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Nicola Davis Forget counting sheep and drinking warm milk, an effective way to tackle chronic insomnia is cognitive behavioural therapy, researchers have confirmed. The authors of a new study say that although the therapy is effective, it is not being used widely enough, with doctors having limited knowledge about it and patients lacking access. “There is a very effective treatment that doesn’t involve medication that should be available through your primary care service. If it’s not, it should be,” said Dr Judith Davidson, co-author of a new study on CBT for insomnia from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. Chronic insomnia, in which individuals have difficulties dropping off or staying asleep at least three nights a week for three months or more, is thought to affect about 10-15% of adults. The condition is linked to health problems including depression, as well as difficulties in functioning and sometimes resulting in accidents. Sleeping pills are not recommended for long-term use and can have side-effects, as well as posing a risk of addiction. Instead, the main treatment for chronic insomnia is CBT – a programme of changes to the way an individual approaches and thinks about sleep. These include staying away from the bed when awake, challenging attitudes about sleep loss and restricting the number of hours spent in bed. Writing in the British Journal of General Practice, Davidson and colleagues report how they examined the results from 13 previously conducted studies on the provision of CBT for insomnia through primary care. In some studies, participants were also taking medication to help them sleep. © 2019 Guardian News & 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: 26465 - Posted: 07.30.2019

Tickling the ear with a small electric current could rebalance the nervous system in over-55s and help them age more healthily, research suggests. Stimulation of the vagus nerve, which connects to the heart, lungs and gut, led to improvements in body, sleep and mood, a small study found. The University of Leeds team said the procedure could make a big difference to people's lives. But more research is needed to work out the long-term health effects. Why the ear? The ear acts as a gateway to the body's nervous system. One small branch of the vagus nerve can be stimulated via the skin in specific bits of the outer ear. To some people, the therapy feels ticklish. To others, it's painless. What's the vagus nerve? Also called the "wandering nerve", because it's long and well-connected, the vagus nerve transmits information from the brain to organs around the body, such as the heart and lungs. It is also fundamental to the body's autonomic nervous system. This system, which has branches known as sympathetic and parasympathetic, controls many of the body's functions, such as breathing, digestion, heart rate and blood pressure. Does the nervous system change as we age? Yes. As we get older, the balance of the body's nervous system goes awry. The sympathetic branch, which helps the body prepare for high intensity "fight or flight" activity, begins to dominate. And the parasympathetic branch, which is important for "rest and digest" activity, becomes less active. This makes people more prone to diseases, such as heart problems and hypertension, as well as depression and anxiety. © 2019 BBC

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 26464 - Posted: 07.30.2019

By Megan Schmidt | Soaring with the birds. Teeth falling out. A crazy psychopath is chasing you. For many of us, our dreams transport us to a surreal world where logic and reason have no reign. Some of us may even look forward to sleep – and the adventures we’ll go on in our dreams. But does everyone take a nightly trip to dreamland? While most of us remember somewhere around one or two dreams a week, some people report a subconscious experience that’s more like a blank tape. Among us are people who say they never, ever dream. A small subset of the population – around one in every 250 people – report never remembering a single dream in their lives, as a 2015 study found. What is it about people who don’t remember their dreams that sets them apart from the people that do? Is it possible for the brain to stop producing dreams? And could something be wrong in the brains of people who report never dreaming? Raphael Vallat, a neuroscientist specializing in sleep and dream research at the University of California, Berkeley Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, offered insights to a number of these questions. Vallat says dreaming “is one of the last frontiers in our understanding of the human mind.” And learning about dream recall – the why and how of remembering one’s dreams – may help scientists solve some of the mysteries of the dreaming mind. Work by Vallat and others in the field has uncovered a number of interesting tidbits that seem to separate the dreamers from the so-called nondreamers, or the people seldom or never remember their dreams.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 26448 - Posted: 07.25.2019

Dave Davies We tend to think of being asleep or awake as an either-or prospect: If you're not asleep, then you must be awake. But sleep disorder specialist and neurologist Guy Leschziner says it's not that simple. "If one looks at the brain during sleep, we now know that actually sleep is not a static state," Leschziner says. "There are a number of different brain states that occur while we sleep." As head of the sleep disorders center at Guy's Hospital in London, Leschziner has treated patients with a host of nocturnal problems, including insomnia, night terrors, narcolepsy, sleep walking, sleep eating and sexsomnia, a condition in which a person pursues sexual acts while asleep. He writes about his experiences in his book The Nocturnal Brain. Leschziner notes that the different parts of the brain aren't always in the same stage of sleep at the same time. When this happens, an individual might order a pizza or go out for a drive — while technically still being fast asleep. "Sometimes these conditions sound very funny," Leschziner says. "But on other occasions they can be really life changing, resulting in major injury or, as one of the cases that I described in the book, in a criminal conviction." On what we know about recall after a sleepwalking episode We used to think that people don't really remember anything that occurs in this stage. That seems to relate to the fact that the brain in parts is in very deep sleep whilst in other parts is awake. What we have learned over the last few years is that actually quite a lot of people have some sort of limited recall. They don't necessarily remember the details of all the events or indeed the entirety of the event, but sometimes they do experience little snippets. © 2019 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 26445 - Posted: 07.24.2019

By Brian X. Chen For the last two weeks, I’ve added an extra step to my bedtime routine: strapping a computer around my wrist. The new nightly move was prompted by a cascade of wearable gadgets from companies like Fitbit and Apple, which claim that their sensor-laden bracelets and watches can improve our lives by helping us detect health problems so that we can come up with solutions. For many years, fitness gadgets have measured basic data, like footsteps or calories burned, to motivate us to stay active or shed pounds. Sleep tracking is still a nascent area that tech companies are experimenting with — one that I’ve watched with interest as someone who has been sleep deprived for many years. In the past, I’ve tried several gadgets with sleep tech, including Fitbit watches and Bose’s sleep-aid earbuds. But I hadn’t consistently tracked my sleep habits and patterns before. Would it really make a difference, I wondered, to have this data? Would it help me to sleep better? I decided to test it out. I wore an Apple Watch, since it is one of the most popular health-tracking devices. I also downloaded a top-rated app called AutoSleep, which uses the Apple Watch’s sensors to follow my movements and determine when I fell asleep and woke up. (The Apple Watch lacks a built-in sleep tracker.) Here’s what AutoSleep gathered on my sleep habits. But the excitement ended there. Ultimately, the technology did not help me sleep more. It didn’t reveal anything that I didn’t already know, which is that I average about five and a half hours of slumber a night. And the data did not help me answer what I should do about my particular sleep problems. In fact, I’ve felt grumpier since I started these tests. © 2019 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: 26426 - Posted: 07.18.2019

Katarina Zimmer About two years ago, 29 people visited a neuroscience lab in the Netherlands to sing karaoke. Wearing muffled headphones so they could hear the music but not their own voices, it was almost inevitable that they would sing “Silent Night” or the Dutch national anthem out of tune. Dutch researchers recorded each individual sing, then played the recording back to him or her. Listening to themselves sing solo evoked feelings of shame and embarrassment and sparked higher-than-normal activity in the subjects’ amygdalae. Fortunately for some study participants, a good night’s sleep was enough to lessen the amygdala’s response when they listened to the recording again the next day. But others who had experienced restless sleep—specifically poor-quality REM, or rapid eye movement, sleep—experienced the opposite: their amygdalae were just as sensitive, if not more, to the recording the next day. The findings suggest that poor-quality REM sleep can interfere with the amygdala’s ability to process emotional memories overnight, the scientists who conducted the study say. They posit that this has implications for people with psychological disorders linked to disturbed REM sleep patterns, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The research appears today (July 11) in Current Biology. © 1986–2019 The Scientist.

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: 26414 - Posted: 07.13.2019

Tina Hesman Saey No one should have to sleep with the fishes, but new research on zebrafish suggests that we sleep like them. Sleeping zebrafish have brain activity similar to both deep slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep that’s found in mammals, researchers report July 10 in Nature. And the team may have tracked down the cells that kick off REM sleep. The findings suggest that the basics of sleep evolved at least 450 million years ago in zebrafish ancestors, before the evolution of animals that give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. That’s 150 million years earlier than scientists thought when they discovered that lizards sleep like mammals and birds (SN: 5/28/16, p. 9). What’s more, sleep may have evolved underwater, says Louis C. Leung, a neuroscientist at Stanford University School of Medicine. “These signatures [of sleep] really have important functions — even though we may not know what they are — that have survived hundreds of millions of years of evolution.” In mammals, birds and lizards, sleep has several stages characterized by specific electrical signals. During slow-wave sleep, the brain is mostly quiet except for synchronized waves of electrical activity. The heart rate decreases and muscles relax. During REM or paradoxical sleep, the brain lights up with activity almost like it’s awake. But the muscles are paralyzed (except for rapid twitching of the eyes) and the heart beats erratically. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2019

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 26410 - Posted: 07.11.2019

By Kelly Mayes Your fancy sleep tracker is no match for a dedicated sleep lab. But who wants to spend 8 hours in a strange hospital room wired with electrodes while someone video records you all night? Now, several companies say they may have a compromise: high-tech sleep-monitoring headbands that combine brain wave–reading electrodes with sophisticated artificial intelligence. And best of all, they can be worn in your own bed. The technology could make it easier to get accurate readings of someone’s sleep patterns at home, says Tristan Bekinschtein, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom who was not involved with designing any of the devices. A prime benefit, he says, is that they get rid of the wires that inhibit movement during sleep and they can be used over multiple nights. Still, he says, the technology needs more testing before it becomes widely used in clinical research. One of the leading devices in sleep monitoring is the Dreem headband, developed by a company of the same name based in Paris. The headband is made of a slim, breathable piece of fabric designed to wrap around the head, with a separate arch extending over the top. Seven electrodes line the inner portion, making contact with the scalp. The device monitors the electrical activity of the brain with the traditional electroencephalogram readings taken in a sleep lab. And, as in sleep lab studies, the headband also tracks head movement, heart rate, and respiration, relying on sound recordings and a miniature accelerometer like those found in smartphones. Built-in artificial intelligence analyzes the data on the fly, identifying whether a person is, for example, in rapid eye movement sleep or other known stages like non–rapid eye movement sleep, which are not as deep. © 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 26409 - Posted: 07.11.2019

Even if you know that looking at a phone, tablet or computer screen at night is bad for your sleep, it’s hard to stop. That’s one reason there has been a growing interest in glasses or apps that can block the blue parts of the light spectrum that experts say are especially bad for sleep. This light doesn’t necessarily appear blue; it’s part of any bright white light, says Charles Czeisler, chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Our light exposure between when the sun sets and the sun rises is probably the primary driver of sleep deficiency in our society,” Czeisler says. While that includes artificial light of all kinds, light from electronic devices that emit blue light — such as the LED displays in smartphones, tablets, and modern computer and TV screens — is particularly troublesome for sleep, he says. A number of studies indicate that using blue-blocking glasses and apps like f.lux or Apple’s Night Shift mode may improve sleep in certain cases, but they won’t cure insomnia on their own. Experts say much more research is needed on how well they work, who can benefit the most and how to best use them. Still, they may help, though thinking about light exposure throughout the day may be even more useful. “It just depends on how many problems a person is having with their sleep,” says Lisa Ostrin, an assistant professor at the University of Houston College of Optometry who has conducted research into ways that blocking blue light affects sleep. To understand how glasses or apps affect sleep, it helps to understand light’s role in the first place. © 1996-2019 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming; Chapter 10: Vision: From Eye to Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep; Chapter 7: Vision: From Eye to Brain
Link ID: 26353 - Posted: 06.25.2019

By Megan Schmidt Have you ever spaced out during a meeting, but been jolted back to reality by the sound of your boss calling your name a few times? If you’ve ever been in this awkward situation, you might have experienced “microsleep.” This weird state of consciousness is characterized by brief bursts of sleep that happen while a person is awake — often while their eyes are open and they’re either sitting upright, or even performing a task. During microsleep, parts of the brain go offline for a few seconds while the rest of the brain stays awake. It’s sort of like being a zombie for a few brief moments — sans the whole “eating human flesh” part. And usually, people don’t realize it’s happening to them. Researchers don’t fully understand why certain parts of our brain switch off throughout the day. But they have found the states of sleep and wakefulness aren’t as cut and dry as we might assume. And although fatigue does seem to prime the brain for microsleep, even well-rested people do it — a lot. In an experiment published in 2012, participants who got a good night’s sleep played what may be the world’s most boring computer game — tracking a moving target on a monitor with a joystick. During the 50-minute test, researchers monitored people’s brain and eye activity. They found that people’s brains really liked sneaking in microsleep during the humdrum computer game. On average, game players experienced a whopping 79 episodes of microsleep in just under an hour, lasting up to six seconds each time.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 26343 - Posted: 06.20.2019

By Jane E. Brody Shakespeare wisely recognized that sleep “knits up the ravell’d sleave of care” and relieves life’s physical and emotional pains. Alas, this “chief nourisher in life’s feast,” as he called it, often eludes millions of people who suffer from insomnia. Desperate to fall asleep or fall back to sleep, many resort to Ambien or another of the so-called “Z drugs” to get elusive shut-eye. But except for people with short-term sleep-disrupting issues, like post-surgical pain or bereavement, these sedative-hypnotics have a time-limited benefit and can sometimes cause more serious problems than they might prevent. They should not be used for more than four or five weeks. In April, the Food and Drug Administration added a boxed warning to the prescription insomnia drugs zolpidem (Ambien, Edluar, Intermezzo and Zolpimist), zaleplon (Sonata) and eszopiclone (Lunesta) following reports of injury and death from sleepwalking, sleep-driving and engaging in other hazardous activities while not fully awake. Last July, a Georgia woman was arrested when she drove the wrong way on a highway the day after using Ambien, as prescribed, to help her sleep. Although she had consumed no alcohol, she flunked a standard sobriety test and told police she was unaware of how she ended up going the wrong way. Although extreme reactions to these sleep drugs are thought to be uncommon, they are unpredictable and can be disastrous when they occur. Some have resulted in vehicular fatalities. As many as 20 percent to 30 percent of people in the general population sleep poorly. They may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, some awaken much too early, while others do not feel rested despite spending a full night seemingly asleep in bed. For one person in 10, insomnia is a chronic problem that repeats itself night after night. Little wonder that so many resort to sleeping pills to cope with it. © 2019 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: 26334 - Posted: 06.18.2019

By Karen Zraick and Sarah Mervosh Are you sabotaging your sleep in your quest to improve it? Many new tools are becoming available to monitor your sleep or help you achieve better sleep: wearable watches and bands; “nearable” devices that you can place on your bed or nightstand; and apps that work by monitoring biometric data, noise and movement. They can remind you to start winding down, or generate a report on your night’s slumber. But some sleep specialists caution that these apps and devices may provide inaccurate data and can even exacerbate symptoms of insomnia. Fiddling with your phone in bed, after all, is bad sleep hygiene. And for some, worrying about sleep goals can make bedtime anxiety even worse. There’s a name for an unhealthy obsession with achieving perfect sleep: orthosomnia. It was coined by researchers from Rush University Medical School and Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in a 2017 case study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Dr. Kelly Baron, one of the paper’s authors and the director of the University of Utah’s behavioral sleep medicine program, said that sleep trackers can be helpful in identifying patterns. She herself tracks her bedtime with a Fitbit. But she said she had noticed a trend of patients complaining based on unverified scores, even for things like the amount of deep sleep, which varies by individual. “People were putting a lot of stock in what it was telling them,” she said. “Like, ‘I’m afraid I’m not getting enough deep sleep. There’s something wrong with me.’” As gadgets proliferate, so do concerns The flood of data and buzzwords can easily become confusing: sleep debt percentages, heart rate dips, sleep rhythms, graphs of sleep disruption and comparisons to other users. © 2019 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: 26327 - Posted: 06.14.2019

By Jane E. Brody How did you sleep last night? If you’re over 65, I hope it was better than many others your age. In a study by the National Institute on Aging of over 9,000 Americans aged 65 and older, more than half said they had difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Many others who believe they spend an adequate number of hours asleep nonetheless complain of not feeling rested when they get up. Chronic insomnia, which affects 5 percent to 10 percent of older adults, is more than just exhausting. It’s also linked to an increased risk of developing hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, heart attack, depression, anxiety and premature death. It may also be a risk factor for dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease. Studies based on more than 1,700 men and women followed over many years by researchers at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine found that the risk of developing hypertension was five times greater among those who slept less than five hours a night and three and a half times greater for those who slept between five and six hours. But there was no increased risk among those who regularly slept six or more hours. Likewise, the risk of developing diabetes was three times greater for the shortest sleepers and twice as great for those who slept between five and six hours. People with insomnia often complain that they can’t concentrate or focus and have memory problems. While the evidence for this is inconsistent, the Penn State studies showed that people with insomnia are more likely to perform poorly on tests of processing speed, switching attention and visual memory. And most studies have shown that insomnia impairs cognitive performance, a possible risk factor for mild cognitive impairment and dementia. © 2019 The New York Times Company

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: 26315 - Posted: 06.10.2019

Hannah Devlin Science correspondent Smartphone sleep-tracking apps are making people so anxious and obsessed about their sleep that they are developing insomnia, a leading neurologist has said. Speaking at the Cheltenham science festival, Dr Guy Leschziner, a sleep disorder specialist and consultant at Guy’s hospital in London, said a growing preoccupation with getting enough sleep was backfiring. “We’ve seen a lot of people who have developed significant insomnia as a result of either sleep trackers or reading certain things about how devastating sleep deprivation is for you,” Leschziner said before his talk. A high proportion of patients seeking treatment for insomnia turn up at his clinic with data about their sleep patterns and are often reluctant to delete the app, he said. “It’s rather difficult to dissuade them from using it.” Most apps have not been clinically validated and only track movement, so do not provide insight into the quality of sleep, he added. “My view of sleep trackers is fairly cynical. If you wake up feeling tired and you’ve had an unrefreshing night’s sleep then you know you’ve got a problem,” he said. “If you wake up every day and feel refreshed, are awake throughout the day and are ready to sleep at the same time every night then you’re probably getting enough sleep for you and you don’t need an app to tell you that.” Similar concerns were highlighted in a series of case studies published last year by a team in Chicago that described patients whose micromanagement of sleep using apps had led to a disorder called orthosomnia. © 2019 Guardian News & 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: 26314 - Posted: 06.10.2019

Laura Sanders In a nighttime experiment called the Dream Catcher, people’s dreams slipped right through the net. Looking at only the brain wave activity of sleeping people, scientists weren’t able to reliably spot a dreaming brain. The details of that leaky net, described May 27 at bioRxiv.org, haven’t yet been reviewed by other scientists. And the results are bound to be heavily scrutinized, as they run counter to earlier work that described signs of dreams in neural data. The experimental design matters, because scientists suspect that dreams hold clues about the deepest mystery of the mind — consciousness itself. The brain can create rich tapestries of awareness even in the complete absence of incoming information. Studying these instances of brain-created consciousness, which include dreaming, mind-wandering and daydreaming, “is a powerful way to understand the relationship between the brain and the mind,” says study coauthor Naotsugu Tsuchiya of Monash University in Clayton, a town near Melbourne, Australia. Tsuchiya and his colleagues analyzed data generated from nine people who slept overnight in a laboratory while wearing an electrode cap that measured brain waves. The researchers focused on a stage of sleep called non-REM sleep. (Dreams are so abundant during REM sleep that researchers would have been hard-pressed to find enough instances of nondream sleep to use as a comparison.) To identify dreams, researchers employed an irritating method: They would wake up a person once he or she had entered non-REM sleep, and ask whether the person had been dreaming. To keep the experiment free from unintentional biases, the project relied on two teams of researchers: data collectors and data analyzers. Once the collectors had gathered brain wave data on both dreams and nondreams, the data was handed over to Tsuchiya and other data analyzers without any clues about the subjects, including whether they were dreaming. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2019.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 26298 - Posted: 06.04.2019

By Amitha Kalaichandran, M.D. It was 11 p.m. and my 5-year-old patient was sleeping peacefully in her hospital bed, snuggled up with her mother and several stuffed animals. Her breathing was quiet and soft. Her bedside heart rate monitor, which glowed a faint yellow in the dark hospital room, was turned to “silent.” “Sorry, I have to take a listen to her heart,” I whispered to her mother, tapping her shoulder lightly. Her mother and I had a good relationship: I had served as an advocate for her daughter several times during her seven-week stay in the ward. She had a rare disease that had been a medical mystery for many months, but she would be transferred to a more specialized center soon. I hated to wake her, but recently, when I had offered to wait to examine a child until after a nap, my attending physician had scolded: “You can’t care about that. If you do, you’ll never examine them. They have to get used to it — they’re in the hospital, after all.” But the poor girl was tired. She was poked three times a day for blood and taken to the M.R.I. or CT scanner at various times. I completed my exam: her vital signs, her heart, perfusion (how well her heart was pumping blood to her body), and palpated her abdomen to check her liver and spleen (which were enlarged, but no more than they had been). She seemed stable. I backed out slowly. The next morning, the girl’s mother mentioned that it had taken another hour for her to fall asleep again. Was there anything that we could do to allow her to sleep through the night? Wouldn’t a good night’s sleep help with her condition? She had a point. © 2019 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: 26297 - Posted: 06.04.2019

By Gian Gastone Mascetti One of the most striking features of living organisms, both animals and plants, is the way their physiology and behavior have adapted to follow the fluctuations of daily light and nocturnal darkness. A clock in the brain synchronized to environmental cues generates biological changes that vary over a 24-hour cycle—circadian rhythms (from the Latin words circa and diem, meaning “about” and “a day,” respectively). In this way, the earth’s rotation is reproduced in the dynamics of our neuronal circuits. The sleep-wakefulness cycle is a typical circadian rhythm. Wakefulness is characterized by sensory activity and movement; during sleep the senses lose touch with their surroundings, and movements subside. This periodic loss of consciousness appears on electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings as a clear signature: deep sleep consists of slow oscillations of high amplitude. Wakefulness, in contrast, is made up of fast, low-amplitude oscillations. Much about sleep remains a mystery, however. Why would an animal shut down basic sensory and motor activity for hours on end, leaving itself a target for predators? This question becomes more acute in aquatic mammals, which need to regulate breathing and body temperature while they sleep. Remarkably, some animals have solved this problem by developing the ability to sleep with one half their brain while remaining vigilant with the other—a behavior known as unihemispheric slow-wave sleep (USWS). Still others engage in USWS under some circumstances but put both hemispheres to bed when necessary. Marine mammals, bird species and possibly reptiles enter a half-on/half-off state, sometimes keeping one eye open during these intervals. Recently researchers have even discovered a vestigial form of unihemispheric sleep in humans. © 2019 Scientific American

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: 26290 - Posted: 06.03.2019

By Jane E. Brody Although the woman in her 50s had been effectively treated for depression, she remained plagued by symptoms that often accompany it: fatigue, sleepiness and lethargy, even though she thought she was getting enough sleep. With depression no longer causing her persistent symptoms, her psychiatrist advised her to consult a sleep specialist. Sure enough, a night in the sleep lab at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine revealed that while the woman was supposedly asleep, she experienced micro-awakenings about 18 times an hour, resulting in sleep that restored neither body nor brain. All night long, she would stop breathing for more than 10 seconds at a time, followed by a mini-arousal and a snore as she gasped for breath to raise the depleted oxygen level in her blood. Diagnosis: Obstructive sleep apnea, an increasingly common yet often missed or untreated condition that can result in poor quality of life, a risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even cancer, and perhaps most important of all, a threefold increased risk of often-fatal motor vehicle accidents. Obstructive sleep apnea afflicts about 9 percent of women and 24 percent of men, most of them middle-aged or older, yet as many as 9 in 10 adults with this treatable condition remain undiagnosed, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The condition is on the rise because the most frequent cause is obesity, which continues its unrelenting climb among American adults. Sleep apnea afflicts more than two people in five who have a body mass index of more than 30, and three in five adults with metabolic syndrome, Dr. Sigrid C. Veasey and Dr. Ilene M. Rosen wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine in April. © 2019 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: 26272 - Posted: 05.28.2019

By Benedict Carey Federal health regulators announced on Tuesday that they would require manufacturers of sleeping pills such as Ambien and related drugs to post strongly worded warnings in boxes on labels and patient guides. The Food and Drug Administration, in what it called a safety announcement, noted that the drugs’ side effects included risky behaviors, such as sleepwalking and sleep driving, that can lead to injury and even death. The F.D.A. singled out Ambien and two other popular sleep aids, Lunesta and Sonata, as well as three formulations of zolpidem, the generic name for Ambien. The boxed warnings — the most prominent form of warning required by the agency — must list side effects such as sleepwalking and sleep driving, in which people using the drugs take risks without being fully awake. The agency said such reactions were rare but could lead to injuries or death; it advised doctors not to prescribe the drugs to people who have had such side effects in the past. “Patients, stop taking your insomnia medicine and contact your health care professional right away if you experience a complex sleep behavior where you engage in activities while you are not fully awake,” the agency’s safety alert said, “or if you do not remember activities you have done while taking the medicine.” Prescriptions for sleeping pills grew to more than 20 million in 2010 from 5.3 million in 1999, according to national estimates. About one in eight people with sleeping difficulty report using the drugs; among people of retirement age, more than a third report taking a sleeping aid. The F.D.A. warned about such effects in 2007, after doctors reported that some patients were having strange nighttime experiences, mostly while taking zolpidem (Ambien), the first of the so-called z-drugs. © 2019 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: 26193 - Posted: 05.01.2019

By Nicholas Bakalar The most common cause of injury deaths in babies under a year old is unintentional suffocation, and almost all of these deaths are preventable, a new report found. Researchers used a federal government case registry to look at the causes of infant deaths by injury between 2011 and 2014. Of 1,812 sudden and unexpected infant deaths over the period, about 14 percent were caused by accidental suffocation. Of these, 69 percent were caused by soft bedding, 19 percent were overlay deaths, in which a caregiver rolled over on the baby, and 12 percent happened when the infant was trapped between two objects, usually the mattress and a wall. The analysis appears in Pediatrics. About 71 percent of the overlay deaths occurred in an adult’s bed, as did 49 percent of the soft bedding deaths, where blankets, pillows or soft toys covering the airway were the most common cause. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be put to sleep on their backs, that the crib have no soft bedding or soft objects, and that adults never sleep in the same bed with a baby. “This paper supports the A.A.P. recommendations,” said the lead author, Alexa B. Erck Lambert, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “And it shows that these deaths by suffocation could have been avoided if the babies had been placed properly.” © 2019 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: 26171 - Posted: 04.25.2019