Getting a good night’s sleep in hospital

It can be hard enough being in hospital without people waking you up in the middle of the night for tests, beeps and alarms going off and doors clanging and banging. In this study Vineet Arora, from the University of Chicago, led a team of researchers looking into the effectiveness of an initiative called SIESTA designed to give patients a better night’s sleep. The initiative was given a trial in two 18-room medical units in a hospital in Chicago. Doctors were trained about improving patients’ sleep and patients’ medical records contained ‘nudges,’ to encourage staff to skip unnecessary night-time tests or medication. In the units that tried this approach decisions to forgo unnecessary vital-sign checks every four hours rose from 4% to 34% and sleep-friendly timing of night-time medications such as anti-clotting drugs rose from 15% to 42%. Even short amounts of sleep loss among hospital patients have been linked to higher blood pressure and higher blood-sugar levels.

You can read the whole of this article here.

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Phones, electromagnetism and sleep

In this study Arne Lowden, from Stockholm University, led a team of researchers investigating the effects of the electromagnetic fields emitted by 3G phones on sleep. 18 people aged 18-19 took part in the study. They underwent three hours of exposure to electromagnetic fields although for half of them this was a ‘sham’ condition i.e. phones without the electromagnetic fields on two consecutive days. The researchers found no change in EEG patterns after the volunteers had been exposed to the electromagnetic fields and no differences in self-evaluated health symptoms, performance on the Stroop colour word test or sleep quality although there were changes in the volunteers’ brain activity during the slow spindle phase of sleep.

You can read the abstract of this article here.

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Online CBT for insomnia

In this study Oystein Vedaa, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, led a team of researchers looking into the effectiveness of computerised cognitive-behaviour therapy at treating chronic insomnia. 66 people took part in the study which found that online CBT led to significant improvements on the Insomnia Severity Index, the Bergen Insomnia Scale, and on levels of daytime fatigue, psychological stress and beliefs about sleep. The researchers concluded that “unguided internet CBT-I appears to have sustained effects on sleep, daytime functioning, and beliefs about sleep up to 18 months after the intervention process.”

You can read the whole of this article here.

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Keeping up the pressure in sleep apnoea

In sleep apnoea people’s airways collapse while they are asleep leading them to wake up with a start gasping for breath. Not surprisingly this has all sorts of consequences for people’s health. One of the ways of treating it is to pump air at a higher-than-normal pressure down people’s windpipes to keep them open, a little like blowing into a wind sock. In this study Francisco Campos-Rodriguez, from the Hospital Universitario de Valme in Seville, led a team of researchers looking into why people did and didn’t stick to a continuous positive airway pressure therapy regime. 177 patients took part in the study which found that the median use of the technique was 5.7 hours a night. Three-quarters of the patients showed good adherence to the therapy. The only variable associated with poor adherence was stroke. Adequate adherence at one month also predicted good adherence at the end of the follow-up period.

You can read the abstract of this article here.

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Sleep, brain power and aging

In this study Sho Nakakubo, from the National Centre for Geriatrics and Gerontology in Japan, led a team of researchers examining the links between length of sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness and cognitive decline in a sample of 3,151 people all of whom were over 65. The researchers found that of those who slept for more than nine hours a night 20.1% showed cognitive decline; for those that slept fewer than six hours the rate was 15.9% and for those who slept between six and nine hours the rate was 11.9%. 13.1% of the sample suffered from excessive daytime sleepiness and 18.9% of them suffered cognitive decline, compared to only 12.5% of those who were unaffected.

You can read the abstract of this article here.

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Owls, larks, shifts and sleep

Jet lag occurs when people’s sleep patterns are disrupted after flying back from a fortnight in Barbados. Social jetlag occurs when people work a night shift packing biscuits in Bolton and it was this that Gerben Hulsegge, from the Public Health Research Institute in Amsterdam, led a team of researchers examining. 120 rotating shift workers and 74 people working conventional hours took part in the study which found that social jetlag increased with age. However, whether people were early to bed and early-to-rise larks or late-night owls made no difference to their levels of social jetlag.

You can read the abstract of this article here.

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Sleep, snoring and sex differences

Women who snore could be at a higher risk of heart problems than men who snore. Adrian Curta, from Munich University Hospital, led a team of researchers who took images of the hearts of 4,500 British adults. Loud snoring is a characteristic of sleep apnoea which affects between three and seven per cent of adults. Sleep apnoea is characterised by brief periods when breathing stops, often followed by gasping for air and is increasingly being recognised as a contributing factor to serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and poor blood-sugar metabolism. Of the 4,500 people taking part in the study 38 had obstructive sleep apnoea, 1,919 said they snored and 2,536 were unaffected. In both men and women, those with sleep apnoea and snoring tended to have larger left ventricles, meaning the walls were enlarged and the heart was working harder to pump. The women snorers showed greater enlargement in their left ventricles than the men which might mean they are more vulnerable to later heart problems.

You can read the whole of this article here.

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