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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 25551 - Posted: 10.09.2018

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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 25540 - Posted: 10.08.2018

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

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: 25493 - Posted: 09.26.2018

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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 25460 - Posted: 09.17.2018

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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 25438 - Posted: 09.12.2018

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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 25436 - Posted: 09.11.2018

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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 25430 - Posted: 09.10.2018

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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment; Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment; Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 25365 - Posted: 08.23.2018

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

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 25357 - Posted: 08.21.2018

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

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