Can’t sleep? Time to write your to-do list, study says

A new study brings good news for those of us who can’t make it through a day without making lists, especially if we also happen to have trouble falling asleep at night. It turns out that to-do lists may be the answer to some of our troubles, at least.

Do you like lists? Do you spend half an hour each morning writing down your tasks for the day ahead in bullet-points? Do you sometimes have trouble falling asleep at night?

If your answer to all of those is “yes,” then I have good news for you. You may be able to achieve that sweet night’s sleep much faster if you start writing your to-do lists just before bed, instead of first thing in the morning.

Full story at Medical News Today

Chronic Alcohol Use Can Disrupt Sleep Long After Person Stops Drinking

Chronic use of alcohol can disrupt a person’s sleep months or even years after a person stops drinking, according to researchers from Boston University School of Medicine.

The researchers say chronic alcohol use can disrupt cells in an area of the brain stem involved in regulating many aspects of sleep, Boston Magazine reports. As a result of prolonged exposure to alcohol, the activity that excite neurons in the brain increases, while at the same time decreasing the activity of a chemical that inhibits activity of these neurons. This causes over-activity of brain chemicals, and leads to a disruption in the normal sleep cycle, the researchers write in Behavioral Brain Research.

Lead author Subimal Datta says more research is needed to identify exactly how these brain changes are occurring, and to create medications to treat alcohol-related sleep disorders. “Identifying the specific mechanisms that lead to change in brain activity will allow us to develop targeted medications, which could help treat people suffering from sleep issues related to alcohol use disorders,” Datta said in a news release.

Full story of alcohol use and sleep disruption at drugfree.org

Insomnia Linked to Mortality Risk

Insomnia, the most common sleep disorder, affects up to one-third of the population in the United States. In new findings, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have found that some insomnia symptoms are associated with an increased risk of mortality in men. These findings are published online in Circulation and will appear in an upcoming print issue.

“Insomnia is a common health issue, particularly in older adults, but the link between this common sleep disorder and its impact on the risk of death has been unclear,” said Yanping Li, PhD, a research fellow in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH and lead author of the paper. “Our research shows that among men who experience specific symptoms of insomnia, there is a modest increase risk in death from cardiovascular-related issues.”

Specifically, researchers report that difficulty falling sleep and non-restorative sleep were both associated with a higher risk of mortality, particularly mortality related to cardiovascular disease.

Researchers followed more than 23,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who self-reported insomnia symptoms for a period of six years. Beginning in 2004 through 2010, researchers documented 2025 deaths using information from government and family sources. After adjusting for lifestyle factors, age and other chronic conditions, researchers found that men who reported difficulty initiating sleep and non-restorative sleep had a 55 percent and 32 percent increased risk of CVD-related mortality over the six year follow up, respectively, when compared to men who did not report these insomnia-related symptoms.

Full story of insomnia and mortality at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

2013 Bedroom Poll Explores Sleep Differences Among Six Countries

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) released its first international poll today, the 2013 International Bedroom Poll, comparing sleep times, attitudes, habits and bedtime routines of those in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan between the ages of 25 and 55 years old.

Japan and the United States report the least amount of sleep. Japanese and Americans report sleeping about 30 to 40 minutes less on workdays than those in the other countries surveyed, averaging 6 hours and 22 minutes and 6 hours and 31 minutes of sleep, respectively. Two-thirds of Japanese (66%) say they sleep less than 7 hours on work nights, compared to 53% of Americans, 39% in the United Kingdom, 36% of Germans, 30% of Canadians and 29% of Mexicans. One in five from the United States (21%), Japan (19%) and the United Kingdom (18%) report sleeping less than six hours a night during the work week, about twice the rate of the other countries (11% Mexico, 10% Germany, 7% Canada,)

Perhaps to compensate for less sleep, about one-half (51%) of both Japanese and Americans have taken at least one nap in the past two weeks. Every country reported sleeping in on weekends, with an average of an extra 45 minutes of sleep on days they do not work.

“As the first international public opinion poll on sleep, the National Sleep Foundation 2013 Bedroom Poll makes an important contribution to the field,” commented Namni Goel, PhD, Research Associate Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and a member of the NSF 2013 International Bedroom Poll expert panel. “Although we know that everyone sleeps, the rather remarkable cultural differences within this universal experience have not been adequately explored. It is NSF’s hope that this initial poll will inspire more research on this critical yet understudied topic.”

Full story of poll of sleep differences at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Putting Sleep Disorders to Bed: New Way to Improve Internal Clock Function

Overnight flights across the Atlantic, graveyard shifts, stress-induced insomnia are all prime culprits in keeping us from getting a good night’s sleep. Thanks to new research from McGill University and Concordia University, however, these common sleep disturbances may one day be put to bed.

The rotation of Earth generates day and night. It also confers daily rhythms to all living beings. In mammals, something known as a “circadian clock” in the brain drives daily rhythms in sleep and wakefulness, feeding and metabolism, and many other essential processes. But the inner workings of this brain clock are complex, and the molecular processes behind it have eluded scientists — until now.

In a new study published in Neuron, researchers have identified how a fundamental biological process called protein synthesis is controlled within the body’s circadian clock — the internal mechanism that controls one’s daily rhythms. Their findings may help shed light on future treatments for disorders triggered by circadian clock dysfunction, including jet lag, shift work disorders, and chronic conditions like depression and Parkinson’s disease.

“To understand and treat the causes and symptoms of circadian abnormalities, we have to take a closer look at the fundamental biological mechanisms that control our internal clocks,” says study co-author Dr. Shimon Amir, professor in Concordia University’s Department of Psychology.

Full story of improving the internal clock at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education