sleep

It's sleep awareness week and we are trying to, well, be more aware of our sleep. 

Sleep is a fascinating topic in large part because we know that we will die without it but don't really understand why. Why we sleep is a perpetuating question in neuroscience along with what our brain is doing while we sleep. 

A new study from the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University asked the question, how much do humans sleep when compared with other non-human primates?  

The study looked at the amount of time that different primates spend sleeping. In doing so, they found that primates vary widely in their sleep durations. (See the figure below.) Most species sleep somewhere between nine and 15 hours a day, with humans averaging around seven. Remarkably, of...

New Year's lists abound on how to have a better, more productive, happier 2018. Almost without fail, "get more sleep" is somewhere on the list. 

But, how much sleep are we getting? And, how different is sleep across the country?

Anyone who wears a fitbit at night can tell you their own set of sleep data. Each morning, fitbit wearers wake up to a profile that looks something like this. 

The fitbit tells it's owner when they fell asleep, when they woke and measures the amount of time spent awake. In addition, it can parse out sleep into periods of REM sleep, light sleep and deep sleep throughout the night.

Fitbit took those data from millions...

OK, sleep is important — we get that. None of us functions very well when seriously sleep-deprived. But other than that, what health implications might there be if we're not getting adequate zzzz's? Some studies have shown an association between sleep deprivation and consumption of snack foods, as we described here, the implication being that sleepiness is a risk factor for obesity. A recent study further investigated this supposed connection.

Writing in PLOS One, Dr. Gregory D. M. Potter and colleagues analyzed data from the British National Diet and Nutrition Survey to assess the...

Nutrition science is notoriously unreliable. The reason is because a substantial proportion of research in the field is conducted using surveys, and people just aren't very good at remembering what and how much they ate. 

The field is further damaged by a sensationalist press, which breathlessly reports every study and converts minor findings into flashy, eye-catching headlines. The latest example of this is a study that linked increased coffee consumption to reduced mortality. In general, media outlets wrote headlines like, "Drinking coffee may reduce the risk of death."

Well, not exactly. A plethora of data shows that coffee probably has some health benefits. However, after reading the original paper, carefully examining the data, and applying a dose of common sense (...

Check it out: the latest sleep device from Apple — the Sleep Pill for Sense, sits on your nightstand, helps you fall asleep, and helps you wake up at consistent times each day. The device has a mini-device that clips onto your pillow and it tracks your REM sleep, sleeplessness, and overall sleep health. The idea behind the device — and hundreds of others like it — is that it monitors your sleep...

Tossing and turning in bed all night long, it can feel as if you're the only person in the world unable to sleep. It may be a small comfort to learn, however, that you aren't the only one. Millions of other Americans also struggle to sleep.

In the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC reports data on the prevalence of sleep trouble by age group and sex. (See chart below.)

As shown, about 20% of young adults (aged 20-39) have trouble sleeping. The problem appears to get worse with age. Roughly one-third of people aged 40 and over report difficulty sleeping. In general, women have more trouble than men.

The article does not attempt to explain...

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The new sleeping recommendations are out just in time to confirm what millions of Americans already knew: We are so sleep deprived. Yawn.

Though many of us can get by on a few hours of sleep, there is mounting evidence that not catching enough Z's can lead to various health problems. Similarly, getting too much sleep can have the same outcome. And when it comes to learning healthy habits young, how much sleep do children need? Here's a breakdown of...

cerebral circulationA new study published in Science shows evidence that, in mice, substances like amyloid-beta known to be increased in Alzheimer s disease and others, are removed from the cerebrospinal fluid bathing the brain at an accelerated rate during sleep.

Scientists have long speculated that one of the functions of sleep is to restore and repair the brain. The current study, by a...