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Posts Tagged ‘brain

brain-damage

Studies show that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects much more than just your sleep. It can even damage your brain.

A recent brain imaging study from France involved 16 adults. Each of them had just been diagnosed with sleep apnea.

In numerous brain regions the study found a loss of “gray matter.” This is brain tissue that contains fibers and nerve cell  bodies. There also was a decrease in brain metabolism.

The authors suggest that these changes may explain some of the impairments that often occur in people with sleep apnea. Examples include attention lapses and memory loss. The study was published in March 2009 issue of the Journal of Sleep Research.

The results are similar to those found by a research team from UCLA. Their study was published in Neuroscience Letters in June 2008. They reported that people with sleep apnea have tissue loss in the “mammillary bodies.” These are brain regions that help store memory.

In July 2008 the UCLA team published another brain imaging study in the journal Sleep.It involved 41 people with moderate to severe sleep apnea. It also included 69 control subjects matched by age.

Results show that people with sleep apnea have extensive alterations in “white matter.” This is nerve tissue in the brain. It contains fibers that are insulated with myelin -a white, fatty sheath. The structural changes appear in brain regions that help control mood and memory. These regions also play a role in adjusting your blood pressure. Damage also was found in fiber pathways that connect these brain regions.

What causes the brain damage? The authors suggest that oxygen, blood flow and blood pressure may be involved. Sleep apnea involves breathing pauses that can occur hundreds of times a night of sleep. These pauses can produce drastic changes in oxygen levels.

These breathing pauses also reduce blood flow in the brain. People with sleep apnea also are at risk for high blood pressure. Both of these conditions create a potential for brain tissue damage.

Dr. Ronald Harper of UCLA said that the studies show how important it is for sleep apnea to be treated. CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. The findings make it all the more imperative that OSA be treated as soon as possible to prevent further injury. The long-term effects of OSA are terribly damaging to memory and thinking processes.

Can treatment reverse the brain damage caused by sleep apnea? The authors are uncertain if the changes are permanent.

But studies show that CPAP does help your heart, it may even save your life.

Have you see the happy hippo….? Things starting to get a little weird up-stairs, can’t seem to concentrate, so tired….

 This is notable apparent in soldiers in combat zones, medical residents and even new parents. Now there’s a neurological basis for this theory, accodting to new research from the Unvr. of Cali and Harvard Med school.

 In the first neural investigation into what happens to the emotional brain without sleep, results from a brain imaging study suggest that while a good nights’ rest can regulate your mood and help you cope with the next days emotional challenges, sleep deprivation does the opposite by excessively boosting the part of the brain most closely connected to depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders.

“It’s almost as though, without sleep, the brain had reverted back to more primitive patterns of activity, in that it was unable to put emotional experiences into context and produce controlled, appropriate responses,” said Matthew Walker, director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuro-imaging Lab.

“Emotionally, you’re not on a level playing field, ” Walker added.

  That’s because the amygdala (ouu say that 5 times fast, shoot try saying it once 😉 ) the region of the brain that alerts the body to protect itself in times of danger, goes into overdrive on no sleep, according to the study. This consequently shuts down the prefrontal cortex, which commands logical reasoning, and thus prevents the release of chemicals needed to calm down the fight-or-flight reflex.

  If, for example, the amygdala reacts strongly to a violent movie, the prefrontal cortex lets the brain know that the scene is make-believe and to settle down. But instead of connecting to the prefrontal cortex, the brain on no sleep connects to the locus coeruleus, the oldest part of the brain, which releases noradrenalin to ward off imminent threats to survival, posing a volatile mix, accoding to the study.

  The study’s findings lay the groundwork for further investigation into the relationship between sleep and psychiatric illnesses. Clinical evidence has shown that some form of sleep disruption is present in almost all psychiatric disorders.

“This is the first set of experiments that demonstrate that even healthy people’s brains mimic certain pathological psychiatric patterns when deprived of sleep, “Walker said. “Before, it was difficult to separate out the effect of sleep versus the disease itself. Now we’re closer to being able to look into wheather the person has a psychiatric disease or a sleep disorder.’

  Using functioning Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Walker and his team found that the amygdala, which is also a key to processing emotions, became hyperactive in response to negative visual stimuli – mutilated bodies, children with tumors and otehr gory images- in study participants who stayed awake for 35 hours straight. Conversely, brain scans of those who got a full nights sleep in thier own beds showed normal activity in the amygdala.

“The emotional centers of the brain were over 60 percent more reactive under conditions of sleep deprivation that in subjects who had obtained a normal night of sleep.” Walker said, after conducting the study.

  The team studied 26 healthy participants aged 18 to 30, breaking them into two groups of equal numbers of males and females. The sleep-deprived group stayed awake during day 1, night 1 and day 2, while the sleep-control group stayed awake both days and slept normally during the night. During the fMRI brain scanning, which was performed at the end of day 2, each was shown 100 images that ranged from neutral to very negative. Using this emotional gradient, the researchers were able to compare the increase in brain response to the increasingly negative pictures.

  During Walker’s research, he was struck with the consistency of how graduate students in his studies would turn from affable, rational beings into what he called, “emotional JELL-O” after a night without sleep. He and his assistants searched for research that would explain the effect of sleep deprivation on the emotional brain and found none, although there is countless anecdotal evidence that lack of sleep causes emotional swings.

  I don’t know about anyone else, but when I don’t get decent sleep at least for a few days, I am the WORST person to get along with. I complain about everything and everyone… Its as if the tiny problems often seem large, and large problems become utterly defeating.

In a study recently published in Current Biology, researchers kept volunteers awake for 35 hours, then showed them pictures designed to provoke an emotional response – and provoke they certainly did. Blood flow to the amygdale -an emotional processing part of the brain- increased by over 60 percent in sleep-deprived brains.

Researchers found that it is almost as though, without sleep, the brain reverts back to a more primitive pattern of activity, becoming unable to put emotional experiences into context and produced controlled, appropriate responses.

The findings may provide insight into psychiatric disorders, many of which are accompanied by sleep problems. Clinical evidence has shown that some form of sleep disruption is present in almost all psychiatric disorders.

In the UK, their researchers said it would be difficult to use it to unravel the relationship between mental health and sleep. Professor Jim Horne stated: “This is a complex area -the big difference is that people with mental illnesses might not be aware that they are over-reacting or behaving irrationally, whereas someone with sleep deprivation would be more aware of this overreaction.”

In addition, we all know that in illnesses such as depression, actually reducing the amount of sleep can be beneficial in moderation and a well-supervised environment.

Apparently, there have been a  lot of studies into the effects of sleep deprivation; this is the first to show what is happening in the brain response to such emotional stimuli…

Sleepy brains prone to power failure:

 Being deprived of sleep even for one night can make the brain unstable and prone to sudden shutdown, like a power failure- brief lapses that hover between sleep and wakefulness.

  It’s as though it is both asleep and awake and they are switching between each other very rapidly, causing such disorientation in a sleep deprived person. Imagine your sitting in a room watching a movie with the lights on. In a stable or wakeful brain the light stay on all the time, where-as a sleep brain, the lights will suddenly go off and you’ve dozed off, unaware.

  The findings also suggest that people who are sleep deprived alterante between periods of near-normal brain function and dramatic lapses in attention and visual processing. Researchers did brain imaging studies on 24 adults who performed simple tasks involving visual attention when they were well rested and when they had missed a nights’ sleep.

  The researchers used a type of brain imaging know as functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI, which measures blood flow in the brain.

  They found significant, momentary lapses in several areas of the brain, which seemed to frequently falter when the people were deprived of sleep, but when these same people were well rested. These people were doing tasks and trying to work very hard through their sleepiness, to remember what they had learned.

  These lapses seem to suggest that loss of sleep renders the brain incapable to fully fending off involuntary drive to sleep. The study also makes it clear how dangerous sleep deprivation can be while driving on a highway, when even a four-second lapse could lead to a major accident.

…When I saw this, I thought what are we thinking! Really, snorting brain chemicals? They’re brain chemicals, they should be in our brains, not us snorting them up there! I hope that this never makes it to the market!…. What would you do? Would you snort a ‘brain chemical’ just to get some sleep or would you do the old fashion-ed tricks and get some rest?

 

 

In what sounds like a dream for millions of tired coffee drinkers, Darpa-funded scientists might have found a drug that will eliminate sleepiness.

 

  A nasal spray containing a naturally occurring brain hormone called orexin A, it reversed the effects of sleep deprivation in monkeys, allowing them to perform like well-rested monkeys on cognitive tests. The discovery’s first application will probably be in treatment of the severe sleep disorder narcolepsy.

 

  The treatment is “a totally new route for increasing arousal, and the new study shows it to be relatively benign,” states a profession of psychiatry at UCLA, “It reduces the sleepiness without causing edginess.”

 

  Orexin A is a promising candidate to become a “sleep replacement” drug. For decades, stimulants have been used to combat sleepiness, but they can be addictive and often have side effects, including raising blood pressure or causing mood swings. The military, for example, administers amphetamines to pilots flying long distances, and had funded research into new drugs like the stimulant modafinil and orexin A in an effort to help troops stay awake with fewest side effects.

 

  The monkeys were deprived of sleep for 30 -36 hours and then given either orexin A or a saline placebo before taking standard cognitive tests. The monkeys given orexin A in a nasal spray scored about the same as alert monkeys, while the saline-control group was severely impaired.

 

  The study, plublished in the edition of The Journal of Neuroscience, found orexin A not only restored monkey’s cognitive abilities but made their brains look “awake” in PET scans.

 

  Siegel said that orexin A is unique in that it only had an impact on sleepy monkeys, not alert ones, and that it is “specific in reversing the effects of sleepiness” without other impacts on the brain.

 

  Such a product could be widely desired by the more than 70 percent of Americans who the National Sleep Foundation estimates gets less than generally recommended eight hours of sleep per night.

 

   The research follows the discovery by Siegel that the absence of orexin A appears to cause narcolepsy. That finding pointed to a major role for the peptide’s absence in causing sleepiness. It stood to reason that it the deficit of orexin A makes people sleepy, adding it back into the brain would reduce the effects.

 

  “What we’ve been doing so far is increasing arousal without dealing with the underlying problem,” “If the underlying deficit is a loss of orexin, and it clearly is, then the best treatment would be orexin.”

 

  Dr. Michael Twery, at the National Center of Sleep Disorders Research, said that while research into drugs for sleepiness is “very interesting,” he cautioned that the long term consequences of not sleeping were not well-known.

 

  Both Twery and Siegel noted that it is unclear wheather or not treating the brain chemistry behind sleepiness would alleviate the other problems associated with sleep deprivation.

 

  “New research indicates that not getting enough sleep is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders.”

 

I guess these UK scientists should see that we Americans have this under control (snicker) with our self-medicating with caffeine. – ORGN. “we have to realize that we are already living in a society where we are already self-medicating with caffeine. Siegel said.

 

  He also stated that modafinil, which is marketed as Provigil by cephalon and alertec in Canada, has become widely used by healthy individuals for managing sleepiness.

 

  “We have these other precedents, and it’s not clear that you can’t use orexin A temporarily to reduce sleep,” Siegel said. “On the other hand, you’d have to be a fool to advocate taking this and reducing sleep as much as possible.”

 

    Sleep advocates probably won’t have to worry about orexin A reaching drugstore shelves for many years. Any commercial treatment using the substance would need approval from the Food and Drug Admin, which can take more than a decade.

 

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  Moderate to severe cases of OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) significantly increases the risk of suffering a stroke. The study of 1,475 people found that those with moderate to sever sleep apnea at beginning of the study were 3 to 4 times more likely to have a stroke than a comparable group of patients without sleep apnea during the next four years. The study did not find any significant increase in the odds of having a stroke for people with mild sleep apnea compared with people without sleep apnea. The stroke risk we found for people with moderate to severe sleep apnea is quite significant- double the risk of other well -known risk factors for stroke, such as hypertension or diabetes. It was even found that the risk of stroke was significant even after other risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure and obesity, were taken into account.

   The patients in the study were defined as having moderate to sever obstruction sleep apnea in their breathing stopped or slowed at least 20 times per hour of sleep. People whose breathing stopped or slowed between 5 and 20 times per hour of sleep were considered to have mild sleep apnea. One reason obstructive sleep apnea may increase stroke risk is that it has been shown to cause high blood pressure, with this, it is the most common risk factor for stroke. Another possible reason is that when a person stops breathing, the lack of oxygen kick in the body’s “fight or flight” response. Part of that reaction is to make the blood more clottable, and blood clots in the brain can cause a stroke.    

    This study provides yet another reason why it’s so important to treat sleep apnea with all caution as possible. It also raises the question of weather people with sleep apnea should be put on aspirin therapy or given other anti-clotting drugs/medications, which is what is done for other people with stroke risk, but this is an issue that needs further research.

Sleep apnea increases risk of heart attack and/or death up by 30%.

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