Posts Tagged ‘deprivation


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.


The wise words of Wilse Webb, a prominent sleep researcher recently said.

  So, question of pose: How long can humans stay awake?

The experiemental answer to this question is 264 hours (about 11 days).  In 1965, Randy Garder, a 17 year-old high school student, set this apparent world-record for a science fair. Several other normal research subjects have remained awake for eight to 10 days in carefully monitored experiments. None of these individuals experienced serious medical, neurological, physoiological or psychiatric problems.

  On the other hand, all of them showed progressive and significant deficits in concentration, motivation, perception and other higher mental processes as the duration of sleep deprivation increased. Nevertheless, all experimental subjects recovered to relative normality within one or two nights of recovery sleep.  Other anecdotal reports describe soldiers staying awake for four days in battle, or un-medicated patients with mania going without sleep for three to four days.

  The more difficult answer to this question revolves around the definition of “awake.” As mentioned above, prolonged sleep deprivation in normal subjects induces altered stated of consciousness ( often described as “microsleep”), numerous brief episodes of overwhelming sleep, and loss of cognitive and motor functions. We all know the dangerous, drowsy driver, and have heard about drowsy flyers crashing planes because they fell asleep while flying. RandyGardner was “awake” but basically cognitively dysfunctional at the end of his ordeal.

 In certain rare human medical disorders, the question of how long people can remain awake raises other surprising answers, and more questions. Morvan’s fibrillary chorea or Morvan’s Syndrome is characterized by muscle twitchings, pain, excessive sweating, weight loss, periodic hallucinations, and severe loss of sleep ( agrypnia ). Michel Jouvet and his colleagues in Lyon, France, studies a 27 year-old man with this disorder and found he had virtually no sleep over a period of several months. During that time he did not feel sleepy or tried and did not show any disorders of mood, memory, or anxiety. Nevertheless, nearly everynight between 9:00 and 11:00 p.m., he experienced a 20 to 60-minute period of auditory, visual, olfactory and somesthetic (sense of touch ) hallucinations, as well as pain and vasoconstriction in his fingers and toes. In recent investigations, Morvan’s Syndrome has been attributed to serum antibodies directed again by specific potassium (K+) channels in cell and nerve membranes.

  So, to return to the orginal question, “How long can humans stay awake?” the ultimate remains unclear. Despite studies, there are no reports that sleep deprivation per se has killed any humab ( excluding accidents and so forth ). Indeed, the U.S. Departmend of Defense has offered research funding for the goal of sustaining a fully awake, fully functional “24/7” soldier, sailor, or airman. Future warriors will face intese, around the clock fighting for weeks at a time. Will bioengineering eventually produce genetically cloned soldiers and citizens with a variant of Morvan’s Syndrome who need no sleep but remain effective and happy? I hope not. A good nights sleep is one of life’s blessings.

As Coleridge wrote years ago, “Oh sleep! It is a  gentle thing, beloved from pole to pole.”

  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…

It lets sleep-deprived workers catch up on z’s — but will it catch on?

energy pod

You’re hard at work, eyes squinted at a sea of erratically moving numbers, doggedly typing away, but little by little that familiar, dreaded lethargic haze seeps over you. It’s that time of day, and try as you might, you can’t stay awake without several bitter cups of coffee, a red bull (or five), and on some days even caffeine pills. You would pay for some sleep right now.

Enter the capitalists
If necessity really is the mother of invention, the mushrooming domestic “sleep economy” indicates that modern-day Americans are a tired lot. The National Sleep Foundation reveals that the average American gets about 6.9 hours of sleep per night — not quite enough to function at an optimal level. Without some help that is.

“I came up with the idea for my company while working at Deutsche Bank in New York — I saw colleagues falling asleep at their desks and even sneaking off to the bathroom to take naps,” says a rested looking Arshad Chowdhury, founder of New York based MetroNaps, a company that aims to enhance workplace productivity through enabling employees to nap in a futuristic looking device called the Energy Pod.

A pilot study during Chowdhury’s MBA at Carnegie Mellon allowed the former analyst to deduce that offering well to do sleep-deprived execs the ability to barter some of their hard-earned money in exchange for a few much-needed winks was a golden opportunity. People would pay to nap. With it’s Bose noise-canceling headphones quietly emit melodiously soothing tunes to aid drifting off. A built in alarm is set and once nap time is up, lights and vibration serve as a gentle wake up call. Members pay $65 a month for an unlimited number of naps, while non-members pay $14 for 20 minutes in the Energy Pod.

There’s a burgeoning market for sleep in the United States — both sleep aids and products that combat drowsiness — and in corporate circles, the relationship between being well rested and productive is slowly coming to the forefront. Chowdhury’s company, while one amongst many, differentiates itself on the basis that it allows employees to nap within a noisy, bustling workplace in a device that is both compact and private enough to not require a separate room or space be set aside for napping.

A novel concept … but how successful?
In May 2004, MetroNaps opened in the Empire State Building. Business was sluggish at first, and initially the company’s sole source of business was from the clients in the building and from the surrounding areas who came to them. Feedback from the trickle of visitors and enquiries from others too far away to make the trip, soon had Chowdhury experimenting with the idea of bringing naps to companies instead of waiting for the fatigued to come to him. A redesign of the pod in 2005 rendered it workplace appropriate. The new pod can be easily dismantled and reassembled for transportation purposes. A privacy visor was added to keep out light and sound, as were electronic built in timers to prevent oversleeping.

While MetroNaps still offers naps at its New York based center: between 50 to 100 customers come by in the course of a week, the primary focus has shifted to installing the Energy Pods, which retail for $12,400, in the workplace. The company has installed about 100 of these so far: clients are varied and include Procter & Gamble, Cisco, Stanford Medical Center, Carnegie Mellon, and the Jetsetter Spa at Miami International Airport. MetroNaps has retail centers across the world: in the US, UK, Australia, Germany and Denmark.

But will napping in the workplace really catch on?
Sleep is an act that has traditionally been relegated to the private sphere — definitely not something employers were supposed to get involved in. But as work hours get longer and employees spend more and more time in the office, the boundaries between private life and the workplace are increasingly blurred. With stronger links being established between productivity and rest, employees’ sleep routines are beginning to catch the interest of their employers.

“Colonizing the nap at work is part of a larger trend that is reconfiguring the once bounded relationships between home and work and public and private space and time,” explain sociologists Vern Baxter and Steve Kroll-Smith. They explain that while napping at work was typically considered deviant behavior — a resistance against the management and a flouting of the rules — employers are increasingly encouraging employees to nap in the workplace and some could potentially even mandate it.

The consensus among experts in the area of sleep is that both anecdotal and empirical evidence indicate a strong relationship between being well-rested on the one hand, and optimally productive, creative, happy, analytical and physically fit on the other. Since the current structure of our society does not allow the average American enough sleep at night, Dr Helene Emsellem, author of “Snooze … or Lose” points out that people need to be creative — and napping is a good way to do this.

According to Bill Anthony, author of “The Art of Napping at Work,” napping is slowly trending towards becoming more mainstream: “people often had to nap surreptitiously — in their cars or behind their desks. Now this is changing with a changing rationale: sleep is being seen not as a perk but as a productivity enhancer.”

There are those who disagree however. “Napping is not a viable solution … Napping in the workplace is more of a quick fix to a larger problem,” insists Nancy Shark, Executive Director of the Better Sleep Council. “Anyone looking to improve their daily work performance … can benefit by improving the quality of their sleep at night. Just like scheduling a meeting or dinner with friends, everyone should prioritize sleep as a part of their daily schedule.”

Here to stick?
Whatever the health benefits of napping, it is undeniable that companies catering to a rising interest in sleep are fast cropping up. But is this interest just another trend?

Businesses like Chowdhury’s hinge on the fact that it is not. “Fatigue is not a fad. For the past 30 years, Americans have been working longer hours and sleeping less. We are increasingly a sleep deprived nation,” emphasizes Chowdhury. He maintains that due to the efforts of the pharmaceutical industry, people are developing an enhanced awareness regarding sleep deprivation — one that is here to stick around.

  What happens when you stop breathing during sleep?              

                          If you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing during sleep, and the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood is upset. This imbalance stimulates the brain to restart the breathing process. The brain signals you to wake up so that the muscles of the tongue and throat can increase the size for the airway. Then, carbon dioxide can escape, and oxygen can enter the airway.  These waking episodes are necessary to restart breathing (and save your life), but because of them, you become sleep-deprived.

sleep-deprived.jpgSleep Deprivation, both the person with sleep apnea and the bed partner suffer from sleep deprivation. A bed partner may lose an hour or more of sleep each night form sleeping next to a person with sleep apnea. Along with the apnea episodes, the person afflicted with sleep apnea may have additional trouble sleeping caused by side effects of the  condition, including a frequent need to get up and urinate during the night, and excessive sweating.  Some trickle-down effects of sleep deprivation are a compromised immune system, poor mental and emotional health, irritability, and slower reaction time, among other problems.

 In fact, a report in 2000 compiled by the U.S National Commission on Sleep Disorders shows that almost one out of ten people suffer from some sort of sleep and energy deprivation disorder.  Just from those statistics, that means, in America, as of July 2005, thats about 29,573,43 people (29 million!) have some sort of serious sleeping problem.  Thats almost twice the population of most small countries.

 A major and highly focused upon reaction of sleep deprivation is depression. Approximately one in five people who suffer from sleep apnea also suffer from depression. Existing depression may also be worsened by sleep apnea. While it is not clear whether the apnea causes the depression or vice-versa, studies show that by treating sleep apnea symptoms, depression may be alleviated in some people. Keeping a journal of your sleep patterns and how you feel after not having adequate amount of sleep, and taking it to your doctor will help you conquer your sleep disorder and your depression.