Chapter 14. Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming

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By Jason Bittel The first mammals first lived some 160 million years ago, in a world ruled by reptiles. And now scientists suggest that hiding in the dark from these terrifying beasts may have left an imprint in mammals’ genes that can still be seen today. Most mammals were no bigger than a squirrel back then, and it would have been much safer to come out only at night, thereby avoiding most of the nastiest maws and claws. A new study published Thursday in Current Biology suggests that living largely in the dark for millions of years might explain how mammals lost a light-sensitive trick that nearly every other living thing possesses. You see, if you were to examine the DNA of a turtle, an orchid, a coral, or even a bacterium, you would find a quirky little set of genes that allows these organisms to repair damage caused by one kind of sunlight with energy absorbed from another kind of sunlight. Think of it like a solar panel that is both harmed and healed by the sun. How is it possible that we lost an evolutionary strategy so advantageous it’s been found in every other living thing where scientists have looked for it? Well, you might blame the dinosaurs—or at least how scary they were. All that time spent in darkness, when most dinosaurs weren’t active, may have affected the way placental mammals evolved. Scientists call this theory the “nocturnal bottleneck,” and it’s supported by various mammalian oddities such as the shape of our eyes, the composition of our retinas, and our heightened senses of smell and hearing—all of which point to a long history of living in the dark.

Keyword: Biological Rhythms; Evolution
Link ID: 25572 - Posted: 10.15.2018

by Hannah Devlin, Science correspondent “The only known function of sleep is to cure sleepiness,” the Harvard sleep scientist Dr J Allan Hobson once joked. This isn’t quite true, but the questions of why we spend about a third of our lives asleep and what goes on in our head during this time are far from being solved. One big mystery is why sleep emerged as an evolutionary strategy. It must confer powerful benefits to balance out the substantial risks, such as being eaten or missing out on food while lying dormant. The emerging picture from research is that sleep is not a luxury but essential to both physical and mental health. But the complex and diverse functions of sleep are only just starting to be uncovered. What’s going on in our brains while we sleep? The brain doesn’t just switch off. It generates two main types of sleep: slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) – SWS – and rapid eye movement (dreaming), or REM. About 80% of our sleeping is of the SWS variety, which is characterised by slow brain waves, relaxed muscles and slow, deep breathing. There is strong evidence that deep sleep is important for the consolidation of memories, with recent experiences being transferred to long-term storage. This doesn’t happen indiscriminately though – a clearout of the less relevant experiences of the preceding day also appears to take place. A study published last year revealed that the connections between neurons, known as synapses, shrink during sleep, resulting in the weakest connections being pruned away and those experiences forgotten. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 25551 - Posted: 10.09.2018

Rhitu Chatterjee Paige Thesing has struggled with insomnia since high school. "It takes me a really long time to fall asleep — about four hours," she says. For years, her mornings were groggy and involved a "lot of coffee." After a year of trying sleep medication prescribed by her doctor, she turned to the internet for alternate solutions. About four months ago, she settled on a mobile phone meditation app called INSCAPE. "It's about a 30-minute soundtrack, and it starts with a woman kind of telling you to relax and instructing your breathing," explains Thesing. "Then it goes into sounds — relaxing noises. There's wind chimes, some atmospheric music playing..." She uses the app every night and falls asleep within 15 or 20 minutes. "So, definitely a big improvement from four hours," she says. Thesing is not alone. Chronic insomnia affects an estimated 10-15 percent of adults, and another 25-35 percent struggle with sleep issues occasionally. And like Thesing, a growing number of insomniacs are turning to mobile phone apps to lull them to sleep. On Twitter and Facebook, NPR asked its audience if they have used a mobile phone app to help manage insomnia. Nearly 100 people wrote back suggesting a range of apps, including podcasts created to put a listener to sleep. "These are usually relaxation strategies, white noise, meditation," Jason Ong, an associate professor of neurology specializing in sleep at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. He studies non-pharmacological treatments for various sleep disorders and treats patients at the university's Sleep Medicine clinic. "It's not that there's something wrong with those apps. It's a reasonable first thing to try." © 2018 npr

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 25540 - Posted: 10.08.2018

Since his early twenties, science writer Henry Nicholls has struggled against nearly irresistible waves of sleepiness, thanks to narcolepsy — a severe sleep disorder that science has only recently come to understand. "It's this insane weight that your fight with for a little bit and that fighting is completely worthless. There is only one outcome ever: You lose to sleep," he told CBC Radio's Quirks & Quarks. Nicholls explores the science of narcolepsy, and a whole range of other sleep disorders, in his new book Sleepyhead: The Neuroscience of a Good Night's Rest. Along the way he makes the case that the strategies used to cope with serious sleep disorders can help the rest of us sleep better, as well. Over the two decades Nicholls has lived with narcolepsy, science has learned much about it. Though it may still often go undiagnosed, it's thought to affect up to one in 2,000 people. Narcolepsy is the result of the destruction of a tiny population of neurons deep in the brain that are critical for regulating sleep. This means "it's brain damage — a tiny amount," according to Nicholls. The brain has billions of cells, but "just a few tens of thousands of cells, [are] absolutely crucial to the regulation of sleep and wakefulness," Nicholls explained. These cells produce a critical neurotransmitter called hypocretin or orexin. Hypocretin plays a role in waking up or maintaining wakefulness in many areas of the brain by releasing stimulant hormones like norepinephrine. People with narcolepsy never get this hormonal wake-up call. ©2018 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Keyword: Narcolepsy; Sleep
Link ID: 25506 - Posted: 09.29.2018

April Fulton Within three days of starting high school this year, my ninth-grader could not get into bed before 11 p.m. or wake up by 6 a.m. He complained he couldn't fall asleep but felt foggy during the school day and had to reread lessons a few times at night to finish his homework. And forget morning activities on the weekends — he was in bed. We're not the only family struggling to get restful shut-eye. "What parents are sharing with us is that the 'normal life' of a typical American high schooler is interfering with sleep," says Sarah Clark, co-director of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at the University of Michigan. In the poll of 2,000 parents from various ethnic groups and backgrounds that Clark and her team published this month, 1 in 6 parents say their teen experiences frequent sleep problems — "having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep 3 or more nights per week." More than half the parents say it's because their teens won't get off their electronic devices, and 43 percent blame irregular schedules with homework and activities. A significant percentage of parents say their kids worry about school (31 percent), and 23 percent say their teens stay up worrying about their social lives. It's likely that the numbers of teens who have trouble sleeping is even higher than the poll of parents suggests, Clark says, because kids can hide their nighttime electronics use and parents may not frequently check in on older children. How can parents help? Start with knowing what kids need. © 2018 npr

Keyword: Sleep; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 25493 - Posted: 09.26.2018

Roland S. Liblau The events that lead to the sleep disorder narcolepsy are a long-standing mystery. Writing in Nature, Latorre et al.1 reveal that people with narcolepsy have unusually high levels of a type of immune cell called a T cell, which targets proteins normally present in neurons in the brain. This finding raises the question of whether narcolepsy arises because T cells unleash an autoimmune response against neurons that are important for sleep regulation. Narcolepsy affects around 1 in 2,000 people2. The symptoms usually begin in adolescence or early adulthood, and include daytime sleepiness and, in some cases, cataplexy — sudden muscle weakness during wakefulness that causes falls. A small population of neurons in the brain produces a protein called hypocretin, which controls sleep–wake cycles3, and narcolepsy-like symptoms occur in animals that have defects in genes required for the production of or response to hypocretin4. Narcolepsy type 2 is associated with daytime sleepiness, and this can progress to narcolepsy type 1, which is characterized by sleepiness and cataplexy. People with narcolepsy type 1 have abnormally low numbers of hypocretin-producing neurons5. Hypocretin levels in the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord can be measured to help diagnose6 narcolepsy type 1, and such tests provide a way of indirectly monitoring the loss of hypocretin-producing neurons over time. The trajectory of this neuronal loss remains to be fully understood, but can take months or years. © 2018 Springer Nature Limited.

Keyword: Narcolepsy; Neuroimmunology
Link ID: 25485 - Posted: 09.24.2018

By Henry Nicholls A fresh-faced batch of teenagers just began a new school year, but will they get the most out of it? In the mornings, many are forced to get to school much too early. And at night, ubiquitous screens are a lure that’s hard to resist. This double whammy is a perfect lesson in sleep deprivation. Three out of every four students in grades 9 to 12 fail to sleep the minimum of eight hours that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends for their age group. And sleep deprivation is unremittingly bad news. Anyone who talks about sleep as if it’s some kind of inconvenience and getting less of it is a virtue should be challenged. These people are dangerous. At its most basic, insufficient sleep results in reduced attention and impaired memory, hindering student progress and lowering grades. More alarmingly, sleep deprivation is likely to lead to mood and emotional problems, increasing the risk of mental illness. Chronic sleep deprivation is also a major risk factor for obesity, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and cancer. As if this weren’t enough, it also makes falling asleep at the wheel much more likely. It is important to understand why teenagers have a particularly hard time getting enough sleep, and what adults need to do to help. First, a reminder of the basic biology: After puberty, adolescents are no longer the morning larks of their younger years. They become rewired as night owls, staying awake later and then sleeping in. This is not part of a feckless project to frustrate parents, but is driven by changes in the way the brain responds to light. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Biological Rhythms; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 25484 - Posted: 09.24.2018

By Nicholas Bakalar A new study links daytime sleepiness with the accumulation of the plaques in the brain that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The study, published in Sleep, included 124 mentally healthy men and women, average age 60, who reported on their own daytime sleepiness and napping habits. An average of 15 years later, researchers administered PET and M.R.I. scans to detect the presence of beta-amyloid, the protein that clumps together to form plaques. After controlling for other variables, they found that compared with people who reported no daytime sleepiness, those who did had almost three times the risk of having plaques. Frequent napping, on the other hand, was not associated with plaque accumulation. “If you’re falling asleep when you’d rather be awake, that’s something that needs to be investigated,” said the lead author, Adam P. Spira, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It could be just insufficient sleep, or sleep disordered breathing, or other conditions or medications that are leading to it.” This is an observational study that does not prove cause and effect, Dr. Spira said, “but it provides more evidence for the link between disturbed sleep and the development of Alzheimer’s disease pathology.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Alzheimers; Sleep
Link ID: 25471 - Posted: 09.21.2018

By Meredith Wadman During decades of lab experiments and dozens of clinical trials, scientists have searched in vain for drugs to defeat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the risky and increasingly prevalent condition in which a person’s upper airway repeatedly collapses during sleep, causing them to briefly stop breathing, dozens or hundreds of times each night. Now a new drug combination has reawakened hopes. A team led by researchers in Boston has identified a pair of medications--approved for other uses and with solid safety records--that appear to work in concert during sleep to activate the muscles that dilate the upper airway. In a study of 20 patients, the scientists found that a combination of atomoxetine and oxybutynin, taken as two pills at bedtime, reduced patients’ frequency of airway obstruction – called the apnea-hypopnea index, or AHI -- from a median of 28.5 hourly obstructions on placebo to 7.5 on the pills. In the 15 patients with the highest AHI’s, the median reduction was 74% -- and every patient experienced at least a 50% reduction, Andrew Wellman and Luigi Taranto-Montemurro at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, reported this week today at the International Congress of the European Respiratory Society in Paris, France. Patients’ blood oxygenation also improved strikingly, the group found. “We’ve never had a drug combination, or any sort of a drug, that consistently improved everybody’s AHI. That’s actually unbelievably exciting,” says Sigrid Veasey of the University of Pennsylvania, a physician-researcher who studies sleep. It’s “a great first step,” adds Martina Mason, a sleep physician at the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, United Kingdom, who coauthored a 2013 review of 30 previous, underwhelming drug trials. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 25460 - Posted: 09.17.2018

By Nicholas Bakalar New research has found that obstructive sleep apnea — a disorder in which breathing stops and starts during sleep — is associated with an increased risk for gout, a common cause of painful arthritis. Scientists studied 15,879 patients with apnea and 63,296 matched controls without, following them for an average of almost six years. Over that time, 4.9 percent of people with apnea developed gout, compared with 2.6 percent of those without the disorder. Both disorders are associated with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and other conditions, but after controlling for these and other factors the independent association of apnea with gout was still evident. The study is in Arthritis & Rheumatology. The mechanism is unclear, but reduced oxygen supply during sleep encourages the production of uric acid, and the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints is what causes the inflammation and pain of gout. Apnea can be treated with continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, in which the patient wears a mask at night to allow easier breathing. There are drugs and diet restrictions used to treat gout. The lead author, Milica Blagojevic-Bucknall, a lecturer at Keele University in England, said that this observational study does not prove cause and effect. Still, she added, “It’s possible that people who use CPAP could reduce the risk or severity of gout.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 25438 - Posted: 09.12.2018

By Frankie Schembri The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation has awarded its three annual prizes, regarded as the United States’s most prestigious biomedical research awards, to four researchers in fields including genetics and anesthetic drug development. The Laskers often precede a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: Since the awards were founded in 1945, 87 Lasker laureates have later gotten the call from Stockholm. The basic research prize is shared by Michael Grunstein of the University of California, Los Angeles, and C. David Allis of The Rockefeller University in New York City, who investigated the histone, once considered to be inert packing material for DNA. It is now recognized as an essential component in gene regulation. Joan Argetsinger Steitz of Yale University won the special prize for her discoveries in RNA biology, as well as her work in mentoring and advocating for women in science. John “Iain” Glen, a Scottish veterinary-anesthesiologist now retired from AstraZeneca, the biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Cambridge, U.K., won the clinical award for development of propofol. One of the most widely used drugs for inducing anesthesia, propofol is administered some 60 million times per year in the United States. The laureates will receive their prizes and honorariums of $250,000 for each category at a ceremony in New York City on 21 September. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 25436 - Posted: 09.11.2018

Diana Kwon In the early 2000s, Stefano Schiaffino, a muscle physiologist at the University of Padova in Italy, was faced with puzzling results: two seemingly identical experiments involving hind leg muscles in rats had yielded different findings. Schiaffino and his team were investigating nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT), a transcription factor that responds to the level of muscle activity. Despite using similar procedures, the researchers found that in the tissues from one set of animals, NFAT had moved from the cytoplasm into the nucleus in a large proportion of cells, while in tissues from another experiment, this change had not occurred. The explanation for this difference turned out to be simple: timing. The researcher responsible for one trial had sacrificed the nocturnal animals in the evening, while another had conducted the same procedure for the second trial in the morning. This meant that the first group of animals was more active at the time of measurement than the second. When the scientists repeated the second experiment late in the day, when the animals were more likely to be awake, they observed high levels of NFAT in the nuclei of the muscle cells, essentially replicating the first experiment. “At that time, I’d been working for many years on muscle, but had never thought about the circadian rhythms,” recalls Schiaffino, whose research now focuses on this aspect of muscle biology. © 1986 - 2018 The Scientist

Keyword: Biological Rhythms; Obesity
Link ID: 25432 - Posted: 09.11.2018

By Susana Martinez-Conde Last month, for the first time in over a year, I had lucid dreams for two nights in a row. A lucid dream, or realizing that you’re dreaming while still inside of the dream, is not an unusual experience: most people will have at least one lucid dream in their lives. An occasional lucid dreamer myself, I’ve never developed the degree of control that some master lucid dreamers have, who can bend, Matrix-like, the fabric of their dreams to their will, night after night. Instead, my own version of lucid dreaming tends to consist on being in the midst of some horrifying nightmare, then having the thought that “this is just too awful to be real, so I must be dreaming,” and eventually grasping that that’s indeed the case. When that happens, I typically use my newfound awareness to wake myself up at once and be done with the whole thing. But in these two recent instances, I had an altogether different experience. Critically, I figured out that I was dreaming while having a neutral sort of dream, so I wasn’t compelled to seek an immediate exit. So my understanding of my unusual situation was a lot more matter-of-fact than in the majority of my prior lucid dreaming episodes. On each consecutive occasion, I immediately decided on flying. I had had dreams of flight before, but never intentionally. Now I could soar with purpose. I ascended at vertiginous speeds over the Manhattan skyline, and as soon as the clouds enveloped me I dove down, superhero-style, unafraid of gravity. Rising up again, I darted around buildings and billboards with ballistic accuracy. I briefly joined a flock of birds, then left them behind. © 2018 Scientific American

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 25430 - Posted: 09.10.2018

Hannah Devlin Science correspondent Lack of sleep has long been linked to obesity, but a new study suggests late night snacking may not be the primary culprit. The latest findings provide the most compelling evidence to date that disrupted sleep alters the metabolism and boosts the body’s ability to store fat. The findings add to mounting scientific evidence on how disrupted sleep influences the usual rhythms of the body clock, raising the risk of a wide range of health problems from heart disease to diabetes. Jonathan Cedernaes, a circadian researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden and the paper’s first author, said the findings pointed to “the irreplaceable function that sleep has”. “Sleep is not just to conserve energy, it has so many functions,” he said. Time and again research has linked shift work and lack of sleep to the risk of obesity and diabetes, but the reasons behind this association are complex and have been difficult to elucidate. Insufficient sleep appears to disrupt hormones that control appetite and feelings of fullness. Those who sleep less have more time to eat, may be too tired to exercise and have less self-control when it comes to resisting the temptation of unhealthy snacks. A previous study by Cedernaes and colleagues showed that even a short period of sleep deprivation led people to eat more and opt for higher calorie food. To complicate matters further, obesity increases the risk of sleep apnoea, a breathing problem that itself disturbs sleep quality. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Sleep; Obesity
Link ID: 25365 - Posted: 08.23.2018

By Bilal Choudhry Inadequate sleep causes more than $400 billion in economic losses annually in the United States and results in 1.23 million lost days of work each year, researchers have found. The impact of chronic sleeplessness in the United States far exceeds the costs in other industrialized countries. The runner-up, Japan, loses as much as $138 billion annually to sleeplessness among workers, but that represents a greater share of its economy, researchers at the RAND Corporation found. The number of individuals who sleep less than the recommended hours is increasing in the developed world. From 20 to 30 percent of these workers complain of a lack of sleep on a daily basis. “Inadequate sleep is too easily accepted into the community as part of life,” said Dr. David Hillman, a clinical professor at the University of Western Australia who studies sleep deficiency. In many work settings, “sleep is an indulgence.” On a less quantifiable level, inadequate sleep reduces the safety and productivity of workers. Researchers have linked such shattering events as the Challenger space shuttle accident to human error caused by a lack of sleep. “It’s a huge problem that translates into enormous costs,” said Dr. Hillman. “And it’s a call to not only mitigate the suffering, but also to mitigate the costs.” As the work force becomes more competitive, he said, employers must acknowledge inadequate sleep as a threat to company productivity. Well-rested employees are more efficient, tend to be healthier and feel more content. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 25357 - Posted: 08.21.2018

/ By Richard G ‘Bugs’ Stevens Light pollution is often characterized as a soft issue in environmentalism. This perception needs to change. Light at night constitutes a massive assault on the ecology of the planet, including us. It also has indirect impacts because, while 20 percent of electricity is used for lighting worldwide, at least 30 percent of that light is wasted. Wasted light serves no purpose at all, and excessive lighting is too often used beyond what is needed for driving, or shopping, or Friday-night football. It might be that virtually all aspects of health and wellbeing are dependent to one extent or another on a synchronized circadian rhythmicity, with a natural cycle of bright days and dark nights. The electric light bulb is touted as one of the most significant technological advancements of human beings. It ranks right up there with the wheel, control of fire, antibiotics, and dynamite. But as with any new and spectacular technology, there are invariably unintended consequences. With electric light has come an obliteration of night in much of the modern world; both outside in the city, and indoors during what was once ‘night’ according to the natural position of the sun. Life has evolved for several billion years with a reliable cycle of bright light from the sun during the day, and darkness at night. This has led to the development of an innate circadian rhythm in our physiology; that circadian rhythm depends on the solar cycle of night and day to maintain its precision. During the night, beginning at about sunset, body temperature drops, metabolism slows, hunger abates, sleepiness increases, and the hormone melatonin rises dramatically in the blood. This natural physiological transition to night is of ancient origin, and melatonin is crucial for the transition to proceed as it should. Copyright 2018 Undark

Keyword: Biological Rhythms
Link ID: 25345 - Posted: 08.17.2018

By Jane E. Brody Attention all you happy high school graduates about to go off to college, as well as the many others returning for another year of higher education. Grandsons Stefan and Tomas, that includes you. Whatever you may think can get in the way of a successful college experience, chances are you won’t think of one of the most important factors: how long and how well you sleep. And not just on weekends, but every day, Monday through Sunday. Studies have shown that sleep quantity and sleep quality equal or outrank such popular campus concerns as alcohol and drug use in predicting student grades and a student’s chances of graduating. Although in one survey 60 percent of students said they wanted information from their colleges on how to manage sleep problems, few institutions of higher learning do anything to counter the devastating effects of sleep deprivation on academic success and physical and emotional well-being. Some, in fact, do just the opposite, for example, providing 24-hour library hours that encourage students to pull all-nighters. (I did that only once, to study for an exam in freshman year, and fell asleep in the middle of the test. Lesson well learned!) An all-nighter may help if all you have to do is memorize a list, but if you have to do something complex with the information, you’ll do worse by staying up all night, J. Roxanne Prichard, an expert on college sleep issues, told me. After being awake 16 hours in a row, brain function starts to decline, and after 20 hours awake, you perform as if legally drunk, she said. Many college-bound kids start out with dreadful sleep habits that are likely to get worse once the rigorous demands of college courses and competing social and athletic activities kick in. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Sleep; Learning & Memory
Link ID: 25324 - Posted: 08.13.2018

Sleeping longer than the recommended seven or eight hours a night has been linked with a higher risk of premature death, according to new research. Researchers looked at data from 74 studies involving more than three million people and found those who slept for 10 hours were 30% more likely to die prematurely than those who slept for eight. Staying in bed for more than 10 hours was also linked to a 56% increased risk of death from stroke and a 49% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Poor sleep quality was associated with a 44% increase in risk of coronary heart disease, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Researchers said their study suggests abnormal sleep could be “a marker of elevated cardiovascular risk” and said GPs ought to ask questions about sleeping patterns during appointments. Lead researcher Dr Chun Shing Kwok, of Keele University’s Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine, said: “Abnormal sleep is a marker of elevated cardiovascular risk and greater consideration should be given in exploring both duration and sleep quality during patient consultations. “There are cultural, social, psychological, behavioural, pathophysiological and environmental influences on our sleep such as the need to care for children or family members, irregular working shift patterns, physical or mental illness, and the 24-hour availability of commodities in modern society.” © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 25302 - Posted: 08.07.2018

By Alex Marshall Alan Alda has been living with Parkinson’s disease for over three years, the actor revealed Tuesday in an appearance on CBS’s “This Morning.” “The reason I want to talk about it in public is that I was diagnosed three-and-a-half years ago, and I’ve had a full life since,” he said. “I thought it’s probably only a matter of time before somebody does a story about this from a sad point of view,” he added, pointing out that one of his thumbs had been twitching in recent TV appearances. “But that’s not where I am.” Parkinson’s is a movement disorder with symptoms that include muscle tremors and stiffness, poor balance and coordination. It affects over a million Americans, according to the American Parkinson Disease Association, including Michael J. Fox and the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, the longtime civil rights leader. Mr. Alda, who made his name in the TV series “M*A*S*H,” said he went to the doctors after reading an article in The New York Times, by Jane E. Brody, which said that acting out one’s dreams could be an early warning sign of the disorder. “By acting out your dreams, I mean I was having a dream that somebody was attacking me and I threw a sack of potatoes at them,” Mr. Alda, 82, said in the interview. “But what I was really doing is throwing a pillow at my wife.” He said he had no other symptoms, but a few months later noticed a thumb twitch. Mr. Alda said he was also speaking out to reassure people that they do not have to be fearful after a diagnosis. “You still have things you can do,” he said. Mr. Alda goes boxing three times a week, plays tennis and marches to John Philip Sousa music. “Marching to march music is good for Parkinson’s,” he explained. Mr. Alda was not trying to belittle people who have severe symptoms, he added. “That’s difficult,” he said. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Parkinsons; Sleep
Link ID: 25277 - Posted: 08.01.2018

By Anahad O’Connor Nutrition scientists have long debated the best diet for optimal health. But now some experts believe that it’s not just what we eat that’s critical for good health, but when we eat it. A growing body of research suggests that our bodies function optimally when we align our eating patterns with our circadian rhythms, the innate 24-hour cycles that tell our bodies when to wake up, when to eat and when to fall asleep. Studies show that chronically disrupting this rhythm — by eating late meals or nibbling on midnight snacks, for example — could be a recipe for weight gain and metabolic trouble. That is the premise of a new book, “The Circadian Code,” by Satchin Panda, a professor at the Salk Institute and an expert on circadian rhythms research. Dr. Panda argues that people improve their metabolic health when they eat their meals in a daily 8- to 10-hour window, taking their first bite of food in the morning and their last bite early in the evening. This approach, known as early time-restricted feeding, stems from the idea that human metabolism follows a daily rhythm, with our hormones, enzymes and digestive systems primed for food intake in the morning and afternoon. Many people, however, snack and graze from roughly the time they wake up until shortly before they go to bed. Dr. Panda has found in his research that the average person eats over a 15-hour or longer period each day, starting with something like milk and coffee shortly after rising and ending with a glass of wine, a late night meal or a handful of chips, nuts or some other snack shortly before bed. That pattern of eating, he says, conflicts with our biological rhythms. Scientists have long known that the human body has a master clock in the brain, located in the hypothalamus, that governs our sleep-wake cycles in response to bright light exposure. A couple of decades ago, researchers discovered that there is not just one clock in the body but a collection of them. Every organ has an internal clock that governs its daily cycle of activity. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Biological Rhythms; Obesity
Link ID: 25246 - Posted: 07.25.2018