk of death for those who slept five or fewer hours during the week but then managed eight or more hours’ sleep on weekend days. 'Western society is chronically sleep deprived': the importance of the body's clock © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Sleep; Neuroimmunology
Link ID: 25007 - Posted: 05.23.2018

/ By Lynne Peeples Reaching behind a low bookshelf slightly taller than a typical 5-year-old — and one topped with a Seattle Seahawks gnome and stuffed kangaroo — Sara Barbee presses a button labeled “Alert.” Intense bluish light fills her classroom, and nearly all 17 kindergarteners respond with a collective “Whoooaaaaa.” Barbee, their teacher here at Renton Park Elementary School, walks back to the front of the classroom and ushers the students to sit “crisscross applesauce” on the perimeter of a brightly colored alphabet rug. Front-and-center rests a water tank atop a small blue table, which Barbee uses to teach her students about the buoyancy of objects in water. Indeed, it’s not the buoyancy lesson that has drawn me to this school just outside of Seattle, but those funky new lights, which are designed to mimic the shifting colors and intensities of the rising and setting sun. Scientists believe that exposure to bright, blue-rich white light during the day, and to softer, amber hues at night, helps restore the human body’s natural circadian rhythm, a deeply ingrained, physiological drumbeat that, many experts argue, has been disrupted to ill-effect by our constant exposure to standard incandescent or fluorescent lighting — and more recently, to the relentless glow of electronic screens. These are not, of course, new ideas, and doctors have long prescribed light boxes and related paraphernalia for seasonal affective disorder and other forms of depression. But it’s only now, proponents say — amid innovations in light-emitting diode, or LED, technology; amid calls for more energy-efficient lighting infrastructure overall; and amid a renaissance in scientific understanding of how human eyes, brains, and internal clocks interrelate — that a public health revolution, driven by more thoughtful lighting infrastructure, has the potential to unfold. Copyright 2018 Undark

Keyword: Biological Rhythms; Depression
Link ID: 25003 - Posted: 05.21.2018

Michaeleen Doucleff Six months ago, Melissa Nichols brought her baby girl, Arol, home from the hospital. And she immediately had a secret. "I just felt guilty and like I didn't want to tell anyone," says Nichols, who lives in San Francisco. "It feels like you're a bad mom. The mom guilt starts early, I guess." Across town, first-time mom Candyce Hubbell has the same secret — and she hides it from her pediatrician. "I don't really want be lectured," she says. "I know what her stance will be on it." The way these moms talk about their secret, you might think they're putting their babies in extreme danger. Perhaps drinking and driving with the baby in the car? Or smoking around the baby? But no. What they're hiding is this: They hold the baby at night while they sleep together in the bed. Here in the U.S., this is a growing trend among families. More moms are choosing to share a bed with their infants. Since 1993, the practice in the U.S. has grown from about 6 percent of parents to 24 percent in 2015. But the practice goes against medical advice in the U.S. The American Academy of Pediatrics is opposed to bed-sharing: It "should be avoided at all times" with a "[full-]term normal-weight infant younger than 4 months," the AAP writes in its 2016 recommendations for pediatricians. The organization says the practice puts babies at risk for sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome, accidental suffocation and accidental strangulation. About 3,700 babies die each year in the U.S. from sleep-related causes. © 2018 npr

Keyword: Sleep; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 25002 - Posted: 05.21.2018

Nicola Davis People who experience disrupted 24-hour cycles of rest and activity are more likely to have mood disorders, lower levels of happiness and greater feelings of loneliness, research suggests. While the study does not reveal whether disruptions to circadian rhythms are a cause of mental health problems, a result of them or some mixture of the two, the authors say the findings highlight the importance of how we balance rest and activity. “Because people have these 24-hour patterns of living nowadays and because by 2050 two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities where circadian disruption is much more likely, it is quite a big public health issue. How do we take account of our natural patterns of rest and activity and how do we design cities or jobs to protect people’s mental health?” said Daniel Smith, professor of psychiatry at the University of Glasgow and lead author of the research. Writing in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, a team of researchers from Scotland, Ireland and Sweden report how they carried out the largest study of its kind to date by harnessing data from the UK BioBank, a research endeavour that has collected health information on 500,000 participants, aged between 37 and 73, since 2006. To explore the link between mental health and the 24-hour cycles of sleep and activity known as circadian rhythms, the team looked at data from more than 91,000 participants who had worn a wrist-based activity tracker for a week at some point between 2013 and 2015. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Biological Rhythms; Depression
Link ID: 24988 - Posted: 05.17.2018

By Dana G. Smith You don’t remember it, but you woke up at least 100 times last night. These spontaneous arousals, lasting less than 15 seconds each, occur roughly every five minutes and don’t seem to affect how well-rested you feel. They are unrelated to waking up from a bad dream or your partner tossing and turning. Instead, they seem to be linked to some internal biological mechanism. Frequently waking up throughout the night may have protected early humans from predators by increasing their awareness of their surroundings during sleep. “The likelihood someone would notice an animal is higher [if they] wake up more often,” says Ronny Bartsch, a senior lecturer in the Department of Physics at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. “When you wake up, you’re more prone to hear things. In deep sleep, you’re completely isolated.” Sleep scientists, however, have been stumped as to what triggers these nocturnal disruptions. In a new Science Advances paper Bartsch proposes an innovative hypothesis that spontaneous arousals are due to random electrical activity in a specific set of neurons in the brain—aptly named the wake-promoting neurons. Even when you are asleep your brain cells continuously buzz with a low level of electrical activity akin to white noise on the radio. Occasionally, this electrical clamor reaches a threshold that triggers the firing of neurons. The new paper suggests that when random firing occurs in the wake-promoting neurons, a person briefly jerks awake. But this is countered by a suite of sleep-promoting neurons that helps one quickly fall back to sleep. © 2018 Scientific American

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 24932 - Posted: 05.02.2018

by Lenny Bernstein White House physician Ronny L. Jackson allegedly provided travelers on White House trips with Ambien, a prescription sedative that is widely regarded as a safe drug that poses little risk of addiction. Nearly 30 million Americans take it for it insomnia — the vast majority of them in its generic form, zolpidem — for a single night or for longer periods of sleeplessness. But that doesn't mean a physician can hand out the drug “like candy,” as Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said Jackson did, without inquiring about other medications a patient might be taking, drug history or other medical issues, experts said. “Any physician prescribing a controlled substance should have a doctor-patient relationship, just because of knowing the other health problems and the other medications,” said Cathy Goldstein, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan School of Medicine and a physician at the Michigan Medicine Sleep Disorders Center. Taking Ambien, “you could get hurt. You could be disruptive, especially if you're using it with alcohol.” Ambien and the stimulant Provigil, which Tester said Jackson dispensed to help travelers awaken, are Schedule IV controlled substances in the government's five-category ranking of drugs' risk of abuse. But like any medication, they pose some risk, particularly in certain groups. © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 24903 - Posted: 04.26.2018

By RUTH MARGALIT Harvey Karp, the pediatrician, parenting expert and inventor-slash-entrepreneur, cuts an unimposing figure. Lean and agile, with wispy dark hair, blue-rimmed glasses and a bounce in his step, Karp hugs like the Angeleno he has become and deadpans like the New Yorker he once was. Gray has infiltrated his beard and his eyes are a little hooded, but he still makes for a young 66. He used to dress only in blue button-up shirts with matching sweater vests and bulbous ties in a seemingly self-conscious take on the Nutty Professor, but he has graduated to a darker navy, with slim-fitting jeans, an occasional blazer and a pair of Converse or laceless Vans: his transformation into a hip West Coast chief executive — Prius included — complete. Karp is the author of “The Happiest Baby on the Block,” the 2002 book on newborn sleeping and soothing techniques that has sold more than a million copies and remains on Amazon’s 10 best-selling parenting books — a “category killer,” in the words of its publisher. An accompanying DVD, released the following year, is the most watched child-rearing DVD ever. These days, Karp, who no longer practices medicine, is hoping to capitalize on the trust he has won from parents and sell them on his new product: a $1,160 robotic bassinet called SNOO that he invented with his wife, Nina Montée, and for which they have raised $30 million in two rounds of funding. One Saturday afternoon last summer, Karp found himself riding an empty elevator to the 10th story of a boxy high-rise on Manhattan’s East Side, on a speaking tour to promote the four-figure bed that he is convinced could prevent postpartum depression by improving babies’ — and parents’ — sleep. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 24893 - Posted: 04.24.2018

Lynne Peeples Carole Godain remembers a lot of the little details from the clinical trial she took part in nine years ago. There was the blue button she pushed to get her chemotherapy drugs, and the green light that came on to confirm that the medication was dripping into her veins. Then, of course, there was the hour — 10:00 p.m. without fail, for every treatment. By all accounts, Godain’s own time was running short. The first treatment for her colon cancer had failed, and her last body scan had revealed 27 tumours growing inside her liver. So the psychologist from Tours, France, jumped at the opportunity to take part in a trial at Paul Brousse hospital in Villejuif, which aimed to test whether delivering drugs at a specific time of day might make them more effective or reduce their toxic side effects. Ideally, it would accomplish both. “I was interested in increasing my chances of being cured,” says Godain. Today, at the age of 43, she is cancer-free. And Francis Lévi, the oncologist who treated Godain, says that although such an amazing result is anomalous, emerging evidence should encourage more interest in the concept of chronotherapy — scheduling treatments so that they provide the most help and do the least harm. More than four decades of studies describe how accounting for the body’s cycle of daily rhythms — its circadian clock — can influence responses to medications and procedures for everything from asthma to epileptic seizures. Research suggests that the majority of today’s best-selling drugs, including heartburn medications and treatments for erectile dysfunction, work better when taken at specific times of day. “When you give a medication, you always know the dose,” says Lévi, who also now works at Warwick Medical School in Coventry, UK, where he leads a team associated with INSERM, the French national biomedical research agency. “We have found that the timing is sometimes more important than the dose.” © 2018 Macmillan Publishers Limited

Keyword: Biological Rhythms
Link ID: 24877 - Posted: 04.18.2018

by Robby Berman She was wide awake and it was nearly two in the morning. When asked if everything was alright, she said, “Yes.” Asked why she couldn’t get to sleep she said, “I don’t know.” Neuroscientist Russell Foster of Oxford might suggest she was exhibiting “a throwback to the bi-modal sleep pattern." Research suggests we used to sleep in two segments with a period of wakefulness in-between. A. Roger Ekirch, historian at Virginia Tech, uncovered our segmented sleep history in his 2005 book At Day’s Close: A Night in Time’s Past. There’s very little direct scientific research on sleep done before the 20th century, so Ekirch spent years going through early literature, court records, diaries, and medical records to find out how we slumbered. He found over 500 references to first and second sleep going all the way back to Homer’s Odyssey. “It’s not just the number of references—it is the way they refer to it as if it was common knowledge,” Ekirch tells BBC. "He knew this, even in the horror with which he started from his first sleep, and threw up the window to dispel it by the presence of some object, beyond the room, which had not been, as it were, the witness of his dream." — Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge (1840) Here’s a suggestion for dealing with depression from English ballad 'Old Robin of Portingale': "And at the wakening of your first sleepe/You shall have a hott drinke made/And at the wakening of your next sleepe/Your sorrowes will have a slake." Two-part sleep was practiced into the 20th century by people in Central America and Brazil and is still practiced in areas of Nigeria. © Copyright 2007-2018 & BIG THINK

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 24856 - Posted: 04.12.2018

By NICHOLAS BAKALAR Morning people may live longer than night owls, a new study suggests. Researchers studied 433,268 people, aged 38 to 73, who defined themselves as either “definite morning” types, “moderate morning” types, “moderate evening” types or “definite evening” types. They followed their health for an average of six-and-a-half years, tracking cause of death with death certificates. The study is in Chronobiology International. After controlling for age and sex, smoking, body mass index, sleep duration and other variables, they found that compared with “definite morning” types, “definite evening” types had a 10 percent increased risk of dying from any cause. Each increase from “morningness” to “eveningness” was associated with an increased risk for disease. Night owls were nearly twice as likely as early risers to have a psychological disorder and 30 percent more likely to have diabetes. Their risk for respiratory disease was 23 percent higher and for gastrointestinal disease 22 percent higher. The lead author, Kristen L. Knutson, an associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University, said that while being a night owl is partly genetic, people can make adjustments — gradually making bedtime earlier, avoiding using smartphones before bed, and eventually moving themselves out of the “night owl zone.” Although the reasons for their increased mortality remain unclear, she said, “Night owls should know that there may be some health consequences.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Biological Rhythms
Link ID: 24854 - Posted: 04.12.2018

By Danna Staaf "You're doing your surgery, but you don't know if the animal still feels it and you've just stolen its ability to respond," says biologist Robyn Crook of San Francisco State University (SFSU) in California. Until recently, researchers working with octopuses, squids, and other cephalopods routinely faced this dilemma, an ethical and, in some cases, legal challenge to studying these intelligent creatures in the laboratory. But Crook has now shown that both ordinary alcohol and magnesium chloride are effective anesthetics—crucial information for scientists pursuing cephalopod research. Cephalopods might not seem to be ideal laboratory animals. They're exclusively marine, so a complex seawater system is needed to keep them alive, and they're disinclined to stay put—octopuses can escape through minuscule holes, while squids may jet right out of their tanks. But their unique biology and behavior have made them indispensable to researchers in many fields. Studies of the squid's giant axon helped spawn modern neuroscience decades ago, and the light organ of the bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) powered a revolution in the study of symbiotic host-microbe interactions. Today, some researchers are studying how the animals accomplish their striking feats of regeneration, while others use them in ecotoxicology studies; cephalopods even guide research into the origins of consciousness. Because of their complex brains, cephalopods became the first invertebrates to be protected by laboratory animal laws. In 1991, the Canadian Council on Animal Care decided to extend the standards for vertebrate care to cephalopods, meaning, among other things, that researchers have to get ethical approval for their studies and must use anesthesia, when possible, for procedures that could cause pain. Since then, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and some Australian states have passed similar regulations. The biggest expansion of cephalopod rights came in 2013, when an EU-wide directive gave them the same protections as vertebrates in scientific studies in 28 countries. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science. A

Keyword: Animal Rights; Sleep
Link ID: 24823 - Posted: 04.06.2018

By KAREN BARROW Creepy-crawly, itchy, tingly, aching legs — while different people may describe restless leg syndrome differently the results are the same: sleepless nights and restless days. What is it like to be diagnosed with R.L.S.? Six men and women speak about their experiences. Lynne Kaiser, an artist, believes she has had restless leg syndrome for most of her life. She recalls waking up in the middle of the night as a child to take a hot bath or fill a hot water bottle to try to relieve the prickly sensations in her legs. It wasn’t until recently that a specialist confirmed the diagnosis. Today, Mrs. Kaiser advocates for R.L.S. patients. Dopaminergic medications, as well as art and needlework, help her to “get in a tunnel” where she can be distracted from the uncomfortable sensations, she said. Mrs. Kaiser says the symptoms of R.L.S. strained her relationship with her husband. He couldn’t understand why she couldn’t just relax in bed with him, or why she would get up at night to stretch her legs or sit in a scalding hot bath. Because of R.L.S., Mrs. Kaiser finds it difficult to travel. She also knows that R.L.S. medications tend to lose their effectiveness over time, so she focuses on how good she feels today. “I really try not to think about the future,” she said. Dr. David Rye, a professor of neurology at Emory University in Atlanta, discovered that he had restless leg syndrome several years after he began researching the disease. He says that many in the medical community believe that R.L.S. is a psychological disease rather than a physical ailment. However, Dr. Rye and his colleagues were among the first to discover a gene variant linked to R.L.S. Genetic factors help to explain why R.L.S. is so much more prevalent among Caucasians than other ethnicities. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 24799 - Posted: 03.29.2018