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Archive for the ‘sleep’ Category

WebMD (2/16, DeNoon, http://tinyurl.com/tribbles-narcolepsy) reported that a major cause of narcolepsy appears to be trouble with tribbles.  The tribbles in question are bits of RNA amusingly named after the cute and furryanimals  in a Star Trek TV episode.  New findings strongly suggest that anti-tribbles antibodies kill a population of brain cells that regulates sleep.  This triggers narcolepsy, particularly the severe manifestation of narcolepsy called cataplexy, in which strong emotions trigger paralysis. “We have identified reactive autoantibodies in human narcolepsy, providing evidence that narcolepsy is an autoimmune disorder,” conclude Vesna Cvetkovic-Lopes and colleagues of the University of Geneva, Switzerland.   People with narcolepsy have a dramatic loss of brain cells that produce hypocretin (also known as orexin), a chemical messenger crucial to normal sleep.  Using mice engineered to overproduce tribbles, Cvetkovic-Lopes and colleagues found that hypocretin-producing brain cells make a large amount of a specific type of tribbles — tribbles homolog 2 or Trib2.  Then they looked for the antibodies in people who had narcolepsy and people who didn’t.  Sure enough, the researchers found narcolepsy patients — but not other people — have a lot of antibodies against Trib2.  The findings appear in the Feb. 15 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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Dante's InfernoUSA Today(11/9, http://tinyurl.com/Image-Rehearsal-Therapy, Painter) reports that a treatment “called imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT)” is “a form of cognitive behavioral therapy” focusing “on changing harmful thought patterns” that is used to help patients with nightmares. During treatment, “patients meet with a therapist a few times,” learning that “while nightmares may be triggered by trauma and might even be useful at first, nightmares that persist for months are like bad habits and can be unlearned.” Eventually, patients learn to “rewrite the script for” a particular “nightmare any way” they wish, then are “asked to practice that rewritten script repeatedly,” thereby “fully engaging” their “waking imagination” to help nightmares to go away.

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The AP (10/30) reports ( http://tinyurl.com/sleepless-in-america) on “the first government study to monitor state-by-state differences in sleeplessness.” The CDC study found that West Virginia led the country in sleeplessness, with a lacinsomnia1k of sleep “about double the national rate, perhaps a side effect of health problems, like obesity, experts said.” The study found that “nearly one in five West Virginians said they didn’t get a single good night’s sleep in the previous month. The national average was about one in 10, according to the federal health survey conducted last year.” Tennessee, Kentucky, and Oklahoma also had high rates of sleeplessness. Healthday (10/29, Reinberg) explained that the survey, appearing in the Oct. 30 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, included responses of 403,981 adults across the US. It found that “11.1 percent said they did not get enough sleep every day of the month.” Moreover, “women (12.4 percent) were more likely than men (9.9 percent) to report not getting enough sleep. There were ethnic differences, with blacks (13.3 percent) saying they got less sleep compared with all other ethnic groups.”

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ppMedscape (7/8) reported that, according to a study published in the July issue of Sleep, “poor sleep is linked to postpartum depression independently of other risk factors.” For the study, researchers from Norway’s Stavanger University Hospital sought to “assess the prevalence of and risk factors for concurrent postpartum maternal sleep problems and depressive symptoms, to identify factors independently associated with either condition, and to examine associations between specific components of postpartum sleep and depression.” They did so by mailing “a questionnaire seven weeks after delivery” to “a total of 4,191 women” who “delivered at Stavanger University Hospital” from Oct. 2005 to Sept. 2006. The investigators found that “the prevalence of sleep problems was 57.7 percent, and the prevalence of depression was 16.5 percent.” Specific “factors associated with poor postpartum sleep quality were depression, history of sleep problems, primiparity, not exclusively breast-feeding, or having a younger or male infant.” Overall, “the aspects of sleep most strongly associated with depression were sleep disturbances and subjective sleep quality.”

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sleepThe New York Times (6/23, D6, Bakalar) reports in Vital Signs that, according to a study published June 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, rapid eye movement sleep (REM), “the kind that includes dreams,” may facilitate problem solving. For the study, researchers from the University of California-San Diego “gave 77 volunteers word-association tests under three before-and-after conditions: spending a day without a nap, napping without REM sleep, and napping with REM sleep.” They found that “a nap that included REM sleep resulted in nearly a 40 percent improvement over the pre-nap performance.” Study author Sara C. Mednick, PhD, stated that dreams “incorporate strange ideas that you would never have put together in waking life. In REM sleep, it becomes more likely that ideas might come together in a solution.”

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MedWire (4/24, Davenport) reports that, according to a study published online Apr. 9 in the journal Biological Psychiatry, “adding a combination of noninvasive circadian-related interventions to standard medication in patients with bipolar disorder accelerates, augments, and sustains antidepressant responses.” For the study, researchers from the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine “randomly assigned 49 outpatients with bipolar disorder to receive standard medication alone, or medication plus chronotherapeutic augmentation (CAT), consisting of” sleep deprivation (SD), “bright light therapy,” and “sleep phase advance,” then “assessed” patients “using the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD).” The investigators found that both “at day seven and week seven, significantly more CAT patients than medication patients met the” response criteria, “defined as a 50 percent reduction in HRSD ratings over baseline, while 12 of 19 responders in the CAT group were classified as in remission at the end of week seven.”

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