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  • Tom Brady: Sleeping his way to the top

    His success demonstrates the power of a good night’s sleep. 

    By Michael Howell | JANUARY 31, 2021 — 6:00PM

    KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has attributed his success to proper sleep.

    When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s Super Bowl, most fans will mistakenly equate great athletic ability with physical strength. Of course, a toned body is necessary for professional or Olympic athletes. But catching a football with one hand or landing a triple axel in figure skating are only the final, most visible, results of activity along a vast number of brain pathways.

    Walk into any fitness center and you will see the superficial appearances of fitness. But those neighborhood titans are not standing on an Olympic podium or making $20 million a year, because the defining trait of elite athletes is an elegant mind.

    A player like Minnesota’s own Antoine Winfield Jr. is unique because his visual and motor cortex processes information faster than his competitors’.

    Nearly all fans as well as countless coaches succumb to the bias that muscle mass can differentiate the great from the good. The annals of sports history are replete with examples of talent scouts who failed to recognize an athletic brain.

    In the spring of 2000, all 32 NFL teams passed at least five times on the quarterback who would become the GOAT (greatest of all time). Despite his high score on the Wonderlic test, an imperfect 12-minute examination of personality and cognition skills, scouts and general managers passed on Tom Brady until the New England Patriots picked him up in the sixth round of the draft, behind 198 other players.

    But over the ensuing two decades the Brady brain has powered a relentlessly successful career. His records, if they are ever broken, will not fall for at least a generation: most games won, six-time Super Bowl champion and four-time Super Bowl MVP. On Sunday, Brady will appear in his record 10th Super Bowl (second for QBs is John Elway with five).

    What has powered his success? Like other elite athletes such as LeBron James, Brady attributes his edge to sleeping better than the competition. “Proper sleep has helped me get to where I am today as an athlete and it is something I continue to rely on every day,” he says.

    The world’s fastest human, Usain Bolt, describes sleep as the most important part of his daily training regime and targets 8-10 hours a day with naps before races.

    Sleep refines our 100 billion neurons and prunes trillions of synaptic connections, helping us master complicated motor skills.

    Sarah Hughes was a struggling 16-year-old figure skater before she met Jim Maas, a sleep specialist at Cornell University. Following Maas’s advice, she began skipping morning practice and slept in, thus permitting her brain to solidify the motor pathways laid down in practice the day before.

    In 2002 at the Winter Olympics Hughes won the gold medal in figure skating, landing a record seven consecutive triple jumps.

    Despite these high-profile examples and reams of scientific studies demonstrating the role of sleep in athletic performance, young athletes are told to wake up early and train. Coaches send groggy players to the field and have them play through sleep deprivation as a futile demonstration of toughness. They might as well pick starters by seeing who can play the longest without drinking water.

    It would be better to consider restful sleep as an all-natural performance-enhancing drug. Growth hormone injections are not allowed by the World Anti-Doping Administration. No worries, your own growth hormone is naturally secreted during sleep; all you have to do is get more than your competition. Sleep doping!

    Not to mention that sleep boosts the immune system, promotes recovery from concussions and helps young and old minds alike manage stress, balance mood and keep anxiety at bay.

    So, if you are dreaming of athletic success, sleep in as long as you can tomorrow.

    Michael Howell is vice chair for education in the Department of Neurology at the University of Minnesota and co-founder of the Sleep Performance Institute.

  • A Neuroscientist Explains Exactly How Alcohol Ruins Your Sleep

    KARA JILLIAN BROWN January 20, 2021, 4:39 PM | Original Article

    A glass of wine serves to help you wind down after a long day at work, but it’s not doing you any favors in the bedroom. When you stop drinking alcohol, not only does your mood improve and your skin clear up, but your sleep quality may also get better. Although many people rely on a glass of wine to relax and fall asleep, even just one drink greatly diminishes the quality of that sleep, says neuroscientist Kristen Willeumier, PhD.

    Even a few ounces of alcohol changes the basic structure of normal sleep. Having a drink to help you fall asleep is an ineffective sleep strategy that can lead to a multitude of sleep disturbances, including insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, and alterations in sleep architecture, says Dr. Willeumier. “The most prevalent changes in sleep architecture occur early in the evening when blood alcohol levels are high,” she says. “While alcohol is initially sedating, once it is metabolized it can lead to disrupted, poor quality of sleep later in the night.”

    Dr. Willeumier, who wrote Biohack Your Brain: How to Boost Cognitive Health, Performance & Power, explains that while the sedative properties of alcohol increase deep sleep during the non-rapid eye movement phase (NREM), it also reduces the time spent in the rapid-eye-movement (REM) phase. “REM sleep is critical to healthy brain function as it is essential in emotional regulation and the consolidation and retention of memories,” says Dr. Willeumier.

    Getting a good night’s sleep can do much more than prevent you from feeling tired the next day.

    “Sleep is essential for the preservation of brain energyfacilitation of learning and memorysupport of cognitive capacityemotional regulation, and clearance of toxic waste,” says Dr. Willeumier. “Alcohol consumption disrupts restorative sleep and can result in impaired immune, cardiovascular, and cognitive health. Furthermore, insomnia increases your risk for mood disorders and substance abuse.”

    AdChoices

    If you really want to maintain healthy sleep, Dr. Willeumier says to limit your alcohol intake to one drink per week. “Alcohol should not be consumed on a regular basis if your intention is to live a brain-healthy lifestyle,” she says. But if that’s not something that interests you, you can undo the impact of alcohol on your sleep when you take a break.

    “The good news is that your sleep architecture can be fully restored after a period of abstinence,” she says. “Given that sleep architecture and efficiency decline with age, it is important to keep in mind that alcohol will further exacerbate these issues.”

    When you are drinking, Dr. Willeumier says to refrain from consuming alcohol prior to bed.

    “Given that alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and has a half-life of anywhere from six hours or longer depending on type of alcohol and volume consumed, you want to drink it at least six hours prior to bed if you do not want it to interfere with your sleep cycles,” she says.

  • Workaholism Linked to Lower Sleep Quality

    Posted by Sree Roy | Jan 13, 2021 | Sleep Review Magazine

    Workaholic Burning the Candle at Both Ends

    Workaholism or work addiction risk can lead to negative mental and physical health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, from lower sleep quality. Perception of work (job demands and job control) may become a major cause of employees’ work addiction.

    An international group of researchers including a Higher School of Economics (HSE) University scientist explored the link between work addiction risk and health-related outcomes using the framework of Job Demand Control Model. The results are published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

    Workaholics were defined as people who usually work 7 and more hours more than others per week. There are potential reasons for that: financial problems, poor marriage, or pressure by their organization or supervisor are a few. What can differentiate a workaholic behavior from similar behavior like work engagement? Workaholism is also known as a behavioral disorder, which means the excessive involvement of the individual in work when an employer doesn’t require or expect it.

    The scientists aimed to demonstrate the extent to which the work addiction risk is associated with the perception of work (job demands and job control), and mental health in four job categories suggested by Karasek’s model or Job Demand-Control-Support model (JDCS). The JDCS model assumes four various work environments (four quadrants) in which workers may experience a different level of job demands and job control: passive, low-strain, active, and tense/job-strain. Job control is the extent to which an employee feels control over doing work.

    [RELATED: A Conversation with Arianna Huffington, Author of The Sleep Revolution]

    Low Strain Jobs

    “Passive” jobs (low job control, low job demands) might be satisfying to a worker as long as the workers reach the set goal. “Low strain” jobs have high job control and low job demands. Individuals in this category are not particularly at risk of mental health problems, and it corresponds typically to creative jobs such as architects. “Active” workers have high job demands and high job control. They are highly skilled professionals with responsibilities, such as heads or directors of companies. Those highly skilled workers have very demanding tasks but they have high levels of decision latitude to solve problems. Finally, workers at risk of stress-related disorders are those within the “job strain” group (high demand and low control). For example, healthcare workers from emergency departments are typically in job strain because they cannot control the huge workload.

    The study was conducted in France because it is one of the industrial countries with growing numbers of occupations. The authors of the research collected data from 187 out of 1580 (11.8%) French workers who agreed to participate in a cross-sectional study using the WittyFit software online platform. The self-administered questionnaires were the Job Content Questionnaire by Karasek, the Work Addiction Risk Test, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale, and socio-demographics. The authors of this study divided all the participants based on their occupational groups and investigated the link between work addiction risk and mental and physical health outcomes.

    Vulnerable Occupations for Workaholism

    “One of the novelties of this research was to introduce vulnerable occupational groups to organizations or job holders. For example, if we find that work addiction risk can be found more in some occupations and may result in negative outcomes for the health situation then we can give this information to decision makers in this organization or, for example, to the ministry of health. And they could intervene to prevent this problem,” says Morteza Charkhabi, associate professor at the Institute of Education at the HSE University, in a release.

    The results show that high job demands at work are strongly associated with work addiction risk but the job control level does not play the same role. The prevalence of work addiction risk is higher for active and high-strain workers than for passive and low-strain workers. These two groups of workers appeared to be more vulnerable and therefore can suffer more from the negative outcomes of work addiction risk, in terms of depression, sleep disorder, stress, and other health issues.

    “We found that job demands could be the most important factor that can develop work addiction risk. So this factor should be controlled or should be investigated by the organization’s manager, for example, HR staff, psychologists. Also another conclusion could be the job climate like job demands of each job category can influence the rate of work addiction risk. Thus in this study we actually focused on external factors like job demands not internal factors like the personal characteristics,” says Charkhabi.

    The researchers found that people with higher work addiction risk compared to people with low work addiction risk have twice the risk of developing depression. Sleep quality was lower to workers with high risk of work addiction compared to workers with low risk of work addiction. Also women had almost twice the work addiction risk than men.

  • “Insomnia-Like” Sleep Patterns Can Predict Future Stress

    As part of our outreach efforts to our clients, we will often share informative articles related to sleep and sleep apnea. The following is an insightful piece written for Sleep Review by Sree Roy.


    Inverse: New research suggests fragmented sleep patterns contain a critical message.

    Dipesh Chaudhury is the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of biology at New York University Abu Dhabi. He tells Inverse that this study deepens our understanding of how stress and sleep are related. Typically, we assume that stress leads to poor sleep. But things could also work the other way around, with poor sleep dampening resilience to stress at the same time.

    “Our findings also indicate that those mice that exhibit abnormal sleep prior to stress are more sensitive to future stress exposure. In other words, sleep abnormalities can also be a cause of stress-related disorders,” Chaudhury says.

    A BAD NIGHT’S SLEEP COMES WITH A HOST OF CONSEQUENCES, some of which aren’t obvious right away. This is especially true when stressful situations — like a year defined by a pandemic — hit. Research suggests specific abnormal sleep patterns may decrease one skill that’s crucial to weathering the storm.

    In a mouse study published Tuesday in Frontiers in Neuroscience, scientists found fragmented sleep patterns – a pattern of sleep marked by more awakenings and shorter bouts of non-rapid eye movement sleep –could predict how mice responded to future stress. Mice with regular sleep patterns were resilient to bullying, while those with fragmented sleep patterns weren’t equipped to deal with the abuse.

    WHAT DOES A “DISRUPTED SLEEP PATTERN LOOK LIKE?

    “Our findings also indicate that those mice that exhibit abnormal sleep prior to stress are more sensitive to future stress exposure. In other words, sleep abnormalities can also be a cause of stress-related disorders,” Chaudhury says.

    Chaudhury’s study was based on the sleep and stress patterns of 22 mice who had electrodes implanted into their brains. Those electrodes could measure the amount of time each mouse spent in each stage of sleep.

    Like humans, mice move through sleep stages including rapid eye movement sleep (REM) — when most dreaming happens in humans — and lighter, non-REM stages.

    Every mouse was exposed to chronic social defeat — 15 consecutive days of being attacked by aggressive mice identified at the outset of the study. The researchers found that they could break the mice up into two groups: mice who were resilient, bouncing back from bullying ready to socialize, and ones that succumbed, and retreated from others.

    WHAT WAS DISCOVERED

    The scientists found there were significant differences in the sleep patterns of each group of mice beforethey were exposed to the bullying.

    The mice in the non-resilient group showed signs of fragmented non-REM sleep. They woke up more during sleep periods (mice sleep during the day) and had were shorter NREM bouts, on average, than those seen in the resilient mice.

    “In essence, the susceptible mice exhibit insomnia-like traits even before exposure to stress,” Chaudry says.

    Ultimately, these patterns could predict which group the mice ended up in with about 80 percent accuracy, suggesting that it could have been one reason they were less resilient when stress took hold.

    WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR HUMANS?

    This study taps into a robust area of research on human mood disorders. Depression and sleep are intertwined in a way that makes it hard to distinguish cause and effect. Disturbed sleep is often seen in depressive patients, but those who experience insomnia are also more likely to develop depression in the first place.

    Though this study focuses on stress, it suggests that sleep may pose an even more central role in mood disorders – or in this case, resilience to stress. Before the stressful situation occurs, sleep patterns may contain early warning signs.

    These results are early-stage, Chaudhury cautions. A mouse brain (and a mouse’s stress) is quite different from a human’s. But he is optimistic that the idea that sleep signatures could be a prediction of stress — specifically the way the brain transitions in and out of non-REM sleep — will hold true in humans.

    He imagines monitoring the sleep patterns of people who have particularly high-stress jobs, like first responders or frontline workers. Even if signs of stress have yet to show themselves, a disrupted sleep pattern could be the sign of a vicious cycle (stress leading to worse sleep, leading to less resilience to stress) about to go awry.

    “By having simple non-invasive markers of stress susceptibility, such as EEG sleep patterns, it may be possible to develop strategies to protect the more vulnerable people,” Chaudhury says.

    Abstract: There is a tight association between mood and sleep as disrupted sleep is a core feature of many mood disorders. The paucity in available animal models for investigating the role of sleep in the etiopathogenesis of depression-like behaviors led us to investigate whether prior sleep disturbances can predict susceptibility to future stress. Hence, we assessed sleep before and after chronic social defeat (CSD) stress. The social behavior of the mice post stress was classified in two main phenotypes: mice susceptible to stress that displayed social avoidance and mice resilient to stress. Pre-CSD, mice susceptible to stress displayed increased fragmentation of Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep, due to increased switching between NREM and wake and shorter average duration of NREM bouts, relative to mice resilient to stress. Logistic regression analysis showed that the pre-CSD sleep features from both phenotypes were separable enough to allow prediction of susceptibility to stress with >80% accuracy. Post-CSD, susceptible mice maintained high NREM fragmentation while resilient mice exhibited high NREM fragmentation, only in the dark. Our findings emphasize the putative role of fragmented NREM sleep in signaling vulnerability to stress.

  • 6 Diseases Your Lack Of Sleep Could Be Causing

    by DailyHealthPost EditorialDecember 16, 2020

    Sleep isn’t just blissful, it’s necessary. While you sleep, your body is conducting countless activities, including growth and cell repair. It also works on restoring energy and nutrients to worn out muscles and tissues (1).

    Sleep also balances out hormones and supports your immune system while working to supporting memory function. That’s why poor sleep can leave you feeling not only groggy and cranky, but also less focused and more forgetful.

    Sleep Deprivation And Disease

    Here are 6 conditions directly caused by too little sleep.

    1. Alzheimer’s

    Since sleep is necessary to remove waste from tired brain cells as well as repair worn or damaged structures. If this isn’t done properly, cognitive decline, dementia, and other brain conditions may occur (2).

    In fact, in 2013, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that skipping out on sleep is one of the possible causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

    The study followed 70 adults between the ages of 53 and 91. Participants who experienced poor sleep frequently were found to have higher quantities of beta-amyloid deposition in their brains on PET scans.

    Since the compound is a marker for Alzheimer’s disease, researchers hypothesized that poor sleep prevented the brain from clearing up beta-amyloid “waste”, leading to a higher incidence of cerebral disease (3).

    2. Obesity And Diabetes

    Researchers at the University or Chicago have proved that poor sleep is linked to obesity, and ultimately, diabetes (4).

    They found that too little sleep led to fatty acid buildup, which impacted both metabolism and insulin sensitivity. By analyzing the sleeping pattern of 19 men over 3 nights, researchers found that men who only got 4 hours of sleep had fatty acid blood levels 15 to 30 percent higher than participants who slept 8.5 hours a night (5).

    Short sleepers also showed signs of prediabetes and obesity while people who had more sleep did not.

    3. Cardiovascular Disease

    Cardiovascular disease is highly influenced by diet and lifestyle, so it’s no wonder that sleep comes into play (6).

    In an annual meeting, the European Society of Cardiology presented evidence that sleep directly affects your risk of heart disease (7).

    The study, which followed 657 Russian men aged 24-64 for a total of 14 years found that two-thirds of those who experienced a heart attack also suffered from a sleeping disorder.

    Poor sleepers were also found to have a 2.6 times greater risk of myocardial infarction, a heart attack caused by the heart muscle dying. They even had a one-and-a-half to four times greater risk of stroke.

    4. Suicide

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    Poor sleep is known to cause serious mental health problems.

    In fact, a 2014 study found a link between incidences of suicide in adults and poor sleep, regardless of past bouts of depression (8).

    The 10-year Stanford University of Medicine study examined 420 young and middle-aged adults. Unfortunately, out of the group, 20 participants who suffered from poor sleep committed suicide (9).

    Chronic lack of sleep was also linked to a 1.4 times higher risk of committing suicide.

    Researchers compared their results to other studies that have concluded that poor sleep also increased the incidence of age-associated health problems, especially in men 85 years old and over.

    5. Ulcerative Colitis

    Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease characterized by ulcers along the digestive tract. Studies have found that colitis, along with Crohn’s disease, are heavy correlated to sleep deprivation (10).

    In 2014, Researchers from Massachusetts General published a study that studied women enrolled within the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) I since 1976 and NHS II since 1989 and found that women who slept 6 hours of sleep or less (despite other risk factors like age, weight, smoking, and drinking) were more likely to suffer from one of the conditions (11).

    Oddly enough, getting more than 9 hours of sleep also put the women at risk, meaning that getting the right amount of sleep every night is key to controlling inflammation in the digestive tract.

    6. Prostate Cancer

    In a study published in the journal Cancer Epidemology, Biomarkers and Prevention, researchers found that sleep can actually protect your prostate (12).

    For 3-7 years,the study followed 2,425 Icelandic 67 to 96 years old and examined their sleeping patterns. Men who had trouble sleeping were 60% more likely to develop prostate cancer while men who had trouble staying asleep were nearly 120% more likely to be affected by the disease. Plus, these men experienced, on average, a more aggressive form of the disease (13).

    The Icelandic researchers concluded that prostate cancer was affected by melatonin, a sleep hormone. They noted that other studies proved that higher levels of melatonin actually suppressed tumor growth.

    If you’re not getting enough sleep, check out these little tricks that help you fall sleep and stay asleep.

  • Better Sleep Health May Help People Quit Smoking

    Original Post by Sree Roy | Dec 2, 2020 | InsomniaParameters

    Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and quitting is not easy. New research from the University of Arizona Health Sciences shows getting a good night’s sleep could be another tool to help people successfully quit smoking.

    “Quitting smoking is hard and causes insomnia,” says Michael A. Grandner, PhD, MTR, an associate professor in the UArizona College of Medicine-Tucson’s Department of Psychiatry and director of the Sleep and Health Research Program, in a release. “The more insomnia and stress from not sleeping, the more people are going to smoke, and many of the smoking cessation treatments can make insomnia worse because medications people are using—patches or pills—are actually stimulating.”

    While smoking rates are down generally, still one in seven, or 14%, of US adults smoke, according to the CDC. Smoking accounts for 480,000, or one in five, US deaths a year. Although most people associate lung disease with smoking, smokers are more likely to die of heart disease. That’s because nicotine stresses the heart and cardiovascular system, making it a leading cause of preventable cardiovascular disease.

    The pilot study, which looked at the correlation between sleep health and successful smoking cessation, was published in June in the Journal of Smoking Cessation. The team, led by Freda Patterson, PhD, a smoking cessation expert at the University of Delaware, found that improving sleep health prior to stopping smoking was associated with greater success in quitting.

    [RELATED: Smoking Disrupts Circadian Clock Function]

    A Closer Look at an HIV-Positive Population

    Building off those promising results, Grandner and Elizabeth Connick, MD, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the College of Medicine-Tucson and a member of the UArizona BIO5 Institute, are leading a research team including Patterson, that will focus on smokers who are HIV positive. The new study, “Sleep Training Approach to Reducing Smoking (STARS),” is funded by a $3.85 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

    The CDC reports smoking increases health risks for people who are HIV positive, particularly for heart disease, cancer, serious lung diseases such as pneumonia, and infections. Yet more than 50% of people who are HIV positive smoke.

    “Heart disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in people living with HIV, who have higher rates than the general population. Cigarette smoking is the greatest reversible risk factor for heart disease in this population,” Connick says in a release. “Improving smoking cessation rates in people living with HIV could substantially reduce heart disease and improve overall health.”

    The STARS study—which will be conducted via telehealth appointments to ensure participant safety during the pandemic—is currently recruiting participants in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Individuals with HIV who are interested in participating can contact clinical research coordinator Ryan Weltzer at 520-848-4043 or ryanweltzer@arizona.edu.

    This research is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a unit of the National Institutes of Health, under Award No. R01DA051321.

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