Entries in Sleep (62)


Survey Says Bedroom Color Can Impact Sleep Quality, Sex Life

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- How much sleep you get might be at least partially determined by the color of your bedroom.

According to a recent survey, bedrooms decorated with more calm colors, like blue, yellow and green, often offer more sleep than those adorned with more stimulating colors. According to the U.K.'s Daily Mail, the survey showed that people whose bedrooms are blue get the most sleep, nearly eight hours on average. Comparatively, those with purple bedrooms get an average of under six hours of sleep.

Yellow, green, silver and orange bedrooms also offered more than seven hours sleep, which contributes to how a person might feel during the day.

According to the Daily Mail, the data relates to the way the human eye reacts to specific colors. Certain cells in the retina feed information the brain controlling body rhythms. Those cells happen to be most sensitive to the color blue.

Alternatively, purple is considered a stimulating color that drives creativity. With the color of their bedroom prompting the mind to keep working, even at night, people can be depriving themselves of important sleep.

Bedroom decoration can also affect people beyond sleeping patterns, says the Daily Mail. Couples who sleep in a caramel colored have sex three times per week on average, while those in red-colored bedrooms were intimate just once each week.

Similarly, couples with grey bedrooms spend the most time online shopping in bed, while silver bedrooms were often linked with more frequent exercise.

"Room color does influence your mood and set the tone for your living environment," Frances Whitley, in-house interior designer for Travelodge, told the Daily Mail.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


'In the Blink of an Eye': Dozing While Driving

By Ron Claiborne

(NEW YORK) -- First, a confession: I have driven when I was sleepy, really sleepy.

Now, your turn. Chances are you too have driven while drowsy. Sleep researchers at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute in Hopkinton, Mass., estimate that every day 250,000 Americans drive while sleep-deprived.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures, more than 6,000 people are killed every year in vehicle accidents blamed on an exhausted driver behind the wheel. That's second only to drunk-driving fatal accidents and ahead of those attributed to driver distraction, which includes texting.

For someone operating a motor vehicle, sleep deprivation can be as dangerous as driving intoxicated.

Just one sleepless night or chronic sleep deprivation causes all kinds of problems, and not just while driving. A lack of adequate sleep affects a person's judgment, memory and emotional mood.

A recent study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association put the annual dollar figure for workplace accidents associated with sleep deprivation at $31 billion.

If you go onto YouTube you will find plenty of videos of workers snoozing on the job. They're usually played for laughs -- like the video of a New York City subway worker sound asleep while the people videotaping cackle hysterically. But being exhausted at work or while driving a car is no joke.

"Sleep is such a powerful drive," said Dr. Meir Kryger of the Yale Sleep Medicine Clinic in New Haven, Conn. "If you need it, the brain will say 'Sleep' and that can be an incredibly dangerous situation."

Experts say most people need seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If you're one of them and you aren't getting it, you could fall asleep at work -- maybe not that big of a deal if you have a desk job (aside from embarrassment if your colleagues catch you at it), but if you're operating heavy machinery or driving a 2,000-pound car at 60 miles an hour, you've got a problem.

In addition to the prospect of falling asleep, there's another, insidious phenomenon called micro-sleep that can happen when you're very tired.

Micro-sleep occurs when you nod off for a second or a few seconds, often without even being aware of it. In some instances, your eyes may even be open and you can perform a task as if on a kind of auto-pilot, but you're asleep.

"Micro-sleep is a brief transition from wakefulness to sleep and it can last up to maybe 20 or 30 seconds," said Dr. Charles Czeisler of the Liberty Mutual Research Institute. "You're awake and then suddenly you're asleep."

I wanted to learn more about the effects of sleep deprivation on driving and to experience for myself. So, an ABC News crew and I traveled to the institute's offices outside of Boston. Before we arrived, I stayed awake for 32 consecutive hours to mimic the effect of a sleepless night or chronic sleep deprivation.

At the lab, I was hooked up to a brain wave monitor and a device that tracks eye movement.

Then, I got behind the wheel of the researchers' minivan.

My assignment: to try to drive on their closed track for two hours while members of the research team rode inside the vehicle with me and studied my reactions.

As tired as I was, I still thought I would be OK. After all, I'd pulled many an all-nighter in college and many more in my years as a reporter.

But I hadn't driven 10 minutes before I felt myself fading.

The boredom of being on a closed track -- about 1/8 of a mile in length with two loops at each end -- exacerbated my fatigue. I could feel my eyelids drooping. My head started to slump. Soon, I found that I had been driving for brief stretches without any memory of it. Still, I pressed on.

About 20 minutes in, I suddenly awoke to find that I was off the track and driving on the grass next to it.

Shocked, I yanked the steering wheel and brought the vehicle back onto the road. I was scared and adrenaline was now pumping through me, bringing me to full wakefulness. It would not last long.

Soon, I was again feeling groggy and had increasing difficulty keeping the minivan in the middle of the paved road.

I was now going down a steep path toward unconsciousness but I struggled to continue. I was making the mistake many drivers make, convincing themselves they can go just a little further to their destination.

"We often delude ourselves into thinking that we decide whether or not we're going to go to sleep," Czeisler said. "'I'm just going to go another 10 miles. It's only half an hour to my house.' When you build up enough sleep pressure, you automatically make that transition to go to sleep. It can happen in the blink of an eye."

I drove an hour and then I just could not go on.

"In the words of [boxing great] Robert Duran, 'No mas,'" I said, pulling off the road and putting the transmission into park. "I'm done."

Back in the lab, Czeisler showed me just what had been going on in my brain while I'd been driving.

Pointing at the jagged lines on a chart propped on an easel, he said: "This is evidence that you're falling asleep."

He showed how my brain waves revealed the onset of sleep again and again. Then he ran a finger along the lines corresponding to my eyes blinking more and more slowly -- another tell-tale sign of the fatigue that had been washing over me.

I asked about the episode when I had run off the road.

"Yes," he said. "We could see it coming in your brain wave recoding."

He said I was asleep five or six seconds. But what truly shocked me was when he told me that I'd micro-slept a total of 22 times. I had only remembered dosing off twice.

I was lucky. I had been in a highly-controlled situation with safety precautions while driving just 15 to 30 miles an hour.

Every day, thousands of sleep-deprived Americans go whizzing along at speeds of up to 70 miles an hour. Many of them are aware they're exhausted but they are convinced -- as I was -- that they can outrace their own fatique.

Too often, it's a race they lose.

Yes, coffee and other forms of caffeine can stave off sleep, but only for a while. The only real solution: Pull over where it is safe and take a nap.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cramming May Be Damning for Your Grades

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- High school students who choose to sacrifice their sleep to get extra studying time in may fare worse academically the next day compared with their well-rested peers, new research suggests.

In a study released Tuesday in the journal Child Development, UCLA researchers studied 535 students as they progressed through ninth, 10th and 12th grade to see how lack of sleep affected their academic performance.  Using a diary that they kept for 14 days straight, the students answered the following questions:

  • Did you do homework or study today while not in school?  If yes, for how long?
  • How many hours and minutes did you sleep last night?
  • Did you have problems understanding something taught in class today or do poorly on a test, quiz, or homework?

What researchers found was that as the students advanced through high school, the downsides of sacrificing sleep time for study time became more apparent.  Ninth grade students who spent extra time studying on a particular night did not have worse academic performance the next day.  By 12th grade, however, students who made the same tradeoff reported deficits the next day in understanding class material or on test performance.

In practical terms, this study argues that studying at the expense of sleep may not be a wise decision.

"Although studying is essential, sleep is important for learning," says Dr. Phyllis C. Zee, professor of neurology and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern University.  "Even one night of sleep loss can negatively affect performance."

"This should make not only high school students but also college students and even professionals rethink the common practice of 'cramming' for exams, work projects, et cetera, at the expense of sleep loss," Zee continued.

Dr. Andrew Fuligni, professor of psychiatry at UCLA and senior author on the study, emphasizes that it is not problematic to spend more time studying overall -- as long as it is not at the expense of sleep.  Previous studies have confirmed that the same amount of study time spread evenly over several days leads to better academic performance than trying to study all at once.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Loud, Persistent Snoring in Toddlers May Be Cause for Alarm

Hemera/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) -- Aside from being a nocturnal annoyance, a new study confirms snoring in young kids can have implications for their behavior later on.

Previous research has shown that poor sleep quality in children, including snoring, is linked to hyperactivity.  However, little is known about "how much" snoring is too much, and whether the behavioral effects last over time.

The link between snoring and effects on behavior may be related to hypoxia, or decreased oxygen delivery to the brain.  Snoring may be a sign that not enough air is going through a person's airway -- a situation many doctors believe occurs frequently with sleep-disruptive breathing disorders.  Less oxygen delivery to the brain can mean inflammation, and even changes in the brain tissue itself.

"Many preschool children snore for brief periods, [for example] when they have a cold," says Dean Beebe, a neuropsychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.  "But loud snoring that lasts for months or years is abnormal and may signal a sleep-related breathing problem that could affect a child's behaviors during the day."

Beebe and colleagues explored these issues in a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.  Their goal was to focus on younger children and "follow kids over time to get a sense of what happens when snoring persists," he says.

Researchers looked at 249 mother/child pairs at 2 and 3 years of age and asked parents how frequently they heard "loud snoring" coming from their child's bedroom.  Children were characterized as "non-snorers" if they snored less than once per week, "transient snorers" if they snored more than two times per week at age 2 or age 3, or "persistent snorers" if they snored more than two times per week both at age 2 and at age 3.

The same children were also assessed for behavioral problems -- including hyperactivity, aggression, depression and inattention -- based on a validated questionnaire known as the Behavior Assessment System for Children.

The results of this study demonstrated that the persistent snorers had significantly worse overall behavioral functioning at age 3, specifically in the areas of hyperactivity, depression and attention, compared to the transient snorers and the non-snorers.  In fact, 35 percent of persistent snorers were found to be at risk for behavioral problems.

Pediatric sleep specialists say they are enthused by the findings.

"In my opinion, this study is very important," states Dr. Frisca Yan-Go, a neurologist from UCLA, "because it gives data to support clinicians in emphasizing that habitual snoring is not normal at any age."

Yan-Go explains that if a sleep-related breathing disorder disrupts a child's sleep, "[It] definitely will affect the child's daytime function, including behavior, learning and development."

Sleep experts say parents who have kids who snore loudly and persistently should inform their pediatricians as soon as they can.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Google Search Results for Infant Sleep Safety Mostly Wrong

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Feeling lucky?  A new study shows you might need it if you're "googling" medical advice instead of asking your doctor.

In a study of 1,300 Google search results related to infant sleep safety, researchers found that only 43.5 percent of websites provided accurate information.  The rest were either inaccurate or irrelevant.

"It is important for health care providers to realize the extent to which parents may turn to the Internet for information about infant sleep safety and then act on that advice, regardless of the reliability of the source," said Dr. Rachel Moon, the pediatrician who led the research effort published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Moon, a Sudden Infant Death Syndrome researcher at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., used 13 search phrases related to infant sleep safety, including "infant sleep position," and "pacifier infant" to conduct her study.  Moon and her team analyzed the first 100 Google results for each phrase, and deemed them accurate if they matched up-to-date recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Moon's colleague, Brandi Joyner, told ABC News she regularly tells patients to double-check their online sources' validity before acting on the advice.  Joyner is a clinical research coordinator at Children's National Medical Center and health educator at the Children's National WIC clinic in Washington, D.C., where she tells women how to keep their children safe even at naptime and bedtime.

"If you want to turn to the Internet, make sure the website is ending in .gov or .org or .state," Joyner said.

The most accurate sites were from government organizations, which were accurate 80.1 percent of the time, according to the study.  Researchers found that the least accurate websites were blogs, which were only accurate 30.9 percent of the time.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sleep Deficiency Can Raise Risk of Stroke, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Beyond leaving you drowsy and irritable, sleepless nights can take a serious toll on your physical and mental health.

"We know sleep is a critical biological function that influences a wide variety of physiological process," said Dr. Susan Redline, a sleep specialist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.  "Sleep deficiency can affect mood and the ability to make memories and learn, but it also affects metabolism, appetite, blood pressure, levels of inflammation in the body and perhaps even the immune response."

Lack of sleep has been linked to obesity, diabetes, anxiety, depression, heart disease and cancer, and now a new study finds little sleep can also lead to strokes.

Researchers at the University of Alabama surveyed more than 5,600 people and found that those who slept fewer than six hours a night were four times more likely to suffer a stroke than their well-rested counterparts.

"We speculate that short sleep duration is a precursor to other traditional stroke risk factors, and once these traditional stroke risk factors are present, then perhaps they become stronger risk factors than sleep duration alone," lead author Megan Ruiter of the University of Alabama at Birmingham said in a statement.

The study is being presented Monday at the 26th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Boston.

Stroke risk is also higher in people who are overweight, diabetic or hypertensive -- all conditions linked to poor sleep.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


People More Likely to Eat Unhealthy Foods When They're Sleepy, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New research suggests that people who do not get enough sleep are more likely to indulge in unhealthy foods, Health Day reports.

Researchers found that the reward centers of the brain, which are involved with addiction and pleasure-seeking behaviors, were strongly activated when sleep-deprived study participants saw pictures of unhealthy foods. The study involved 25 men and women who underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging after five nights of four hours of sleep, followed by five nights of nine hours of sleep. They were shown pictures of healthy foods, unhealthy foods and nonfood items while in the scanner. Researchers found that the unhealthy foods activated the reward centers of the brain only in people who did not get enough sleep. After resting a full night, the reward center of the brain was not activated when they looked at the unhealthy foods.

The study was scheduled to be presented at the Association Professional Sleep Societies' yearly meeting in Boston on Sunday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Social Jet Lag’ Can Figure Into Obesity

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As many working people and students can attest, the sound of the alarm clock in the morning can mean an unpleasant jolt out of a nice deep sleep. And disrupting the body’s internal clock in this way can lead to a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese, according to a new European study published in the journal Current Biology.

The study, led by Till Roenneberg at the University of Munich, evaluated the relationship between social jet lag — which the researchers describe as the discrepancy between one’s internal and social clocks — and body mass index.

Working from questionnaires completed by 6,500 central Europeans about their sleep habits, the researchers found that those who disrupted their biological rhythms, which are determined in part by genetics, had a greater chance of not only becoming overweight or obese but also more likely to smoke and drink more alcohol and caffeinated beverages.

“Our results demonstrate that living ‘against the clock’ may be a factor contributing to the epidemic of obesity,” the authors wrote.

Social jet lag, they explained, starts early in adolescence and continues throughout life until retirement. Early school times are not tuned in to the teenagers’ later natural wake times, and as people enter the workforce, those who are night owls but have to wake up early also suffer the effects of insufficient sleep.

The circadian clock also plays a role in how the body burns energy, which “may contribute to weight-related pathologies,” wrote the authors.

Previous research, they continued, found that not getting enough sleep also increased the risk of obesity and metabolic disease, and shift workers were especially vulnerable.

“The situation, where people have to be active and try to sleep outside their circadian window, has been simulated in carefully controlled laboratory studies called forced desynchrony,” they explained.  “These simulations result in an imbalanced glucose metabolism that normally is associated with metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes.”

Short sleep duration has also been linked to other health problems, including preclinical signs of Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.

The majority of people start their work day before the end of that sleep window and fall asleep well after they feel tired, which the researchers believe is “of key importance in pending discussions on the implementation of daylight-saving time and on work or school times, which all contribute to the amount of social jet lag accrued by an individual,” the authors concluded.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Americans Crave Sleep More than Sex 

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new national survey reveals a good night’s sleep is more valued than sex.

A survey by the Better Sleep Council reveals 61 percent of Americans would rather get a good night of sleep than have sex. Seventy-nine percent of women say they prefer a good night’s sleep over sex.

The survey also finds nearly half of all Americans fall asleep somewhere other than their bed at least once a week, and 11 percent fall asleep somewhere other than their bed every day.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents admit they would give up something to get a better night’s sleep. Thirty-one percent say they would give watching TV, while 23 percent named computers and social media. Sixteen percent say they would give up exercise for a good night’s rest, while another 16 percent say they would give up church.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Does Too Much Sleep Affect Weight?

Erik Snyder/Photodisc(NEW YORK) -- Despite past research, getting more sleep may not be bad for the waistline.

A new study found that getting more than nine hours of sleep a night could turn off some of the genetic activity linked to body weight. That's because, according to researchers, environmental factors such as diet and exercise play a bigger role in determining weight with longer sleep durations.

"In theory, you have control over environmental factors, so the choices you make may have a bigger impact on your weight the longer you sleep," said Dr. Nathaniel Watson, co-director of the UW Medicine Sleep Center in Seattle.

Watson and colleagues analyzed self-reported data on height, weight and sleep from more than 1,000 pairs of Caucasian twins from the University of Washington Twin Registry.

The study also showed that too little sleep is also detrimental, since genetic factors are more influential when people are sleep-deprived. Those genetic pathways, Watson said, are not yet known.

Taken together, their findings suggest that sleeping too much and sleeping too little can adversely affect body weight, and although it's generally accepted that getting too much sleep can contribute to obesity, it may not play as big a role as originally thought.

Watson said he hopes that research will next focus on determining precisely how genes are involved, which could eventually lead to a drug that targets obesity.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio