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UA Professor Engages Kids, Encourages Z’s

October 13th, 2015 Raquel Rothe
By Sydney Donaldson
,

UA College of Engineering
September 28, 2015
RESOURCES FOR THE MEDIA
Janet Meiling Roveda in the College of Engineering has designed MySleep for maximum precision and security.

Janet Meiling Roveda in the College of Engineering has designed MySleep for maximum precision and security.
UA professors Michelle Perfect and Janet Roveda (fifth and sixth from left) with student researchers Imelda Murrieta, Estrella Ochoa, Sara Frye, Paloma Colacion and Daniel Shammas.

UA professors Michelle Perfect and Janet Roveda (fifth and sixth from left) with student researchers Imelda Murrieta, Estrella Ochoa, Sara Frye, Paloma Colacion and Daniel Shammas.

More and more information is at our fingertips, thanks to engineers and computer scientists who translate enormous amounts of complex data from portable and wearable devices into language that users can easily understand.

But what if the user is a fourth-grader?

Janet Meiling Roveda, a University of Arizona associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, is addressing that question as co-principal investigator of the “Z-Factor,” officially called the Sleep Education Program to Improve STEM Education in Elementary School.

More than 500 fourth- and fifth-grade students in the Catalina Foothills School District are expected to participate in Z-Factor over the next three years, the largest-ever national study of elementary school students’ sleep habits and STEM learning.

The study involves creating a curriculum that uses the topic of sleep to develop students’ skills and interests in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields. In the process, the program is expected to educate children and parents about sleep’s role in academic performance, perhaps encouraging more sleep in students’ routines.

“With this study, we’re trying to get kids engaged in STEM topics and rested enough to pursue them,” Roveda said.

Michelle Perfect, associate professor in the College of Education’s Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies, is the lead investigator on the $1.2 million project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers.

Secure Software Program

For the STEM-learning and sleep-monitoring parts of the study, Roveda has developed a Web-based software program called “MySleep,” which is highly encrypted and password-protected with secure algorithms built in.

“While most algorithms for research studies are nonlinear in complexity, our algorithms use high-speed linear encryption and secure data compression techniques that require users to compress and recover the data several times,” Roveda said. She developed the novel algorithms for Z-Factor with help from UA engineers Linda Powers and Wolfgang Fink, experts in designing large-scale biomedical research studies.

“With a study of this magnitude, especially one that involves the information of children, we want to make sure all information is secure,” Roveda said.

The software collects and analyzes thousands of gigabytes of data from activity monitors the children wear and converts the data into understandable and interesting content for students using the MySleep website.

The children will wear actigraphs — watch-like monitors that track hours of sleep, quality of sleep, restlessness and other factors — for multiple nights early in the study. At the end of the recording period, they will upload data from their monitors to tablets the district has purchased for the project. The data will be stored on a secure server.

When students enter their personal MySleep portals on the Internet — to which parents and teachers also have access — they will see avatars in their likenesses and caricatures of parents, teachers and friends. Colorful graphs will show students their sleep patterns, and planning charts will help them monitor daily activities.

Measuring Success

Students will design personal research projects based on data from their activity monitors. In the process, the students will learn about science and math and develop critical thinking and communication skills. They may even discover that a little more sleep can help them do better on a math quiz.

“Z-Factor is based on the premise that having students solve problems in real-world situations that are relevant to their daily lives can have a long-lasting positive impact on their interest in STEM and intention to pursue additional STEM courses and careers,” Roveda said.

Teachers will incorporate data from MySleep into their lessons on math, statistics, averages, probabilities and other subjects. Roveda and Perfect are developing the curriculum in collaboration with the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, a nonprofit science education organization.

“The work Janet is doing will help kids analyze their personal data in a developmentally appropriate way,” said Perfect, a licensed psychologist who has extensive experience working with young children and families. “By studying their own sleep data and using mobile technologies for personal data management, these elementary school students are on a real-world research frontier.”

As part of the project assessment, students in the Z-Factor study will take pre- and post-assessment tests developed by Biological Sciences Curriculum Study and selected by Perfect and other UA researchers to assess whether interest and skills in STEM topics have grown.

The Z-Factor team already is working to make the program more widely available, and members are planning to translate the MySleep content into Spanish and adapt the program to work efficiently with less costly sleep-tracking devices or only handwritten sleep diaries.

“We want this data-driven sleep research study and STEM curriculum to be accessible to every student in every school,” Roveda said.

Sleepwalking

June 11th, 2015 Raquel Rothe

From Mayo Clinic

Sleepwalking — also known as somnambulism — involves getting up and walking around while in a state of sleep. More common in children than adults, sleepwalking is usually outgrown by the teen years. Isolated incidents of sleepwalking often don’t signal any serious problems or require treatment. However, recurrent sleepwalking may suggest an underlying sleep disorder.

Sleepwalking is less common in adults and has a higher chance of being confused with or coexisting with other sleep disorders as well as medical and mental health conditions.

If anyone in your household sleepwalks, it’s important to protect him or her from sleepwalking-related injuries.

Symptoms

Sleepwalking is classified as a parasomnia — an undesirable behavior or experience during sleep. Sleepwalking is a disorder of arousal, meaning it occurs during slow wave sleep, the deepest stage of dreamless (non-rapid eye movement, or NREM) sleep. Another NREM disorder is sleep terrors, which can occur together with sleepwalking.

Sleepwalking usually occurs early in the night — often one to two hours after falling asleep. It’s unlikely to occur during naps. A sleepwalking episode can occur rarely or often, and an episode generally lasts several minutes, but can last longer.

Someone who is sleepwalking may:

  • Get out of bed and walk around
  • Sit up in bed and open his or her eyes
  • Have a glazed, glassy-eyed expression
  • Do routine activities, such as getting dressed, talking or making a snack
  • Not respond or communicate with others
  • Be difficult to wake up during an episode
  • Be disoriented or confused for a short time after being awakened
  • Quickly return to sleep
  • Not remember the episode in the morning
  • Sometimes have problems functioning during the day because of disturbed sleep
  • Have sleep terrors in addition to sleepwalking

Rarely, a person who is sleepwalking will:

  • Leave the house
  • Drive a car
  • Engage in unusual behavior, such as urinating in a closet
  • Engage in sexual activity without awareness
  • Get injured, for example, by falling down the stairs or jumping out a window
  • Become violent during the confused period after awakening or, occasionally, during the event

When to see a doctor

Occasional episodes of sleepwalking aren’t usually a cause for concern. You can simply mention the sleepwalking at a routine physical or well-child exam. However, consult your doctor if the sleepwalking episodes:

  • Occur often — for example, more than one to two times a week
  • Lead to dangerous behavior or injury to the person who sleepwalks (which may occur, for example, after leaving the house) or to others
  • Cause significant sleep disruption to household members or embarrassment to the person who sleepwalks
  • Start for the first time in an adult
  • Continue into your child’s teen years

Causes

Many factors can contribute to sleepwalking, including:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety, such as separation anxiety in children
  • Fever
  • Sleep schedule disruptions
  • Some medications and substances, such as short-acting hypnotics, sedatives or combinations of different drugs prescribed for psychiatric illnesses, as well as alcohol

Sometimes sleepwalking can by triggered by underlying conditions that interfere with sleep, such as:

  • Sleep-disordered breathing — a group of disorders characterized by abnormal breathing patterns during sleep (for example, obstructive sleep apnea)
  • Narcolepsy
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Migraines
  • Medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, head injury or stroke
  • Travel

Risk factors

Factors that may increase the risk of sleepwalking include:

  • Genetics. Sleepwalking appears to run in families. It’s more common if you have one parent who has a history of sleepwalking, and much more common if both parents have a history of the disorder.
  • Age. Sleepwalking occurs more often in children than adults, and onset in adulthood is more likely related to other health conditions.

Complications

Sleepwalking itself isn’t necessarily a concern, but sleepwalkers can:

  • Easily hurt themselves — especially if they walk near furniture or stairs, wander outdoors, drive a car or eat something inappropriate during a sleepwalking episode
  • Experience prolonged sleep disruption, which can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness and possible school or behavior issues
  • Be embarrassed or experience problems with social relationships
  • Disturb others’ sleep
  • Injure someone who is close by during the period of brief confusion immediately after waking or occasionally during the event

Preparing for your appointment

If you have concerns about safety or underlying conditions, you may want to see your doctor. Your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist.

What you can do

Here’s some information to help you prepare for your appointment.

  • Keep a sleep diary for two weeks before the appointment to help your doctor understand what’s causing the sleepwalking. In the morning, record as much as you know of bedtime rituals, quality of sleep, and so on. At the end of the day, record behaviors that may affect sleep, such as sleep schedule disruptions, caffeine intake and any medications taken.
  • Make a list of any symptoms experienced, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment.
  • Make a list of key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or other supplements currently being taken, and the dosages.
  • Bring a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember what the doctor says.
  • Prepare questions to ask your doctor to help you make the most of your time together.

Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely causing the symptoms or condition?
  • What are other possible causes?
  • What kinds of tests are needed?
  • Is the condition likely temporary or chronic?
  • What’s the best course of action?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach you’re suggesting?
  • Are there any restrictions that need to be followed?
  • Is referral to a specialist needed?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don’t hesitate to ask other questions that occur to you.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:

  • When did you begin experiencing or noticing symptoms?
  • Have you or your child had sleep problems in the past?
  • Does anyone else in your family have sleep problems?
  • What problems have you noticed related to the sleepwalking, such as awakening in unusual locations of the house?

Tests and diagnosis

Unless you live alone and are completely unaware of your sleepwalking, chances are you’ll make the diagnosis of sleepwalking for yourself. If your child sleepwalks, you’ll know it.

Your doctor may do a physical or psychological exam to identify any conditions that may be confused with sleepwalking, such as nighttime seizures, other sleep disorders or panic attacks. In some cases, a sleep study in an overnight sleep lab may be recommended.

Sleep studies

To participate in a sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram, you’ll likely spend the night in a sleep lab. A technologist places sensors on your scalp, temples, chest and legs using a mild adhesive, such as glue or tape. The sensors are connected by wires to a computer. A small clip is placed on your finger or ear to monitor the level of oxygen in your blood.

Polysomnography records your brain waves, the oxygen level in your blood, heart rate and breathing, as well as eye and leg movements during the study. Technologists monitor you throughout the night while you sleep.

Your doctor will review the information to determine whether you have any sleep disorders.

Treatments and drugs

Treatment for occasional sleepwalking usually isn’t necessary. In children who sleepwalk, it typically goes away by the teen years.

If you notice your child or anyone else in your household sleepwalking, gently lead him or her back to bed. It’s not dangerous to the sleepwalker to be awakened, but it can be disruptive — the person may become confused and disoriented, and possibly agitated.

Treatment may be needed if there are negative consequences for the sleepwalking, such as risk of injury or embarrassment, or if there’s distress for others.

Treatment may include:

  • Treating the underlying condition, if the sleepwalking is associated with sleep deprivation or an underlying sleep disturbance, medical condition or a mental health disorder
  • A change of medication, if it’s thought that the sleepwalking results from a drug
  • Anticipatory awakenings ― waking the sleepwalker about 15 minutes before the person usually sleepwalks, then staying awake for five minutes before falling asleep again
  • Medication, such as benzodiazepines or certain antidepressants, if the sleepwalking leads to the potential for injury, is disruptive to family members, or results in embarrassment or sleep disruption for the person who sleepwalks
  • Learning self-hypnosis

Lifestyle and home remedies

If sleepwalking is a problem for you or your child, try these suggestions.

  • Make the environment safe for sleepwalking. If sleepwalking has led to injuries or has the potential to do so, consider some of these precautions to prevent injury: Close and lock all windows and exterior doors at night. You might even lock interior doors or place alarms or bells on the doors. Block doorways or stairways with a gate, and move electrical cords or other objects that pose a tripping hazard. Sleep in a ground floor bedroom, if possible. Place any sharp or fragile objects out of reach, and lock up all weapons. If your child sleepwalks, don’t let him or her sleep in a bunk bed.
  • Get more sleep. Fatigue can contribute to sleepwalking. If you’re sleep deprived, try an earlier bedtime, a more regular sleep schedule or a short nap, especially for toddlers.
  • Establish a regular, relaxing routine before bedtime. Do quiet, calming activities before bed, such as reading books, doing puzzles or soaking in a warm bath. Meditation or relaxation exercises may help, too.
  • Put stress in its place. Identify the issues that cause stress, and brainstorm possible ways to handle the stress. Talk about what’s bothering you. Or if your child seems anxious or stressed, talk with him or her about any concerns.
  • Look for a pattern. For several nights, note ― or have another person in your home note ― how many minutes after bedtime a sleepwalking episode occurs. If the timing is fairly consistent, this information is useful in planning anticipatory awakenings.

Try to be positive. However disruptive, sleepwalking usually isn’t a serious condition — and it usually goes away on its own.


Updated: 2014-07-31

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How Often Should a Baby Feed at Night?

May 27th, 2015 Raquel Rothe

By: Brandon Peters, MD (Sleep Expert)

If you have a young baby, you might wonder: When can my sleep get back to normal?! As part of this, you may want to learn how often your baby should be feeding at night. Learn about weaning in the first 6 months of life, how you can minimize awakenings to eat in the night, and at what age those feedings should go away entirely.

First, each baby is different. Don’t try to force something to happen that may not be right for your child.

  • If more than 8 ounces of fluid are consumed overnight, it may be necessary to redistribute this intake to the daytime. This should occur gradually.

Another way to assess whether the feedings are needed is to pay attention to the number of diaper changes that occur. Most babies who are older than 3 months do not need to be changed at night. If the diapers are frequently soaked at night, this can be a sign of excessive fluid intake. A well-hydrated baby will urinate the extra fluid. Older children with bedwetting may experience this due to other reasons.

It is possible to gradually reduce the frequency and volume of feedings at night. Your child will learn to consume the needed fluid during the daytime and sleep soundly through the night. Adults don’t typically drink or eat during the night. Similarly, most babies beyond the age of 3 months shouldn’t either.

If you are concerned about your child’s need for feedings at night, or if you have difficulty weaning these nighttime feedings, speak with your pediatrician to obtain further guidance.

Source:

Ferber, R. “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems.” Simon & Schuster, The Fireside Edition, 2006.

6 Reasons to Love to Sleep-by SleepTracker

February 24th, 2015 Raquel Rothe

6 Reasons to Love to Sleep

love pillows

Songs romanticize it; fairytales reference it. Sometimes we even dream about it. It’s sleep and many of us can’t (or don’t) get enough of it.

Why is sleep so wonderful? Everyone has their own reason for valuing their beauty rest, but like love, it all comes down to how it makes use feel. Here are six reasons to love sleep:

  1. It can help you lose weight
    Studies have suggested links between sleep and weight, which means that more sleep means that you could actually gain less weight.
  2. It’s beauty’s ally
    Beauty sleep isn’t a myth! Recent research shows there’s a link between getting a good night’s rest and physical appearance.
  3. It helps support your immune system
    Lack of sleep can help make us more prone to catching illnesses, including the flu.
  4. It makes you happier
    Studies show that lack of sleep has a powerful impact on mood.
  5. It can help manage stress
    Running short on sleep can hinder focus, causing concentration and effectiveness to suffer and energy levels to decline. All of which diminishes our overall performance which can, in turn, lead to stress.
  6. It’s good for your brain
    Research suggests that both quantity and quality of sleep have an impact memory and learning.

Love your sleep, but feel like you can never get enough? Visit our website to learn more about SleepTracker, a revolutionary portable sleep monitor that wakes you up feeling refreshed and energized!

Sleepless in America-Men & Women’s sleep is out of sync

December 2nd, 2014 Raquel Rothe

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/men-and-women-have-separate-sleep-clocks/

Great link to watch this video from CBS News

Are There Benefits to “Lucid” Dreams?

September 11th, 2014 Raquel Rothe

Can we teach ourselves “lucid dreaming?” This blog by Shirley Wang in The Wall Street Journal explores research in the field that suggests ways to help creativity and problem-solving. “Lucid dreaming” may help people with mental health issues improve their sense of self-control, she writes:

Anthony Bloxham was standing in the garden of his house when he wondered if he was dreaming.

To figure it out, he looked at his hands. Experts in a phenomenon known as lucid dreaming, where sleeping people are aware that they’re in a dream, say dreamers should look for reality checks, or details that look different in dreams than in real life. Indeed, Mr. Bloxham’s hand was glowing yellow, so he realized he was asleep.

Some lucid dreamers are able to control elements of their dreams once they realize they’re dreaming. They do what’s impossible or unlikely in real life, like fly or meet famous people. Mr. Bloxham, 21, a recent university graduate from Mansfield, England, who stumbled onto the concept on the Internet and thought it sounded like fun, recalls the feeling of swimming through the air-though he hasn’t flown, as he’s wanted to.

Others use the technique to solve problems, spur creativity, overcome nightmares or practice a physical skill, says Daniel Erlacher, a professor at the University of Bern’s Institute for Sport Science, who has conducted surveys of lucid dreamers.

Researchers are studying people like Mr. Bloxham to understand if lucid dreaming can improve dreamers’ abilities when they’re awake.

Psychologists at the University of Lincoln in England found in a June study that people with frequent lucid dreams are better at cognitive tasks that involve insight, like problem-solving. Other researchers have shown that people who dream of practicing a routine can improve their abilities in that activity in real life. Early evidence also suggests that lucid dreaming may help improve depressive symptoms and mental health in general, perhaps by giving people a greater sense of self-control.

Many of the studies are small, however, and it isn’t always clear whether lucid dreaming is responsible for the improvements or simply linked to them, experts say. People vary tremendously in how often they remember their dreams, as well as their degree of awareness and control while dreaming.

Most people aren’t aware when they’re dreaming, which tends to occur in a stage known as rapid-eye movement, or REM, sleep. Yet even with the body in a very deep sleep, the mind is very active.

Having awareness during the dream state, and the added ability to control the dream, as portrayed in the movie “Inception,” isn’t a regular occurrence for most people. Surveys suggest that about half of us will have at least one experience in our lifetimes. About 20% or more have routine lucid dreaming experiences, according to studies conducted by Dr. Erlacher and his team in Switzerland.

The plot of the 2010 film “Inception” involves the idea of lucid dreaming.

Lucid dreaming comes more easily to some people, but experts say it can be learned. The low number of people able to lucid dream at will, particularly in a sleep lab, is one of the main challenges with conducting research on the phenomenon. Another obstacle is figuring out when people are actually lucid dreaming, since it isn’t clear whether people’s recollections upon waking are accurate.

Patrick Bourke and Hannah Shaw are researchers from the University of Lincoln, and lucid dreamers themselves. They set out to investigate in their recent study whether frequent lucid dreamers had different ways of thinking while awake, compared with non-frequent lucid dreamers. They hypothesized that awareness while dreaming may be related to those “aha!” moments often necessary in problem-solving. The study was published in Dreaming, a journal of the American Psychological Association, in June.

In the lab, 20 people who say they haven’t had the experience of being aware that they’re dreaming, 28 occasional lucid dreamers and 20 frequent lucid dreamers completed a problem-solving task. They were given three words and had to figure out a word to go with each. For instance, stone pairs up with the trio of age, mile and sand.

The frequent lucid dreamers were significantly better at solving these puzzles than the non-dreamers. The occasional dreamers fell in the middle but weren’t statistically different from either of the other two groups.

Why frequent dreamers showed improved performance wasn’t clear from the study. The authors speculated that the ability to make more remote associations and question unusual details could be more finely honed in the lucid group. The authors don’t know if the lucid dreamers differed from the other groups in terms of intelligence or other cognitive skills.

Other studies looking at different cognitive tasks also suggest that lucid dreamers perform better than non-lucid dreamers.

College and Sleep Should Be Two Peas in a Pod

September 3rd, 2014 Raquel Rothe

Our new college bedding study highlights problems with the pillows and mattress pads that college students take to school with them.  But, gross fungi aside, it also brings up a very important point — a good night’s sleep increases a student’s chance of success in college exponentially.

Multiple studies have been done on the subject.  One, covered here at SleepBetter.org, looked at 60 college-age subjects.  The participants were split into two equal groups.  In the morning, the first group learned a batch of 30 fake words.  They then returned later in the evening to take a test on how well they learned the words. Meanwhile, the second group studied the same phony words at nighttime. This group did not complete their vocabulary test until the following morning after a full night’s sleep.

Once the tests were scored, researchers found that the subjects who slept after learning the new words performed much better than those who were awake throughout the day.

By entering a deep sleep, your brain is better able to establish connections between new facts and previous knowledge.  Since learning new things and applying connections is what college is all about, it only stands to reason that sleep and attending college should go together like two peas in a pod.

Here are some recommendations from an article we published last year called Five Tips to Help College Students Sleep Better:

  • Make sure they have a proper pillow.  Check out that pillow your student is taking to school.  Has it been around since they were in kindergarten?  If so, replace it.  Not only could it be filled with fungi, an outdated, out-of-shape pillow can also make it hard to get comfortable at night.
  • Add a mattress pad. Dormitory beds are notoriously uncomfortable, but adding a good mattress pad can make them tolerable.
  • Earplugs may not be a bad idea.  It’s no secret that dorms are noisy.
  • Talk about what a bed is used for.  This will sound strange, but using a bed for a desk, a TV chair, and even a video game lounge can lead to not getting to sleep when it’s bedtime.
  • Suggest a good sleep routine.  Going to bed and getting up at the same time every night is the best way to go.  Knowing that’s unrealistic, however, perhaps suggest they try to go to sleep at around the same time Sunday through Thursday.  Recognizing that Friday and Saturday night probably won’t mean lights out at 10pm, suggest trying to get to bed no later than a couple of hours after their weekday bedtime.

After reading about our college bedding story, are you freaked out about what’s inside your pillow?  Be sure to check out our article on how to clean your pillow!

http://sleepbetter.org/college-and-sleep-should-be-two-peas-in-a-pod/

Poor Coping Mechanisms a Mediating Pathway Between Stress Exposure and Insomnia

August 1st, 2014 Raquel Rothe
Published on July 3, 2014

A new study identifies specific coping behaviors through which stress exposure leads to the development of insomnia.

Results show that coping with a stressful event through behavioral disengagement—giving up on dealing with the stress—or by using alcohol or drugs each significantly mediated the relationship between stress exposure and insomnia development. Surprisingly, the coping technique of self-distraction—such as going to the movies or watching TV–also was a significant mediator between stress and incident insomnia. Furthermore, the study found that cognitive intrusion—recurrent thoughts about the stressor—was a significant and key mediator, accounting for 69% of the total effect of stress exposure on insomnia.

“Our study is among the first to show that it’s not the number of stressors, but your reaction to them that determines the likelihood of experiencing insomnia,” says lead author Vivek Pillai, PhD, research fellow at the Sleep Disorders & Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, in a release. “While a stressful event can lead to a bad night of sleep, it’s what you do in response to stress that can be the difference between a few bad nights and chronic insomnia.”

Study results are published in the July 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

The study involved a community-based sample of 2,892 good sleepers with no lifetime history of insomnia. At baseline, the participants reported the number of stressful life events that they had experienced in the past year, such as a divorce, serious illness, major financial problem, or the death of a spouse. They also reported the perceived severity and duration of each stressful event. Questionnaires also measured levels of cognitive intrusion and identified coping strategies in which participants engaged in the 7 days following the stressful event. A follow-up assessment after 1 year identified participants with insomnia disorder, which was defined as having symptoms of insomnia occurring at least 3 nights per week for a duration of 1 month or longer with associated daytime impairment or distress.

“This study is an important reminder that stressful events and other major life changes often cause insomnia,” says American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) president Dr Timothy Morgenthaler. “If you are feeling overwhelmed by events in your life, talk to your doctor about strategies to reduce your stress level and improve your sleep.”

According to the authors, the study identified potential targets for therapeutic interventions to improve coping responses to stress and reduce the risk of insomnia. In particular, they noted that mindfulness-based therapies have shown considerable promise in suppressing cognitive intrusion and improving sleep.

“Though we may not be able to control external events, we can reduce their burden by staying away from certain maladaptive behaviors,” Pillai says.

The AASM reports that short-term insomnia disorder lasting less than 3 months occurs in 15% to 20% of adults and is more prevalent in women than in men.

- See more at: http://www.sleepreviewmag.com/2014/07/stress-exposure-coping-insomnia/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=SR+Sleep+Report+7%2F09&spMailingID=8979349&spUserID=MjQxMTIxNTA4MjUS1&spJobID=340679522&spReportId=MzQwNjc5NTIyS0#sthash.lVQ3rxG0.dpuf

REM Sleep Disturbance May Signal Future Parkinson’s or Dementia

July 2nd, 2014 Raquel Rothe

REM behavior disorder could be a sign of impending neurodegenerative disease, including Parkinson’s and dementia, according to new research at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging’s 2014 Annual Meeting.

Researchers are not sure why spontaneous and unexplained disturbance in REM sleep should lead to a neurodegenerative disease like Parkinson’s, but new longitudinal imaging data show a clear correlation between idiopathic REM behavior disorder and dysfunction of the dopamine transporter system involved in a wide range of vital brain functions, including memory and motor control. Dysfunction associated with dopamine in the brain marks the first hints of Parkinson’s disease.

In order to gauge the relationship between the REM sleep disorder and neurodegeneration, scientists performed molecular neuroimaging using a technique called single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), which allows clinicians to evaluate bodily functions instead of focusing on structure, the forte of conventional radiology.

“Our SPECT study showed a trend toward decreased dopamine transporter density in the brain and Parkinsonism in the follow-up data of patients with REM sleep disorder who had no previous evidence of neurodegenerative disease,” said Hongyoon Choi, MD, a researcher at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Sungnam, Korea. “To our knowledge, a study looking at a long-term link between the two has never been conducted before.”

A total of 21 consecutive patients with no known Parkinsonism or cognitive decline were enrolled in the long-term study between 2004 and 2006 and were followed after about 8 years. A baseline SPECT scan of dopamine transporter function was performed with the radiopharmaceutical I-123 FP-CIT as an imaging agent. A follow-up scan was performed to assess progression of neurodegenerative disease. Results showed that after follow-up, patients’ SPECT scans revealed substantial decreases in radiotracer binding to the dopamine transport system in the nigrostriatal regions of the brain. A lack of tracer binding in these regions of the brain is closely linked to neuronal degeneration and the development of dementia and movement disorders.

A total of 10 patients out of the original 21 patients with disturbed REM sleep were found to have decreased striatal tracer binding at the beginning of the study. Of these, seven had developed neurodegenerative disease by follow-up some years later, including four patients who developed Parkinson’s disease and two patients who developed dementia with Lewy bodies, a neurodegenerative disease identified by the build-up of proteins, called Lewy bodies, in brain regions associated with memory muscle control.

- See more at: http://www.rtmagazine.com/2014/06/rem-sleep-disturbance-future-parkinsons-dementia/#sthash.PQJm2EyR.dpuf

The Medicine Cabinet-Ask the Harvard Experts: Restless legs might improve with nutritional changes

May 28th, 2014 Raquel Rothe

By Robert Shmerling. M.D., Tribune Content AgencyPremium Health News Service

4:30 a.m. CDT, April 30, 2014

Q: I have restless legs syndrome. Can diet help?

A: We don’t know what causes restless legs syndrome, but we do know that it causes unpleasant or painful sensations in the legs. This could include tingling, pulling, or crawling, along with an urge to move the legs.

A number of medications can help. However, treatment recommendations do not usually include changes in diet. Therefore, many doctors would answer “no” to your question. However, there are some associations that might be considered.

Iron deficiency is a risk factor for restless legs syndrome. So if blood tests show iron deficiency, eating iron-rich foods might help. Examples include red meat, leafy green vegetables and iron-fortified cereals. But most doctors would simply recommend an iron supplement. (And your doctor may recommend testing to determine the cause of iron deficiency.)

A few studies have found that celiac disease is more common among people with restless legs syndrome. For people with both celiac disease and restless legs syndrome, eliminating gluten from the diet might improve symptoms of both conditions. However, this possibility has not been well-studied.

A study of more than 18,000 men found no connection between restless legs syndrome and an “unhealthy diet.” (This would be a diet that increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illness.) But this study did not include a detailed analysis of the impact of specific foods on restless legs syndrome.

Caffeine and alcohol may affect sleep quality. Poor sleep quality can make symptoms of restless legs syndrome worse. If you’re willing, it may be worth a trial of cutting back and then eliminating both from your diet.

If you have restless legs syndrome, current evidence suggests that dietary changes are unlikely to have a major impact on your symptoms. But research regarding the connection is limited. Future research could change that.

Until then, watch your caffeine and alcohol intake. And talk with your doctor about getting a blood test for iron deficiency and perhaps for celiac disease.

(Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. is a practicing physician in rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass., and an Associate Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School.)

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