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How much can an extra hour's sleep change you?

How much can an extra hour's sleep change you?
9 October 2013Last updated at 04:24 ET The average Briton gets six-and-a-half hours' sleep a night, according to the Sleep Council. Michael Mosley took part in an unusual experiment to see if this is enough. It has been known for some time that the amount of sleep people get has, on average, declined over the years. This has happened for a whole range of reasons, not least because we live in a culture where people are encouraged to think of sleep as a luxury - something you can easily cut back on. We wanted to see what the effect would be of increasing average sleep by just one hour. The volunteers were randomly allocated to two groups. While we were waiting to see what effect this would have, I went to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford to learn more about what actually happens when we sleep. In the Sleep Centre, they fitted me up with a portable electro-encephalograph, a device that measures brain wave activity. Deep sleep only lasts for a few hours. Related:  SleepHealth 1mis url

Body clock 'reset button' found 3 October 2013Last updated at 14:02 ET By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News Will the body's time ever be as easily to adjust as a clock's? Drugs that rapidly tweak the body clock in order to avoid jet lag and the pains of shift work have moved a step closer after research in Japan. The team at Kyoto University has found the clock's 'reset button' inside the brain. Their study, published in the journal Science, showed the button could be used to switch the clock to a new time zone in a single day. Experts said the team was "close to the money" in the hunt for a jet lag cure. There are clocks throughout the body and a "master clock" in the brain, keeping the body in sync with the world around it to make people sleepy at night. Continue reading the main story “Start Quote It really is very exciting for our field. End QuoteDr Michael HastingsBody clock scientist The clock uses light to help keep track of time, but it is naturally stubborn and adjusts slowly. Loosen up 'Remarkable'

Do you really need to drink eight cups of water a day? 10 October 2013Last updated at 04:25 ET Drinking eight cups or two litres of water a day is longstanding advice. But is there any scientific basis for it, asks Dr Chris van Tulleken. You know those ads that remind us that even a small drop in hydration levels can massively affect performance so you need to keep hydrated with whatever brand of isotonic super drink they're selling? They seem pretty scientific don't they? Man in white coat, athlete with electrodes attached and so on. Well earlier this year sports scientists in Australia did an extraordinary experiment that had never been done before (British Journal of Sports Medicine, September 2013, Current hydration guidelines are erroneous: dehydration does not impair exercise performance in the heat, Wall BA). This group wanted to find out what happened to performance after dehydration. This is vital because we all, and especially athletes, have such an intimate psychological relationship with water consumption. “Start Quote End Quote

lifehacker Sleep 'cleans' the brain of toxins The brain uses sleep to wash away the waste toxins built up during a hard day's thinking, researchers have shown. The US team believe the "waste removal system" is one of the fundamental reasons for sleep. Their study, in the journal Science, showed brain cells shrink during sleep to open up the gaps between neurons and allow fluid to wash the brain clean. They also suggest that failing to clear away some toxic proteins may play a role in brain disorders. One big question for sleep researchers is why do animals sleep at all when it leaves them vulnerable to predators? It has been shown to have a big role in the fixing of memories in the brain and learning, but a team at the University of Rochester Medical Centre believe that "housework" may be one of the primary reasons for sleep. "The brain only has limited energy at its disposal and it appears that it must choose between two different functional states - awake and aware or asleep and cleaning up," said researcher Dr Maiken Nedergaard.

Roar of the rutting stag: why men have deep voices | Science | The Observer It's the rutting season. From Richmond Park to the Isle of Rum, red deer hinds will be gathering, and the stags that have spent the past 10 months minding their own business in bachelor groups are back in town, with one thing on their minds. A mature male that has netted himself a harem is very dedicated. While female red deer prefer the deeper roars of larger stags, roaring also appears to be part of how stags size one another up, before deciding whether or not to get engaged in a full-on physical fight. In human evolution, much is made of the low position of the larynx in the neck. The relative position of the larynx tends to be lower in men than in women, and as far as speaking goes, this may actually be a disadvantage. This isn't just idle speculation; a recent study from the University of Aberdeen found that women expressed a preference for deep voices. The low voice of men, like stags, is a trait that probably evolved through sexual selection.

The Smart TV App Revolution The app store phenomenon, centered on smartphones and tablets, has been the biggest story in software for the past five years. Its next logical destination: the living room, via smart TVs and set-top boxes connected to the Internet. Smart TV apps would represent yet another threat to the struggling pay TV industry. In a new report, BI Intelligence looks at the data and trends behind the TV app market, explains why it's still nascent and messy, and why significant growth seems inevitable. A successful TV app platform could significantly shift the balance of power in entertainment, and allow for much greater probabilities of success among newcomers versus incumbents. Access The Full Report And Data Including The PowerPoint Version By Signing Up For A Free Trial Today >> Why is an apps-enabled living room so exciting? Consider the market: Innovation in the TV space is inevitable: But there are plenty of barriers to a successful TV-based app ecosystem: In full, the report:

'Afternoon naps' aid children's learning 23 September 2013Last updated at 20:59 ET Napping may help consolidate learning, experts say Getting young children to take an hour-long nap after lunch could help them with their learning by boosting brain power, a small study suggests. A nap appeared to help three-to-five-year-olds better remember pre-school lessons, US researchers said. University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers studied 40 youngsters and report their findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The benefit persisted in the afternoon after a nap and into the next day. The study authors say their results suggest naps are critical for memory consolidation and early learning. Continue reading the main story “Start Quote This is important, because pre-school nurseries are divided on whether they should allow their children a nap” End QuotePaediatrician Dr Robert Scott-Jupp Following a nap, children recalled 10% more of the information they were being tested on than they did when they had been kept awake.

Walking 'cuts breast cancer risk' 4 October 2013Last updated at 00:22 ET Post-menopausal women who walk for an hour a day can cut their chance of breast cancer significantly, a study has suggested. The report, which followed 73,000 women for 17 years, found walking for at least seven hours a week lowered the risk of the disease. The American Cancer Society team said this was the first time reduced risk was specifically linked to walking. UK experts said it was more evidence that lifestyle influenced cancer risk. A recent poll for the charity Ramblers found a quarter of adults walk for no more than an hour a week - but being active is known to reduce the risk of a number of cancers. Recreational activity This study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention followed 73,615 women out of 97,785 aged 50-74 who had been recruited by the American Cancer Society between 1992 and 1993 so it could monitor the incidence of cancer in the group. Continue reading the main story “Start Quote

pearltree Tackling fears 'while you sleep' 22 September 2013Last updated at 19:38 ET By Caroline Parkinson Health editor, BBC News website Deep sleep is a time where we consolidate memories US researchers suggest smells could be used to calm fears - while people sleep. People were trained to associate two images, linked to smells, with fear. During sleep they were exposed to one of those smells - and when they woke they were less frightened of the image linked to that smell. A UK expert praised the Nature Neuroscience study and said it could help treat phobias and perhaps even post-traumatic stress disorders. People with phobias are already commonly treated with "gradual exposure" therapy while they are awake, where they are exposed to the thing they are frightened of in incremental degrees. This study suggests that the theory could be extended to therapy while they are in slow-wave, or deep, sleep. This is the deepest period of sleep, where memories, particularly those linked to emotions, are thought to be processed. Brain changes

Exercise 'can be as good as pills' 1 October 2013Last updated at 19:56 ET By Michelle Roberts Health editor, BBC News online Short, regular bouts of exercise could add years to your life, say experts Exercise can be as good a medicine as pills for people with conditions such as heart disease, a study has found. The work in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) looked at hundreds of trials involving nearly 340,000 patients to assess the merits of exercise and drugs in preventing death. Physical activity rivalled some heart drugs and outperformed stroke medicine. The findings suggest exercise should be added to prescriptions, say the researchers. Experts stressed that patients should not ditch their drugs for exercise - rather, they should use both in tandem. Prescriptions rise Too few adults currently get enough exercise. In contrast, prescription drug rates continue to rise. There were an average of 17.7 prescriptions for every person in England in 2010, compared with 11.2 in 2000. But there were two exceptions. Health benefits

Vibrant Illustrations Celebrate the Magic of Everyday Life Whether they're set in nature or in a dizzying urban environment, artist Pascal Campion's illustrations add a sense of joy to living life. The San-Francisco-based illustrator turns a walk at night in the rain into a spectacular experience vibrating with energy and a magical zest for life. It doesn't matter what time of day or year, there's always a reason to smile. Each drawing in Campion's growing collection features its own captivating narrative. The common theme seems to be an appreciation for everyday spent on this wondrous world. Pascal Campion website via [iheartmyart]

Poor sleep makes food more appealing If there was ever a study not to lose sleep over, it's this one. People deprived of a good night's rest are more likely to experience changes in brain activity that can increase the urge to eat high-calorie foods. Matthew Walker at the University of California in Berkeley and colleagues conducted the first study of brain activity in relation to food among sleep-deprived people. The team used fMRI to study brain patterns in 23 people, first after a night of peaceful sleep and then after a night without sleep. Sleep deprivation reduced activity in three areas of the brain that help, among other things, to process odour and flavour signals. It also led to more activity in the amygdala, which helps govern the motivation to eat. It may make evolutionary sense, says Laurent Brondel at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France. Bad for health That's only part of the story, though, says Stephanie Greer, another member of the team and also at the University of California, Berkeley.

Alzheimer's brain scan detects tau protein 18 September 2013Last updated at 20:29 ET By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News Pioneering brain imaging that can detect the build-up of destructive proteins linked to Alzheimer's has been developed by Japanese scientists. It could lead to new ways of diagnosing the condition and of testing the effectiveness of new drugs. The technology, reported in the journal Neuron, can identify inside a living brain clumps of a protein called tau that is closely linked to the disease. Alzheimer's Research UK said it was promising work. Alzheimer's disease is a problem for researchers trying to come up with a cure. A diagnosis of Alzheimer's cannot be made with absolute certainty until a patient has died and their brain is examined. One protein, called tau, is very closely linked to the disease, with tangles of tau thought to be one way in which brain cells are killed. They developed a chemical that could bind to tau and then be detected during a brain scan. Finding tau in the brain