Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Book Review: The Animals Sleep

The Sleep Education blog invited Beth Smith to review The Animals Sleep: A Bedtime Book of Biomes, a children’s picture book published in 2011 by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Now in her sixth year of teaching, Beth teaches first-grade students at St. Paul Catholic School in Valparaiso, Ind. She received a bachelor of science in elementary education from Valparaiso University.

Thomas Heffron has creatively written a story, The Animals Sleep: A Bedtime Book of Biomes, geared toward younger students. Through reading it in a classroom setting, children are able to make cross-curriculum connections in both reading and science.

Students are first introduced to the scientific fact that both humans and animals need sleep. They are then transported from a warm, cozy bedroom into various biomes of multiple animals. The vivid and colorful images created by Lina Safar allow children to visualize the environments in which different animals live.

They will identify familiar animals like a zebra, cow and snake. Connections will be made to which animals live in each biome. Students will also comprehend the physical aspects of each biome.

The pictures match the written, descriptive quality of the book, presenting the children with a great and deeper understanding of the biomes and how each animal sleeps. The rhyme and rhythm presented on each page allow for an exciting and smooth read.

At the conclusion of the book, the children are moved out of the pond, grasslands and desert, and they are placed into their bedroom, a familiar place of sleep. This allows them to comprehend the importance of sleep in their lives just as it is important to the animals.

Children will thoroughly enjoy this story and be drawn into the world of the animals and sleep!

The Animals Sleep: A Bedtime Book of Biomes can be purchased from Amazon or directly from the AASM. Also available from the AASM is I See the Animals Sleeping: A Bedtime Story. Learn more about these books and find other educational resources at

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Calling Dream Enactment Behavior back to bed

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder is characterized by abnormal behaviors that cause injury or disrupt sleep. The most notorious is Dream Enactment Behavior. As the name suggests, Dream Enacted Behavior causes the sleeper to act out his or her dreams. Flailing arms, leaping from bed, crawling or running are often reported.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota tested a customized bed alarm to keep REM Sleep Behavioral Disorder patients from hurting themselves. A pressurized pad and a cord attached to the pajamas sensed when a patient was away from bed. This activated a recording of family members calmly instructing the sleeper to stop. The recording played on a loop until the patient came back to bed.

All four patients participating in the study reported positive results. They had a decrease in REM Sleep Behavioral Disorder symptoms and in sleep-related injuries. Researchers said a customized alarm may be effective preventing REM Sleep Behavioral Disorder injuries. Patients unable to tolerate medical therapy or respond to medical intervention would be the best candidates. The study appeared in the December issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder is classified as a parasomnia. Read more about REM Sleep Behavioral Disorder on the AASM website or on the Sleep Education Blog.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Intermezzo approved for as-needed treatment of sleep interruptions

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new sleep aid for people who wake in the middle of the night. Intermezzo was approved Nov. 23 for as-needed treatment when nighttime awakening is followed by difficulty returning to sleep. It’s the first drug used to treat insomnia with middle-of-the-night dosing. Intermezzo is to be taken at least four hours prior to awakening, the FDA said.

Driving safety was demonstrated through a driving study. Men and woman were tested. There was no significant effect on driving four hours after taking Intermezzo. However, the FDA said a significant effect was observed after three hours.

The key ingredient in Intermezzo is zolpidem tartrate. Zolpidem tartrate has been marketed as Ambien since 1992, and under several generic formulations. The FDA said the recommended dose for Intermezzo is 1.75 mg for women and 3.5 mg in men.

Other methods are also used to treat insomnia. Read more about sleep disorders and sleep medication from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rotating Night Shift Work and Type 2 Diabetes in Women

A new study found that the longer women worked rotating night shifts, the greater their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers also found that extended years of rotating night shift work was associated with weight gain. The weight gain may have contributed to the increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Women who worked rotating night shifts for three to nine years faced a 20 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Women who worked nights for 10 to 19 years had a 40 percent rise in risk. And women who worked night shifts for over 20 years were 58 percent more at risk. Women who worked rotating night shifts also gained more weight and were more likely to become obese during the follow-up.

Rotating night shift work was defined as three or more night shifts plus day and evening hours each month. The Harvard School of Public Health tracked more than 175,000 U.S. nurses for this study. Findings were published Dec. 6 in the journal PLoS Medicine.

Researchers said the findings need to be confirmed in men and ethnic groups (96 percent of the nurses were white Caucasians). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 15 million Americans work full time on evening shifts, night shifts, rotating shifts or other irregular schedules.

Read more about shift work sleep disorder and women’s sleep needs. More stories about sleep and type 2 diabetes are available on the Sleep Education Blog.

Photo by DIAC Images

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Snoring in infancy linked to impaired cognitive development

Two studies from Australia associate snoring in the first year of life to impaired cognitive development. Researchers suggest that lower cognitive development could become worse in these infants with age.

In the first study, 16 infants who started snoring shortly after birth were compared with 88 babies who did not snore. Infants were determined to be snorers if their snoring occurred three or more nights a week. Snoring because of a cold did not count. The results found that cognitive development was reduced in frequent snorers from the first month of life to six months.

The second study looked at 13 infants who snored frequently from the first month of birth to 12 months. These babies had significantly lower cognitive scores when compared with 78 infants who did not snore frequently.

Both studies were conducted through the University of Adelaide and University of Australia in South Australia. The research was published in the December edition of the journal Sleep Medicine.

Learn the facts about young children and sleep and about snoring. Additional stories about children and snoring are available on the Sleep Education blog.

Image by xtoq

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Race, community a factor in CPAP compliance

African-Americans and residents in poor areas are least likely to stick with their prescribed use of CPAP. A study in the December issue of SLEEP compared CPAP use by residents in five U.S. cities. Comparisons were based on ethnicity and socioeconomics.

Researchers interviewed 191 participants from Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland and Madison, Wis. Ethnicity was determined through a questionnaire. Socioeconomic status was tracked by ZIP code. All participants were being treated for moderate to severe sleep apnea.

CPAP compliance was assessed at one month and again at three months. The average amount of time CPAP was used each night was lower in blacks and in patients who lived in poor areas. Even after age, sex and education levels were adjusted for. Access to CPAP and standardized health care was not an issue since this was a clinical trial study.

Researchers concluded that demographic factors have a definite influence on CPAP adherence. But they could not explain why the participation rate was less among blacks and the poor. They said more research is needed to identify the barriers and to develop intervention measures.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is the most common and effective way to treat obstructive sleep apnea. A steady stream of air blows through a mask and into the back of the throat to keep the airway open. Read more about CPAP in the Sleep Education Blog.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Exercise improves sleep apnea in overweight, sedentary adults

Exercise training may be beneficial for the management of sleep apnea in overweight patients who lead a sedentary lifestyle, according to a study in the December issue of the journal SLEEP. Forty-three overweight or obese adults, with at least moderately severe sleep apnea, were selected for the study.

These adults were used to exercising less than two times a week. For the study, they underwent a 12-week session of moderately intense exercise training. The purpose was to see if the exercise would have an effect on previously untreated sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea was improved despite no changes in body weight. However, only about a quarter of study participants saw a 50 percent or more reduction in sleep apnea. But a 20 percent reduction in sleep apnea was experienced by 63 percent of participants. Together, these results led researchers to conclude that exercise training is moderately effective in treating sleep apnea in sedentary, overweight patients.

Continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) is the first-line treatment for sleep apnea. Visit the Your Sleep website to find out if you are at risk for sleep apnea. Get help for sleep apnea at an AASM-accredited sleep center.

Monday, November 21, 2011

How you sleep can impact your heart

A study in The Netherlands observed the relationship between sleep and heart disease among 20,432 men and women. Researchers found that short sleep contributes to cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.

The research was conducted over a 12-year period. None of the Dutch participants had any heart disease when first examined. But during years of follow-ups, more than 2,600 cases of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease developed. The study was able to link these heart diseases to particular sleep habits.

Short sleepers had a 15 percent higher chance of cardiovascular disease. Short sleepers with sub-par sleep quality had an even higher chance, 63 percent. The chance for developing coronary heart disease was 23 percent higher in short sleepers. And for short sleepers with a poor quality of sleep, the chance of developing coronary heart disease was 79 percent higher.

Short sleep was defined as six hours of sleep or less. Long sleep was considered sleep for nine hours or more. There were no links seen between long sleep and cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease.

The study was published in the November issue of the journal SLEEP. Read more about sleep and heart-related issues at the Sleep Education Blog.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Non-profit uses AASM books to educate Detroit children about sleep

A children’s book published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is being used to educate at-risk children in Detroit. The non-profit organization Sweet Dreamzzz Inc. has ordered copies of I See the Animals Sleeping: A Bedtime Story to give to each Head Start library in their program.

In 2009, Sweet Dreamzzz partnered with the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research to develop the R.E.M. (Rest. Educate. Motivate.) Sleep Program. The program is interactive and involves hands-on activities, games and songs. The goal is to help the children get a good night’s sleep in preparation for classroom learning. Sleep can be a challenge for children in Detroit’s most impoverished communities. Many children in the city may not have a warm, comfortable place to sleep at night.

Sweet Dreamzzz reaches out to parents, teachers and students. Parents receive education and bedtime essentials through workshops. Teachers are trained and given lesson plans to use in the classroom. Now, teachers will have the added option of checking out I See the Animals Sleeping to help lessons about sleep.

I See the Animals Sleeping: A Bedtime Story can be purchased from Amazon or directly from the AASM. Also available from the AASM is The Animals Sleep: A Bedtime Book of Biomes. Learn more about these books and find other educational resources at

Monday, November 7, 2011

Poor sleep in pregnant mothers linked to preterm deliveries

A new study in the November issue of the journal SLEEP linked poor sleep in early and late pregnancy with an increased risk of preterm birth.

Researchers found that women who reported sleep disruptions during the first and third trimesters faced significant risks of delivering prematurely. Even after income levels and medical risks were factored in, the connection still remained. There was no association between quality of sleep in the second trimester and preterm births. Sleep appears to improve in the second trimester but there is no clear reason why.

The study’s authors suggested that inflammation may be the culprit. Growing evidence points to inflammation having a role in triggering the childbirth process early. Sleep disturbances are associated with exaggerated inflammatory responses. The authors also said a combination of sleep disruption and stress could lead to premature delivery.

The good news is that sleep disorders during pregnancy are easily diagnosed. An assessment of a woman’s sleep quality may help identify risk earlier, giving doctors time to step in. If sleep disruptions are occurring, they could be reduced through behavioral modification.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Loneliness Could Be Disrupting Your Sleep

How lonely you are may affect how well you sleep. A study in the November issue of the journal SLEEP looked at 95 adults living in rural South Dakota. The volunteers were asked about any loneliness, such as feeling left out or isolated from others. These same residents also had their sleep cycles measured. When researchers compared the two, they found that the lonelier a resident felt, the more they woke up during the night.

Why is this important? Data show that loneliness has a negative effect on health. Things like high blood pressure, depression and the risk for dying early have been linked to loneliness. Researchers wanted to see if one of the causes was a poor night’s sleep. Sleep is key in helping the body heal itself and stay healthy. Poor quality sleep has been associated with various negative effects on the body, including declines in physical and mental health.

The study results show that all the participants slept for the same amount of time every night. What differed was the quality of sleep. Those feeling lonely had sleep that was broken-up during the night. The greater their feelings of loneliness, the greater the disruption to their sleep.

The results of the South Dakota study are similar to a 2002 study comparing the loneliness of college students to their quality of sleep. The studies suggest that loneliness can disrupt the sleep of anyone, from college kids at a major university to adults living in a rural community. The challenge is finding a way to feel secure in your individual social group.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Implant shows promise treating sleep apnea

An intriguing new method for treating sleep apnea is showing promise in the lab. The November issue of SLEEP contains a new study about stimulating the muscles in the throat to keep the airway from closing. The muscle stimulator resembles a pacemaker and is implanted in the skin beneath the chest.

In Australia, the muscle stimulator was tested on 21 patients with sleep apnea. After six months, 19 of the patients showed significant improvements. They slept better and felt less tired in the morning. Unfortunately, the 20th patient needed the device removed due to an infection.

Another muscle stimulator device was tested last summer at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). As reported in July by the Sleep Education blog, the MUSC implantation was monitored as part of a trial by the Food and Drug Administration.

Continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) is the first-line treatment for sleep apnea. Visit the Your Sleep website to find out if you are at risk for sleep apnea. Get help for sleep apnea at an AASM-accredited sleep center.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sleep-disordered breathing & intimacy

Obstructive sleep apnea affects more than 12 million people nationwide. Daytime sleepiness and weight gain are usually the first symptoms that come to mind. Intimacy problems are an oft-overlooked aspect of untreated sleep-disordered breathing. Sleep apnea can cause erectile dysfunction in men and a loss of libido in women.

A recent study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine looked at the prevalence of sexual dysfunction in women with sleep apnea. A sample of 80 women diagnosed with sleep apnea and 240 women without the disorder completed questionnaires about sexuality. Findings show female patients with sleep apnea had much higher rates of sexual problems.

A similar study conducted in 2009 used questionnaires to examine the prevalence of erectile dysfunction and sexual problems in men with sleep apnea. Almost 70 percent of men diagnosed with sleep apnea had erectile dysfunction, compared to 34 percent without the sleep disorder.

Sexual dysfunction may be linked to sex hormones such as testosterone. These hormones rise with sleep and drop when sleep duration or quality is insufficient. Brief wakings from sleep apnea secretly wreak havoc on your sleep quality, which can lower hormone levels.

Before you turn to that ubiquitous little blue triangle for help, find out if sleep apnea is causing your sex problems. The easiest way to know for sure is by getting an overnight sleep study at an AASM-Accredited Member Sleep Center. Common treatments for sleep apnea such as CPAP or oral appliance therapy can improve your sleep quality and intimacy so you won’t need to take a pill every time you want to be intimate.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Rock-a-bye Baby: Bedtime Advice for Moms

Moms have a new source of help for putting baby to sleep – the Internet. A yearlong review of the online Customized Sleep Profile shows that the advice given out there worked. Babies and toddlers – and their mothers – were able to sleep better as a result.

The Customized Sleep Profile has a database of sleep information stored in its memory. The information is separated into categories based on a child’s age. When a mom accesses the online program, she fills out a series of questions about her child and her child’s sleep habits. The program analyzes mom’s answers and finds comparable examples in its database.

Suggestions for improving the child’s sleep are based on these examples. The suggestions include things like following a regular bedtime routine, stopping night feedings, and answering fewer cries in the night.

The Customized Sleep Profile is available for free from Johnson & Johnson at .

To test the effectiveness of the Customized Sleep Profile, researchers sent surveys to 264 mothers who were using the online program. After three weeks, 90 percent of the moms said the Customized Sleep Profile was helpful and that they planned to continue using it. Their children were sleeping longer and waking up fewer times during the night, the moms said.

The moms also reported less tension, depression, fatigue and confusion because their babies were sleeping better.

A year later, researchers followed up with 171 of the moms still using the program. Their study was published in the Oct. 15 edition of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The results show that the Customized Sleep Profile continued to be a valuable resource.

Read more about this study, or additional blog posts about infants and toddlers. The AASM has more about children’s sleep needs on the Your Sleep website.

Photo By: David Clow

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Restless legs syndrome could up blood pressure in women

If you are a middle-aged woman with restless legs syndrome (RLS), you may be at a greater risk of high blood pressure.

A new study shows that women with RLS were 20 percent more likely to have high blood pressure. This risk increased with the frequency of RLS symptoms. High blood pressure was 41 percent more likely in women who reported having restless legs symptoms at least 15 times per month.
Results of the RLS and high blood pressure study were published online last month in the journal Hypertension.

RLS is classified as a sleep-related movement disorder. It involves an intense urge to move the legs. And it often involves other burning, prickly, itching or tingling sensations in the legs.

These symptoms begin or worsen during periods of rest or inactivity. And the sensations worsen or only occur in the evening or at night. Partial or total relief occurs by moving the legs, stretching or walking.

Find out more about treatment for restless legs syndrome. Read more about restless legs syndrome on the blog.

Photo By: Chapendra

Monday, October 10, 2011

Childhood obesity and bedtime preference

Childhood obesity rates are on the rise, as many children prefer video games and internet use to sports and other physical activities. Sleep habits can predict which children will spend more time in front of a screen.

A study published in the October issue of the journal SLEEP found a link between lack of physical activity and bedtime. Kids with late bedtimes and wake times have a higher risk of becoming obese, and are half as likely to engage in physical activity. This group is about three times more prone to exceed the recommended screen time for children.

Researchers examined the sleep habits of more than 2,000 Australian children from ages 9 to 16. Over four days, researchers observed the children’s weight and use of free time. Even though the subjects had different bedtimes, each received about the same amount of sleep per night.

“Scientists have realized in recent years that children who get less sleep tend to do worse on a variety of health outcomes, including the risk of being overweight and obese,” said study co-author Carol Maher, PhD. “[The study] suggests that the timing of sleep is even more important.”

The authors noted that mornings are more suited for physical activity, while night offers prime-time programming and social networking opportunities.

Teenagers tend to prefer late bedtimes because of a shift in the timing of their circadian clocks. Combined with early school start times, night-owl tendencies can also lead to sleep deprivation, behavioral problems and lower grades and test scores.

Learn why teens sleep habits are unique and how your circadian rhythms change as you age.

Image by Husin Sani

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Review: I See the Animals Sleeping

The Sleep Education blog invited Vicki Rakowski to review I see the Animals Sleeping: A Bedtime Story, a children’s picture book published in 2011 by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Vicki is assistant director of youth services for the Lisle Library District in Lisle, IL.

How does a lion sleep? A red fox? How about an elephant? With this new title from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, young readers will learn exactly how their favorite animals go about getting their rest.

The information is delivered simply – charmingly illustrated scenes of sleeping animals and their habitats juxtaposed with a four-line rhyme and a fact box. From flamingoes to platypuses, the scenes are elegantly done, but never overly arty -- it’s impossible not to smile at illustrator Roberta Baird’s rendition of a dozing sea otter.

The “Sleep Fact!” boxes offer lots of points for discussion -- the differences in the ways many animals prefer to sleep, as well as their ideal habitats, and wonderful details about the animals themselves, but this information is never overwhelming.

While the majority of the rhymes are pitch-perfect for both the audience and the subject matter, readers may find themselves stumbling here and there over a few forced lines. This book, however, offers solid, engaging nonfiction for toddlers and preschoolers about one of their favorite subjects: the animal kingdom.

This makes a great addition to any children’s collection, and will be a terrific support to early childhood educators in their lesson plans and circle time. Recommended for toddlers and preschoolers.

I See the Animals Sleeping: A Bedtime Story can be purchased from Amazon or directly from the AASM. Also available from the AASM is The Animals Sleep: A Bedtime Book of Biomes. Learn more about these books and find other educational resources at

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sleepy teens engage in more risky activities

Teens who are sleep deprived are at risk for more than just falling asleep in class. A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that sleep-deprived teens are more likely to smoke, drink and fight.

A survey was conducted of more that 12,000 teens. About 68 percent said that on an average school night, they get less than eight hours of sleep. Those students were more likely to be involved in risky health behaviors than students who got more than eight hours of sleep. The behaviors included smoking cigarettes and marijuana, drinking alcohol and getting into a physical fight.

Sleep-deprived students were also more sexually active and less likely to exercise. They also were more likely to feel sad or hopeless and think about committing suicide.

The study was published online by the Preventive Medicine journal.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that most teens need a little more than nine hours of sleep each night. Is your teen getting enough sleep? Find out by reviewing the signs your teen needs sleep on the Your Sleep website. Read more posts about teens and sleep.

Photo By: Gandalf

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New parents and the joys of being Up All Night

Seemingly endless crying. Late nights. Being up when your alarm goes off. Sleep deprivation. Parents of new born babies know these scenarios very well.

The plight of new parents has become something of a source for comedy. In a new show on NBC, Up All Night, a couple finds out what it means to be the parents of a newborn. They discover what it feels like to be sleep deprived because their baby needs constant attention.

The show follows the process of how a couple, accustomed to staying out late and partying hard, adjusts to having an infant in the house. The new parents are played by Will Arnett and Christina Applegate. They bring the situations parents face to the screen with comedy and realism.

In one scene of the pilot, the couple is seen recovering from a night of attempting to “reclaim” their party lifestyle. However, as they are still trying to shake off the grogginess, the baby begins to cry. After that hard lesson, the parents realize that they will have to sacrifice some of their past habits.

They would have benefited from the knowledge that infants that are 3-11 months need 14-15 hours of sleep. The number of hours needed decreases as they grow older.

As they grow older, young children may develop sleep-onset association which usually results in sleep deprivation among parents. When they wake up, children may cry. The parents naturally feel that they should help their child fall back asleep. They do this by feeding, rocking, holding or lying down with their child. As result many children aren't able to fall asleep on their own. They begin to connect sleeping with an activity or a person.

Here are some tips to help your child sleep better: establish a relaxing setting at bedtime, follow a consistent bedtime routine and don’t allow your child to have food or drinks that have caffeine. As your child the gets the correct amount of sleep, they will most likely be more cheerful during the day.

Picture By: iskir

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sleeping late on weekends hurts teens' focus

Sleeping late on weekends may not be the answer to sleep lost during the week. High school students in a recent study had more trouble with tests after catching up on sleep over the weekend.

The tests measured a person’s ability to pay attention and were part of a study of about 2,600 urban high school students from South Korea. Students who slept in on the weekends made more mistakes on the tests than students who slept the same amount on weekdays and weekends.

The average amount of sleep per student in the Korean study was 5 hours and 42 minutes on weekdays. This was well below the nine or more hours of sleep that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends for teenagers.

However, catching up on sleep on weekends did not give these students an advantage. The teens who maintained the same sleep hours on weekends as the weekdays scored higher on the attention tests throughout the school term.

Researchers said the results could be helpful information for doctors. It may help them identify teenage patients who are not getting enough sleep and are having trouble concentrating. The study was published in the September 2011 edition of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Sleeping in on weekends doesn’t seem to work for adults, either. An earlier study showed that adults sleeping six hours a night during the week had lower scores on coordination tests. The low scores remained even after adults slept-in a couple hours on the weekend.

Read more blog posts about teens and sleep. Learn more from the AASM about teens and sleep loss—and take a quiz to rate sleepiness—on the Your Sleep website.

Photo by Star Guitar

Friday, September 2, 2011

Insomnia is costing us more than just lost sleep

The battle against insomnia is affecting productivity in the work place, according to a new study. The disorder costs the average U.S. worker about 11 days of work in lost productivity every year. The study was published in the September 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.
Findings were compiled from a sample of 7,428 employees who were a part of the larger American Insomnia Study. Employees answered questions about their sleep habits and their work performance. According to the study, other estimates have been done before. However, they relied on smaller samples, as well as medical databases that only focused on insomnia patients who had been treated already.
Insomnia rates in the sample were about 23% in employees. It was found to be lower in workers who were 65 and older. Insomnia rates were higher among working women than working men.
Researchers say that these findings could justify adopting screening and treatment programs in the workplace. On average, the cost of treating insomnia can be anywhere from $200 a year for a sleeping pill or up $1,200 for behavioral therapy.
The study also found that insomnia rates were lower in people with less than a high school education and in college graduates. People with a high school education or a little college education had higher rates of insomnia.

Photo By: Mircea Turcan

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Eye lens discoloration linked to sleep problems

If you are experiencing sleep problems as you get older, it may be due to natural eye lens discoloration, a new study shows. The study was published in the September 1 issue of the journal SLEEP. Researchers found that as the eye lens that absorbs blue light becomes more discolored with age, the risk for insomnia increases.
The study involved 970 volunteers. They all had their eyes examined by lens autofluorometry. This non-invasive method determines how much blue light is being transmitted into your retina. Blue light is the part of the light spectrum that influences your normal sleep cycle by triggering the release of melatonin into the brain. Melatonin is the hormone that signals to your body when it’s time to be asleep or awake.
Volunteers were considered to have a sleep disorder if they said that suffered from insomnia often or if they bought sleeping pills in the last 12 months. About 82% of the volunteers confirmed that they had insomnia and used sleep medication.
Researchers used this data to find out that if the levels of blue light transmitted into the retina are low due to discoloration, there is a higher risk for sleep problems. Higher rates of sleep disorders were found in older volunteers, women, smokers, and diabetics.
Sleep quality improved after cataract surgery. As of yet, there is no other method that can improve the transmission of blue light into the retina.

Photo By: Emiliano

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Not enough deep sleep could raise blood pressure

Not getting enough deep sleep could raise the blood pressure in men, a new study reports. Findings showed that men who do not get enough slow-wave sleep are 80% more likely to develop high blood pressure.
The study was published in the August 29 online edition of American Heart Association’s journal, Hypertension. It gives further credence to other research that has associated sleep problems with a high risk of obesity and cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension.
The study involved a group of 784 men with an average age of 75. The men were part of another study called Outcomes of Sleep Disorders in Older Men. None of the subjects had high blood pressure in 2003-2005, at the start of the study. During the follow up in 2007-2009, researchers found that 243 men had high blood pressure. The men were then divided into four groups. The groups were ranked from the lowest amount of slow-wave sleep to the highest amount of slow-wave sleep.
Researchers found that after adjusting for age, race and body mass index (BMI) and other factors, the association between low slow-wave sleep and high blood pressure remained.
Dr. Susan Redline, one of the researchers involved in the study, told U.S. News and World Report that blood pressure usually drops during sleep. This mostly happens during slow-wave sleep.
If you are not getting enough deep sleep, your blood pressure could be higher during the day.

Photo By: Eric Schmuttenmaer

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nose spray reduces childhood apnea-linked inflammation

Early research shows certain steroid nasal sprays may help to reduce the inflammatory cell proteins in children that are linked to sleep apnea. A study included in the June of Archives of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery looked at how children who were due to have their adenoids and tonsils removed reacted to the drug fluticasone furoate.
The study involved 24 children from the ages of 2 to 12 years old, with sleep apnea. The children were divided into two groups. About half of the children received doses of the nasal spray once a day for two weeks prior to surgery. The control group did not use the nasal spray.
After children in both groups had their adenoids and tonsils surgically removed, the researchers examined the adenoids. While all of the adenoids weighed about the same, the treatment group had lower levels of the inflammatory cell protein IL-6. The cell protein has been linked to the development of sleep apnea.
In the study’s conclusion, the authors stated that steroid nasal spray could potentially be part of future pediatric sleep apnea treatments. The findings support previous research that found nasal fluticasone reduced the frequency of breathing pauses in children with obstructive sleep apnea in children.
The research is still in its early phases and parents should be aware that steroid nasal sprays are not a recognized obstructive sleep apnea treatment for children. The standard treatments include surgery, CPAP and weight loss. Some children with sleep apnea may benefit from wearing an oral appliance during sleep.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that about two percent of healthy young children have sleep apnea. The sleep disorder occurs when soft tissue in the back of throat collapses and blocks the airway during sleep.
Most children with sleep apnea have a history of loud snoring. This may include obvious pauses in breathing and gasps for breath. Parents often notice that the child seems to be working hard to breathe during sleep.
Read more about obstructive sleep apnea in children. Get help at an AASM-accredited sleep center near you.

Photo by: olaerik

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Amount of sleep time linked to risk of teen suicide

Not getting enough sleep can lead to worrisome side effects such as daytime sleepiness and even memory loss. However, did you know that it can be associated with other consequences such as suicidal ideation (thinking of committing suicide)? Studies have confirmed that long total sleep times and short total sleep times (TSTs) are linked to suicidal ideation among adults. The hypothesis that total sleep times also are risks for teens was recently tested, and the results are published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Researchers used the Youth Risk Behavior Survey to conduct their study. The survey included school-based and nationally representative samples. Researchers analyzed the link between suicidality and sleep, accounting for age, sex, race and ethnicity, feelings of sadness, and substance abuse.

About 15 percent of students reported suicidal ideation, 10 percent said they had planned suicide, five percent attempted it, and two percent said that their attempt had required treatment. The teens that had five hours of sleep or less had a higher risk of suicidality than those who had a total sleep time of eight hours. The same goes for teens who had 10 hours of sleep or more.
The findings suggest that both short and long TSTs are risk factors for suicidality in teenagers. More studies need to be done to examine whether or not sleep duration is a causal or modifiable risk factor for teens.

Read more about the realtionship between sleep and suicide.

If you think your teen may have problems sleeping, visit an AASM-accredited sleep center near you.
Photo By: Carlos Perez

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sleep-disordered breathing and bedwetting could go hand in hand

Does your child have problems wetting the bed at night? Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) could be playing a role. A recent study, conducted on 5-10 year olds, searched for the link between SDB and tonsil and adenoid swelling in children with enuresis (bedwetting). The study also examined what part brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) levels play in measuring how severe SDB is in children have enuresis. BNP is an amino acid that is produced by the heart when the heart muscle cells have been majorly stretched.
There are two types of bedwetting. A child who is a primary bed wetter has not regularly stayed dry during sleep for 6 months straight. A person who is a secondary bed wetter has stayed dry for 6 months, but then starts bedwetting at least twice a week for about 3 months.
Surveys, taken by parents with 5-10 years olds, were reviewed for signs of SDB and bedwetting. The children with SDB were clinically examined. BNP levels were calculated in 33 children with SDB and wet their beds, and also in 30 healthy children who wet their beds.
Of the children studied, about 15% had primary enuresis, and about 47 children (30%) had SDB. However, there was a lower occurrence of SDB and bedwetting when age increased. BNP levels were much higher in children who bed wet. Thirty-three children with bed wetting problems and SDB underwent adenotonsillectomies. Twenty-nine children improved; 15 were completely cured. All of the children with enuresis and SBD who had the surgery showed a big decrease in daytime enuresis.
To find out more about SDB and bedwetting visit
If you think your child may have a sleep disorder, visit an AASM accreditedsleep center.

Photo By: Steven Yeh

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Staying asleep: The other side of insomnia

Stare at the ceiling. Toss and turn. Glare at the clock. Toss and turn. It’s the typical pattern of insomnia

But did you know that there is more than one symptom of insomnia? A new study of insomnia symptoms emphasizes that having trouble falling asleep is only part of the problem. And it’s not even the most common insomnia symptom. The results are published in the Aug. 1 issue of SLEEP.

The study involved 6,791 adults. They completed telephone surveys as part of theAmerica Insomnia Survey (AIS). Insomnia was measured using the Brief Insomnia Questionnaire (BIQ). An estimated 24 percent of AIS participants had insomnia.

Results show that staying asleep was a bigger problem than falling asleep. Among people with insomnia, 61 percent had trouble “maintaining” sleep. They often woke up during the night. Also, 52 percent of people with insomnia woke up too early in the morning.Only 38 percent of insomniacs had trouble “initiating” sleep. It took them at least 30 minutes to fall asleep at night.

In fourth place was “nonrestorative” sleep. Twenty-five percent of people with insomnia reported waking up still feeling tired or unrested.

Symptom combos also were common. More than half of people with insomnia had two or more of the four symptoms. The study also measured the rates of 21 medical conditions.

What were the most common problems? About 50 to 60 percent of people with insomnia had chronic back or neck pain, or other chronic pain. Seasonal allergies also were common. People with insomnia also rated their health lower than people without insomnia.

Many proven treatments for insomnia are available. Both cognitive behavioral therapy and medications are effective. A board-certified sleep specialist can determine which treatment is best for you.

Contact an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center if you have an ongoing problem with insomnia.

Read more blog posts about insomnia.

Photo by: robotbrainz

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tonsillectomies help breathing problems in children

When tonsillectomies were first performed, they were mainly done as a way to combat recurrent sore throats. Yet, after a study was done in 1980, showing that only children with severe sore throats benefitted from the procedure, it was not performed as widely. However, tonsillectomies are now on the rise again.

According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2006 nearly 530,000 tonsillectomies were done on children 15 and younger.

This spike is believed to be because of chronic snoring, breathing issues, and sleep problems. The tonsils are clusters of tissues located on both sides in the back of the throat. They can become enlarged and obstruct the upper airway. Almost 2 percent of children have obstructive sleep apnea according the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

Most children see their symptoms improve within 6 months after the surgery. Tonsils have been associated with respiratory illness, sinus infections, ear disease and sleep disorders. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that before getting the procedure, children should be submitted to a sleep study so that a proper diagnosis can be made.

To find out if you or your child has sleep apnea, visit an AASM accredited sleep center to have a sleep study done.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Interrupted Sleep Could Impair Forming Memories

Uninterrupted sleep is the key to getting the right amount of rest. It not only helps physically, but mentally. In a new study, researchers at Stanford University discovered that sleep interruptions impair the brain’s ability to form memories.
Scientists assumed that memory would become hindered because of a lack of sleep continuity. Memory problems can be seen in people who suffer from alcoholism or sleep apnea. Both of these problems can cause sleep discontinuity.
The problem researchers faced was finding a way to break sleep into shorter segments without affecting the intensity or duration of sleep. The solution: optogenetics. This is a new technique that can genetically engineer specific cells to be able to be controlled by visible light pulses. Researchers performed this method on the neurons of the brain that help it switch between sleep and wakeful states.
Using mice as test subjects, researchers found that by hitting the rodents’ brain cells with 10-second bursts of light; they could break up their sleep without affecting the intensity or duration of the sleep.
After the test was completed, the mice were then given two objects. One was familiar while the other object was new to the mice. After interrupted sleep, the mice took just as long to investigate the familiar object as the new one. The mice spent more time with the new object when their sleep was not interrupted.
After testing different variations of sleep interruption, the researchers concluded that if the mice were allowed 62-73% of the normal sleep duration, it would not affect memory. Study co-author H. Craig Heller, professor of biology at Stanford University, believes that the findings show that sleep continuity is critical for memory.
It remains unclear how much uninterrupted sleep is needed to prevent memory impairment in humans. The researchers did say however that the memory problems experienced by people with sleep disorders are most likely due to disruption of continuity in their sleep.

Photo by: Tim Snell

Monday, July 25, 2011

A New Experimental Alternative to the CPAP

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Treatment (CPAP) is the first-line treatment for sleep apnea. However, it does not work for all patients. The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is testing an experimental alternative sleep apnea treatment that works by stimulating the muscles to keep the airway from closing.
The muscle stimulator resembles a pacemaker and is implanted beneath the skin in the chest. There are two leads extending from the stimulator. One goes to an electrode that is implanted on the nerve that leads to the tongue. A person’s breathing cycle stimulates the nerve.  The second lead goes to the chest muscles to detect breathing. When the person is ready for sleep, the stimulator can be turned on by a remote.
Dr. Gillespie, a sleep specialist, says that patients won’t feel the stimulation, but they may feel their tongue move forward. However, after a few days, it is not that noticeable.
The experimental surgery is being monitored as part of a trial by the Food and Drug Administration. It is only for those patients who have tried the CPAP treatment and it has not benefitted them.
To find out if you have sleep apnea, visit an AASM accredited sleep center to have a sleep study done.

Photo by: Robbie Kennedy

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Restless Legs Syndrome Could Be in Your Genes

Restless legs syndrome (RLS), according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, is a sleep related movement disorder that involves an irresistible urge to move the legs at night. It affects five percent to 10 percent of adults; in children the percentage is unknown.

A new study, published in PLoS Genetics, shows that RLS may be genetic. In the study, 922 people with the genes that are linked to RLS were compared to 1,526 healthy people. Seventy-six potential gene candidates were found. The genes were then replicated in 3,935 people with RLS and 5,754 healthy people.

By doing this the results were narrowed down to six genetic regions that are connected with an increased risk of RLS. There were four mutations. Two have already been reported on; however, two of them are new.

TOX3, one of the newly identified regions, is used by the brain to regulate activity. Earlier studies have shown that TOX3 protein protects brain cells from cell death. However, the connection between TOX3 and RLS is not clear.

Juliane Winklemann, a researcher at the Institute of Human Genetics in Munich, Germany, says that the findings of the study will help with creating new treatments for RLS. It will also provide more insight into the cause RLS.

Picture by spentYouth

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Practical Napper Book Review

The Practical Napper, by Jennifer Eyre White, is a humorous guide to the importance of taking naps. It is a quick, easy read that provides facts from research and sleep studies, as well as tips to getting the most out of your nap time. It also has quotes from many well known people.

The book gives a positive outlook on the act of napping, and relates well to the reader. It ranges from tips on how and when to nap to what napping can do for you in the long run. White also talks to parents with newborns and what they can do to get some sleep in their otherwise sleep deprived lives.

The Practical Napper has something for everyone. It grabs the attention of the reader with pictures and short, snappy writing. By using quotes, it shows that many people, even if they don’t know the medical facts, know the value of a nap. White includes this quote from Earnest Hemingway in which he says, “I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” Overall, the book was fun, enjoyable and makes the case for taking naps even stronger!

In the vein of fun books, the AASM has just published two children’s picture books about sleeping. They are wonderful ways to introduce your child to the importance of sleep. For information on how to purchase them, click here.

Photo by Maria Pons

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fighting insomnia with your brain

About 16 percent of adults and up to 25 percent of children have chronic insomnia. Researchers are attempting to discover new ways to help those who have the disorder. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has conducted a study using Brainwave Optimization as a treatment.

Brainwave Optimization is a non-invasive technology that helps the brain to stabilize itself for top performance. Electrodes are attached to different points on the patient’s head and connected to a computer that picks up the brainwaves from different lobes. The technique breaks brain waves into different musical tones that the patient can hear. A higher frequency would be a higher pitch on a musical scale.

When you experience stress, your survival instincts kick in causing an imbalance of energy in your brain. When the balance isn’t restored, you may have anxiety or trouble sleeping. Brainwave Optimization encourages the brain to correct itself.

Lead researcher Charles Tegeler IV, MD, explained the process this way: “In effect, we are allowing the brain to look at itself in the mirror and see itself in an optimized, energized state. Those areas that are out of balance then begin to work towards a more functional state.”

A group of 20 people were involved in the study, all diagnosed with moderate to severe insomnia. One of the two randomized groups was given eight to 12 Brainwave Optimization sessions, while the other group acted as the control.Once the first set of data was collected, the group that previously acted as the control took part in the Brainwave Optimization sessions.

Researchers have previously looked into using music and biofeedback to relax the brain. In past studies involving music, a computer analyzes the brainwaves and then plays music specific to your unique brainwave pattern.

The techniques are similar to biofeedback, a method of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Biofeedback involves training yourself to recognize certain indicators that your body gives you, such as the levels of muscle tension and brainwaves. It uses a device shows those levels, so you can try to change them in a way that helps you to sleep.

Photo by jemsweb

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cooling Cap Could Provide Insomnia Relief

There is no easy cure for insomnia. Sleeping pills appear to be a quick fix, but the potential for psychological attachment and rebound insomnia make medication for insomnia a solution for short-term problems only. Alternatively, you can seek cognitive behavioral therapy to help eliminate the harmful thoughts and bad habits that promote extended periods of insomnia. This solution is very effective but also time-consuming and requires effort and dedication.

New research presented at SLEEP 2011, the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS), suggests another treatment choice for insomnia may be on the horizon. The potential treatment would use a cooling cap that would lower your brain temperature to help you fall asleep.

Normally, a reduction in brain metabolism occurs as you fall asleep. However, during insomnia, the brain metabolism increases, keeping you awake. The cap helps reduce metabolic activity by cooling the front half of the brain.

The study involved 24 people. Half of the participants had insomnia. Each was subjected to several overnight sleep studies while wearing the cooling cap. The settings for the cooling cap differed each night, ranging from maximum amounts of water cooling to not wearing the cap at all.

Results show patients who wore the cooling cap set to its maximum level slept nearly as well as the subjects who didn’t have insomnia. These findings suggest the device could be a new promising therapy for insomnia sometime in the future. The treatment is still a long ways off; more studies will need to be conducted before the device can hit the marketplace.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Evening Screen Time Negatively Affects Kids' Sleep

Many young children have a problem going to sleep when it is their bed time. A recent study in the journal Pediatrics found that children between the ages of 3 and 5 had trouble sleeping if they had screen time after 7 p.m. Screen time includes television, video games or the computer. The amount of violent content in the program or game appears to be a contributing factor.

According to the study, about 20 percent of the 112 children involved had sleep problems almost every day of the week. Their issues included difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night, nightmares and being sleepy during the day. The children who watched violent television at night had the most sleep problems.

A hundred children averaged a half hour of nighttime television, and 28 percent of the group had difficulty sleeping. When it came to violent television, 60 of the children averaged about an hour daily. About 37 percent had trouble sleeping. Television is often a stimulant to small children. Evening viewing may lead to increased alertness, and prevent them from winding down for bedtime. The findings demonstrate the importance that parents monitor the amount of television young children watch so they meet their sleep needs.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. Marc Weissbluth a sleep disorders specialist at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital, said children get ready for sleep with nighttime rituals that communicate that it is time for rest. Many families mistakenly believe that watching television helps their children go sleep, so they put televisions in their children’s room. Weissbluth suggests bedtime stories or cuddling with parents as healthier alternatives to television.

The findings are consistent with another study on bedtime routines published in the May 2009 issue of SLEEP. The study found that a healthy bedtime routine improves the sleep of infants and toddlers.

Image by Sean Dreilinger

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mid-Life Sleep Changes May Accelerate Cognitive Decline

New research published in the journal SLEEP
shows that middle-aged adults who have negative changes in sleep duration may experience a decline in cognitive function comparable to four to seven years of aging. The findings suggest that poor sleep can accelerate the aging process and lead to dementia at an earlier age.

The study involved more than 5,400 London-based public employees ages 45 to 69. The researchers used a series of questionnaires and tests to examine the participants’ sleep habits and cognitive function over a span of approximately five years.

Results show that the study participants who began sleeping less than six hours per night scored lower on tests for cognitive reasoning, vocabulary and overall cognitive function.

People who moved to sleeping an unusually long amount of hours – more than eight per night – had an even worse outcome. Long-sleepers had lower scores on all of the cognitive function tests except for short-term verbal memory.

The reason why long-sleepers had a worse cognitive outcome is unknown because the study relied on questionnaires to determine sleep length. It’s possible that the subjects who reported more than eight hours had poor quality of sleep due to frequent wakings.

Sleep apnea has been linked to a cognitive decline that is often mistaken for dementia. People with sleep apnea may wake hundreds of times per night without even knowing it. As a result, they may feel tired and “foggy-headed” the next day. Common treatments such as CPAP can reverse the brain tissue damage caused by sleep apnea and reverse cognitive impairment.

A small decline in memory is a normal part of the aging process and is common in much older adults. As the study shows, when found in middle-aged adults, memory problems and overall cognitive decline can be a red flag for sleep apnea or unhealthy sleep habits.

Invest in your long-term health by making six to eight hours per night a priority. If you are still fatigued most mornings you may want to consult a sleep specialist and get tested for sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.