“I never get enough sleep.” You’ll hear it routinely – particularly among members of certain countries, including the U.S.
Indeed, studies support that certain populations are chronically sleep-deprived. Meanwhile, other data support that different people need different amounts of sleep and that sleep needs change over the course of one’s lifetime.
But this fascinating study took a worldwide look at sleep. Utilizing a phone app called ENTRAIN, researchers tracked the total duration of sleep, as well as bedtimes and wake times, for 20 different nations around the world.
Published in the journal Science, the study confirmed some already-suspected facts – for instance, worldwide, women and girls do indeed sleep more than men (just slightly), sleep needs reduce after middle age and no matter the nation, when able, children go to bed later and wake later than their normal pattern.
Beyond these similarities, the nations began to divide on how, and when, people slept. According to results of the study, culturally, nations really do view (and experience) sleep differently. For example, though we often complain of too little overall rest, Americans have the fourth earliest bedtime (behind Belgium, Australia and New Zealand). And Spain and Singapore boast the most exciting night life, with the latest bedtimes among nations polled.
Countries researched in the study included the U.S., Australia, Canada, the U.K., France, Spain, The Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, China, Japan, Brazil, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Italy, Finland, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates.
Some trends were logical – such as later or earlier sunrise/sunset due to latitude on the globe – while others were cultural, like siesta periods in some Spanish-speaking countries that made a later bedtime possible without severely sacrificing total rest in any 24-hour period.
To find out which country you most “sleep like,” click here.
ENTRAIN developers hope the app will provide further information as it’s developed, including predicting one’s optimum bedtime based on usual patterns as well as temporary changes (such as a late night out on the weekend).
There’s yet another reason to take care of that snoring issue now: a new study appears to show a worsening of various medical conditions – even cancer – when regular snoring is present.
The study, presented at the Annual Congress of the European Association of Urology in Munich, involved animals, but may have significant parallels for humans, according to researchers.
Though you may have known chronic snoring is linked to heart attack and stroke, the study surprisingly hints that cancerous tumors may be positively impacted by this lowered oxygen condition – in other words, snoring appeared to encourage the growth of dangerous tumors.
“… (the study) demonstrates the influence of oxygen deficiency on the growth of renal cell carcinoma tissue, both primary tumour as well as metastases,” said Professor Arnulf Stenzl of Tübingen University and Chair of the EAU Congress Committee. However, one must use caution in trusting that animal studies will match reactions in humans, study participants warned.
For some reason that is so far unclear, an oxygen deprived state appeared to encourage the growth of blood vessels in the tumors of the animals studied. This meant more nutrients were made available to the tumors.
The study is a cause for prudence, not panic, according to the researchers. Early treatment may delay or even help reverse certain conditions caused or made worse by snoring.
Few of us think of children when we think of snoring. Snoring is something that our father did, our husband does…or we do.
But children? They don’t snore – do they?
Actually, a Swedish study says parents may actually be missing cues as to children, sleep, snoring and overall health. According to Healthcare provider contact for children with symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing: a population survey, published in the Journal of Laryngology and Otology in December 2015, about 5% of children surveyed snored regularly – yet only one in three of these were seen by physicians to assess the issue.
The survey involved 1300 children up to age 11.
“Children with persistent snoring often have a reduced quality of life,” pointed out Gunnhildur Gudnadottir, researcher for the study, adding that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children can be particularly concerning.
Snoring and sleep disturbances have been linked to delayed physical growth, depression, bedwetting, daytime fatigue and may even contribute to learning issues.
But it’s never too late to seek help and turn things around – for both children and adults.
Ruling out physical issues such as enlarged tonsils or adenoids, as well as an assessment for more serious forms of snoring such as OSA, are paramount.
The bottom line? Parents need to be more informed regarding snoring and its potential impact on children.
“…we must consider how parents are given information about the condition and where they can seek help,” Ms. Gudnadottir said.
More info can be found here.
We’ve long been told that missed sleep will sending us on a downward health spiral – and that once they’re underway, sleep deprivation-related issues can be very tough to fix.
But new research is refuting that fact, at least when it comes to metabolism.
According to a study published by Josiane Broussard, PhD, University of Colorado Boulder and a team of colleagues, just two nights of “catch-up sleep” offset decreased insulin sensitivity as seen in sleep-deprived individuals.
This is good, if surprising, news to individuals who have long struggled with getting their sleep patterns in order and with not getting a good night’s rest on a consistent basis.
In particular, the study showed that insulin sensitivity that had formerly been reduced by lack of sleep was increased to healthier levels following two consecutive “extra sleep” nights.
Insulin sensitivity is the effect of the body being able to accept insulin into various receptors in order to utilize the hormone. When insulin sensitivity is reduced over a period of time, metabolic issues and conditions such as Type II diabetes may eventually become an issue; indeed, the effect can in part lead to a dangerous condition known as metabolic syndrome.
According to Dr. Broussard, sleep deprivation led to a 23% reduction in insulin sensitivity as compared to individuals experiencing adequate nightly sleep. However, in her study, Dr. Broussard observed that just two 10-hour catch-up nights of sleep offset this issue significantly.
This contradicts a long-held belief among sleep professionals that catch-up sleep is of little value and that it can not compare health-wise to regular, consistent nights of sleep.
“The metabolic response to this extra sleep was very interesting and encouraging,” said study co-author Esra Tasali, MD, of the University of Chicago. “It shows that young, healthy people who sporadically fail to get sufficient sleep during the work week can reduce their diabetes risk if they catch up on sleep during the weekend.”
Though the initial findings are encouraging, various factors, including the laboratory setting, could be skewing results in one or more directions, according to the researchers. But further studies could reveal even more about the phenomenon.
“Future studies in real-world settings are needed to investigate whether catching up on sleep could be an effective behavioral intervention in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes,” the research group commented.
More info can be found here.
An old-fashioned method of snoring cessation may have just gotten a 21st century update: according to reuters.com, a new wireless device “nudges” snorers when snoring sounds are detected.
The device, dubbed “Smart Nora,” detects snoring and wirelessly activates a mini-pump placed under the pillow of the snorer. In response to the pump’s activation, the pillow shifts slightly – in effect, nudging the person just enough to stop the snoring.
According to Behrouz Hariri, co-founder of Smart Nora, this electronic pseudo-nudge doesn’t wake the snorer entirely but does disrupt the snoring…without the partner having to lean over give a nudge of his or her own.
“Nora is actually listening for volumes of snoring that are below the sensitivity of their partner,” said Hriri. “So just before snoring is getting loud enough to wake them up, Nora does the gentle push or the gentle movement of the pillow and that, in turn, reduces the volume of snoring then both partners can actually have continuous sleep.”
Smart Nora’s developers are currently in the midst of a Kickstarter fundraising campaign in an effort to get the device to market.
More info here.
Great news for those struggling with both obstructive sleep apnea and depression: a new study shows that OSA-linked depression may be decreased in some sufferers with the consistent use of a CPAP machine.
The link between sleep issues and depression has long been known. But the recent study, conducted by the University of Western Australia, showed that only 4% of OSA sufferers who consistently utilized a CPAP machine showed clinically significant depression symptoms.
This compared to a baseline of 73% of OSA patients showing symptoms of clinical depression.
“Effective treatment of obstructive sleep apnea resulted in substantial improvement in depressive symptoms, including suicidal ideation [during the study],” reported David R. Hillman, MD, clinical professor at the University of Western Australia and sleep physician at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth.
Dr. Hillman added, “The findings highlight the potential for sleep apnea, a notoriously underdiagnosed condition, to be misdiagnosed as depression.”
Results of the study were published in the September issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
Depression is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness. If you or anyone you know is showing signs of depression, seek medical help immediately. Depression symptoms may include any of the following:
* Feelings of hopelessness
* Feelings of guilt, lowered self-worth or helplessness
* Fatigue or difficulty concentrating, performing tasks and remembering important details
* Insomnia, or excessive desire to sleep
* Irritability, anger
* Loss of interest in activities formerly considered enjoyable
* Loss of appetite, or increased appetite
* Thoughts of self harm
* Thoughts of suicide
Individuals suffering from OSA or another sleep disturbance issue should be on the lookout for emerging depression, experts advise.
A reuters.com article has revealed that snoring and sleep apnea has been linked to an increased likelihood of diabetes in older adults.
According to the news piece, seniors who suffer from sleep apnea may have up to twice the risk of developing diabetes as non-snorers.
The 10-year study comprised nearly 6000 U.S. adults who were followed up with after 10 years to determine their blood sugar (glucose) levels.
It’s no secret among researchers that elderly individuals tend to have more breathing problems at night, but “less is known about whether symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later, especially in older adults,” according to Linn Beate Strand of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston.
It was this factor that prompted Strand to initiate the study, which analyzed data of U.S. seniors between 1989 and 1993. The subjects were contacted every six months for updates on whether they or others reported that they had snored and whether symptoms like daytime sleepiness and frequent night wakings had been noticed. A baseline blood insulin level was taken in each subject at the beginning of the study and was re-taken at various times throughout the program.
Findings reported that individuals with sleep apnea were twice as likely as non-snorers to develop Type II diabetes by the end of the study, while snorers without sleep apnea were 27% more likely to wind up with the condition.
According to Eve Van Cauter of the University of Chicago, who did not participate in the study but observed the data, “The findings suggest that improving sleep quality in older adults may reduce their risk of developing diabetes or may reduce the severity of diabetes in those who are already affected.”
The full article can be found here.
The Cloud9 anti-snoring device, marketed by InSleep Health as an apparatus for non-apnea snorers, has been cleared by the FDA and will be available in 2016, according to reports.
Cloud9 utilizes a technology similar to CPAP devices but is said to be smaller and more comfortable. CPAP apparatus is not generally well-tolerated for non-sleep apnea snorers, researchers say.
The device will be available via prescription only.
“Our trial demonstrates marked reductions if not complete elimination of snoring by low-levels of continuous airway pressure in habitual snorers without sleep apnea,” said Dr. Alan Schwartz, director of the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center, in a statement to the press. “This technology promises untold improvements in sleep quality and reductions in stress for snorers and their bed partners.”
The Cloud9 device deploys continuous low positive airway pressure via an air-flow unit and attached headgear. For more information, read the press release here.