“There’s no evidence that you can oversleep,” said the Medical School’s Elizabeth Klerman. “Unlike chocolate cake you can eat when you’re not hungry, there’s no evidence you can sleep when you’re not tired.”
Experts from Harvard, Columbia University, the University of Miami, and the University of Massachusetts detailed the health implications of sleep in a conversation with CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard on Thursday at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“Sleep in many ways is associated with mortality — cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental health, brain health, immune function, respiratory conditions, and cognitive function and performance,” said Azizi Seixas, an associate professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
He and other panelists explored the health risks of long-term sleep deprivation and the fundamental role sleep plays in memory. According to Rebecca Spencer, a professor of psychology and brain science at UMass, “When you sleep, you’re taking this movie of your day and you’re putting it on replay, and it’s this great mnemonic device. It’s a way to really solidify the memories that we formed during our day.”
Those memories might include noise and other disruptions, introducing a wider challenge: While getting enough rest is important for everyone, the world can get in the way. Panelists zeroed in on noise pollution, racial disparities in sleep, and how policy decisions can leave us tired and vulnerable.
“We know, for example, that marginalized communities and racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to live in neighborhoods with socioeconomic disadvantage,” said Carmela Alcántara, an associate professor at Columbia University’s School of Social Work. “That can include neighborhoods that might have higher policing, neighborhoods that then have greater exposure to noise pollution, greater exposure to light pollution, and all these factors which we know impact short-term sleep and then can have these cascading long-term effects on sleep.”
The rate of parental stress is greater among parents who have sleep disorders themselves, or have children with sleep disorders, according to a new study published this week in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Ray Merrill and Kayla Slavik of Brigham Young University, US, and colleagues.
Sleep and stress disorders are known to have a two-way correlation, with stress promoting sleep disorders and sleep disorders promoting stress. Among parents, there is thought to be a complex interplay between their own sleep, stress, mood and fatigue and their children’s’ sleep.
In the new work, the researchers analyzed data on 14,009 employees insured by Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrator (DMBA) in 2020, all of whom had dependent children. Overall, 2.2% of the employees filed medical claims for treating stress and 12.5% filed claims for treating a sleep disorder, including insomnia, hypersomnia or sleep apnea. 2.0% of children filed one or more medical claims for a sleep disorder.
The researchers found that, after adjusting for age, sex and marital status, rates of stress are 1.95 (95% CI 1.67-2.28) times greater in employees with a sleep disorder. Specifically, rates of stress are 3.00 (95% CI 2.33-4.85) times greater for those with insomnia and 1.88 (1.59-2.22) times greater for those with sleep apnea. In addition, the rate of employee stress is 1.90 (95% CI 1.33-2.72) times greater if their child has any sleep disorder, and 2.89 (95% CI 2.20-3.80) times greater if their child has insomnia. The study also found that if a child has a sleep disorder, the rate of parental insomnia and sleep apnea are both nearly doubled.
The authors conclude that a better understanding of the connections between parent and child sleep quality and parent stress may help improve treatment and lower the risk of these disorders.
Getting less than five hours of sleep in mid-to-late life could be linked to an increased risk of developing at least two chronic diseases, finds a new study led by University College London (UCL) researchers.
The research, published in PLOS Medicine, analysed the impact of sleep duration on the health of more than 7,000 men and women at the ages of 50, 60 and 70, from the Whitehall II cohort study.
Researchers examined the relationship between how long each participant slept for, mortality and whether they had been diagnosed with two or more chronic diseases (multimorbidity) — such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes — over the course of 25 years.
People who reported getting five hours of sleep or less at age 50 were 20% more likely to have been diagnosed with a chronic disease and 40% more likely to be diagnosed with two or more chronic diseases over 25 years, compared to people who slept for up to seven hours.
Humans help each other — it’s one of the foundations of civilized society. But a new study by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, reveals that a lack of sleep blunts this fundamental human attribute, with real-world consequences.
Lack of sleep is known to be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, hypertension and overall mortality. However, these new discoveries show that a lack of sleep also impairs our basic social conscience, making us withdraw our desire and willingness to help other people.
Napping, as well as sleeping too much or too little or having poor sleep patterns, appears to increase the risk for cardiovascular disease in older adults, new research shows.
The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association, adds to a growing body of evidence supporting sleep’s importance to good health. The American Heart Association recently added sleep duration to its checklist of health and lifestyle factors for cardiovascular health, known as Life’s Essential 8. It says adults should average seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
“Good sleep behavior is essential to preserve cardiovascular health in middle-aged and older adults,” said lead author Weili Xu, a senior researcher at the Aging Research Center in the department of neurobiology, care sciences and society at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. “We encourage people to keep nighttime sleeping between seven to nine hours and to avoid frequent or excessive napping.”
Prior research has shown poor sleep may put people at higher risk for a range of chronic illnesses and conditions affecting heart and brain health. These include cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 35% of U.S. adults say they get less than seven hours of sleep, while 3.6% say they get 10 or more hours.
Previous sleep duration studies show that sleeping too much or too little both may raise the risk for cardiovascular disease. But whether napping is good or bad has been unclear.
In the new study, researchers analyzed sleep patterns for 12,268 adults in the Swedish Twin Registry. Participants were an average of 70 years old at the start of the study, with no history of major cardiovascular events.
A questionnaire was used to collect data on nighttime sleep duration; daytime napping; daytime sleepiness; the degree to which they considered themselves a night person or morning person, based on the time of day they considered themselves most alert; and symptoms of sleep disorders, such as snoring and insomnia. Participants were followed for up to 18 years to track whether they developed any major cardiovascular problems, including heart disease and stroke.
People who reported sleeping between seven and nine hours each night were least likely to develop cardiovascular disease, a finding in keeping with prior research. Compared with that group, those who reported less than seven hours were 14% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, and those who reported more than 10 hours were 10% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
Compared with people who said they never napped, those who reported napping up to 30 minutes were 11% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. The risk increased by 23% if naps lasted longer than 30 minutes. Overall, those who reported poor sleep patterns or other sleep issues – including insomnia, heavy snoring, getting too much or too little sleep, frequent daytime sleepiness and considering themselves a night person – had a 22% higher risk
Study participants who reported less than seven hours of sleep at night and napping more than 30 minutes each day had the highest risk for cardiovascular disease – 47% higher than those reporting the optimal amount of sleep and no naps.
The jury is still out on whether naps affect cardiovascular risk across the lifespan, said Marie-Pierre St-Onge, center director for the Sleep Center of Excellence and an associate professor at Columbia University in New York City. She noted that the new research, which she was not involved in, was restricted to older adults.
Rather than trying to recoup sleep time by napping, people should try to develop healthier sleep habits that allow them to get an optimal amount of sleep at night, St-Onge said. This includes making sure the sleep environment is not too hot or cold or too noisy. Reducing exposure to bright light before going to sleep, not eating too late at night, getting enough exercise during the day and eating a healthful diet also help.
“Even if sleep is lost during the night, excessive napping is not suggested during the day,” Xu said. And, if people have persistent trouble getting enough sleep, they should consult a health care professional to figure out why, she said.
The lethargy that many Alzheimer’s patients experience is caused not by a lack of sleep, but rather by the degeneration of a type of neuron that keeps us awake, according to a study that also confirms the tau protein is behind that neurodegeneration.
The study’s findings contradict the common notion that Alzheimer’s patients sleep during the day to make up for a bad night of sleep and point toward potential therapies to help these patients feel more awake.
The data came from study participants who were patients at UC San Francisco’s Memory and Aging Center and volunteered to have their sleep monitored with electroencephalogram (EEG) and donate their brains after they died.
It’s no secret that going without sleep can affect people’s mood, but a new study shows it does not interfere with their ability to evaluate emotional situations.
It is often assumed that feeling more negative will color people’s experience of emotional images and events in the environment around them. However, Washington State University researchers found that while going 24 hours without sleep impacted study participants’ mood, it did not change their performance on tests evaluating their ability to process emotional words and images.
“People do become less happy through sleep deprivation, but it’s not affecting how they are processing emotional stimuli in their environment,” said Anthony Stenson, a WSU psychology doctoral student and lead author of the study in PlosOne.
Poor sleep in the over 50s is linked to more negative perceptions of aging, which in turn can impact physical, mental and cognitive health, new research has revealed.
A study led by the University of Exeter found that people who rated their sleep the worst also felt older, and perceived their own physical and mental aging more negatively.
Lead author Serena Sabatini, of the University of Exeter, said: “As we age, we all experience both positive and negative changes in many areas of our lives. However, some people perceive more negative changes than others. As we know that having a negative perception of aging can be detrimental to future physical health, mental health, and cognitive health, an open question in aging research is to understand what makes people more negative about aging. Our research suggests that poor sleepers feel older, and have a more negative perception of their aging. We need to study this further – one explanation could be that a more negative outlook influences both. However, it could be a sign that addressing sleep difficulties could promote a better perception of aging, which could have other health benefits.”
I have written about how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. You can check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep? I was happy to see this information on the subject by the American Heart Association.
Improving your overall sleep health could help lower your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other cardiovascular threats, according to new research.
Experts already knew a lack of sleep and having sleep disorders can put health at risk. But the new study looked into whether the multiple factors that go into a good night’s sleep are collectively associated with health risks.
To measure overall sleep health, the researchers created a multi-dimensional score based on the average amount of sleep each night, the consistency of bedtime and wake-up times, and how long it takes to fall asleep. They also factored in excessive daytime sleepiness and symptoms of sleep disorders such as snoring and difficulty breathing during sleep.
The U.S. Department of Defense is funding the first human trial of a device to speed up and enhance the natural system of brain cleansing that occurs when we sleep.
The trial will be conducted among 90 people at three trial sites – University of North Carolina, University of Washington School of Medicine, and a collaboration between Oregon Health & Science University and the Brain Electrophysiology Laboratory (BEL). Results are expected in the fall of 2022.
Recent discoveries point to the importance of quality sleep for clearance of brain metabolic waste through the newly-discovered brain glymphatic system. If sleep is disrupted, so are these crucial processes, leading to cognitive impairment – things like faulty motor coordination, attention deficits, slower processing speed, decreased decision-making capabilities, and hampered short-term memory, in addition to increasing risk of neurodegenerative disease later in life. These issues can have life-or-death consequences for service members in the U.S. military, which is why the Department of Defense is funding innovative research initiatives, including this three-year, $4.3-million, project with the ultimate goal of helping service members overcome acute sleep deprivation and chronic sleep restriction.
The scientists leading this effort are from UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Washington School of Medicine, the Brain Electrophysiology Lab Oregon Health & Science University, and Montana State University.
A study of nearly 2,500 adults found that having trouble falling asleep, as compared to other patterns of insomnia, was the main insomnia symptom that predicted cognitive impairment 14 years later.
Results show that having trouble falling asleep in 2002 was associated with cognitive impairment in 2016. Specifically, more frequent trouble falling asleep predicted poorer episodic memory, executive function, language, processing speed, and visuospatial performance. Further analysis found that associations between sleep initiation and later cognition were partially explained by both depressive symptoms and vascular diseases in 2014 for all domains except episodic memory, which was only partially explained by depressive symptoms.
“While there is growing evidence for a link between insomnia and cognitive impairment in older adults, it has been difficult to interpret the nature of these associations given how differently both insomnia and cognitive impairment can present across individuals,” said lead author Afsara Zaheed, a graduate student in clinical science within the department of psychology at the University of Michigan. “By investigating associations between specific insomnia complaints and cognition over time using strong measures of cognitive ability, we hoped to gain additional clarity on whether and how these different sleep problems may lead to poor cognitive outcomes.”
Insomnia involves difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or regularly waking up earlier than desired, despite allowing enough time in bed for sleep. Daytime symptoms include fatigue or sleepiness; feeling dissatisfied with sleep; having trouble concentrating; feeling depressed, anxious, or irritable; and having low motivation or energy.
Most people listen to music throughout their day and often near bedtime to wind down. But can that actually cause your sleep to suffer? When sleep researcher Michael Scullin, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University, realized he was waking in the middle of the night with a song stuck in his head, he saw an opportunity to study how music — and particularly stuck songs — might affect sleep patterns.
Scullin’s recent study, published in Psychological Science, investigated the relationship between music listening and sleep, focusing on a rarely-explored mechanism: involuntary musical imagery, or “earworms,” when a song or tune replays over and over in a person’s mind. These commonly happen while awake, but Scullin found that they also can happen while trying to sleep.
“Our brains continue to process music even when none is playing, including apparently while we are asleep,” Scullin said. “Everyone knows that music listening feels good. Adolescents and young adults routinely listen to music near bedtime. But sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. The more you listen to music, the more likely you are to catch an earworm that won’t go away at bedtime. When that happens, chances are your sleep is going to suffer.”
People in the UK with sleep problems are at an increased risk of dying, finds a new study from the University of Surrey and Northwestern University.
In a paper published by the Journal of Sleep Research, researchers reveal how they examined data* from half a million middle-aged UK participants asked if they had trouble falling asleep at night or woke up in the middle of the night.
The report found that people with frequent sleep problems are at a higher risk of dying than those without sleep problems. This grave outcome was more pronounced for people with Type-2 diabetes: during the nine years of the research, the study found that they were 87 per cent more likely to die of any cause than people without diabetes or sleep disturbances.
The study also found that people with diabetes and sleep problems were 12 per cent more likely to die over this period than those who had diabetes but not frequent sleep disturbances.
Malcolm von Schantz, the first author of the study and Professor of Chronobiology from the University of Surrey, said:
“Although we already knew that there is a strong link between poor sleep and poor health, this illustrates the problem starkly.”
“The question asked when the participants enrolled does not necessarily distinguish between insomnia and other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnoea. Still, from a practical point of view it doesn’t matter. Doctors should take sleep problems as seriously as other risk factors and work with their patients on reducing and mitigating their overall risk.”
Professor Kristen Knutson of Northwestern University, the senior co-author of the study, said:
“Diabetes alone was associated with a 67 per cent increased risk of mortality. However, the mortality for participants with diabetes combined with frequent sleep problems was increased to 87 per cent. In order words, it is particularly important for doctors treating people with diabetes to also investigate sleep disorders and consider treatments where appropriate.”
Researchers from the National Cheng Kung University Hospital in Taiwan combined the results of past studies to understand the effect that listening to music can have on the quality of older adults’ sleep. Their work suggests that:
Older adults (ages 60 and up) living at home sleep better when they listen to music for 30 minutes to one hour at bedtime.
Calm music improves older adults’ sleep quality better than rhythmic music does.
Older adults should listen to music for more than four weeks to see the most benefit from listening to music.
Why Older Adults Have Trouble Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
As we age, our sleep cycles change and make a good night’s sleep harder to achieve. What does it really mean to get a good night’s sleep? If you wake up rested and ready to start your day, you probably slept deeply the night before. But if you’re tired during the day, need coffee to keep you going, or wake up several times during the night, you may not be getting the deep sleep you need.  According to the National Institute on Aging, older adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
But studies have shown that 40 to 70 percent of older adults have sleep problems and over 40 percent have insomnia, meaning they wake up often during the night or too early in the morning. Sleep problems can make you feel irritable and depressed, can cause memory problems, and can even lead to falls or accidents.