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It's true - you can practice in your sleep
June 26th, 2012
02:30 PM ET

It's true - you can practice in your sleep

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.
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Filed under: Brain • Psychology • Sleep

June 9th, 2012
10:06 AM ET

Sleeping babies and kids make happy parents

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!
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Nearly 1 in 3 have sleepwalked, study finds
May 14th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Nearly 1 in 3 have sleepwalked, study finds

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.
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Weight loss and my machine 'companion'
Glenn Keller and Fit Nation Athletic Director April Burkey stretch after a run in Atlanta.
March 28th, 2012
09:01 AM ET

Weight loss and my machine 'companion'

Glenn Keller is one of seven CNN viewers participating in the 2012 Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. At the beginning of the challenge, Keller weighed more than 300 pounds and suffered from sleep apnea due to his obesity.

It's been ten years or so now that I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. I was told that it was a result of my being overweight. The process started with a sleep study when I spent the night in a sleep lab so that the degree of sleep apnea could be diagnosed. That way they would be able to determine settings for my new companion, a C.P.A.P. (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.

I use the term "companion" because the machine goes everywhere with me. I've been unable to go anywhere without it for years and I mean anywhere.

It has gone more places with me than my wife.

When I went on a cruise ... it was there.

When I go to Louisiana to visit my mother - it's right there.

Spend a night somewhere in a motel ... and it's right there.

And yes, it's in the truck also, every time it moves.

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Study shows risk with sleeping pills; conclusion criticized
February 27th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

Study shows risk with sleeping pills; conclusion criticized

Common sleep medications may be linked to a shorter lifespan, according to a study released Monday in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers compared 10,500 adults who took prescription strength sleep aids with people who did not. Those who popped just one to 18 sleeping pills during the course of a year, had a 3.5 times increase risk of early death than those prescribed none. The increased jumped fivefold for people who took three sleeping pills or more per week.

"After controlling for several factors, we saw the risk rose in tandem with the more doses people consumed," says Dr. Daniel Kripke, study author and psychiatrist  at Viterbi Family Sleep Center in San Diego. "The mortality hazard was very high, it even surprised us."

But one sleep expert not affiliated with the study immediately sought to debunk the conclusions, saying it leads to unnecessary confusion to consumers.

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Vicious cycle of sleep apnea and obesity in kids
February 17th, 2012
03:20 PM ET

Vicious cycle of sleep apnea and obesity in kids

Lisa Shives, M.D., is the founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. She blogs regularly on The Chart. Read more from her at Dr. Lisa Shives’ Sleep Better Blog.

The classic pediatric sleep apnea patient is a skinny 6-year-old with chronic congestion and dark circles under his eyes.

We still see many kids in the sleep center who match this profile, but over the past 10 years, a new clinical picture has emerged. Coinciding with the dramatic rise in childhood obesity, there is a clear change in our younger patients.

We now see many overweight children in the sleep clinic who have obstructive sleep apnea that resembles the adult version.

The thin child with OSA does not usually act sleepy in the daytime. On the contrary, they often act hyperactive or inattentive. In fact, their symptoms can mimic attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
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Sleep apnea linked to silent strokes
February 1st, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Sleep apnea linked to silent strokes

Lisa Shives, M.D., is the founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. She blogs regularly on The Chart. Read more from her at Dr. Lisa Shives’ Sleep Better Blog.

This week, a study was presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference that caught my eye.  It's a small study that adds further evidence to what most sleep experts already know - that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is linked with a high risk of having silent strokes.

OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea, according to the National Institutes of Health.  More than 12 million Americans are believed to suffer from this sleep disorder. People with sleep apnea stop breathing for 10 to 20 seconds or longer and this can happen at least 20 to 30 times an hour. 

In this new study, researchers at Dresden University in Germany, looked at silent strokes and the prevalence of OSA in 56 patients who had been hospitalized for a major stroke.
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Why you can't sleep when you're in pain
January 17th, 2012
11:14 AM ET

Why you can't sleep when you're in pain

Lisa Shives, M.D., is the founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. She blogs regularly on The Chart. Read more from her at Dr. Lisa Shives’ Sleep Better Blog.

Patients often come to me with symptoms they describe as "fatigue" or "tiredness." The first task is to tease out exactly what they mean. To a sleep doctor, fatigue and tiredness usually mean the body needs or wants to rest, whereas "sleepiness" suggests that the mind wants to rest.

Patients with any pain syndrome often come in complaining of fatigue or tiredness. Their bodies have trouble falling and staying asleep. Sleep and pain are both ultimately controlled by the central nervous system. Poor sleep and pain form a vicious cycle - uncontrolled pain makes sleep difficult (if not impossible) and, in turn, the resulting poor sleep makes it more difficult to adequately control the pain.

Most physicians know very well that poorly controlled pain will cause difficulty sleeping. But they often don’t think about the patient having a separate sleep disorder that may be fueling the pain.
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Filed under: Sleep

Sleeping disorders affect work of police officers
December 20th, 2011
04:01 PM ET

Sleeping disorders affect work of police officers

A new study finds that many police officers might be better at their jobs, if they had more and better sleep.

Researchers screened officers for sleeping disorders and found that 40% had at least one disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia.

Those with sleeping disorders were 51% more likely to fall asleep while driving, 63% more likely to violate safety protocols, 43% more likely to make administrative errors, and 22% more likely to be injured on the job, compared to officers reporting no sleeping disorders.

People had more bad things to say, too, about police officers who happen to sleep poorly, with citizens filing 35% more complaints against those with sleeping disorders. FULL POST


Sleeping through the holidays
December 20th, 2011
12:27 PM ET

Sleeping through the holidays

Last year around this time, my friend Sue called worried about her college-age son Charlie because he seemed to be sleeping away his whole Christmas vacation.

“At first, I thought, OK, he is just catching up because he was up many nights studying for finals. But now two weeks have gone by and he is still sleeping the day away.”

There are a number of reasons that college kids or teens could be sleeping all day. As my friend suspected, we do indeed try to “catch up” on sleep. It seems to work to a certain extent, but we can’t make up for the full amount of sleep lost. FULL POST

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Filed under: Mind and body • Sleep • Stress

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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.

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