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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

By NIRAJ CHOKSHI Years of scolding from health experts about a good night’s rest may be breaking through. Americans are finally getting more sleep — about 18 minutes more per weeknight compared with 2003. It may not sound like much, but researchers say it’s a positive sign. Weeknight Sleep, in Hours Americans gained an average 1.4 minutes per year in weeknight sleep between 2003 and 2016. “If we only got more sleep, we would then see that we actually perform better and would probably be more creative and more productive during the day,” said Dr. Mathias Basner, the associate professor of sleep and chronobiology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and the lead author of the analysis of federal survey data, published this month in the journal “Sleep.” The incremental gains took place over 13 years. Dr. Basner and his colleague, Dr. David F. Dinges, found that Americans gained about 1.4 minutes of sleep per weeknight each year between 2003 and 2016. People also slept more on weekends, though the improvement was not as great — an extra 50 seconds of sleep per weekend night per year, a total gain of about 11 minutes. On average, Americans get more than eight hours of sleep on weeknights and more on weekends, according to the data. But sleep length varies widely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of adults get insufficient sleep, which it defines as less than seven hours. © 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: 24588 - Posted: 01.30.2018

Nearly a third of older adults don’t get solid zzz’s, according to a University of Michigan poll of 1,065 people age 65 and older. To help them sleep, 36 percent report taking a prescription drug, over-the-counter aid or a dietary supplement such as melatonin. But research suggests the benefits are modest at best. A Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs analysis found that people taking prescription sleep medications such as Ambien (zolpidem and generic) or Lunesta (eszopiclone and generic) fell asleep only eight to 20 minutes faster than people taking a placebo. Worse, prescription sedatives and some OTC sleep aids can be risky, especially for older adults, with side effects that can include dry mouth, confusion, dizziness, next-day drowsiness, and impaired balance and coordination. Taking sleep meds may also cause dependency, increase the risk of car accidents, and more than double the risk of falls and fractures — common reasons for hospitalization and death in older adults, according to Consumer Reports’ Choosing Wisely campaign. Because of these dangers, the American Geriatrics Society includes the potent prescription sleep drugs — Ambien, Lunesta and zaleplon (Sonata) — on its list of medications that adults age 65 and older should avoid. Compounding those dangers is the tendency for many to use the medications for longer than recommended. In a 2015 Consumer Reports survey of 4,023 U.S. adults, 41 percent of people who used OTC sleep aids reported taking them for a year or longer. Most of these drugs should be taken for just a few weeks or less. That’s because mounting evidence suggests that long-term use of certain sleep meds that contain diphenhydramine, found in products including Sominex, Tylenol PM and ZzzQuil; antihistamines such as Benadryl; and some cold and cough medicines may increase the chances of dementia. © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

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: 24587 - Posted: 01.30.2018

By Jennifer Hassan The first time sleep paralysis struck me was in the winter of 2012. My grandfather had recently died, and I was spending time at my grandmother’s house. After 60 years of marriage, she wasn’t used to being alone or to the sadness an empty home can bring. Determined to help her in any way I could, I moved into her spare bedroom. As night came, I tucked her into bed and turned out the light — a task she had done for me on countless occasions growing up. The role reversal saddened me but also gave me an overwhelming urge to protect one of the most important women in my life. I lay down in the next bedroom and listened to her muffled sobs. I woke up a few hours later, feeling cold. As I went to pull the blankets up around me, I realized I couldn’t move. I began to panic. What was happening to me? Why was my body paralyzed? I tried to lift my arms: Nothing. My head was cemented to the pillow, my body embedded, frozen. Then the pressure came, pushing against my chest. The more I panicked, the harder it became to breathe. Like something out of a bad horror movie, I tried to scream, but no words came out. Unable to move my eyes, I had no option but to stare upward into the darkness. I couldn’t see anyone else, but for some reason it felt as if I had company. There was a hidden presence and it was tormenting me, refusing to let me go. After what felt like hours but was probably just a few minutes, I was able to move again. Shaking, I switched the bedroom light on and sat upright in bed until morning came. © 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: 24580 - Posted: 01.29.2018

By Linda Searing That’s the number of babies in the United States who die each year as the result of a sleep-related issue, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The causes vary, but child health experts believe many of the deaths would be preventable if more parents adhered to safe-sleep practices. For instance, babies should be placed on their backs to sleep, but the CDC found that 22 percent of moms placed babies on their side or stomach. Soft bedding — blankets, pillows, bumper pads — should be kept out of the sleep area, but 39 percent of moms said they used soft bedding. And it’s a good idea to share a room with an infant but not a bed with a baby. Still, 61 percent of moms told the CDC they had slept with their babies. © 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: 24525 - Posted: 01.15.2018

Want to eat better? Sleep more. Increasing the amount of sleep a person gets has been linked to eating fewer sugary foods, and making better nutritional choices. Wendy Hall, at King’s College London, and her team enlisted 42 volunteers to help them investigate the link between sleep and diet. Half the participants were given advice on how to get more sleep – such as avoiding caffeine before bed, establishing a relaxing routine, and trying not to go to bed too full or hungry. This advice was intended to help them boost the amount of sleep they each got by 90 minutes a night. The remaining 21 volunteers received no such advice. The team found that, of those who were given the advice, 86 per cent spent more time in bed, and around half slept for longer than they used to. These extended sleep patterns were associated with an average reduction in the intake of free sugars of 10 grams a day. People who were getting more sleep also ate fewer carbohydrates. There were no significant changes in diet in the control group. Free sugars include those that are added to foods by manufacturers or during cooking at home, as well as sugars in honey, syrups and fruit juice. “The fact that extending sleep led to a reduction in intake of free sugars suggests that a simple change in lifestyle may really help people to consume healthier diets,” says Hall. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

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: 24510 - Posted: 01.10.2018

By Nicole Edison Worried you might say something you regret when talking in your sleep? Your concerns may be justified: According to a recent study from France, your midnight mumblings may be more negative and insulting than what you say while awake. In the study, researchers found that sleep talkers said the word “no” four times as often in their sleep as when awake. And the f-word popped up during sleep talking more than 800 times more frequently than while awake. To study sleep talking, the researchers recorded nearly 900 nighttime utterances from about 230 adults during one or two consecutive nights in a sleep lab. Because sleep talking is a relatively rare event, the majority of people in the study had certain types of sleep disorders, or parasomnias, which are unusual behaviors that happen during sleep, the researchers noted. Once recorded, the nocturnal episodes were analyzed for such factors as wordiness, silences, tone, politeness and abusive language. These results were compared to see how sleep speech matched up to everyday spoken French in form and content. The researchers found that the majority (59 percent) of the nighttime utterances were unintelligible or nonverbal, including mumbling, whispering and laughing. But among the utterances that were intelligible, a surprising amount of what was said was offensive or aggressive: 24 percent contained negative content, 22 percent had “nasty” language and almost 10 percent contained the word “no” in some form. (By comparison, the word “no” accounted for 2.5 percent of awake language.) © 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: 24498 - Posted: 01.08.2018