Revealed: Why sleep is a secret weapon for improved fitness

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Children’s Sleep: what is your routine? (Zarbee’s Coupon)

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Zarbee’s Naturals. I received product samples and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.With daylight saving time hitting us hard last week (seriously, ugh.), the entire house has had trouble sleeping and getting back on schedule. I actually think our 2-year-old handled it the best. Our 4-year-old just couldn’t get to bed “earlier” and with the time change, that meant he was staying up late and sleeping in. That first Monday? Ryan slept in until 8:20am and we had to leave for school by 8:40, eek! It’s so hard to wake a sleeping babe though!How did your family make it out of the daylight saving drama? Did it take …

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Obese adolescents not getting enough sleep?

Lack of sleep and obesity have been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in adults and young children. However, the association is not as clear in adolescents, an age group that is known to lack adequate sleep and have an overweight and obesity prevalence rate of 30% in the US. In a new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers found that cardiometabolic risk in obese adolescents may be predicted by typical sleep patterns.Heidi B. IglayReger, PhD, and colleagues from the University of Michigan and Baylor University studied 37 obese adolescents (11-17 years of age). Metabolic syndrome characteristics (fasting cholesterol and blood sugar, waist circumference, body mass index [BMI], and blood pressure) were measured to create a continuous cardiometabolic risk score. The adolescents were fitted with a physical activity monitor, which was worn 24 hours a day for seven days, to measure typical patterns of physical activity and sleep.One-third of the participants met the minimum recommendation of being physically active at least 60 minutes a day. Most participants slept approximately seven hours each night, usually waking up at least once. Only five of the participants met the minimal recommended 8.5 hours of sleep per night. Even after controlling for factors that may impact cardiometabolic risk, like BMI and physical activity, low levels of sleep remained a significant predictor of cardiometabolic risk in obese teens. This shows that even among those already considered to be at risk for cardiometabolic disease, in this case obese teens’ decreased sleep duration was predictive of increased cardiometabolic risk.This study cannot determine whether lack of sleep causes cardiometabolic disease or if obesity itself causes sleep disturbances. …

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Sleep apnea may contribute to fatigue in multiple sclerosis: Study

A new study provides evidence that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is highly prevalent in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), and it suggests that OSA may be a contributor to the fatigue that is one of the most common and debilitating symptoms of MS.Results show that one-fifth of MS patients surveyed in a large tertiary MS practice carried a diagnosis of OSA, and more than half were found to have an elevated risk for OSA based on a validated screening tool. Further analysis showed that OSA risk was a significant predictor of fatigue severity, even after adjusting for potential confounders such as age, gender, body mass index (BMI), sleep duration and depression.”OSA may be a highly prevalent and yet under-recognized contributor to fatigue in persons with MS,” said lead author and principal investigator Tiffany J. Braley, MD, MS, an Assistant Professor of Neurology from the University of Michigan Multiple Sclerosis and Sleep Disorders Centers in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Our study suggests that clinicians should have a low threshold to evaluate MS patients for underlying sleep disturbances.”The study results appear in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, which is published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.”Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic illness that can have a destructive impact on your health and quality of life,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. M. Safwan Badr. “People with multiple sclerosis who are found to have a high risk of OSA should be referred to a board certified sleep medicine physician for a comprehensive sleep evaluation.”Braley and her colleagues, Benjamin M. Segal, MD (Director of the University of Michigan Multiple Sclerosis Center), and Ronald D. Chervin, MD, MS, (Director of the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center) studied 195 MS patients who completed a sleep questionnaire and four validated instruments designed to assess daytime sleepiness, fatigue severity, insomnia severity and OSA risk. …

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Sleep deprivation increases food purchasing the next day

Sep. 5, 2013 — People who were deprived of one night’s sleep purchased more calories and grams of food in a mock supermarket on the following day in a new study published in the journal Obesity, the official journal of The Obesity Society. Sleep deprivation also led to increased blood levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger, on the following morning; however, there was no correlation between individual ghrelin levels and food purchasing, suggesting that other mechanisms — such as impulsive decision making — may be more responsible for increased purchasing.Researchers in Sweden were curious as to whether sleep deprivation may impair or alter an individual’s food purchasing choices based on its established tendency to impair higher-level thinking and to increase hunger.”We hypothesized that sleep deprivation’s impact on hunger and decision making would make for the ‘perfect storm’ with regard to shopping and food purchasing — leaving individuals hungrier and less capable of employing self-control and higher-level decision-making processes to avoid making impulsive, calorie-driven purchases,” said first author Colin Chapman, MSc, of Uppsala University.On the morning after one night of total sleep deprivation, as well as after one night of sleep, Chapman, along with Christian Benedict, PhD, and their colleagues, gave 14 normal-weight men a fixed budget (approximately $50). The men were instructed to purchase as much as they could out of a possible 40 items, including 20 high-caloric foods and 20 low-calorie foods. The prices of the high-caloric foods were then varied to determine if total sleep deprivation affects the flexibility of food purchasing. Before the task, participants received a standardized breakfast to minimize the effect of hunger on their purchases.Sleep-deprived men purchased significantly more calories (+9%) and grams (+18%) of food than they did after one night of sleep. The researchers also measured blood levels of ghrelin, finding that the hormone’s concentrations were higher after total sleep deprivation; however, this increase did not correlate with food purchasing behavior.”Our finding provides a strong rationale for suggesting that patients with concerns regarding caloric intake and weight gain maintain a healthy, normal sleep schedule,” said Chapman.Follow up studies are needed to address whether these sleep deprivation-induced changes in food purchasing behavior also exist under partial sleep deprivation, though. Additional research should also look into sleep deprivation’s potential impact on purchasing behavior in general, as it may lead to impaired or impulsive purchasing in a variety of other contexts.

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Brain imaging study reveals the wandering mind behind insomnia

Aug. 30, 2013 — new brain imaging study may help explain why people with insomnia often complain that they struggle to concentrate during the day even when objective evidence of a cognitive problem is lacking.”We found that insomnia subjects did not properly turn on brain regions critical to a working memory task and did not turn off ‘mind-wandering’ brain regions irrelevant to the task,” said lead author Sean P.A. Drummond, PhD, associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, and the VA San Diego Healthcare System, and Secretary/Treasurer of the Sleep Research Society. “Based on these results, it is not surprising that someone with insomnia would feel like they are working harder to do the same job as a healthy sleeper.”The research team led by Drummond and co-principal investigator Matthew Walker, PhD, studied 25 people with primary insomnia and 25 good sleepers. Participants had an average age of 32 years. The study subjects underwent a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan while performing a working memory task.Results published in the September issue of the journal Sleep show that participants with insomnia did not differ from good sleepers in objective cognitive performance on the working memory task. However, the MRI scans revealed that people with insomnia could not modulate activity in brain regions typically used to perform the task.As the task got harder, good sleepers used more resources within the working memory network of the brain, especially the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Insomnia subjects, however, were unable to recruit more resources in these brain regions. Furthermore, as the task got harder, participants with insomnia did not dial down the “default mode” regions of the brain that are normally only active when our minds are wandering.”The data help us understand that people with insomnia not only have trouble sleeping at night, but their brains are not functioning as efficiently during the day,” said Drummond. “Some aspects of insomnia are as much of a daytime problem as a nighttime problem. …

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Study reveals the face of sleep deprivation

Aug. 30, 2013 — A new study finds that sleep deprivation affects facial features such as the eyes, mouth and skin, and these features function as cues of sleep loss to other people.Results show that the faces of sleep-deprived individuals were perceived as having more hanging eyelids, redder eyes, more swollen eyes and darker circles under the eyes. Sleep deprivation also was associated with paler skin, more wrinkles or fine lines, and more droopy corners of the mouth. People also looked sadder when sleep-deprived than after normal sleep, and sadness was related to looking fatigued.”Since faces contain a lot of information on which humans base their interactions with each other, how fatigued a person appears may affect how others behave toward them,” said Tina Sundelin, MSc, lead author and doctoral student in the department of psychology at Stockholm University in Stockholm, Sweden. “This is relevant not only for private social interactions, but also official ones such as with health care professionals and in public safety.”The study, which appears in the September issue of the journal Sleep, was conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Ten subjects were photographed on two separate occasions: after eight hours of normal sleep and after 31 hours of sleep deprivation. The photographs were taken in the laboratory at 2:30 p.m. on both occasions. Forty participants rated the 20 facial photographs with respect to 10 facial cues, fatigue and sadness.According to the authors, face perception involves a specialized neuronal network and is one of the most developed visual perceptual skills in humans. Facial appearance can affect judgments of attributes such as trustworthiness, aggressiveness and competence.

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Waking up to a new year: Exoplanet orbits its star in 8.5 hours

Aug. 19, 2013 — In the time it takes you to complete a single workday, or get a full night’s sleep, a small fireball of a planet 700 light-years away has already completed an entire year.Researchers at MIT have discovered an Earth-sized exoplanet named Kepler 78b that whips around its host star in a mere 8.5 hours — one of the shortest orbital periods ever detected. The planet is extremely close to its star — its orbital radius is only about three times the radius of the star — and the scientists have estimated that its surface temperatures may be as high as 3,000 degrees Kelvin, or more than 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. In such a scorching environment, the top layer of the planet is likely completely melted, creating a massive, roiling ocean of lava.What’s most exciting to scientists is that they were able to detect light emitted by the planet — the first time that researchers have been able to do so for an exoplanet as small as Kepler 78b. This light, once analyzed with larger telescopes, may give scientists detailed information about the planet’s surface composition and reflective properties.Kepler 78b is so close to its star that scientists hope to measure its gravitational influence on the star. Such information may be used to measure the planet’s mass, which could make Kepler 78b the first Earth-sized planet outside our own solar system whose mass is known.The researchers reported their discovery of Kepler 78b in The Astrophysical Journal.In a separate paper, published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, members of that same group, along with others at MIT and elsewhere, observed KOI 1843.03, a previously discovered exoplanet with an even shorter orbital period: just 4 1/4 hours. The group, led by physics professor emeritus Saul Rappaport, determined that in order for the planet to maintain its extremely tight orbit around its star, it would have to be incredibly dense, made almost entirely of iron — otherwise, the immense tidal forces from the nearby star would rip the planet to pieces.”Just the fact that it’s able to survive there implies that it’s very dense,” says Josh Winn, an associate professor of physics at MIT, and co-author on both papers. “Whether nature actually makes planets that are dense enough to survive even closer in, that’s an open question, and would be even more amazing.”Dips in the dataIn their discovery of Kepler 78b, the team that wrote the Astrophysical Journal paper looked through more than 150,000 stars that were monitored by the Kepler Telescope, a NASA space observatory that surveys a slice of the galaxy. Scientists are analyzing data from Kepler in hopes of identifying habitable, Earth-sized planets.The goal for Winn and his colleagues was to look for Earth-sized planets with very short orbital periods.”We’ve gotten used to planets having orbits of a few days,” Winn says. “But we wondered, what about a few hours? …

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Sleep deprivation linked to junk food cravings

Aug. 6, 2013 — A sleepless night makes us more likely to reach for doughnuts or pizza than for whole grains and leafy green vegetables, suggests a new study from UC Berkeley that examines the brain regions that control food choices. The findings shed new light on the link between poor sleep and obesity.Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), UC Berkeley researchers scanned the brains of 23 healthy young adults, first after a normal night’s sleep and next, after a sleepless night. They found impaired activity in the sleep-deprived brain’s frontal lobe, which governs complex decision-making, but increased activity in deeper brain centers that respond to rewards. Moreover, the participants favored unhealthy snack and junk foods when they were sleep deprived.”What we have discovered is that high-level brain regions required for complex judgments and decisions become blunted by a lack of sleep, while more primal brain structures that control motivation and desire are amplified,” said Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology and neuroscience and senior author of the study published Aug. 6 in the journal Nature Communications.Moreover, he added, “high-calorie foods also became significantly more desirable when participants were sleep-deprived. This combination of altered brain activity and decision-making may help explain why people who sleep less also tend to be overweight or obese.”Previous studies have linked poor sleep to greater appetites, particularly for sweet and salty foods, but the latest findings provide a specific brain mechanism explaining why food choices change for the worse following a sleepless night, Walker said.”These results shed light on how the brain becomes impaired by sleep deprivation, leading to the selection of more unhealthy foods and, ultimately, higher rates of obesity,” said Stephanie Greer, a doctoral student in Walker’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory and lead author of the paper. Another co-author of the study is Andrea Goldstein, also a doctoral student in Walker’s lab.In this newest study, researchers measured brain activity as participants viewed a series of 80 food images that ranged from high-to low-calorie and healthy and unhealthy, and rated their desire for each of the items. As an incentive, they were given the food they most craved after the MRI scan.Food choices presented in the experiment ranged from fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, apples and carrots, to high-calorie burgers, pizza and doughnuts. The latter are examples of the more popular choices following a sleepless night.On a positive note, Walker said, the findings indicate that “getting enough sleep is one factor that can help promote weight control by priming the brain mechanisms governing appropriate food choices.”

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Good eating and sleep habits help kids succeed in school

July 26, 2013 — Adults often hear what they should be doing to improve their health. But many of these known wellness behaviors are important for kids, too, and two University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) experts say school success depends on making the right choices.Health habits, such as eating and sleep patterns, are linked to academic success, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”Your brain can’t work if you’re not consuming enough calories, and in general that’s not a problem,” explained Krista Casazza, Ph.D., R.D., assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences. “But when kids go to school without eating breakfast, their cognitive function can be affected.”Casazza suggests kids start the day with fruits, proteins and whole grains. Avoid sugary cereals because they cause a sugar high, then a crash.”A balanced breakfast will fuel the body for a long period and help sustain their attention level through lunch, when they need to eat well again,” Casazza said. “This will hold them until dinner, and they won’t snack ravenously after school.”If the kids do need to eat something prior to dinner, consider these options: • Offer healthy choices like yogurt, fruits and veggies. • If they want “kid stuff,” baked chips can be an option, in moderation. • Drink water. Soda lacks nutritional value.Once homework and dinner are done, sleep needs to be the priority.”Children need a good night’s sleep for their overall school performance,” said Kristin Avis, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine.”Lack of sleep can lead to problems with attention and memory in the classroom, affect impulse control and mood regulation lead to anxiety and even depression,” Avis said.Avis said kids ages 6-12 should get nine hours sleep nightly as should adolescents ages 13-18 — but typically they average little more than seven hours per night.”Often parents think one night of sleep loss won’t matter, but that’s all it takes to affect them the next day,” Avis explained. “If they are chronically deprived, it can snowball and make matters worse.”Catching up on lost sleep on the weekend can make matters worse.”If kids sleep in Saturday, they have a hard time going to bed Saturday night; so they sleep in Sunday and have a hard time going to bed Sunday night,” Avis said. “Monday morning they are tired, and it’s hard to wake up for school. …

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Kids’ sleep patterns affected by electronic media time and media presence in the bedroom

July 25, 2013 — Children’s sleep disruption is worse with increased time spent watching TV or playing on the computer, finds research in Biomed Central’s open access journal BMC Public Health. The greater the e-media use was at the start of the study, the shorter the sleep duration and the later the bedtime was eighteen months later. The academics suggest that where children are struggling to sleep, or are tired, their media habits should be taken into consideration.Share This:The amount of sleep children get has a direct bearing on their performance in school and their mental and physical health. Snap shot studies suggest that the more kids use electronic media the less sleep they get, and that their sleep is more likely to be disturbed. But how much does watching TV or playing on the computer affect sleep patterns as children grow up?To answer this question researchers from Folkhälsan Research Center, Finland, compared computer use and TV viewing with sleep patterns in 10-11 year olds and then reassessed them eighteen months later. Children with a TV or computer in their bedroom, compared with the frequency of usage, demonstrated a greater delay when going to bed on school days and the weekend which resulted in less sleep. However girls may be catching up at the weekends as they tended to sleep in more as they got older.When the researchers looked at boys and girls separately they found that there were other gender differences — boys with a computer or TV in their bedroom went to bed later than the girls and had a larger increase in bed time.Teija Nuutinen, who led this study commented, “Children need extra sleep as they go through puberty but our study finds that TV and computer use affect the sleep of children. This is especially true during the week and may be impacting their school work as well as their development. Media viewing habits should be considered for kids who are tired and struggling to concentrate, or who have behaviour problems caused by lack of sleep.”Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central Limited, via AlphaGalileo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. …

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A good night’s sleep increases the cardiovascular benefits of a healthy lifestyle

July 3, 2013 — A good night’s sleep can increase the benefit of exercise, healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption and non-smoking in their protection against cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to results of a large population follow-up study.(1) Results showed that the combination of the four traditional healthy lifestyle habits was associated with a 57% lower risk of cardiovascular disease (fatal and non-fatal) and a 67% lower risk of fatal events.(2) But, when “sufficient sleep” (defined as seven or more hours a night) was added to the other four lifestyle factors, the overall protective benefit was even further increased — and resulted in a 65% lower risk of composite CVD and a 83% lower risk of fatal events.”If all participants adhered to all five healthy lifestyle factors, 36% of composite CVD and 57% of fatal CVD could theoretically be prevented or postponed,” the authors report. “The public health impact of sufficient sleep duration, in addition to the traditional healthy lifestyle factors, could be substantial.”The study is published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, and is the first to investigate whether the addition of sleep duration to the four traditional healthy lifestyle factors contributes to an association with CVD.The Monitoring Project on Risk Factors for Chronic Diseases (MORGEN) is a prospective cohort study in the Netherlands from which 6672 men and 7967 women aged 20-65 years and free of CVD at baseline were followed up for a mean time of 12 years. Details of physical activity, diet, alcohol consumption, smoking and sleep duration were recorded between 1993 and 1997, and the subjects followed-up through a cross-link to national hospital and mortality registers.As expected, results showed that adherence to each of the four traditional lifestyle factors alone reduced the risk of CVD. Those at baseline who recorded sufficient physical activity, a healthy diet and moderate alcohol consumption reduced their risk of composite CVD from 12% for a healthy diet to 43% for not smoking; and risk reduction in fatal CVD ranged from 26% for being physically active to 43% for not smoking.However, sufficient sleep duration alone also reduced the risk of composite CVD by about 22% (HR 0.78) and of fatal CVD by about 43% (HR 0.57) when compared with those having insufficient sleep. Thus, non-smoking and sufficient sleep duration were both strongly and similarly inversely associated with fatal CVD.These benefits were even greater when all five lifestyle factors were observed, resulting in a in a 65% lower risk of composite CVD and an 83% lower risk of fatal CVD.As background to the study, the investigators note that poor sleep duration has been proposed as an independent risk factor for CVD in two other (non-European) studies, but without adding the effect of sleep to other healthy lifestyle benefits. This study — in a large population — now suggests that sufficient sleep and adherence to all four traditional healthy lifestyle factors are associated with a lower CVD risk. When sufficient sleep duration is added to the traditional lifestyle factors, the risk of CVD is even further reduced.As an explanation for the results, the investigators note that short sleep duration has been associated with a higher incidence of overweight, obesity and hypertension and with higher levels of blood pressure, total cholesterol, haemoglobin A, and triglycerides, effects which are “consistent with the hypothesis that short sleep duration is directly associated with CVD risk.”The study’s principal investigator, Dr Monique Verschuren from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, said that the importance of sufficient sleep “should now be mentioned as an additional way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.” “It is always important to confirm results,” she added, “but the evidence is certainly growing that sleep should be added to our list of CVD risk factors.”Dr Verschuren noted that seven hours is the average sleeping time that “is likely to be sufficient for most people.” An earlier study from her group in the Netherlands, which included information on sleep quality, found that those who slept less than seven hours and got up each morning not fully rested had a 63% higher risk of CVD than those sleeping sufficiently — although those who woke rested, even from less than seven hours’ sleep, did not have the increased risk.(3)

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Late bedtimes and less sleep may lead to weight gain in healthy adults

June 28, 2013 — A new study suggests that healthy adults with late bedtimes and chronic sleep restriction may be more susceptible to weight gain due to the increased consumption of calories during late-night hours.In the largest, most diverse healthy sample studied to date under controlled laboratory conditions, results show that sleep-restricted subjects who spent only four hours in bed from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. for five consecutive nights gained more weight than control subjects who were in bed for 10 hours each night from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. The study found an overall increase in caloric intake during sleep restriction, which was due to an increase in the number of meals consumed during the late-night period of additional wakefulness. Furthermore, the proportion of calories consumed from fat was higher during late-night hours than at other times of day.”Although previous epidemiological studies have suggested an association between short sleep duration and weight gain/obesity, we were surprised to observe significant weight gain during an in-laboratory study,” said lead author Andrea Spaeth, a doctoral candidate in the psychology department at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pa.The study, which appears in the July issue of the journal SLEEP, was conducted in the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The study group comprised 225 healthy, non-obese individuals, ranging in age from 22-50 years. Subjects were randomized to either the sleep restriction or control condition and spent up to 18 consecutive days in the laboratory.Meals were served at scheduled times, and food was always available in the laboratory kitchen for participants who wanted to eat at other times of day. Subjects could move around but were not allowed to exercise. They were permitted to watch TV, read, play video games or perform other sedentary activities.The study also found that during sleep restriction males gained more weight than females, and African Americans gained more weight than Caucasians.”Among sleep-restricted subjects, there were also significant gender and race differences in weight gain,” said Spaeth. …

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Getting enough sleep could help prevent type 2 diabetes

June 18, 2013 — Men who lose sleep during the work week may be able to lower their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by getting more hours of sleep, according to Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) research findings presented today at The Endocrine Society’s 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.The study by Peter Liu, MD, PhD, an LA BioMed lead researcher, found that insulin sensitivity, the body’s ability to clear glucose (blood sugar) from the bloodstream, significantly improved after three nights of “catch-up sleep” on the weekend in men with long-term, weekday sleep restrictions.”We all know we need to get adequate sleep, but that is often impossible because of work demands and busy lifestyles,” said Dr. Liu. “Our study found extending the hours of sleep can improve the body’s use of insulin, thereby reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes in adult men. Reducing the incidence of this chronic illness is critical for a nation where diabetes affects nearly 26 million people and costs an estimated $174 billion annually.”Insulin is a hormone that regulates a person’s blood sugar level. The body of a patient with Type 2 diabetes cannot effectively use the insulin it produces, or it becomes “resistant” to insulin. Retaining the body’s sensitivity to insulin reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, a chronic illness that is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.Other research had demonstrated the harmful effects of experimental sleep restriction on insulin sensitivity in healthy, normal sleepers. The new study provides information about people who lose sleep during the week — often because of jobs and busy lifestyles — but “catch up” on their sleep on the weekends.”The good news is that by extending the hours they sleep, adult men — who over a long period of time do not get enough sleep during the working week — can still improve their insulin sensitivity,” Liu said.Liu and researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia studied 19 non-diabetic men, with an average age of 28.6 years, who for six months or longer (average, 5.1 years) self-reported inadequate sleep during the workweek. On average, the men received only 6.2 hours of sleep each work night. But they regularly caught up on their sleep on the weekends, sleeping an extra 37.4 percent, or 2.3 hours, per night, the authors reported. Their reported sleep times were verified by actigraphy, in which each man wore a small device on his wrist that monitored sleep-wake cycles.The men spent three nights in a sleep lab on each of two separate weekends. …

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Quality of waking hours determines ease of falling sleep

June 17, 2013 — The quality of wakefulness affects how quickly a mammal falls asleep, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers report in a study that identifies two proteins never before linked to alertness and sleep-wake balance.”This study supports the idea that subjective sleepiness is influenced by the quality of experiences right before bedtime. Are you reluctantly awake or excited to be awake?” said Dr. Masashi Yanagisawa, professor of molecular genetics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at UT Southwestern. He is principal author of the study published online in May in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.Co-author Dr. Robert Greene, UT Southwestern professor of psychiatry and a physician at the Dallas VA Medical Center, said the study is unique in showing that the need for sleep (called sleep homeostasis) can be separated from wakefulness both behaviorally and biochemically, meaning the two processes can now be studied individually.”Two of the great mysteries in neuroscience are why do we sleep and what is sleep’s function? Separating sleep need from wakefulness and identifying two different proteins involved in these steps represents a fundamental advance,” he said.If borne out by further research, this study could lead to new ways of assessing and possibly treating sleep disorders, perhaps by focusing more attention on the hours before bedtime because the quality of wakefulness has a profound effect on sleep, Dr. Yanagisawa said.The experiment featured three groups of mice with virtually identical genes. The control group slept and woke at will and followed the usual mouse pattern of sleeping during the day and being awake at night. The two test groups were treated the same and had the same amount of sleep delay — six hours — but they were kept awake in different ways, said lead author Dr. Ayako Suzuki, a postdoctoral researcher who works in the laboratories of both Dr. …

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Higher-activity jobs tied to sleep extremes

June 3, 2013 — A study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has found that people who work in jobs that are more physically demanding tend to be either shorter sleepers (fewer than 6 hours a night) or longer sleepers (longer than 9 hours).Since previous research has shown that people who report short or long sleep are more likely to have worse health over time, such as weight gain, heart disease and diabetes, the new study suggests that people’s jobs may predispose them to unhealthy sleep patterns that could detrimentally affect their health. The findings go against the concept that physical activity in general seems to be healthy, and physical activity tends to be good for sleep.Penn researchers examined sleep patterns and job classifications of over 17,000 study participants. Job activity was classified as low (mostly sitting or standing), moderate (mostly walking), or high (mostly manual labor). Compared to those in low activity jobs, those working moderate activity jobs, such as postal service employees, were more likely to be short sleepers and long sleepers, and those working high-activity jobs, such as construction workers, were more likely to be short sleepers.According to the research team, possible explanations for the findings include:1) the higher demands of the job require longer hours, not allowing for a full night of sleep;2) job-related stress is keeping people up at night; and3) the physical demands of the job are causing persons to stay awake.The research team includes Holly E. Barilla, Charles Corbitt, Subhajit Chakravorty, Michael Perlis, PhD, and Michael Grandner, PhD.The study is scheduled to be presented June 3 at SLEEP 2013, the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Baltimore.

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Sleep deprived men over perceive women’s sexual interest and intent

May 31, 2013 — A new study suggests that one night of sleep deprivation leads to an increase in men’s perceptions of both women’s interest in and intent to have sex.Results show that when they were well-rested, both men and women rated the sexual intent of women as significantly lower than that of men. However, following one night of sleep deprivation, men’s rating of women’s sexual intent and interest increased significantly, to the extent that women were no longer seen as having lower sexual intent than men. Sleep deprivation had no significant effect on variables related to commitment.According to the authors, sleep deprivation is known to cause frontal lobe impairment, which has a negative effect on decision-making variables such as risk-taking sensitivity, moral reasoning and inhibition. However, this is the first study to investigate the impact of sleep deprivation on romantic and sexual decision-making.”Our findings here are similar to those from studies using alcohol, which similarly inhibits the frontal lobe,” said co-principal investigator Jennifer Peszka, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., who led the study along with her colleague Jennifer Penner, PhD. “Sleep deprivation could have unexpected effects on perceptual experiences related to mating and dating that could lead people to engage in sexual decisions that they might otherwise not when they are well-rested. Poor decision-making in these areas can lead to problems such as sexual harassment, unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and relationship conflicts which are all factors that have serious medical, educational and economic implications for both the individual and for society.”The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal SLEEP, and Peszka will present the findings Tuesday, June 4, in Baltimore, Md., at SLEEP 2013, the 27th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.The study group comprised 60 college students who completed the Cross Sex Perception and Sex and Commitment Contrast instruments, developed by Martie Haselton and David Buss, before and after one night of sleep deprivation. Participants rated level of agreement with a series of statements on 7-point Likert scales regarding sexual interest, sexual intent, commitment interest and commitment aversion for a variety of targets — themselves, and men and women in general. For example, one question asked, “When a woman goes out to a bar, how likely is it that she is interested in finding someone to have sex with that night?”To conduct the study, Peszka and Penner collaborated with David Mastin, PhD, from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. They also were assisted by several undergraduate research students from Hendrix College: Jennifer Lenow, Cassandra Heimann, Anna Lennartson, Rebecca Cox and Katie Defrance.

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