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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

Related chapters from BN8e: 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: 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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 25302 - Posted: 08.07.2018

By Nicholas Bakalar A good night’s sleep may be critical for the metabolic health of teenagers. Researchers studied 829 boys and girls, average age 13, who wore electronic measuring devices that tracked sleep time, sleep quality and physical activity over seven to 10 days. They also recorded five factors associated with cardiovascular risk: waist circumference, blood pressure, HDL or “good” cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin resistance. Inadequate sleep was common — 31 percent of the children slept less than seven hours a night, and 58 percent had poor sleep efficiency as measured by percentage of time awake after initial sleep onset. Shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep efficiency were associated with higher systolic blood pressure, lower HDL cholesterol, higher triglycerides and higher glucose levels, all indicators of poorer metabolic health. Other studies have found that shorter sleep is associated with obesity, but in this study, published in Pediatrics, the associations were independent of body mass index. The researchers controlled for age and sex, race and ethnicity, TV viewing, fast food consumption and other factors. “It was surprising that we found that the relationship was not fully explained by body mass index,” said the lead author, Elizabeth M. Cespedes Feliciano, a staff scientist at Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “The main takeaway is that using objective measurements, we showed that both quantity and quality of sleep matter for metabolic health.” © 2018 The New York Times Compan

Related chapters from BN8e: 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: 25219 - Posted: 07.18.2018

Laura Beil Neuroscientist Barbara Bendlin studies the brain as Alzheimer’s disease develops. When she goes home, she tries to leave her work in the lab. But one recent research project has crossed into her personal life: She now takes sleep much more seriously. Bendlin works at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, home to the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention, a study of more than 1,500 people who were ages 40 to 65 when they signed up. Members of the registry did not have symptoms of dementia when they volunteered, but more than 70 percent had a family history of Alzheimer’s disease. Since 2001, participants have been tested regularly for memory loss and other signs of the disease, such as the presence of amyloid-beta, a protein fragment that can clump into sticky plaques in the brain. Those plaques are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. Each person also fills out lengthy questionnaires about their lives in the hopes that one day the information will offer clues to the disease. Among the inquiries: How tired are you? Some answers to the sleep questions have been eye-opening. Bendlin and her colleagues identified 98 people from the registry who recorded their sleep quality and had brain scans. Those who slept badly — measured by such things as being tired during the day — tended to have more A-beta plaques visible on brain imaging, the researchers reported in 2015 in Neurobiology of Aging. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2018.

Related chapters from BN8e: 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: 25212 - Posted: 07.16.2018

Christine Calder A yawn consists of an extended gaping of the mouth followed by a more rapid closure. In mammals and birds, a long intake of breath and shorter exhale follows the gaping of the mouth, but in other species such as fish, amphibians and snakes there is no intake of breath. But what’s behind a yawn, why does it occur? In the past, people have had many hypotheses. As far back as 400 B.C., Hippocrates thought yawning removed bad air from the lungs before a fever. In the 17th and 18th century, doctors believed yawning increased oxygen in the blood, blood pressure, heart rate and blood flow itself. More recently, consensus moved toward the idea that yawning cools down the brain, so when ambient conditions and temperature of the brain itself increase, yawning episodes increase. Despite all these theories, the truth is that scientists do not know the true biological function of a yawn. What we do know is that yawning occurs in just about every species. It happens when an animal is tired. It can be used as a threat display in some species. Yawning can occur during times of social conflict and stress, something researchers call a displacement behavior. And that wide-open mouth can be contagious, especially in social species such as humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, macaques and wolves. Watching someone yawn – heck, even reading about yawns – can lead you to yawn yourself. Why? © 2010–2018, The Conversation US, Inc.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 25177 - Posted: 07.06.2018

By Austin Frakt One of the lighter moments along my journey to receiving a sleep apnea diagnosis was learning that “heroic snoring” is a clinical term. It sounds more like an oddball super power — snores that can be clearly heard through walls. Many of us have such a snorer in our lives, and some endure the disruption it causes nightly. We hardly need research to appreciate the difficulties this poses. Yet some studies on it have been done, and they document that snoring can lead to marital disruption, and that snorers’ bed partners can experience insomnia, headaches and daytime fatigue. But heroic (and less-than-heroic) snoring can also be a sign of an even deeper problem: obstructive sleep apnea, which is marked by a collapse of the upper airway leading to shallow breathing or breathing cessation that causes decreases in blood oxygen. Sleep apnea can be downright deadly, and not just for those who have it. It’s associated with a greater risk of depression, heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular conditions, as well as insulin resistance. As I learned, there’s no reason to meekly accept sleep apnea: There are many treatment options that can control it. The stakes are not small. In the last five years, crashes involving an Amtrak train in South Carolina, a Long Island Rail Road train, a New Jersey Transit train and a Metro-North train in the Bronx have resulted in multiple deaths, hundreds of injuries and tens of millions of dollars in property damage. Undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea were blamed in each case. And these are far from the only sleep apnea-related accidents involving trains, buses, tractor-trailers and automobiles. Up to 30 percent of motor vehicle crashes are caused by sleepy drivers. Drivers with sleep apnea are nearly five times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident than other drivers. One study found that 20 percent of American truck drivers admit to falling asleep at traffic lights. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 25138 - Posted: 06.25.2018

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,

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 25070 - Posted: 06.08.2018

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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 25040 - Posted: 05.31.2018

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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25007 - Posted: 05.23.2018

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

Related chapters from BN8e: 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: 25002 - Posted: 05.21.2018

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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and 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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and 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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 24893 - Posted: 04.24.2018

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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 24856 - Posted: 04.12.2018

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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 24799 - Posted: 03.29.2018

by Ariana Eunjung Cha) Sally Clark lost both her infant sons shortly after their births. In 1996, 11-week-old Christopher fell unconscious after being put to bed and never woke up. Two years later, 8-week-old Harry was found dead slumped forward in his bouncy chair. Doctors initially concluded the first boy had died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) — in which a seemingly healthy baby dies without warning and without an obvious cause. But after Clark's second child died, prosecutors in the United Kingdom charged her with murder and put her on trial. According to scholars analyzing the widely publicized case, Clark was wrongly convicted based on a statistic. An expert witness for the prosecution claimed the chance of two cases of SIDS, in an affluent family like hers, was astronomically high — 1 in 73 million. Her defenders said the numbers assumed that SIDS strikes at random, even though we had no idea back then whether that was true. An important study published Wednesday in the Lancet shows a link between SIDS and a rare genetic mutation that would make some families more vulnerable than others — providing a possible explanation for situations like Clark's. The research involved 278 infants who died of SIDS, also called “crib death” or “cot death,” and 729 healthy controls. Four of those who died of SIDS had a variant of a gene called SCN4A associated with an impairment of breathing muscles, while no babies in the control group had it. Authors Michael Hanna from the United Kingdom's Medical Research Council's Center for Neuromuscular Diseases and Michael Ackerman from the Mayo Clinic in the United States wrote that these mutations are typically found in fewer than 5 out of 100,000 people. © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 24795 - Posted: 03.29.2018

Bruce Bower People have evolved to sleep much less than chimps, baboons or any other primate studied so far. A large comparison of primate sleep patterns finds that most species get somewhere between nine and 15 hours of shut-eye daily, while humans average just seven. An analysis of several lifestyle and biological factors, however, predicts people should get 9.55 hours, researchers report online February 14 in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Most other primates in the study typically sleep as much as the scientists’ statistical models predict they should. Two long-standing features of human life have contributed to unusually short sleep times, argue evolutionary anthropologists Charles Nunn of Duke University and David Samson of the University of Toronto Mississauga. First, when humans’ ancestors descended from the trees to sleep on the ground, individuals probably had to spend more time awake to guard against predator attacks. Second, humans have faced intense pressure to learn and teach new skills and to make social connections at the expense of sleep. As sleep declined, rapid-eye movement, or REM — sleep linked to learning and memory (SN: 6/11/16, p. 15) — came to play an outsize role in human slumber, the researchers propose. Non-REM sleep accounts for an unexpectedly small share of human sleep, although it may also aid memory (SN: 7/12/14, p. 8), the scientists contend. “It’s pretty surprising that non-REM sleep time is so low in humans, but something had to give as we slept less,” Nunn says. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2018.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 24728 - Posted: 03.07.2018

Alice M. Gregory, Erin Leichman, Jodi Mindell Pairing the words “baby” and “sleep” can evoke strong emotions. Those who have had limited contact with little ones might interpret this word-combination as implying deep and prolonged slumber. For others, this union of words may elicit memories of prolonged periods of chaotic sleep (or what can feel like no sleep at all). Coping with the way babies sleep can be difficult. It’s not that babies don’t sleep. In fact, they sleep more than at any other stage of life. It’s more an issue of when they sleep. Newborns start by sleeping and waking around the clock. This is not always easy for parents. There is even research suggesting that in adults waking repeatedly at night can feel as bad as getting hardly any sleep in terms of attentional skills, fatigue levels and symptoms of depression. As to why infants wake at night, this is best explained by thinking about the two things that govern our sleep: the homeostatic and circadian processes. The crux of the homeostatic process is the straightforward idea that the longer we have been awake the greater our sleep drive (and the more sleepy we feel). It may take an adult an entire day to build up enough sleep drive to fall asleep at bedtime, but an infant may only need an hour or two of wakefulness before being able to drift off to sleep. The second process is circadian, which works like a clock. Adults typically feel more awake during the morning hours and sleepy at night, regardless of when we last slept. In very young babies this process is not yet developed. This means that sleep is more likely to occur at different points across the 24-hour day. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: 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: 24713 - Posted: 03.01.2018

By Catherine Offord River-dwelling populations of the Central American fish species Astyanax mexicanus sleep for more than 10 hours each day. But eyeless, cave-dwelling members of the same species barely sleep at all, and show no obvious health or developmental problems as a result. Now, researchers in the U.S. and in France have identified the signaling pathway behind this difference, offering a glimpse into the processes regulating sleep duration in vertebrates. The findings were published yesterday (February 6) in two papers in eLife. In one study, researchers at Florida Atlantic University compared the brains of cave-dwelling A. mexicanus with their surface-living cousins. They found that the number of neurons producing hypocretin—a neuropeptide linked to sleep-disorders such as narcolepsy when dysregulated—was significantly higher in the cave dwellers. What’s more, inhibiting hypocretin signaling genetically or pharmacologically increased cavefish’s sleep duration by several hours, while having minimal effect on surface-living fish. “These findings suggest that differences in hypocretin production may explain variation in sleep between animal species, or even between individual people,” study coauthor Alex Keene of Florida Atlantic University’s Brain Institute says in a statement. “It may also provide important insight into how we might build a brain that does not need to sleep.” © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 24632 - Posted: 02.08.2018