Friday, September 06, 2013

Lack Of Sleep Could Aggravate Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

According to Chiara Cirelli, MD, PhD, at the University of Wisconsin, and who is currently conducting a study on sleep, future experiments may very well examine whether or not an association between sleep patterns and severity of MS symptoms exists.

Although it has been known that many genes are turned on during sleep and off during periods of wakefulness, how sleep affects specific cell types has been unknown.

Dr Cirelli and her collegues are conducting a study on how sleep affects specific cells types.
In experiments on mice, they found that genes promoting myelin formation were turned on during sleep and the genes implicated in cell death and the cellular stress response were turned on when the animals stayed awake.

According to Dr Mehdi Tafti from Lausanne University, who also studies sleep, these findings hint at how sleep or lack of sleep might repair or damage the brain.

Myelin is the insulating material on nerve cells found in the brain and spinal cord and protects them, a bit like insulation around an electrical wire.
Multiple Sclerosis or MS is a disease that damages myelin and anything that help promote myelin formation would be a breakthrough for the disease.

Cirelli speculated that the findings suggest that extreme and/or chronic sleep loss could possibly aggravate some symptoms of multiple sclerosis and felt a future study was warranted to examine this.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Treating Insomnia May Improve Tinnitus

According to a recent study conducted by Dr. Yaremchuk, Dr. George Miguel and their research team from the Department of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, insomnia can make the emotional and functional effects of tinnitus worse.

A significant association between insomnia and the severity of perceived tinnitus symptoms such as hissing, buzzing, ringing and clicking was shown by the study and the emotional distress from the chronic  of tinnitus was reported as being greater by patients with insomnia.

The study found that the greater the degree of insomnia, the more severe the patient's complaints were regarding the tinnitus.

Dr. Yaremchuk notes that a chronic tinnitus patient presents a challenging clinical picture that may include anxiety, depression, annoyance, or self-reported emotional distress. And one of most frequent self-reported complaint of tinnitus patients is 'getting to sleep.'

This study underlines the importance of evaluating and treating insomnia patients with tinnitus as this may result in a reduction in tinnitus symptom severity and improve their quality of life.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Singing Cures Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

A clinical trial authored by Malcolm Hilton, consultant otolaryngologist at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and Sub Dean of the University of Exeter Medical School, shows that certain singing exercises help reduce snoring in people with a history of simple snoring or obstructive sleep apnea
This research has been published in the International Journal of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery.

Weak muscles in the soft palate and upper throat can be a cause of snoring and sleep apnea and singing exercises help to strengthen these throat muscles.

Mr Hilton decided to do this trial after being contacted by Alise Ojay, who is a choir director, singer and composer.
Alise got the idea after one of her pupils had said that, since starting to sing, his snoring had become greatly reduced.

The trial involved 60 patients who were chronic snorers, and 60 patients with mild to moderate sleep apnoea. Half of each group sang, using a singing exercise programme devised by Alise to strengthen the throat muscles, for three months and half had no intervention.

The trial concluded that the three-month programme of daily singing exercises reduced the frequency and severity of snoring, and improved overall quality of sleep, and that there was a statistically significant reduction in daytime sleepiness and frequency of snoring

You can hear an interview with Alise on the BBC website here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Hot Summer Can Make It Difficult To Sleep

There has been a heatwave in Britain this summer and this can make it very difficult to sleep leading to many people experiencing insomnia.
I though about writing a post on the best ways to get to sleep when it's hot and humid, but saw a few articles on the web which have already done this.
So here are a few links to some good sleep tips during a heatwave!

BBC - How to sleep well on sticky nights

The Guardian - A sleep expert offers his top tips to sleep when it's hot

The Independant - Their readers tips on how to chill when going to sleep 

All have some good tips and ideas which are worth a try. Here's a taster from the sleep expert:
"If you're in the grip of a sweltering insomnia, "run your wrists and hands under the cold tap for a few minutes. Dry your hands and go straight back to bed."
I've not heard of that one before and will definitely be giving it a go...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Alcohol Disrupts Sleep

According to Dr Ebrahim, who is the medical director at the London Sleep Centre and co-author of the latest review, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, alcohol disrupts sleep.

Drinking alcohol before going to bed may help you go to sleep more quickly but it disrupts the sleep cycle and results in less time spent in the rapid eye movemement phase (REM sleep).
This is the phase in which  we do our dreaming and so you may not feel as rested after a night's sleep.

Alcohol also results in your sleep being fragmented by interrupting it in the second half of the night and you may wake up dehydrated.

Using alcohol to help you get to sleep quicker may work in the short term but will ultimately result in insomnia if resorted to too often.
Try a mug of hot chocolate instead!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Some Sleep Problems Caused By Fear Of The Dark

Insomniacs could be afraid of the dark and that this was a contributing factor to insomnia that adults found difficult to admit

A pilot study from Ryerson University Sleep & Depression Lab posed the question, "Are people with insomnia afraid of the dark?". They conducted a small study on Toronto college students and found nearly half of the students who were poor sleepers were afraid of the dark.

The study's lead author, Taryn Moss said that the poor sleepers were more easily startled in the dark compared with good sleepers and she said that they were wondering how many people were in fact suffering from an untreated and active phobia of the dark and were not just too tense to go to sleep.

Colleen Carney, the principal investigator said that although current insomnia treatments were very effective, new approaches may be warranted which would include the treatment of this phobia of the dark. She also said that a lot more research was needed, but this finding would help insomnia treatments meet the needs for some poor sleepers that were not previously being met.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Junk Food Craving When Deprived Of Sleep Could Lead To Obesity

Obesity could be caused by deprivation of sleep which leads to a craving for unhealthy food.

According to a new study to understand the link between sleep restriction and obesity, the sight of unhealthy food during a period of sleep restriction activated reward centers in the brain that were less active when participants had enough sleep.

25 men and women of normal weight were divided into two groups where one group's sleep was restricted to four hours for five nights and the second group were allowed to continue sleeping upto nine hours.

MRIs of their brains were taken whilst they looked at images of healthy and unhealthy foods and the results were compared.
The sleep deprived group ate more overall and consumed more fat compared to those who had regular sleep.

The study's principal investigator noted that "The unhealthy food response was a neuronal pattern specific to restricted sleep. This may suggest greater propensity to succumb to unhealthy foods when one is sleep restricted."

This study confirms previous research that also showed that sleep deprivation leads to increased food consumption, particularly sweet and salty food in otherwise healthy people.