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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.

It’s time to get healthy sleep for your entire body

April 29th, 2015 Raquel Rothe

April 9, 2014

Your doctor could soon be prescribing crucial shuteye as treatment for everything from obesity to ADHD to mental health as experts say carving out time for sleep is just as important as diet and exercise

After being diagnosed with brain and lung cancer in 2011, Lynn Mitchell, 68, was averaging about an hour of solid sleep a night. Stressed about her treatments, she was paying for it in hours of lost sleep.

The brain cancer was already affecting her mobility—Mitchell was often dizzy and would lose her balance—but the lack of sleep was exacerbating things. Even walking became increasingly difficult. Exhausted in the mornings, she was practically incoherent. When her doctors recommend she see a sleep therapist, Mitchell was relieved at how benign it sounded in comparison to the chemotherapy she had undergone and the gene therapy trial she was undergoing, which had side effects like nausea and fatigue.

For about nine weeks, Mitchell worked with the sleep therapist to adjust her sleep habits. She got under the covers only when she was extremely tired. She quit watching TV in bed. She stopped drinking caffeinated coffee in the evening. She also learned breathing exercises to relax and help her drift off. It was all quite simple and common sense, and, most importantly, noninvasive and didn’t require popping any pills.

“It’s common knowledge that sleep is needed for day to day function,” says Dr. David Rapoport, director of the Sleep Medicine Program at NYU School of Medicine. “What isn’t common knowledge is that it really matters—it’s not just cosmetic.” Rapoport has long seen people seek sleep therapy because they’re chronically tired or suffering from insomnia, but an increasing number of patients are being referred to his center for common diseases, disorders, and mental health.

Researchers have known for some time that sleep is critical for weight maintenance and hormone balance. And too little sleep is linked to everything from diabetes to heart disease to depression. Recently, the research on sleep has been overwhelming, with mounting evidence that it plays a role in nearly every aspect of health. Beyond chronic illnesses, a child’s behavioral problems at school could be rooted in mild sleep apnea. And studies have shown children with ADHD are more likely to get insufficient sleep. A recent study published in the journal SLEEP found a link between older men with poor sleep quality and cognitive decline. Another study out this week shows sleep is essential in early childhood for development, learning, and the formation and retention of memories. Dr. Allan Rechtschaffen, a pioneer of sleep research at the University of Chicago, once said, “If sleep does not serve an absolutely vital function, then it is the biggest mistake the evolutionary process ever made.”

But to many of us, sleep is easily sacrificed, especially since lack of it isn’t seen as life threatening. Over time, sleep deprivation can have serious consequences, but we mostly sacrifice a night of sleep here and there, and always say that we’ll “catch up.” Luckily, it is possible to make up for sleep debt (though it can take a very long time), but most Americans are still chronically sleep deprived.

While diet and exercise have been a part of public health messaging for decades, doctors and health advocates are now beginning to argue that getting quality sleep may be just as important for overall health. “Sleep is probably easier to change than diet or exercise,” says Dr. Michael Grandner, a sleep researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. “It may also give you more of an immediate reward if it helps you get through your day.” Sleep experts claim that it is one of the top three, and sometimes the most, important lifestyle adjustments one can make, in addition to diet and exercise. And while there’s more evidence linking diet and exercise as influential health factors, sleep is probably more important in terms of brain and hormonal function, Grandner says. “Among a small group of [sleep researchers], it’s always been said that [eating, exercise, and sleep] are the three pillars of health,” says Dr. Rapoport.

In our increasingly professional and digital lives, where there are now more things than ever competing for the hours in our day, carving out time for sleep is not only increasingly difficult, but also more necessary. Using technology before bed stimulates us and interferes with our sleep, yet 95% of Americans use some type of electronics like a computer, TV, or cell phone at least a few nights a week within the hour before we go to bed, according to a 2011 National Sleep Foundation survey. “Many doctors, lawyers, and executives stay up late and get up early and burn the candle at both ends,” says Dr. Richard Lang, chair of Preventative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. “Making sure they pay attention to sleep in the same way they pay attention to diet and exercise is crucial.”

To some, sleep has become a powerful antidote to mental health. Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, advocates that sleep is the secret to success, happiness, and peak performance. After passing out a few years ago from exhaustion and cracking a cheekbone against her desk, Huffington has become something of a sleep evangelist. In a 2010 TEDWomen conference, Huffington said, “The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep.” Research linking high-quality sleep with better mental health is growing; a 2013 study found that treating depressed patients for insomnia can double their likelihood of overcoming the disorder.

While 70% of physicians agree that inadequate sleep is a major health problem, only 43% counsel their patients on the benefits of adequate sleep. But there’s growing pressure on primary care physicians to address, and even prescribe, sleep during routine check-ups. In a recent study published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, the researchers concluded that health professionals should prescribe sleep to prevent and treat metabolic disorders like obesity and diabetes. And overlooking sleep as a major health issue can also have deadly consequences. It was recently reported that the operator of the Metro-North train that derailed in New York last year, killing four people and injuring more than 70, had an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea.

Sleep therapies can range from simply learning new lifestyle behaviors to promote sleep, to figuring out how to position oneself in bed. More drastic measures involve surgery to open up an airway passage for people suffering from disorders like sleep apnea. Sleeping pills can be prescribed too, to get much needed rest, but sleep therapists tend to favor other approaches because of possible dependencies developing.

A large part of reaping the benefits of sleep is knowing when you’re not getting the right amount. According to a 2013 Gallup survey, 40% of Americans get less than the recommended seven to eight hours a night. While the typical person still logs about 6.8 hours of sleep per night, that’s a drop from the 7.9 Americans were getting in the 1940s.

When it comes to adequate sleep, it’s much more personalized than previously thought. Some people feel great on five hours of rest, while others need ten. The best way to determine if you’re getting the right amount, doctors say, is to find out how many hours of sleep you need to be able to wake up without an alarm and feel rested, refreshed, and energetic throughout the day.

Since reforming her sleep habits, Mitchell has been clocking up to seven hours of shuteye a night for the past two months. “I’m alert in the morning, my balance is better, and I feel peppier,” says Mitchell. Getting enough sleep has helped her better deal with her cancers, and its symptoms. The best news is that she recently found out that her brain tumor is shrinking, and there are fewer cancerous spots on her lungs.

Even smartphone screens impact kids’ sleep, study finds

February 26th, 2015 Raquel Rothe

Meghan Holohan


Jan. 5, 2015 at 2:44 AM ET

For tweens who got a tablet or smartphone for the holidays, their new bedtime routine may involve Netflix helping them doze off. But don’t think that’s better than watching TV before bed. A new study finds that even small-screen devices interrupt children’s sleep.

Experts have known that a flickering TV in the bedroom cuts into children’s sleep time. A researcher at the University of California, Berkeley wondered if small screens, such as those found on tablets and smartphones, influenced children’s sleep, too.

“Much less is known about new forms of media, like smartphones,” says Jennifer Falbe, lead author of the study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics. “[They] have the potential to impact sleep, perhaps to a greater degree than traditional media.”

Falbe studied results from the Massachusetts Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration, where 2,048 fourth-and seventh-grade students answered questions about their sleep and TV, smartphone, and tablet habits.

What the new research found:

  • Children who dozed off near a small screen said they slept 20.6 minutes less than their peers who snoozed away from electronic devices.
  • More importantly, children attached to small screens complained of interrupted sleep, something that even those who watched loads of TV or slept with a TV in the room did not admit to feeling.
  • Those who were lulled to sleep by a TV admitted to 18 fewer minutes a sleep.
  • Children who spent a lot of time during the day watching TV or videos or playing videogames also reported sleeping less.

The study didn’t look at why small screens impact sleep, but Falbe says a few factors play a role.

“While any type of light can suppress melatonin release, blue light emitted from electronics has a stronger impact on melatonin release,” she says. “Content can be engaging and emotionally arousing.”

While children may treat tablets and smartphones like another appendage, experts say there are ways to stop them from migrating to the bedroom.

“[Smart phones and tablets] are robbing the kid of the nightly routine of how to go to bed and get to sleep,” says Michele Borba, a parenting expert and TODAY Parents contributor.

She believes children need to learn how to fall asleep without help from electronics and recommends that phones and tablets are worked into the nighttime routine. Children will soon know that they can’t use electronics a half hour before bed.

Parenting expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa takes it one step further: parents should keep all chargers in their bedrooms and tell their children they must “park” their devices in their rooms. The ping of a text will no longer cause a child to spring from bed to check a phone or tablet.

“Kids genuinely believe … communication is actually that urgent,” says Gilboa. “Every one of those messages feels impossible to ignore.”

http://www.today.com/parents

Winter, sleep and your circadian rhythms

January 19th, 2015 Raquel Rothe
American Academy of Sleep Medicine  |  Nov 13, 2014
Unlike animals, humans do not need to hibernate during the winter. It may feel like you need more sleep during the winter months because the days get shorter. However, your actual sleep need does not increase.

It is normal for sleep habits and activity cycles to change a bit as the seasons change, according to Dr. Emerson M. Wickwire, Sleep Medicine Program Director at Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Associates in Columbia, Md., assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. If you experience excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue or a noticeable change in your mood, irritability or ability to think or remember clearly, then you should talk to a board-certified sleep physician.

“The biggest mistake that people make when it comes to sleeping in winter is ignoring their body’s natural rhythm. Even if you’re tempted to stay in bed or on the couch all day long, unless you are sick it’s a good idea to get up and move around.”

Staying in bed or on the couch all day long when you’re not sick may throw off your circadian rhythms. The visual cues of light and darkness “set” this internal clock keeping it synchronized to a 24-hour cycle.

A number of sleep disorders that are linked to misaligned circadian rhythms including insomniajet lag andshift work disorder. Abnormal circadian rhythms have also been blamed for depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder, which is more common in the winter.

WINTER SLEEP TIPS

  • Increase exposure to light
  • increase or maintain physical activity
  • Use a humidifier or nasal rinse to keep your airway passages from drying out
  • Make sure that your bedroom is not too warm or too cold

Sleepless in America-National Geographic Trailer

December 12th, 2014 Raquel Rothe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ti20okupT6U&sns=em

A MUST watch for EVERYONE!

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

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/

Sleepy Drivers Use the Wrong Tactics to Stay Awake

August 21st, 2014 Raquel Rothe

DME automotive recently surveyed American drivers on the top ways they try to combat sleepiness on the road, and it turns out that drivers are getting it all wrong.

Recent articles document the results of the survey which predictably found drinking caffeinated beverages at the top of the list for staying awake. This tactic, along with opening windows, pulling over and exercising/stretching, and blasting loud music and air conditioning realistically have very short-term to no effect.

Instead, safety experts recommend pulling over and taking a nap. “Pulling over and napping (only 23 percent reporting) ranked a lowly 7(th), on a par with eating or singing (21 percent),” writes Canadian Automotive Review. “The findings indicate most drivers are doing things to fight sleepiness at the wheel that don’t work, and it’s likely contributing to the scary statistics: drowsy driving is responsible for somewhere between 15-33 percent of all fatal crashes,(1) or more than 100,000 accidents each year.”

“This survey reveals a big problem: when people get sleepy on the road, too many take measures that simply don’t work. Most of us do ineffective things like stopping for that third triple-shot cappuccino or slapping water on our face just to keep going. As drivers, we need to heed our drowsiness: and stop and sleep, or let a rested person drive,” said Mary Sheridan, director of Research and Analytics for DME automotive.

Source: Purchasing B2B/From Sleep Diagnosis and Therapy

Five Ways To Sleep Outside Without A Tent

July 22nd, 2014 Raquel Rothe

http://indefinitelywild.gizmodo.com/five-ways-to-sleep-outside-without-a-tent-1598690786

Great article for all the campers out there and it is summer-enjoy!

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.)

(For additional consumer health information, please visit http://www.health.harvard.edu.)

(c) 2014 PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLEGE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.