Tag Archives: sleep

Rest May be Key to Boosting and Retaining Memory, Study Shows

When it comes to improving your memory, experts say it’s all about rest.

A new study from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, suggests that taking breaks is more effective for boosting memory than other traditional methods like caffeine and mental exercises.

As reported by CNN, researchers gathered a small group of “normally aging” elderly men and women, and asked them to recount as many details from two stories as they could.

Following the first story, participants were asked to relax and close their eyes in a dark room for 10 minutes. Researchers then asked participants to point out the differences in several pairs of near identical images.

Researchers found that overall, participants recounted far more details after they had rested; and that their memory boost held up even a full week after the initial trial.

Previous research has showed that small periods of rest – even a few minutes – are beneficial to both memory and alertness. But this new study points to the effectiveness of short periods of rest for “long-term memory consolidation.”

Research fellow and lead study author, Michaela Dewar, points out that when we first encounter new information, we’re likely in an early stage of memory formation. “Further neural processes have to occur after this stage for us to be able to remember this information at a later point in time,” she said. (more…)

Too-Mature Television May Be Keeping Your Kid Up at Night

Getting our kids to bed can be one of the biggest battles of parenthood. The issue starts from day one and really never ends until they’re adults. An interesting new study shows why some small children may not be getting the amount sleep they need for optimum health. The culprit may be in the form of a masked hero.

Katie Moisse reported for ABC News concerning a sleep-related study that was published in the journal Pediatrics. The study revealed that among the 565 preschool-age children whose sleep habits were monitored, those who were only allowed to watch age-appropriate educational television were less likely to have sleep issues than those who were allowed to watch programs with fighting superheroes or other rambunctious scenes intended for an older audience.

Moisse interviewed the author of the study, Michelle Garrison from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Garrison explained theories about these findings, one major hypothesis being that children exposed to less violence may suffer fewer nightmares and find it easier to fall asleep.

Previous studies back up Garrison and her team’s theories, as there have been numerous links to violence and poor sleep patterns in the past. Poor sleep can also raise a child’s risk of behavioral and emotional problems. (more…)

Too Little Sleep May Weaken Our Body’s Response to Vaccines

Sleep has remained the focus of numerous studies recently, including a new report from the University of California, San Francisco that suggests a lack of sleep may reduce the efficacy of vaccines.

As reported by TIME, authors of the study claim this is the first “real-world” look at the connection between the amount of sleep we get and our immune response to vaccines.

The study took place outside of a traditional lab setting and instead tracked participants in their ‘day-to-day’ sleep patterns outside of a controlled environment. Participants were middle-aged and researchers studied how their bodies reacted to a ‘standard three-dose hepatitis B’ vaccine.

Findings revealed that those who got less than six hours of sleep a night on average fared much worse than those who slept more when it came to antibody response. In fact, they were found 11.5 times more likely to be unprotected by an immunization.

Lead author Dr. Aric Prather pointed out that this study shows concrete evidence of a connection between inadequate sleep and being more prone to infectious disease. (more…)

Irregular Work Hours Can Shorten Your Life, Study Shows

If you’ve ever thought working the graveyard shift sounded like the least appetizing schedule imaginable, you’re not alone. I for one would much rather wake up at 6 a.m. and work until 3 if it meant I could have my precious evening hours to myself. 

Now there’s more reason to loathe the night shift: it’s been linked to higher risk of heart attack, stroke, early aging and other serious health conditions, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.

In the largest study of its kind, researchers collected data from 34 previous studies on the topic of work shift and heart health. From a combined total of 2 million participants worldwide, researchers gathered that atypical shift workers are at a 23 percent greater risk of heart attacks, 5 percent greater risk of stroke,and 24 percent greater risk of all coronary events than their 9-5 Monday-Friday counterparts. These workers also saw higher death rates overall.

Researchers considered those who worked any shift outside of ‘normal daytime hours,’ including evening, night and extremely early morning shifts, as well as split shifts, on call hours and other atypical working hours.  (more…)

4 Sure-Fire Weight Loss Strategies to Keep You Satisfied

By Lauren O’Connor MS RD for AroundthePlate.org

Weight Watchers has shown us that we can eat cake and lose weight, too! Today there are a variety of weight loss plans and meal planning services that can appeal to our taste buds and keep the promise that (as long as you follow their plan) you’ll lose the weight. Finding your own healthy lifestyle without the structure of a weight loss program can be a challenge. But there are simple things you can do to instill a lifestyle that promotes good health, gradual weight loss and healthy maintenance. And that includes a healthy diet and exercise.

“Not every calorie is created equal – the bulk of your diet should be wholesome, nutritious foods in order to achieve sustained weight loss, improved health and satiety,” says Theresa DiMasi, VP Editor and Chief at WeightWatchers.com. “Eating well and exercising are two key strategies important for long-term success.

Here are some other strategies for weight loss success (and maintenance, too): (more…)

Americans Who Watch 4.5 Hours of TV Daily Have Plenty of Time to Exercise

You don’t have time to workout, huh? Well, I have information that says otherwise.

According to the Bureau of Labour we’re a busy bunch, but we’re not exactly making the most of our free time. The biggest excuse in the book for skipping exercise kind of falls apart when you see that people spend the majority of their leisure time watching TV. Are your shows that important? Then move while you watch!

You can easily do yoga, squats, or jog in place while cleaning out your DVR and catching up on the hottest summer reality shows. There are some people who only allow themselves time to watch TV while they’re on the treadmill at the gym, and some who keep their TV in the fitness room of their home.

The only thing we spend less time doing than exercise is relaxing, and that’s no good either. Our bodies and brains need plenty of time to unwind. In some cases though, exercise and relaxing go hand-in-hand. Yoga, swimming, cycling, a round of hoops, or chasing your kids through the park are all ways to relax while still remaining active. (more…)

Lack of Sleep Leads to Poor Eating

Are you a night owl who struggles to put down the fork in the wee hours of the morning? New research shows that the later we stay up, the likelier our bellies and our brains are to start craving junk food, which gives us all the more reason to hit the hay earlier.

Combined research specifically shows that sleep-related hunger and food cravings are caused in part by hormones that help drive our appetite. These tendencies, researchers propose, may be what’s leading to weight gain. When our bodies are sleep deprived, areas of the brain are stimulated that seek out pleasure – for some in the form of junk food. Sleep deprivation may also contribute to weight gain since drowsiness can fog our brain’s ability to squelch these cravings.

One of the studies, which took place at Columbia University, utilized functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to monitor the blood flow in the brains of 25 volunteers. Researchers used the scans to compare brain activity following a normal night’s sleep – about eight hours – to a night in which they were allotted just four hours. (more…)

Napping is the Secret to Health and Happiness

Would you tell Einstein he was stupid if he told you that taking a daily 20-minute snooze helped him come up with his revolutionary equations? Would you call JFK indolent because he spent some afternoons sawing logs in the Oval Office? Would you tell Salvador Dali his paintings were boring and needed more work? No, you wouldn’t question these men, especially not if you had any understanding of the importance of taking naps.

While many understand the ill health effects of getting too little sleep, few exalt the benefits of squeezing in a little shuteye in the middle of the day. In our culture, taking a siesta is neither a saluted nor a regular part of our daily schedule. Too many of us have pending agendas, deadlines, and a mile long to-do list, so sleeping mid-day, to some, seems like a lazy or careless activity. We are way too ambitious and competitive to think lying on the bed or on the couch to catch up on some much needed sleep is a good thing. (more…)

Why Social Jet Lag May be Making you Fat

Social jet lag may be making you fat, and you don’t even have to be a frequent flier to be at risk.

German researcher Till Roenneberg believes that there’s a conflict between our busy lives and our biological clocks, and it’s creating a type of jet lag that he refers to as ‘social jet lag.’

He says people who might fall in the category of socially-jetlagged include those whose weekday work schedule is drastically different from their weekend schedule, causing a major shift in sleeping patterns.

One good way to measure if you’re socially jet-lagged might be if you wake up at 4 and 5 a.m. during the workweek, and then take full advantage of your rest on the weekend by sleeping in past, say, 10. Roenneberg says this sleep pattern may have the same effect as switching time zones, which can have a nasty affect on the body. (more…)

New Study Shows Sleep Limits Influence of Obesity Genes

More and more research is coming forward in support of sleep for good health.

The latest research published in in the journal SLEEP shows that sleeping at least nine hours per night can have more control over your weight than genetics. Getting plenty of sleep gives you an edge if your genetics position you with a tendency to be overweight.

For this particular study, 1,088 sets of twins, both fraternal and identical, had their sleep habits examined along with their body weight. The conclusion of the study was that those who get plenty of sleep actually have more control over their weight through their behavior. Those in the study who slept less than seven hours each night showed a 70% difference in their body mass index (BMI) due to their genes, while things like diet and exercise were responsible for only 4%.

In contrast to that group, those who slept nine or more hours per night had a 51% difference in their BMI due to diet and exercise with only 32% of the difference coming from genes. (more…)