Short Flashes Of Light During Sleep May Prevent Jet Lag

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A cure for jet lag?

A recent study confirms that exposing people to short flashes of light, during sleep, is more effective than using continuous light, according to research. Continuous lights are used as a therapy to prevent circadian rhythm disruptions.

As cited in the Stanford Medicine website, Jamie Zeitzer, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, said that this method could be a new way to adjust more quickly to time changes, compared to the new ways used today.

Zeitzer, a senior author of the research, along with Raymond Najjar, Ph.D., a former postdoctoral scholar at Stanford now at the Singapore Eye Research Institute, found out that short flashes of light at night time speeds up the process of adjusting to a different time zone before a trip. This is because the transfer of light, from the eye to the brain changes the body’s clock.

The length or the duration of which the brain is exposed to the light before traveling to a new time zone can easily be tricked the brain into adjusting quickly, to the disturbances of a sleep cycle, the report said.

The body follows a normal phase of adjusting to a new time zone, but on a lower pace. With jet lag, on the other hand, the body’s internal clock still coordinates with your original time zone. This is the reason people experience fatigue, insomnia, cognitive impairment, mood swings, like irritability, dizziness, and other discomforts.

Zeitzer added that the light therapy is designed to speed up the brain’s adjustment to time changes. He invoked that this method or biological hacking” fools the brain into thinking the day is longer while you get to sleep.

It was found out that a 2-millisecond sequence light flashes, like a camera flash, at 10 seconds apart resulted in a nearly two-hour delay in sleep onset.

Why the short flashing lights works? According to the Zeitzer, this involves physiology. “The first is that the cells in the retina that transmit the light information to the circadian system continue to fire for several minutes after the stimulus — in this case, flashing light — is no longer there,” he said. “The second is that the gaps of darkness between the light flashes allow the pigments in the eye that respond to the light to regenerate — that is, go from an inactive form that cannot respond to light to an active form that is able to respond to light” (Med.stanford.edu).

He said that flashing light therapy used at night could also be a great way of helping other people, who work in constantly changing time schedules, like the medical residents, night –shift workers and even sleepy truck drivers.

The research was published online Feb. 8 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, with support and grants from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the Department of Veterans Affairs Sierra Pacific Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center.

 

Reference:

White, T. Study finds possible new jet-lag treatment: Exposure to flashing light, Feb. 08, 2016. http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2016/02/study-finds-possible-new-jet-lag-treatment.html

 

Amabelle Equio,  Ph.D candidate in Nursing at Silliman University, Health, Fitness, Medical Writer, Photography Enthusiast.

Study Links Texting After Lights Off Affects Grades Among Teens

A recent study confirms that excessive instant messaging or texting can affect sleep and grades among teens. Instant messaging among teens was established as their strong emotional support and an excellent tool to collaborate and connect to group mates for projects and school-related activities.

However, excessive texting, according to author Xue Ming, a professor of neuroscience and neurology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, as cited in the Time Inc. Network, news section, affects the natural rhythm because teens tend to go to sleep late and get up late, which makes the student less efficient.

The findings of the study revealed that students who turned off their devices 30 minutes after they turn off their lights had significantly better grades than those who continued texting for more than 30 minutes, in the dark. Teens who continued to text when the lights were out slept fewer hours and were observed to be tired during the day.

Blue-light  exposure delays melatonin release

The difficulty in sleeping was attributed to the delay of the melatonin release, which was also caused by the emission of the shortwave or blue light on the device.  The study said exposure to this light are intensified when people looked at their gadgets, like smartphones and tablets in a dark room.

The research said that when the lights are off, the mind is primed for a transition, that is from wakefulness to sleep.  When text messages and the alert lights, and light emission keeps on coming, it can disturb the body’s circadian rhythm, which is regulated by the body’s internal clock.

Disrupted Circadian Rhythms Effects

According to the Science Daily site, the disruption of the circadian rhythms affects both brain and body. The unpleasant effects include weight gain, impulsivity, slower thinking and other physiological and behavioral changes in mice. (Disruption Of Circadian Rhythms Affects Both Brain And Body, Mouse Study Finds, 2009).

Rapid Eye Movement

The inability of the teens to achieve the most important level of sleep, which is the rapid eye movement or REM, can directly affect their learning, memory consolidation, and social adjustment, the research stressed. It added that when there is a delay in falling asleep, but the rising time remains the same; the REM sleep level is cut short, which affects both the learning and memory.

Average Sleeping Hour Among Teens

Prof. Ming added that sleep is a biological necessity and not a luxury. Adolescents should have 8.5 hours of sleep every night.

Finally, one of the recommendations of the study implored that sleep education to be incorporated into the curriculum for the students to realize the importance of having enough sleep.

 

References:

Texting After Dark May Harm Teens’ Sleep, Grades, http://news.health.com/2016/02/05/texting-after-dark-may-harm-teens-sleep-grades/

Disruption Of Circadian Rhythms Affects Both Brain And Body, Mouse Study Finds, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026225744.htm

 

Amabelle Equio,  Ph.D candidate in Nursing at Silliman University, Health, Fitness, Medical Writer, Photography Enthusiast.

Sleep Problems by Bed Bugs Now Closer to a Solution

We’ve all heard the expression “Don’t let the bed bugs bite,” but it is most likely that you don’t go to bed imagining actual, tiny bugs crawling around in your bed. Most of us think of bed bugs as a pest of the past. When we think of bed bugs, we imagine filthy, rundown places. We don’t imagine that bed bugs could possibly be in our clean sheets or in our homes. According to recent research, not only are bed bugs a much larger problem than we imagine, but there might just be a major solution. Purdue University researchers participated in a multi-institute project that studied the genome of the common bedbug that just might be the answer to ridding ourselves of these pests so that we may get back to having a great night’s sleep.

Some might ask, “what can a bedbug do, other than being a disgusting thought? They can’t really cause sleeping trouble, can they?” Actually, they can do that and a lot more! Bed bugs have plagued humans for at least the last three thousand years. They are nocturnal, meaning they come out at night. This is when they feed on blood. The blood they drink gives them the nutrients and water they need to live, and since humans sleep at night, we become their source of life. On top of this, bed bugs have developed an immunity to most major insecticides. “Bed bugs were the ignored pests for many decades, but their sudden prevalence has sparked interest in developing better bedbug control measures and knowing more about their biology,” said Gondhalekar, assistant professor of entomology.

They are hard to kill and easy to pick up. They can survive months without a meal and can steal a ride on clothes, luggage, and even in one’s hair. People who have been bitten by bed bugs often develop allergies, infections, and sores. Those in infested homes often develop psychological issues as well. Victims of an infestation often suffer from stress, paranoia, loss of sleep, and can even develop insomnia!

Luckily, the genome discovered by those who participated in the study showed that bed bugs have a significantly lower number of chemosensory genes compared with many other insects. This is most likely because bed bugs target humans as their hosts. Knowing this will allow those in pesticide companies to create an insecticide that could target bed bugs specifically and more aggressively. “Fortunately, we’ve now got the genome early in the game,” Scharf said. “Having this knowledge now might enable us to prevent bed bugs from becoming pests at the level of German cockroaches or disease-transmitting mosquitoes.”

The research was published in Nature Communications.

 

Amberley Stephens has been a freelance writer since 2008. She graduated from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, in May of 2013, with a B.A. in English Language and Literature and a minor in Creative Writing. She has since continued her work as a freelance writer,

Research Links Extreme Social Media Use With Disrupted Sleep

Research Links Extreme Social Media Use With Disrupted Sleep

Obsessive social media use on Facebook, Twitter and similar platforms are linked to sleeping disturbance. According to a study conducted by the lead author, Jessica C. Levenson, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at Pitt’s Department of Psychiatry, published in Preventive Magazine, young adults who spend more time checking their social media, during the day or those who frequently check their social media accounts, are more likely to suffer from sleep disturbance.

Dr. Levenson said, the use of social media is one of the first pieces that can impact sleep pattern. It was found out, among the 1,788 US based research participants who, on the average 61 minutes per day were allocated for social media visits. The top platforms identified are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumbler, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn.

Further, these social media platforms have been visited at least 30 times per week, and the assessment revealed that almost 30% of the research participants had high levels of sleep disturbance.

Levenson found out that participants who frequently checked their social media account throughout the week tripled their probability of sleep disruptions compared to those who don’t frequently check their social media pages.

Similarly, participants who frequented the social media sites throughout the day had twice the risk of sleep disturbance versus those who spent less time on social media.

In was identified that the use of social media may interrupt sleep if the user stays up posting photos on Instagram when the user engages in an arguable discussion on Facebook, which directly promotes emotional, cognitive or physiological arousal, and when the user’s circadian rhythm is disrupted due to the bright light emitted from the device.

Conversely, young adults with sleeping problems may subsequently use social media to pass their time when they can’t sleep, stressed Dr. Brian A. Primack, assistant vice chancellor for health and society in Pitt’s Schools of the Health Sciences.

If these hypotheses are proven true, said Dr. Primack, a sleeping problem due to increased social media use, may lead to more problems related to sleeping. He said that the cycle may pause to be problematic as there are many forms involve interactive screen time that is stimulating at the same rewarding, potentially harming sleep.

In the US alone, nearly two-thirds own a smartphone and 19% of the smartphone owners rely on this gadget to access information, services and connecting to the world, according to the 2015 data published by the Pew Research Center.

 

References:

http://www.upmc.com/media/NewsReleases/2016/Pages/levenson-primack-smsleep.aspx

http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/

 

Amabelle Equio,  Ph.D candidate in Nursing at Silliman University, Health, Fitness, Medical Writer, Photography Enthusiast.

Edited-Dr. Lin

New Research Shows Insight Into What Causes REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a relatively uncommon sleep disorder in which a person appears to act out dreams. This disorder was first described in 1986. The major abnormal characteristic of RBD is loss of paralysis during sleep. Most vivid dreams occur in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stage. Motor inhibition loss leads to a wide spectrum of behavioral release during sleep. These behaviors can be violent and sometimes lead to injury to the patient and/or bed partner.

It is estimated that RBD has a prevalence of 0.5% of the adult population. The majority of RBD has no known cause. However, occasionally RBD can be linked to specific brain injuries, like trauma and stroke. The mean onset of RBD is 60 years old.

Wong J. C., Li J., Pavlova M., Chen S., Wu A., Wu S., and Gao X. conducted a study published in the Journal Neurology, using a large-scale community-based study, to examine risk factors (sex, socioeconomic factors, smoking, age, physical activity, caffeine intake, alcohol, obesity, concentrations of lipids and glucose, chronic disease, and smoking) for RBD.

This study used 10,556 Chinese men and 2,228 Chinese women, aged 24 years or and above. Data was collected using questionnaire. The result of analysis revealed a 5.9% prevalence of probable RBD in men and 4.1% in women. The researchers discovered different potential risk factors (taste dysfunction, socioeconomic status, olfactory, head injury, and various cardiovascular risk factors) for probable RBD. It was suggested that future prospective studies  seek to establish a temporal relationship between risk factors and RBD.

 

-Edited, Dr. Lin

Women with sleeping problems at higher risk for Type 2 diabetes

There are several causes of type 2 diabetes, but now a study reveals that women who have sleep problems may be at an increased risk for this disorder. This latest study done in Boston by Dr Yanping Li has therapeutic implications for healthcare providers. They will need to inquire about sleeping habits of their patients and initiate measures to help prevent diabetes.

Dr Li and her colleagues observed that there was a strong link between poor sleep patterns and type 2 diabetes. They suggest that this may be partially explained by presence of depression, hypertension and increased body mass index.

The researchers looked at data from 133,353 women who did not have heart disease, diabetes or cancer. They then inquired if the women had the following problems: 1) sleeping less than 6 hours a day 2) snoring 3) rotating shift work and 4) sleep apnea. Over a ten year period they then looked at which of these women developed type 2 diabetes. After adjusting for lifestyle factors and taking into account presence of hypertension, depression and increased body mass index, they noted that women who experienced two sleeping problems had twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If the women have other conditions present, then the risk was increased fourfold.

Further, there was a strong association between rotating shift work and type 2 diabetes, implying that diabetes was more likely to occur in women with shift work and who had difficult sleeping.

So how do sleep issues cause Type 2 diabetes?

At least 20% of the population in the US has sleeping difficulties and these numbers are underestimate because many people never seek help. Over the years, the number of people complaining of difficulty with sleep have been increasing. At the same time, the number of type 2 diabetics has also increased.

So how does difficulty in sleep cause diabetes? The researchers believe that the difficulty with sleeping may be influencing metabolism and biochemical pathways that affect circadian rhythms and other physiological functions including changes in hormones that regulate appetite-which may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. It is well known that sleep disturbances can cause hypertension by increasing sympathetic discharge, which in turn also affects insulin sensitivity.

The authors of the study caution that these findings should not be generalized to both genders. Nevertheless asking about sleeping patterns should become routine when seeing patients. Physicians in the past have never inquired about sleep habits. The question that arises next is what should physicians do if a patient with shift work is not able to sleep?

Edited -Dr. Lin

Sleep Apnea is Worse When You Live Far Away From Sleep Center

Relationship between Travel Time from Home to a Regional Sleep Apnea Clinic in British Columbia, Canada and the Severity of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially life threatening sleep disorder in which the airway closes during sleep repeatedly. It is associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and deadly heart arrhythmias.

Most obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients are undiagnosed partly as a result of lack of proper access to diagnostic sleep services. This made these researchers (Hirsch Allen A. M., Amram O., Tavakoli H., Almeida F. R., Hamoda M., and Ayas N. T.) hypothesize that potential barrier to accessing diagnostic sleep can take the form of modest travel times from the sleep clinic.

The researchers study was based on determining whether travel times between individual homes and sleep clinic are related to OSA severity at presentation.

Their study used 1275 suspected OSA patients referred to the University of British Columbia Hospital Sleep Clinic between May 2003 and July 2011.

Results of the study’s analysis revealed the role moderate travel times play in the severity of OSA. Meaning role moderate is associated with the severity of OSA. The study also suggested that their study’s result should be verified in other centers as this will aid the establishment of sleep diagnostic centers within a health care system.

This begs the question: Why is sleep apnea worse when you live farther away from a sleep center? Is this due to statistical or demographic phenomenon? Are people heavier, and more likely to have severe sleep disordered breathing the farther away they are from major cities? Answering these questions will help to understand this potentially deadly sleep disorder.

Edited -Dr. Lin

New Narcolepsy Medication

The equivalent of the FDA, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved the use of pitolisant (Wakix, Bioprojet Pharma) for treatment of narcolepsy with or without cataplexy.

Narcolepsy is a very rare sleep disorder where the brain’s ability to regulate the normal sleep wake cycle is abnormal. Individuals with narcolepsy often develop excessive sleepiness during the daytime, altered night time sleep and have sudden urges to sleep. Some individuals also experience episodes of cataplexy, which has the potential of causing falls and car accidents. Individuals with narcolepsy have a poor quality of life and there are no good treatments.

Pitolisant is an inverse agonist/antagonist histamininergic agent, with selectivity for the H3 receptor. Animal studies show that it acts as a stimulant and may have an application for management of narcolepsy. The drug is not officially approved in the USA but has been granted orphan drug status. Such designation provides the pharmaceutical companies with incentives such as lowered fees for scientific advice and access to patients.

The European researchers say that Pitolisant will add more treatment options for narcolepsy, by promoting wakefulness and alertness.

In a recent clinical trial on 259 patients, the drug was found to be effective and relatively safe. The 109 patients treated with Pitolisant were observed to have decreased day time sleepiness and were more alert. The most common side effects observed in the trials were insomnia, nausea and headache. Currently more long term studies are taking place to determine its safety.

 

Edited -Dr. Lin

Dangerous Dreams: REM Sleep Behavior Disorder Guide

Is there a Sleep Diet?

 

It appears that there is a diet for almost every possible medical disorder. So is there a diet for sleep? Over the years, researchers have looked at different diets and how they affect sleep but the data have been puzzling. Now a research study shows that a diet that is low in fiber, high in unsaturated fat and sugar is more likely to be associated with light, less restorative sleep. In addition, the individual is more likely to be aroused from his/her sleep. The study, published in the January issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, was led by Dr. Marie-Pierre St-Onge, Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University Medical Center, New York.

In this study the researchers followed 26 adults between the ages 30-45 who had prior sleep problems. These individuals were monitored for five nights in a sleep lab, spending nine hours in bed each night from 10 pm to 7 am. Objective sleep data were collected by polysomnography. During the first four days, participants consumed a controlled diet; on day five, the participant was allowed to select his/her own diet.

Results showed that sleep duration was similar during the controlled diet and self selected diet. However, the quality of sleep was different. On the day when the diet was self-selected, individuals had less of the deep slow-wave sleep and it took a longer time to fall asleep.

Food analysis revealed that ingestion of high fiber foods predicted less stage 1 (very light) sleep and more slow-wave sleep. In addition, when the diet consisted of saturated fat, sugars and processed carbohydrates, it predicted less slow wave sleep and frequent arousals

Dr. St-Onge mentioned that the results reveal a vicious cycle of sleep, which if restricted sets up oneself for a poor diet with increased sugar and fat and that in turn will adversely affect sleep. So the cycle of poor sleep becomes continuous.

So far the researchers have not looked at the biochemical mechanisms behind these finding but suggest that the diet could be involving the circadian systems. It is well known that diets high in carbohydrate intake delay circadian rhythms and lower secretion of melatonin, which can delay onset of sleep. In addition hormones may also be secreted during sleep deprivation and create an urge to eat unhealthy foods.

The researcher next hope to study the role of specific diets in sleep disorder such as insomnia, short sleep duration, and poor overall sleep quality. In the meantime for those who are having difficulty sleeping, try adding more fiber and less fat and sugar to your diet- it may just work.

.

Edited -Dr. Lin

 

Mechanism linking sleep apnea to heart disease found by Columbia researchers – CU Columbia Spectator


CU Columbia Spectator
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Obstructive sleep apnea, sleep disorders may contribute to multiple sclerosis … – Bel Marra Health


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Times of India
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Keratoconus Linked to Sleep Apnea – Sleep Review


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KTAL
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Asthma, sleep apnea may up risk of progressive eye condition – Business Standard

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Important associations between genetics, sleep behavior identified by study

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Medicare Regulations Are Driving a Wedge Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea … – Huffington Post


Huffington Post
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Huffington Post
With some studies estimating that as many as 20 percent of the American adult population (with higher numbers in the older population) suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), this means that Medicare's policies affect many with this condition (2).