Classic SleepCast

Screen time, social media, and sleep

Janna Mantua - October 19, 2015 - Cutting-Edge Research
Social media and screen time may be detrimental to sleep quality, as ‘blue light,’ emitted from screens, can affect the sleep-wake cycle. A group of researchers set out to investigate whether adolescents suffer from sleep loss due to increased social media use. Over 450 teenagers (11-17 yrs) participated in this study. The teenagers were asked how often they used social media, both during the day and at night, and how pressured they felt to use social media. They also provided information about their self-esteem, anxiety levels, and depression. Finally, sleep quality of these individuals was tested. The research team was interested in whether social media use affected sleep quality. Regrettably, higher social media use was associated with lower self-esteem, higher anxiety, and higher depression in the teenagers. High social media use was also related to lower sleep quality. According to one of the researchers, “those who log on at night appear... Read more

Disrupted sleep hinders weight loss

Janna Mantua - October 12, 2015 - Cutting-Edge Research
Occurence of sleep apnea is closely related to excess weight. Therefore, losing weight can help to treat or even completely cure sleep apnea. But there’s a catch – sleep is important for weight loss because sleep helps to regulate weight and hunger hormones. Therefore, if you have disturbed sleep from sleep apnea, could weight loss be harder?  This question was tested by a group of researchers in Japan using 90 women who were attempting to lose weight. These women, who were all overweight or obese, were enrolled in a weight loss intervention program. While they were in this program, their sleep was monitored by motion-detecting wrist-bands. Their hormone levels (leptin, ghrelin, cortisol, and insulin, which all affect hunger and weight loss) were also monitored throughout the weight loss intervention. Insulin resistance was measured as well.  When examining the sleep of these individuals, it was found that those with 5 or more... Read more

Sleep protects from sickness

Janna Mantua - October 05, 2015 - Cutting-Edge Research
Are you somebody who ‘always’ gets sick? Or maybe you’re someone who ‘never’ does. Why are people differentially susceptible to getting sick? Your genes play a role in susceptibility, but your behaviors may too. For example, how is your diet? Do you exercise? These factors likely contribute. But what about sleep? Sleep is a regulator of immune functioning, and therefore it might be involved. With this in mind, a group of researchers set out to see whether sleep affects susceptibility for getting the common cold. To do so, they took about 150 individuals and monitored their sleep for a week using motion-detecting wrist bands. Each participant was then separately ‘quarantined’ for 5 days in the lab, where they were exposed to rhinovirus, which is the common cold. Over the course of the 5 days, cold progression was monitored. The sleep of those who developed a cold and those who did... Read more

Depression, therapy, and sleep

Janna Mantua - October 05, 2015 - Cutting-Edge Research
There are both cognitive and physical markers of depression. Luckily, cognitive effects of depression can be treated through therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a highly effective therapy system through which patients are trained to modify their thought processes and associated habits. By changing thought processes, one can eliminate negative or recurring maladaptive ideas, which helps to alleviate depression. Given this, it was hypothesized that CBT, in conjunction with relaxation breathing exercises, might improve physical deficits associated with depression. Two deficits, poor sleep quality and heartbeat irregularity (instability), were examined. To test this, 43 participants underwent CBT in conjunction with breathing relaxation exercises for 4 weeks. At the beginning and end of treatment, participants had their sleep and heart rate variability measured. The investigators also collected data on participant health (e.g., psychiatric history, age, etc.). Changes in sleep and heart rate variability were compared between the initial session and the follow... Read more

Sleep loss and mood in adolescents

Janna Mantua - September 28, 2015 - Cutting-Edge Research
Teenagers. A day in the life of a teenager is loaded with stress – stress from social pressure, from parents, from teachers, and from themselves. It might not be a surprise that teenagers can be a little cranky sometimes. Recent evidence supports the notion that sleep is a key regulator of emotions. This is important, given that many teenagers are not getting enough sleep. Could moodiness in teenagers be worsened or even caused by a lack of sleep? To answer this question, a team of researchers from Australia set out to see whether sleep deprivation would alter emotions in adolescents (14-18 years old). Twelve research participants underwent total sleep deprivation following two normal nights of sleep in a sleep lab. Every 2 hours of wakefulness across the 3 day span, the participants self-rated their mood, with measures of anger, depression, anxiety, confusion, fatigue, and vigor (energy). Mood ratings from the... Read more

Sleep, Relationships, and Well-being

Janna Mantua - September 14, 2015 - Cutting-Edge Research
Sleep is important for psychological and physical well-being. It is well-established that high sleepiness can negatively affect day-to-day functioning and can increase irritability. But how badly can sleep negatively affect relationships? And can it affect overall self-rated health? Using data from a large cohort of individuals (over 37,000), a group of researchers was able to examine whether or not nighttime sleep duration and self-reported relationship distress were related. They also examined how overall self-rated health was related to these measures. By using a unique type of analysis called a mediation, the researchers were able to see which factor lead to what. In other words, they were able to see whether relationship distress caused poor sleep or vise versa. They were also able to examine which factors seemed to affect well-being. Overall, results showed that high relationship stress was a predictor of poor well-being. Interestingly, poor sleep was a mediator between... Read more

Apnea Treatment Usage Improves with Phone Support

Janna Mantua - September 07, 2015 - Cutting-Edge Research
Many people use their sleep apnea treatment religiously – some individuals even use it for mid-day naps. But some people really struggle. They might have the desire to stick to treatment, but their ability is reduced. How might we help non-users or inconsistent users? Sticking to a treatment, be it hypertension treatment or a workout regimen, is often enhanced with support. Either social support or support from a doctor can facilitate treatment use. Therefore, might phone support help users stick to their sleep apnea treatment? This question was tested using individuals who had just been described to CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), the gold standard treatment for sleep apnea. CPAP works very well when it is used often, and therefore it is important that individuals treated with CPAP use it as often as possible. A group of researchers from Switzerland used a combination of telemetry (remote collection of data) and... Read more
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