Sleep, mood and memory

Working memory is the short-term memory we use to remember a phone number or add items to a shopping list. As people get older this goes downhill but other things can effect it, including how much sleep one gets and one’s mood. Researchers from the University of California, the University of Michigan and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke have been looking into these issues. They found that sleep, mood and age were inter-related with older people being more likely to be depressed than younger ones and poor sleep quality being more likely in depressed people. The researchers carried out two studies; one of 110 college students and one of 31 people aged between 21 and 77. The two studies found that the older people were the less accurate their working memory was and also that experiencing depressed moods and poor sleep quality was linked to worse working memory.

You can find out more about this topic here.

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Sleep and emotional perception

Sleep affects people’s minds in all sorts of ways and in this study Sandra Tamm, from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, looked at the way sleep deprivation affected people’s emotional perceptions. She studied 117 people, using PET and MRI scans to assess brain activity and brain mechanisms in the context of sleep loss, allergy, and emotional regulation. She found that people who experienced sleep loss were more likely to interpret emotional stimuli negatively, more likely to have bad moods, and found it more difficult to regulate their own emotional responses. However, sleep deprivation did not significantly impair a person’s ability to respond appropriately to someone else’s pain.

You can read the whole of this article here.

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Can you blame your parents for insomnia?

Once upon a time parents only had to worry about the visible ways they could mess their children’s lives up; now they have to worry about all sorts of duff genes they could pass on to their offspring too. Could insomnia be another unwelcome genetic inheritance for children? Jacqueline Lane, from the Centre for Genomic Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, has been leading a team of researchers looking into this. The team analysed data from more than 450,000 people in the UK – 29% of whom reported frequent sleeplessness – and identified 57 gene regions associated with insomnia. These links were independent of known risk factors such as lifestyle, caffeine consumption, depression and stress. The researchers also found evidence that increased insomnia symptoms nearly doubled the risk of coronary artery disease and were linked to depression and a reduced sense of well-being.

You can read the whole of this article here.

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Sleep apnoea and heart problems

Sleep apnoea is a condition in which one’s airways collapse temporarily while one is asleep causing one to wake up with a start. In this study Diego Mazzotti, from the University of Pennsylvania, led a team of researchers looking into the links between sleep apnoea and heart problems. The researchers followed 1,200 adults with moderate to severe sleep apnoea¬†aged 40 and over for 12 years. Those participants who felt excessively sleepy during the day were more than three times as likely to develop heart failure and twice as likely to have a heart attack, heart failure, stroke or die from cardiovascular problems during the course of the study.

You can read the whole of this article here.

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Why sleep is not a one-man (or woman) business

Despite the fact that most people sleep with someone beside them sleep studies have most often dealt with people as individuals. Attempting to overcome this was a team of researchers led by Taylor Elsey, from the University of Kentucky. The researchers studied 179 couples who filled out sleep diaries and surveys about their attachment security, avoidance and anxiety. The study found that greater attachment security and lower attachment avoidance were associated with better subjective sleep quality. More time spent in bed with one’s partners (as opposed to going to bed and getting up at different times) was associated with better sleep quality among women with lower attachment security and higher attachment avoidance.

You can read the abstract of this article here.

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Early to bed, early to rise

“Early to bed, early to rise makes a boy (or girl)¬†healthy, wealthy and wise,” is a parents’ saying that has annoyed generations of children over hundreds of years. However, like a lot of other similar sayings it has a kernel of truth in it and in this study Dr Elise Facer-Childs, from the University of Birmingham, led a team of researchers looking into the effect of different bed and waking-up times on people’s cognitive performance. 38 people took part in the study which found that ‘larks,’ were least sleepy and had their fastest reaction times in the early-morning tests and performed significantly better at this time than night owls. The night owls were least sleep and had their fastest reaction time at eight in the evening but their peak performance was still only equal to that of the ‘larks.’ And the connectivity in parts of the brain that predicted better performance and lower sleepiness was significantly higher in larks at all times.

You can read the whole of this article here.

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Interpersonal relations and sleep

People who have good relationships as young adults experience less stress as they get older which, in turn, lead to them sleeping better. Chloe Huelsnitz, from the University of Minnesota, led a team of researchers who studied 112 people, following them from their early 20s until they were 37. People were asked about their relationships when they were 23 and 32 and about stressful life events at 23,32 and 37. When the volunteers were 37 they provided information about how long – and well – they slept. The study found that people who had better relationships at 23 had fewer stressful life events at 32 and slept better when they were 37.

You can read the whole of this article here.

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