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Circadian Rhythm, Melatonin & Sleep-Wake Cycles. A feel-good brain chemical called dopamine has been linked to everything from laziness and creativity to impulsivity and a tendency to partake in one-night stands.

Circadian Rhythm, Melatonin & Sleep-Wake Cycles

Now, we can add sleep regulation to that list. When dopamine latches onto its receptor in a special part of the brain, it seems to signal the body to "wake up" by turning down levels of the sleepiness hormone melatonin, the researchers found. The first clue to this new discovery came when researchers noticed that dopamine receptor 4, a protein on the outside of certain cells that binds to dopamine, was active in the part of the brain called pineal gland. This gland regulates our internal clock, known as our circadian rhythm, by releasing melatonin in response to light. Interestingly, the presence of this dopamine receptor on pineal gland cells seemed to cycle with the time of the day — the receptor numbers were higher at night and lower during the day. Circadian rhythm Melatonin muse "The system is expressed in the evening. 5 Things You Must Know About Sleep. You're tired.

5 Things You Must Know About Sleep

You could put your head down on a desk right now and fall asleep immediately. You went to bed late last night, had trouble falling asleep and woke up too early. And let's not kid ourselves: Tonight will be the same unless … well, read on. This is the classic not-so-shut-eye experience of many Americans who think they are sleep-deprived and possibly need pills or other treatment to fix their insomnia, teeth grinding, jet lag, restless or jerky legs, snoring, sleepwalking and so forth. Reality is quite different.

For instance, insomnia is said to be the most common sleep disorder, but these dissatisfying sleep experiences only get in the way of daily activities for 10 percent of us, according to the National Institutes of Health. Here are five recent findings that might help you rest easier: Older Adults Need Less Sleep. How much sleep we need is largely a mystery, and sleep seems tougher to come by as we age.

Older Adults Need Less Sleep

Many studies — often funded by the pharmaceutical industry — have suggested that we're all sleep-deprived zombies, risking our health for lack of shut-eye. But new research in the U.K. confirms previous indications that older people need less sleep. It also suggests that variations in sleep hours needed are normal and healthy — so long as one is not overly sleepy during the day. "Healthy aging appears to be associated with reductions in the sleep duration and depth required to maintain daytime alertness," the scientists said in a statement. Still, researchers warn that many people in modern society suffer from sleep deprivation, and that it can lead to plenty of woes from accidents on the job to higher risk of falls and even death in elderly people. The study, announced today, involved 110 healthy adults who did not have any sleep disorders and didn't complain about lack of sleep. Strange Sleep Disorder Makes People See 'Demons'

When filmmaker Carla MacKinnon started waking up several times a week unable to move, with the sense that a disturbing presence was in the room with her, she didn't call up her local ghost hunter.

Strange Sleep Disorder Makes People See 'Demons'

She got researching. Now, that research is becoming a short film and multiplatform art project exploring the strange and spooky phenomenon of sleep paralysis. The film, supported by the Wellcome Trust and set to screen at the Royal College of Arts in London, will debut in May. Sleep paralysis happens when people become conscious while their muscles remain in the ultra-relaxed state that prevents them from acting out their dreams. The experience can be quite terrifying, with many people hallucinating a malevolent presence nearby, or even an attacker suffocating them.

5 Things You Must Know About Sleep. Robin Lloyd | April 01, 2009 11:46am ET Credit: © Ron Chapple Studios | Dreamstime.com You're tired.

5 Things You Must Know About Sleep

You could put your head down on a desk right now and fall asleep immediately. You went to bed late last night, had trouble falling asleep and woke up too early. And let's not kid ourselves: Tonight will be the same unless ... well, read on. Lost Sleep Can't Be Made Up, Study Suggests. If you think staying in bed on the weekends will make up for a weeks' worth of sleep deprivation, think again.

Lost Sleep Can't Be Made Up, Study Suggests

A new study finds that going long periods without sleep can lead to a sort of "sleep debt" that cannot simply be undone with a little extra snoozing from time to time. The study involved a small number of participants, however, so further research would be needed to verify the results. Such chronic sleep loss may eventually interfere with a person's performance on tasks that require focus, becoming particularly noticeable at nighttime when the body's natural sleep-wake cycle isn't giving you an extra boost. Anyone who's ever pulled an all-nighter knows how debilitating sleep loss can be in the short term.

Indeed, studies show that after 24 hours without sleep, a person's performance can drop to the level of someone who is legally drunk. But what about if those all-nighters turned into all-weekers? Putting the ‘Z’ in Zzzzzzz. This Behind the Scenes article was provided to LiveScience in partnership with the National Science Foundation.

Putting the ‘Z’ in Zzzzzzz

We boast when our infant finally sleeps through the night. We bemoan the teenager who requires a canon shot to arise from his bed before noon. A Better Diet Could Mean a Better Night's Sleep. I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but the U.S. seems to have become a nation obsessed with pills.

A Better Diet Could Mean a Better Night's Sleep

If something doesn't work right, no worries, there's a pill for that. So when we have trouble sleeping, naturally, we go see the doctor for a prescription. Who cares that we might try to sleepwalk our way behind the wheel of a car?