sleep and seasonal affective disorder

Newly Discovered Gene Links Sleep and Seasonal Affective Disorder

A poor night’s sleep is enough to put anyone in a bad mood, and although scientists have long suspected a link between mood and sleep, the molecular basis of this connection remained a mystery. Now, new research has found several rare genetic mutations on the same gene that definitively connect the two.

Sleep goes hand-in-hand with mood. People suffering from depression and mania, for example, frequently have altered sleeping patterns, as do those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). And although no one knows exactly how these changes come about, in SAD sufferers they are influenced by changes in light exposure, the brain’s time-keeping cue.

Although a number of tantalizing leads have linked the circadian clock to mood, there is “no definitive factor that proves causality or indicates the direction of the relationship,” says Michael McCarthy, a neurobiologist at the San Diego Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center and the University of California (UC), San Diego.

To see whether they could establish a link between the circadian clock, sleep, and mood, scientists in the new study looked at the genetics of a family that suffers from SAD and advanced sleep phase. The scientists screened the family for mutations in key genes involved in the circadian clock, and identified two rare variants of the PERIOD3 (PER3) gene in members suffering from SAD and advanced sleep phase.

“We found a genetic change in people who have both seasonal affective disorder and the morning lark trait” says lead researcher Ying-Hui Fu, a neuroscientist at UC San Francisco. When the team tested for these mutations in DNA samples from the general population, they found that they were extremely rare, appearing in less than 1% of samples.

Fu and her team then created mice that carried the novel genetic variants. “PER3’s role in mood regulation has never been demonstrated directly before,” she says. “Our results indicate that PER3 might function in helping us adjust to seasonal changes,” by modifying the body’s internal clock.

“The identification of a mutation in PER3with such a strong effect on mood is remarkable,” McCarthy says. “It suggests an important role for the circadian clock in determining mood.”

The next step will be to investigate how well these results generalize to other people suffering from mood and sleep disorders.

Original Source:

Newly Discovered Gene Links Sleep and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Read More

inconsistent sleep patterns

Inconsistent Sleep Patterns Linked to Adverse Metabolic Health in Women

A study suggests that frequent shifts in sleep timing may be related to adverse metabolic health among non-shift working, midlife women.

Results show that greater variability in bedtime and greater bedtime delay were associated with higher insulin resistance, and greater bedtime advance was associated with higher body mass index (BMI).

“Irregular sleep schedules, including highly variable bedtimes and staying up much later than usual, are associated in midlife women with insulin resistance, which is an important indicator of metabolic health, including diabetes risk,” says senior author Martica Hall, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, in a release. “We found that weekday-weekend differences in bedtime were especially important.”

Study results are published in the February issue of the journal Sleep.

Read the full article:

Inconsistent Sleep Patterns Linked to Adverse Metabolic Health in Women

Read More

Insomnia, Depression and Fatigue

Insomnia, Depression and Fatigue – Major Risk Factors to Frequent Nightmares

A recent study found that insomnia, depression and fatigue are linked to frequent nightmares. Lead author Nils Sandman said, “Our study shows a clear connection between well-being and nightmares.” Although the study did not prove that depression causes nightmares it did reveal a close association between the two.

The study consisted of 14,000 adults aged 25 to 74 in Finland – 53 percent of participants were women.

Nearly 45 percent of participants reported experiencing nightmares occasionally within the last 30 days while slightly over 50 percent reported never experiencing a nightmare. Lastly, four percent reported experiencing frequent nightmares within 30 days.

Frequent nightmares were reported by those with depression 28 percent and 17 percent among those who experience frequent insomnia. Through further analysis the researchers concluded that strong risk factors of nightmares included insomnia, exhaustion, depression symptoms and a negative sense of self.

The findings were published in Sleep.

Original Source:

Insomnia, Depression and Fatigue – Major Risk Factors to Frequent Nightmares

Read More


Sharing a Bed or Sleeping Alone – Which Has Better Impact on Your Health?

An estimated 60% of us share a bed with someone else. It’s considered as being totally normal. But is it time to reconsider this ‘norm’ for the sake of our own health? Not to mention our partners? Scientific research says maybe we should.

Physiological effects

Sleep studies that measure brain-wave activity or body movement, have shown that sharing a bed results in worse sleep quality compared to sleeping alone. More specifically, dyadic sleepers experience less REM sleep and increased physical activity during the night, compared to those who sleep alone.

Emotional factors

Despite evidence hinting at the potential harm to sleep quality, participants generally report being more satisfied with their sleep when sleeping together with their partner rather than alone.

So how can we explain such divergence between self-reported evidence and the lab results? Researchers at the University of Utah suggest that in order to answer this question we need to understand the relationship between partners.

In 2008 Lisa Diamond and colleagues investigated what happens when romantic partners are temporarily separated. They found that some individuals who undergo ‘travel-related separations’ showed increased attachment anxiety.

Hence one possible reason that you sleep better with your partner is that your attachment leads to feelings of anxiety when you are apart.

Overall then, while dyadic sleep appears to decrease sleep quality, (using objective sleep measurements), separation from your partner actually exacerbates sleep problems because of the effects of attachment anxiety.

Syncing with your partner

One study found that similarity in sleep-wake rhythms can predict the strength of a couple’s relationship. Couple’s whose sleep-wake preferences were “mismatched” were found to have worse sleep quality that those who had more similar sleeping patterns. In other words, couples who naturally wake up and go to bed at similar times have been found to be more satisfied in their relationship.

So there we have it. To have the optimum sleep, it’s possible that nothing beats that of the bachelors life. But if you are planning on moving in with your partner, it might be worth finding out about when they plan on getting up in the morning.

Original Source:

Sharing a Bed or Sleeping Alone – Which Has Better Impact on Your Health?

Read More

tips for sleeping better

Scientifically Proven Tips for Sleeping Better

Plenty of advice for achieving quality sleep focuses on lifestyle changes that can take days, weeks, or even longer to successfully put into practice. Also, common sleep-related disorders like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome usually require at least a couple of trips to the doctor before you’re able to fully get them under control.

Believe it or not, there are plenty of things you can do today that’ll increase your odds of sleeping better tonight and waking up refreshed tomorrow. Here are simple, science-backed strategies to try.

1. Skip the snooze button

When you’re tired in the morning, hitting snooze might not be the best move. Those few extra minutes tend to be less restful than your pre-alarm sleep–so when you finally do get out of bed, you end up feeling even more tired. In fact, one study found that high school students with poor sleep habits like hitting snooze ended up doing worse in school, suggesting that extending your time in bed could end up doing more harm than good.

2. Open your blinds ASAP

Fumbling around in the dark might feel like a gentler way to ease into your day. But your body’s biological clock relies on sunlight to tell you when it’s time to feel awake by raising your body temperature and pumping out energizing hormones like cortisol, say National Sleep Foundation experts. On the flip side, it takes darkness for your body temperature to start to drop and release the sleep hormone melatonin.

By staying in the dark after you get out of bed, you end up confusing those signals. The result? You’re groggy all morning and end up having a harder time falling asleep at night.

3. Exercise in the morning

One study, conducted by researchers at Appalachian State University, found that people who regularly scheduled a 30-minute sweat session for 7:00 A.M. tended to sleep longer compared to those who completed the same amount of exercise at 1:00 P.M. or 7:00 P.M. And it didn’t have to be intense: Moderate exercise, like walking, achieved results.

4. Work near the window

Remember the part about sunlight being crucial for regulating your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle? You don’t just need it first thing in the morning. You need it throughout the day.

The solution? Try to get some of your work done near a bright, sunny window. (Or if that’s not doable, at least head outside for some fresh air during your lunch break.)

Read the full article for more sleep tips:—-tonight_b_8919652.html

Scientifically Proven Tips for Sleeping Better

Read More