This Popular Cure For Lack Of Sleep Does Not Work (M)

Tired people make more mistakes because they lose track of where they are in a task.

Tired people make more mistakes because they lose track of where they are in a task.


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Does Caffeine Really Combat Sleep Deprivation? (M)

Up to five million more Americans could be experiencing sleep problems than they were five years ago.

Up to five million more Americans could be experiencing sleep problems than they were five years ago.


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How Listening To Music At Bedtime Affects Sleep (M)

Around two-thirds of people use music to help them sleep, but what if the music is so catchy it causes an ‘earworm’?

Around two-thirds of people use music to help them sleep, but what if the music is so catchy it causes an 'earworm'?


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A Hammock-Like Rocking Motion Helps People Sleep

People in the study slept more soundly and enjoyed improved memory.

People in the study slept more soundly and enjoyed improved memory.

A rocking motion — like that from a hammock — leads to better sleep and boosts memory, new research shows.

Like a child gently rocked to sleep in cradle, adults also respond to a rocking motion during sleep.

People in the study being rocked to sleep fell asleep quicker.

They also slept more soundly and consolidated memories more effectively.

The bed rocked gently from side-to-side once every four seconds by about 10 cm.

Dr Laurence Bayer, study co-author, said:

“Having a good night’s sleep means falling asleep rapidly and then staying asleep during the whole night.

Our volunteers — even if they were all good sleepers — fell asleep more rapidly when rocked and had longer periods of deeper sleep associated with fewer arousals during the night.

We thus show that rocking is good for sleep.”

The study included 18 people whose sleep was monitored in the lab.

The results showed that those who slept on a gently rocking bed went to sleep more quickly, slept more soundly and had better memories when they awoke.

Further investigations showed that gentle rocking motions during sleep help to synchronise neural activity in the thalamo-cortical regions of the brain.

This area is critical for memory consolidation and sleep.

The authors conclude that:

“…applying a rhythmic sensory stimulation, here, using a rocking bed during a whole night of sleep, promotes deep sleep and memory consolidation in healthy sleepers.

These effects may rely on increased SOs and sleep spindles (i.e., fast spindles), which we suggest are attributable to a rocking-induced rhythmic entrainment of thalamocortical activity.”

A previous study has also shown that a rocking motion makes a 45-minute nap more refreshing.

So, taking a nap in a hammock may be better than sitting in an ordinary chair.

The study was published in the journal Current Biology (Perrault et al., 2018).

This Insomnia Treatment Easily Beats Sleeping Pills (M)

The study tracked over 200 women who started taking medications around the time of the menopause, when it is common to develop sleeping difficulties.

The study tracked over 200 women who started taking medications around the time of the menopause, when it is common to develop sleeping difficulties.


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Exercise Does Improve Sleep — Even If You Don’t Feel It

Why it feels like exercise doesn’t improve sleep — even though it does.

Why it feels like exercise doesn’t improve sleep — even though it does.

Exercise has long been recommended as a way of improving sleep — except people often report it makes no difference.

Now, a new study reveals the reason.

Exercise does indeed improve sleep quality, but people do not notice it, researchers found.

Despite falling asleep quicker and experiencing deeper sleep, people do not seem to feel it themselves.

One reason may be that people who do not regularly exercise tend to feel more stress and muscle soreness after occasional vigorous exercise, which might counteract the perceived benefits of sleep.

In other words, exercise improves sleep, but this is counter-balanced by feeling more stressed and aching muscles.

The conclusions come from a study of nine men who did 60 minutes of vigorous activity and had their sleep quality measured.

Their brain waves were monitored, focusing on slow wave sleep or deep sleep, which is critical to feeling refreshed on waking.

The researchers used a computational method called coefficient variation of the envelope (CVE).

Professor Kaspar E. Vogt, study co-author, explained:

“CVE is a novel tool for quantifying sleep depth according to the characteristics of brain oscillations.

We wanted to use it to determine whether exercise would improve or decrease sleep quality, in addition to determining whether short bouts of exercise could exert a lasting effect on metabolic state.”

The study’s results were explained by Insung Park and Javier Díaz, study co-authors:

“The results were surprising.

We found that exercise improved the quality of sleep as measured using objective techniques, while the participants reported no change in the quality of their sleep.”

Rather than occasional vigorous activity, the better option is regular moderate activity.

Professor Vogt said:

“The results of the subjective evaluations of sleep quality indicate that regular moderate exercise may be more beneficial for perceived sleep quality than occasional vigorous exercise, which might not have a subjective effect despite objective improvements in sleep.”

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports (Park et al., 2021).

The Sleep Schedule That Increases Depression Risk

Getting seven or eight hours is not enough, study finds.

Getting seven or eight hours is not enough, study finds.

Sleeping irregular hours increases the risk of depression, even if the total amount of sleep is sufficient, new research finds.

People who sleep and wake at different times are just as likely to suffer depression as those who do not get enough sleep overall.

The findings highlight how important it is to maintain regular hours of sleep — on top of getting enough total sleep.

Irregular sleep schedules may cause mental health problems by disrupting circadian rhythms, the researchers suggest.

Circadian rhythms are the natural sleep-wake cycles of the body.

Sleep may be more restorative when it coincides with melatonin production and lower core body temperature, which are two circadian rhythms which help the body prepare for sleep.

For the study, researchers tracked over 2,100 young doctors as they battled through their first year of training after completing medical school.

Trainee doctors are well-known to experience highly irregular work schedules, along with reduced time for sleep.

Psychologists gathered information about their sleep and wake patterns through wearable devices.

Ms Yu Fang, the study’s first author, said:

“The advanced wearable technology allows us to study the behavioral and physiological factors of mental health, including sleep, at a much larger scale and more accurately than before, opening up an exciting field for us to explore.

Our findings aim not only to guide self-management on sleep habits but also to inform institutional scheduling structures.”

The results showed that trainee doctors with the most variable sleep schedules scored the highest on depression tests — they also had the worst moment-to-moment mood.

Professor Srijan Sen, study co-author, said:

“These findings highlight sleep consistency as an underappreciated factor to target in depression and wellness.

The work also underscores the potential of wearable devices in understanding important constructs relevant to health that we previously could not study at scale.”

Parents of young children will be well aware of the damaging effects of irregular sleep schedules on mental health.

Ms Fang joked:

“I also wish my 1-year-old could learn about these findings and only wake me up at 8:21 a.m. every day.”

The study was published in the journal npj Digital Medicine (Fang et al., 2021).