Classic SleepCast

Inside sleep apnea

October 25, 2016 - Consequences of Sleep Apnea
This video shows what happens inside your body if you snore or have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes frequent interruptions in breathing as you sleep. It disrupts your rest, which can pose serious health risks. Loud snoring is often a symptom of sleep apnea. You snore when your tongue falls back against the back of your throat and it vibrates as you breathe in and out. In apnea, your throat muscles relax so much that they block your airway. When this happens, you can stop breathing for ten seconds or more. Carbon dioxide builds up and causes your brain to signal you to wake up. You do, briefly, and begin to breathe normally again. These brief interruptions can happen many times an hour and can severely hurt your health. Read more on WebMD.   Read more

Sleep and hunger hormones

Janna Mantua - October 26, 2015 - Consequences of Sleep Apnea
In the last few years, a major breakthrough in metabolism regulation was made. It was found that two hormones called leptin and ghrelin are crucial for regulating what makes us hungry and what makes us feel satiated. Separately, we know that sleep is related to hunger: when we are tired, we tend to eat more, and we tend to eat fewer healthy things. Given this knowledge, it is reasonable whether to ask whether these hormones are a mediating factor between sleep insufficiency and hunger. This question was examined using a large cohort of individuals (over 1000 people). Each research participant underwent a full overnight sleep study and reported their usual sleep habits. What’s more, each individual provided a blood sample, with which the researchers were able to extract leptin and ghrelin levels. Body mass index (BMI) was also calculated so that a measure of weight could be obtained. It was... Read more

Sleep and weight loss in older adults

Janna Mantua - October 12, 2015 - Consequences of Sleep Apnea
Recently, we discussed that poor sleep hinders weight loss in a young adult group, such that exercise programs are only effective if those in the program also have high quality sleep. But why is this important? First, sleep apnea is typically caused by excess weight. Therefore, losing weight can help to treat or even completely cure sleep apnea. However, it is important to remember that age groups (e.g., young vs. older adults) differ in metabolic abilities. As such, it was unknown whether the previous study also applies to those in the older adult age range. To our luck, a study has just been released that explored this very topic. This question was tested by a group of researchers using 22 older adults who were attempting to lose weight. These individuals were enrolled in a weight loss intervention program, although they were not a severely overweight group. Throughout the weight loss... Read more

Sleep, stress, and depression

Janna Mantua - September 21, 2015 - Consequences of Sleep Apnea
Depression is a complicated disorder. For example, some people experience depressive symptoms following stressful life events, but some do not. Similarly, some individuals experience depressive symptoms following a bad night of sleep, while others do not. In reality, there are many life factors that likely interact and contribute to depression. In the current investigation, a group of researchers set out to see whether stressful life events and sleep disturbances were a combined predictor of depressive symptoms. In other words, might both factors be necessary for depression to develop, or might one of these factors be sufficient?  This question was tested using a statistical test called a regression. Using this test, it can be determined whether factors lead to specific outcomes, either individually or in conjunction with another factor. Meanwhile, other factors that affect depression (such as diet and exercise) can be accounted for. Over 3500 young adults were included in... Read more

Predictors of the Hypertension Exacerbation by Sleep Apnea

Janna Mantua - August 24, 2015 - Consequences of Sleep Apnea
For some individuals untreated sleep apnea worsens hypertension. The good news is sleep apnea treatment, such as CPAP, usually helps to eliminate sleep apnea and thus improve associated co-morbidities. But what predicts who will develop hypertension associated with apnea? Recently, an investigation set out to do this. By analyzing a large cohort of individuals (1500 people), a research group identified the individuals with untreated sleep apnea that later developed hypertension. They then compared characteristics of these individuals (age, gender, etc.) with those who did not eventually develop hypertension. Sleep apnea-related factors were also included. During the initial sleep study, measures of apneas/hypopneas per hour (AHI) and oxygen saturation (how much oxygen is in the blood) were measured. Blood oxygen is reduced when apneas and breathing cessation occur, and therefore this measure is particularly important. Results showed individuals who were older, had higher body mass index (BMI, which incorporates both height and weight), comorbidity... Read more

Sleep and cognition in adolescents

Janna Mantua - July 28, 2015 - Consequences of Sleep Apnea
In our 24-hour society, it is not uncommon for someone to be chronically sleep deprived. This is especially true for those who require more sleep. Adolescents need for more sleep than older individuals, which is unfortunate considering teenagers are usually lacking sleep. Additionally, as rates of obesity increase, the presence of sleep apnea in this population also tends to increase. Given that adolescents are at an especially important age for brain development, it is crucial to understand just how sleep deprivation is affecting the mental and psychological faculties in this population. For this reason, a group of researchers undertook a project to test how adolescents, aged 14-18 years, fared under conditions of sleep deprivation. In this study, subjects were tested on a number of psychosocial factors every 2 hours. They were not allowed to sleep, so measurements were obtained throughout the day and throughout the night. Additionally, after sleep deprivation,... Read more

CPAP treatment and sleep spindles

Janna Mantua - July 15, 2015 - Consequences of Sleep Apnea
Sleep is a continuous state that varies highly from minute to minute. Sleep is made up of two ‘types’ of stages: REM and non-REM, both characterized by differences in EEG. Non-REM includes stages 1, 2 and 3, with non-REM 3 (Slow Wave Sleep) being the deepest. Sounds simple enough. But, in addition, within these sleep stages, there are ‘micro’ markers of sleep, including sleep spindles. Sleep spindles occur mainly during non-REM2, and they look like small spools within the EEG. Among other things, sleep spindles are thought to be a marker of brain plasticity. Increased sleep spindle density (number of spindles per minute) has been linked with increased learning ability and increased intelligence. What’s more, boosting sleep spindle density seems to improve memory formation. So, put simply, the more spindles, the better. So do those with untreated sleep apnea (i.e., disturbed sleep) still have sleep spindles? They sure do, but... Read more
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