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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sleep and the connection to good and lasting health

Why do we sleep? As someone who has had his own difficulties with sleep (which I'm sure many of my readers share) I found the following articles both interesting and informative about the mysterious activity called sleep.

Why sleep? Snoozing may be strategy to increase efficiency, minimize risk

Bats, birds, box turtles, humans and many other animals share at least one thing in common: They sleep. Humans, in fact, spend roughly one-third of their lives asleep, but sleep researchers still don't know why. According to the journal Science, the function of sleep is one of the 125 greatest unsolved mysteries in science. Theories range from brain "maintenance" — including memory consolidation and pruning — to reversing damage from oxidative stress suffered while awake, to promoting longevity. None of these theories are well established, and many are mutually exclusive. Now, a new analysis by Jerome Siegel, UCLA professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Sleep Research at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and the Sepulveda Veterans Affairs Medical Center, has concluded that sleep's primary function is to increase animals' efficiency and minimize their risk by regulating the duration and timing of their behavior. READ MORE

What a sleep study can reveal about Fibromyalgia

Research engineers and sleep medicine specialists from two Michigan universities have joined technical and clinical hands to put innovative quantitative analysis, signal-processing technology and computer algorithms to work in the sleep lab. One of their recent findings is that a new approach to analyzing sleep fragmentation appears to distinguish fibromyalgia patients from healthy controls. READ MORE

The genetics of sleep

For many animals, sleep is a risk: foraging for food, mingling with mates and guarding against predators just aren't possible while snoozing. How, then, has this seemingly life-threatening behavior remained constant among various species of animals? new study by scientists at North Carolina State University shows that the fruit fly is genetically wired to sleep, although the sleep comes in widely variable amounts and patterns. Learning more about the genetics of sleep in model animals could lead to advances in understanding human sleep and how sleep loss affects the human condition. READ MORE

Severe sleep apnea tied to increased risk of death

to severe obstructive sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of death from any cause in middle-aged adults, especially men, according to new results from a landmark study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The new findings provide the strongest evidence to date of a link between increased risk of death and sleep apnea, a common disorder in which the upper airway is intermittently narrowed during sleep, causing breathing to be difficult or completely blocked. READ MORE

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