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Sleep Science

  • Full Moon, Half Sleep

    This summer was hailed for the high number of super moons that were viewed from Earth – these coincidences of the Earth being close to the Moon in its elliptical orbit and the occurrence of a full moon have been beautiful to behold. But a recent study conducted at the University of Toronto point to the notion that they may have wreaked havoc on people’s sleep.  The study points to a full moon having a negative impact on the human ability to fall asleep, as well as on the quantity of deep sleep that they are able to get. People don’t sleep as well or as long when the moon is full. Continue reading

  • A Good Night’s Sleep Crucial to Diet Success

    If you ask the average American what’s on their wish list for improving the quality of their lives and the way that they feel, most people will have either losing weight or getting more sleep at the top of their list. The funny thing is that there’s a good chance that if they accomplish one, the other will follow. There’s a growing body of evidence indicating that sleep and obesity are closely tied to one another. Not only do sleep-deprived people have a higher risk for obesity, but people who are obese have a higher risk of experiencing trouble falling asleep, and also have a high potential for being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, a serious health condition.  Continue reading

  • Home Sleep Studies Gaining Ground

    As awareness  of obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders continues to grow, more and more physicians are referring their patients for sleep studies. This is a good thing, and has led to thousands of diagnoses being made that would otherwise have been missed, but it has also created a problem. There is an enormous backlog in availability of laboratory-administered studies. Further, insurance companies are beginning to balk at paying for the tests, which can be extremely expensive. As a result, more and more facilities are turning to home sleep studies. Though traditionalists are against this trend, and point to inaccuracies and lack of complete data obtained from these at-home versions of the test, proponents are indicating that there is a place for these at home tests and that they can prove to be extremely useful.

    Because the primary goal of sleep testing is to screen for obstructive sleep apnea, there are specific measurements that need to be taken. These include nasal and oral airflow and respiration. They also include sleep staging, and this requires the use of an electroencephalogram. The tests that are run in sleep labs are generally examined by either a neurologist or pulmonologist who has been specially trained to interpret the results, and who will make a diagnosis based on the data collected. Once obstructive sleep apnea is identified as being present, a second night of testing is usually done in order to determine the severity of the condition and determine the appropriate treatment.  Though the testing may be more accurate, there are certain problems. Patients find the environment disruptive and the testing intimidating. They complain that they are unable to sleep in the laboratory environment. There is also the problem of a backlog of patients waiting to be seen, leading to long waits for appointments. Home testing offers a solution to both of these problems, but there are also problems. Continue reading

  • New Study Links Nighttime Darkness to Success of Breast Cancer Therapy

    Sleep scientists and those trying to help insomnia sufferers to get a better night’s sleep have long sung the praises of creating the correct sleep environment, and sleeping in a totally darkened room are always part of the long list of sleep hygiene issues that can be controlled to great advantage. Another light-related issue has been the blue light that emanates from televisions, e-readers and tablets, as it has been proven that they reduce the production of melatonin and disrupt the sleep cycle.

    Now a study out of Tulane University School of Medicine is strengthening that argument, indicating that exposure to any kind of light at night actually shuts down nighttime production of melatonin and makes breast cancer therapies less effective. The group specifically looked at the impact that light has on the effectiveness of tamoxifen, a popular breast cancer drug, and found that it rendered the therapy of little use. Continue reading

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