A community for people who want to remain as healthy as possible as we age.

More Information and Recent Research on Sleep and the Body Clock

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Unfortunately, too many people think of sleep as a luxury, not a necessity. We need to wake up and change that view because sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle! If we don't get enough sleep, it inevitably makes us more vulnerable to both physical and emotional problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and depression, as well as a weakened immune system. These are the same health problems that can arise when we eat poorly and don't get enough exercise. Sleep is critical for good health, regardless of our age. Take this quiz to evaluate your sleep habits and to find out if you need to make adjustments in your bedroom or to your bedtime routine.
(Andrew Weil, M.D.) If you experience anxiousness and troubled sleep, but don't want to use prescription or over-the-counter sedatives, consider jasmine. Researchers have found that the scent of jasmine is as effective as Valium and similar drugs for relieving anxiety, promoting more peaceful sleep, and reducing anxiety upon waking. Particular jasmine fragrances were even shown to have the same neurochemical mechanism of action as barbiturates.
(Andrew Weil, M.D.) A new study from the UK suggests that taking supplements of omega-3 fatty acids may improve sleep… The study found that higher blood levels of long-chain omega 3 DHA (the main omega-3 fatty acid found in the brain) are significantly associated with better sleep. Study leader Paul Montgomery noted that lower ratios of DHA have been linked with lower levels of melatonin, which he said fits in with the finding that kids with sleep problems may have lower blood levels of DHA.
(Eat + Run, U.S. News & World Report) If you’re stuck counting sheep, unable to fall asleep, try these healthy remedies: · Make a list. If you’re mind is racing with all the things you have to do the next day, get them down on paper… · Drink a cup of warm milk, chamomile tea or tart cherry juice… · Eat magnesium-rich foods like almonds, and calcium-rich foods such as cheese and crackers… · Leave your phone and other screens turned off… · Don’t lie awake staring at the ceiling for too long. If you’ve been awake for more than 30 minutes, get up and either get a glass of water, walk around the room or gently stretch. Doing so can help interrupt the “I can’t sleep” pattern.
(LiveScience) Live Science talked with Nancy H. Rothstein, a sleep expert  and business consultant, and learned these five tips to help gadget junkies sleep better. 1. Make sure the gadgets go to bed an hour before you do… 2. Can't part with your gadgets? Then try blue-wavelength blockers… 3. Take the tech out of the bedroom… 4. Skip the nightcap… 5. Cut off caffeine by the afternoon.
Community: f.lux is free software that warms up your computer display at night, and LowBlueLights.com has other products, such as goggles, light bulbs, and TV screen covers, to reduce blue light.
(New York Times) Along with campaigns to dissuade older patients from having so many screening tests (like mammograms, Pap smears and colonoscopies) and potentially harmful procedures, researchers now are trying to help them kick certain prescription drugs. Specifically, Dr. [Cara] Tannenbaum and her colleagues want older people to wean themselves from benzodiazepines, widely used for insomnia and anxiety. The brand names are familiar: Ativan, Ambien, Halcion, Klonopin, Lunesta, Sonata, Valium and Xanax… [S]he and her colleagues devised … a brochure – to help older users detox.
More . . .
Sleep and Late Night Exercise Not as Bad as Originally Thought 
(Robert Rosenberg, DO, Everyday Health) [A] study surveyed 1,000 people regarding time of exercise, quality of sleep, and length of sleep. The results were rather surprising. As expected, early morning exercisers had the best sleep outcomes. They had the highest likelihood of reporting good sleep quality, and the lowest likelihood of waking un-refreshed. However, the evening moderate or vigorous exercisers did not differ from non-exercisers concerning their sleep. In fact, the vast majority felt that late exercise either had no effect on their sleep or improved it.
(American Academy of Sleep Medicine) Results [of a new study] show that coping with a stressful event through behavioral disengagement – giving up on dealing with the stress – or by using alcohol or drugs each significantly mediated the relationship between stress exposure and insomnia development. Surprisingly, the coping technique of self-distraction – such as going to the movies or watching TV – also was a significant mediator between stress and incident insomnia. Furthermore, the study found that cognitive intrusion - recurrent thoughts about the stressor - was a significant and key mediator, accounting for 69 percent of the total effect of stress exposure on insomnia.
(Science Daily) It's normal for people to experience trouble sleeping after a divorce, but if sleep problems last too long, they can lead to potentially harmful increases in blood pressure, a new study finds. The research suggests that poor sleep quality might be one of the reasons divorce is linked to negative health effects.
Community: However, see below.
(Science Daily) Insomnia does not put people at increased risk of developing high blood pressure, a new study has concluded. The study is believed to be the first to examine for hypertension among individuals who self-reported various frequencies of insomnia symptoms. "By showing there is no link between this very common sleep disorder and high blood pressure, physicians can be more selective when prescribing sleeping pills and refrain from prescribing these medications from a cardio-protective perspective," said the author.
(CBS News) According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in 25 people surveyed admitted to dozing off while driving. Jeff Pegues look at the toll of drowsy driving.
(Science Daily) A new study shows that worse sleep quality predicts lower physical activity in people with post-traumatic stress disorder. Results show that PTSD was independently associated with worse sleep quality at baseline, and participants with current PTSD at baseline had lower physical activity one year later.
(MedPage Today) To tackle the cardiovascular risks from obstructive sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure was better than giving oxygen at night, and adding a weight-loss strategy may be even better in some respects for obese patients.
(The Scripps Research Institute) Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered a surprising new role for a pair of compounds—which have the potential to alter circadian rhythm, the complex physiological process that responds to a 24-hour cycle of light and dark and is present in most living things… The study … focuses on a group of proteins known as REV-ERBs, a superfamily that plays an important role in the regulation of circadian physiology, metabolism and immune function. The new study shows that the two compounds, cobalt protoporphyrin IX (CoPP) and zinc protoporphyrin IX (ZnPP), bind directly to REV-ERBs.
(Science Daily) Studies have found that people actually sleep 20 minutes less when the moon is full, take five minutes longer to fall asleep and experience 30 minutes more of REM sleep, during which most dreaming is believed to occur.
(Discover Magazine) Within two weeks, rats working the graveyard shift gained a significant amount of weight as their post-work activity decreased. Their activity levels were also more erratic, fluctuating from unpredictable highs to lows. Rats that worked a typical week didn’t change their behavior. Further, a two-day weekend wasn’t enough time to recover from behavioral changes resulting from working the night-shift… For a human analogy, the rats’ symptoms stemming from a dysfunctional circadian clock were similar to a person diagnosed with dementia.
(Reuters Health) Nurses who often return to work with less than 11 hours between shifts are at higher risk of sleep problems and severe fatigue than others, according to a new study.
(Science Daily) A new study of adult twins suggests that the level of socioeconomic deprivation in a neighborhood is associated with the sleep duration of residents. "The more socioeconomically deprived the neighborhood, the more erratic the sleep duration, both shorter and longer than the healthy seven to nine hours per night that we recommend," researchers said.
(Science Daily) Twenty-four hours of sleep deprivation can lead to conditions in healthy persons similar to the symptoms of schizophrenia. This discovery was made by an international team of researchers, who point out that this effect should be investigated more closely in persons who have to work at night. In addition, sleep deprivation may serve as a model system for the development of drugs to treat psychosis.
(Science Daily) Time of day and sleep deprivation have a significant effect on our metabolism, a new study confirms. The finding could be crucial when looking at the best time of day to test for diseases such as cancer and heart disease, and for administering medicines effectively. Researchers investigated the links between sleep deprivation, body clock disruption and metabolism, and discovered a clear variation in metabolism according to the time of day.


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