January 4th, 2013
03:55 PM ET
Most of us are familiar with the dangers of drunken driving, but drowsy driving can be just as deadly. Studies estimate 15% to 33% of fatal crashes involve tired drivers, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Being sleep-deprived slows our reaction time, said Dr. Michael Howell, a sleep expert with the University of Minnesota. That can mean hitting something we might otherwise avoid, like a child on a bicycle who suddenly veers off the sidewalk.
We're also more impulsive when we're tired, Howell said. It's like our brains revert to being teenagers. "We respond to things without thinking them through," he says. "... Road rage happens because people are sleep deprived."
The CDC report analyzed data from a 2009-2010 national behavioral telephone survey of more than 147,000 respondents. Approximately 4.2% of those surveyed reported having fallen asleep while driving at least once during the last month. That’s one out of every 24 people.
October 17th, 2012
09:32 AM ET
Everyone has had one of those days where a night of choppy or short sleep leads into a morning of mental haze. New research presented at the Neuroscience 2012 conference suggests that sleep deprivation might be worse for you than you think.
For starters, sleepiness in the elderly could be an indication of Alzheimer's risk, says Andrew Ward, researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Ward and colleagues did a study involving 84 elderly adults without memory problems, ranging from age 66 to 87. Researchers gave them a questionnaire about how likely they were to fall asleep during various daily activities, as a way to measure sleepiness. They also measured brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
October 15th, 2012
12:02 AM ET
Sleepy school children make crabby classmates, while students who get plenty of sleep are better behaved, according to a new study published this week in the journal Pediatrics.
"Extending sleep opens the door to an effective, feasible way to improve children's health and performance," says study author Reut Gruber, director of the Attention Behavior and Sleep Lab at the Douglas Research Center in Quebec, Canada.
Gruber and his colleagues wanted to find out if the behavior of elementary school children was affected by how much sleep they got. The researchers, with the permission of parents, enrolled 34 students ages 7 to 11 in the study. These were healthy kids who didn't have sleep problems or behavior or academic issues.
October 1st, 2012
12:20 PM ET
Lack of quality sleep for adults may negatively impact heart health. Evidence now suggests that sleep problems during adolescence may increase health risks as well.
The research appeared Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
"When most people think about cardiovascular risk factors and risk behaviors, they don't necessarily think of sleep," said Dr. Brian McCrindle, senior author and cardiologist at SickKids in Toronto, Ontario. "This study ... shows a clear association between sleep disturbance (in adolescents) and a greater likelihood of having high cholesterol, high blood pressure and being overweight or obese." FULL POST
August 13th, 2012
03:28 PM ET
Everyone snores, even children. But if your little ones snore often and loudly, doctors say they may face other problems, such as hyperactivity, inattention and depression.
Researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center studied 249 children, surveying their mothers about their youngsters’ sleeping habits. The study found children who snored loudly at least twice a week at the ages of 2 and 3 had more behavioral problems than children who didn’t snore, or who snored at 2 or 3 but not at both ages.
"The strongest predictors of persistent snoring were lower socioeconomic status and the absence or shorter duration of breast-feeding," says Dr. Dean Beebe, director of the hospital's neuropsychology program. "This would suggest that doctors routinely screen for and track snoring, especially in children from poorer families, and refer loudly-snoring children for follow-up care.
"Failing to screen, or taking a 'wait and see' approach on snoring, could make preschool behavior problems worse," he says. "The findings also support the encouragement and facilitation of infant breast-feeding."
August 6th, 2012
08:48 AM ET
Any parent with a child old enough to speak has no doubt endured many sleepless nights as the result of bad dreams. Sometimes there’s a monster hiding in the closet. Other times there are bugs crawling underneath the bed, or a witch lurking in the hallway.
Countless observational studies have reported an association between media and sleep problems in children. But a new study published Monday in the American Academy of Pediatrics now purports a causal relationship between violent or inappropriate media and poor sleep.
The study’s authors analyzed more than 500 children aged 3 to 5, their media viewing habits and their quality of sleep. The results show that replacing violent content with age-appropriate and educational alternatives can indeed lead to improved down time.
June 27th, 2012
05:13 PM ET
If someone you know kicks and punches you while they are sleeping, it may be because they have something called REM sleep behavior disorder or RBD, an extremely rare sleep disorder that affects an estimated 0.5% of adults worldwide.
Now researchers say they have identified some of the risk factors that contribute to someone getting RBD, which they believe can be a precursor to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's. Over half of people with RBD develop a neurodegenerative disease, according to the American Academy of Neurology.
When people without this disorder are in REM sleep (the short period of time when you actually dream), their muscles are usually in a state of paralysis (atonia), according to the Cleveland Clinic. But people with RBD move their body or limbs while dreaming. and they could be acting out what they are dreaming. People with RBD are in danger of harming sleep partners as they act out.
June 26th, 2012
02:30 PM ET
Northwestern University researchers are validating procrasti-nappers everywhere – they say a 90-minute nap can actually help in learning a new skill.
At least when that skill is remembering a musical tune.
Participants in the study, published June 26 in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience, learned two different musical sequences on a computer screen while watching moving circles that went along with them, similar to video games such as Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution.
After practicing for 25 minutes, the participants took a 90-minute nap. The researchers monitored the participants’ brain activity, and when they entered the “slow wave sleep stage” - a period of deep sleep with occasional intervening periods of REM sleep - the psychologists played one of the two sequences quietly.
June 9th, 2012
10:06 AM ET
Editor's note: Pediatrician and bst-selling author Dr. Harvey Karp has been giving parents advice on how their children can be the "happiest babies and toddlers on the block," by providing tips on how to help them sleep better and how to better communicate with young children. He joins Dr. Sanjay Gupta on "Sanjay Gupta, MD" at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday and 7:30 a.m. ET Sunday, with more advice on how to help children sleep better.
According to a recent BabyCenter survey of 1,000 moms, exhaustion is their No. 1 complaint!
In fact, 29% of new moms can't remember the last time they slept 8 hours. And the problem doesn't just last a few months. One in three kids continues to fight sleep or wake up in the black of night... most nights.
Extreme fatigue is corrosive to the happiness of this time of life. Tired parents feel demoralized, angry, forgetful - and their health suffers too!
May 14th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
Sleepwalking isn't just a quirk of Homer Simpson and other cartoon characters who go on unconscious adventures. New research suggests it's even more common than you may think.
Researchers published a study in the journal Neurology involving more than 19,000 American adults, and found that nearly 30% had sleepwalked at some point in their lives. Far fewer said they experienced sleepwalking within the last year - only about 4% did. One percent had two or more episodes per month.
Dr. Maurice Ohayon of Stanford University and lead author of the study says sleepwalking can be risky business; some people can harm themselves or others while wandering about.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.