This Week In Sleep: October 18th 2013

Note for first time readers: This is the part of the SleepWellTimes where I round up what is making waves in the world of sleep each week. You’ll find the best 3 to 5 stories, covering a range of topics from the latest scientific research – all the way through to some fun or quirky items. If you see something you feel should be featured here, please let me know.

This week has been completely dominated by the news about brain-cleaning. A study found that pathways which help clean away toxins from the brain, expand during sleep. This made the national media, and has been covered on just about every newspaper and magazine around the world.

While this meant that it was not the best week to be releasing rival news stories, there have been some interesting studies. As each month passes the general public becomes more aware of the link between sleep and a whole range of health conditions. As each month goes by, studies link sleep issues to yet more chronic health problems.

#1 – What Is Sleep For? Cleaning The Brain!

brain cleaning sleepThis week’s big story is amazing. I have written a detailed article on it, and so will just summarize now.

Scientists at the University of Rochester found that pathways which the brain uses to clear out stray toxins and proteins expand while we sleep. This was demonstrated in mice under laboratory conditions – and is the only detailed neurophysiological reason for sleeping demonstrated so far. Other areas have been identified only in terms of general theories (like memory formation for example).

Implications are far-reaching, and could even relate to Alzheimer’s disease prevention. There are also possibilities that the build-up of proteins triggers sleepiness – by as yet unknown mechanisms.

For me this study highlights just how little we know about the neurological basis of tiredness and wakefulness – let us hope it leads to an uptick in enthusiasm for sleep research.

Here is the link to my detailed article covering this study (which as you might expect, includes some of my own thoughts on top of those of the reseachers!).

#2 – Apnea Linked To Cardio Diseases In New Studies

apnea cardio linkOver to the ever useful Medical Xpress for the next item. Which is a welcome addition of new studies from Asian, Australia and the US on the effects of Sleep Apnea on health.

If we did not already know how destructive this breathing disorder was to people’s health, then these large scale research projects have reminded us. In the Korean study, people suffering Apnea are 2.5 more prone to all-cause mortality and 4 times more likely to die of cardiovascular problems than those without it.

If you suffer from, or think you might suffer from Sleep Apnea, then you need to visit your physician and discuss it.

Here is the link

#3 – Amazing Photography Of Couples Asleep

I’ll end this week’s bulletin on an artistic note! A photographer, Paul Schneggenburger has been busy photographing couples while they sleep. These are amazing shots, using a mix of short and long exposures throughout the night. The result is the ‘dance’ of couples as they toss and turn during the night.

Check out some of the pictures here.

That’s all for a week dominated by brain cleaning in mice – remember to bookmark the SleepWellTimes, daily updates and insights into the amazing world of sleep.

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