Posts Tagged ‘research


Insomnia can make you feel like your mind is racing out of control. A revealing new study explains why your brain may be unable to put the brakes on your thoughts. It links the problem to low levels of a brain chemical.

A new study shows that GABA levels are reduced by 30 percent in adults with chronic primary insomnia. The study was published in the Nov. 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

GABA is reduced in the brain of individuals with insomnia, suggesting over activity is present. It was explained that low GABA levels create an imbalance of brain activity. This may lead to an inability to shut down waking signals in the brain.

If your GABA levels are low, then your mind can’t slow down. It may race forward at full speed even when it is time to sleep. An over active mind is a key feature of psychophsicological insomnia. At bedtime you are unable to stop thinking and worrying. Your body may be ready for sleep, but your mind remains alert. This state of “hyperarousal” can make it hard for you to fall asleep.

Most with insomnia have “secondary” insomnia. It occurs along with another medical problem, mental illness or sleep disorder. It also may result from the use of a medication or substance. In contrast primary insomnia is unrelated to another health problem. Estimates that about 25 percent of people with insomnia have primary insomnia. The study only links low GABA levels to long lasting, primary insomnia.

All participants in the study had been suffering from primary insomnia for mor than six months. The average duration of their symptoms was about 10 years. The GABA connection affirms that primary insomnia is a legitimate disorder.

Recognition that insomnia has manifestations in the brain may increase the legitimacy of those who have insomnia and report substantial daytime  consequences. It was also explained that insomnia can affect your energy, concentration and mood. It also increases your risk of depression.

One solution for the problem of primary insomnia is the use of hypnotic medication. The short-term use of a sleeping pill can help break the cycle of sleepless nights. The study notes that many of the most effective sleeping pills increase activity at the GABA neurons.

Another treatment option is cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT helps you learn how to correct attitudes and habits that hinder your sleep. Many of these bad habits develop as people try to cope with chronic insomnia.


manheadacheWhen you’re feeling stressed on the job, it can be hard to leave work at the office. Your job may preoccupy your mind as you drive, as you eat, and as you interact with family or friends. But the battle to control your mind can intensify when you try to go to sleep.

Sleep and stress are competitors. When stress continually activating a part of the brain that is otherwised used for sleep, then stress wins the tug-of-war.

According the AASM, job stress can be a cause of adjustment insomnia. This involves disturbed sleep or sleeplessness that may last for a few days or a few weeks. Other symptoms may include anxiety, worry and tension.

A common feature of adjustment insomnia is “ruminative thoughts.”  This is when you dwell on the same thoughts, chewing them over and over in your mind. You may lie in bed staring at the ceiling, unable to stop thinking about work. Even when you finally fall asleep, your work may invade your dreams. The Staples National Small-Business Survey polled 302 owners and executives of small businesses, and more than half said they dream about work -or “sleepwork.”

Scientific research confirms that job stress can affect your sleep. In 2005 a study in the journal Sleep involved 8,770 Japanese workers. In both men and women, a high level of stress at work was liked to insomnia.

A 2007 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine linked insomnia to these three types of job stressors:

  • High work demand
  • Low influence over decisions
  • High professional compromise

The type of job stress you experience may affect your sleep in different ways. Another study linked work overload to poor sleep quality.  Having role conflicts at work was related to non-restorative sleep and trouble falling asleeo or staying asleep.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, sleep disturbances are one early warning sign of job stress. Others may include:

  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Short temper
  • Upset stomach
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Low morale

Job stress may be unavoidable. But sleep specialists say you can take steps to improve your sleep even when you are stressed.  Establishing a pattern of relaxing behaviors close to bedtime and limiting work to the early evening may help to reduce stress.

Here are jus a few more tips to help you be less restless with work worries:

  • Remain active
    Try to get some exervise every day. Both your mind and body will be more relaxed when its bedtime.
  • Express yourself
    Take some time to slow down before going to bed. Get away from the computer, turn off the TV and the cell phone, and relax quietly for 15 to 30 minutes. Take a warm bath, enjoy a light snack or listen to some soft music.
  • Avoid “bedwork”
    Never bring any work to bed with  you; your bed should be refuge from your job. Also avoid doing other activities in bed such as reading, watching TV or talking on the phone. Only use your bed for sleep.
  • Get out of bed
    If you have trouble falling asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleep agian. Tossing and turning will only increase your frustrations.
  • See a specialist
    Some doctors are specialists in behavioral sleep medicine. They can teach you how to relax at bedtime so you can fall asleep more easily.

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 took a sleeping pill the other night, as a last resort for caffeine-laced insomnia. It was like a 10-hour sleigh ride through an enchanted forest.

These pill may be addictive, the warning label said.

NO KIDDING, I thought! 🙂

  Sleep is by far the new sex, a lot of sleep experts are starting to say, it’s being advertised all over the place, sex sells is to sleep (aids) sell: Men think about it every seven seconds or so. Women romanticize it. Teenagers yearn for the weekends, when they might get a little of it- that goes for both sex & sleep!

  These days, sleep is just another basic need that Americans can’t seem to meet. And though the national sleep deficit is mostly a cultural issue, it’s easier to treat as a medical problem than as a symptom of life out of whack. People aren’t winding down, they’re going to be and their minds are still racing from the days dos’ and didn’t dos’.

  The National Sleep Foundation releases its annual poll March 28th that confirms what most people already know, if they could escape their groggy haze long enough to form a coherent thought: Nobody gets enough sleep. The reasons are familiar. People spend more hours working and driving, and they raise this children, manage their households and care for aging parents on the fly. They also stay plugged into the grind longer, tapping our e-mails untiljust before hitting the sheets, or they’re already in bed, with their laptop propped up in front of them.

Then they expect to screech to a halt and enter REM on demand.

“People feel the need to be very efficient in their sleep,” said Heather Hartley, a sociology professor, who studies the links between drug companies and society. “They budget a set amount of time and then get stressed out if they can’t go immediately to sleep. There’s no cushion. There’s where the vicious cycle begins.”

  There probably was never a golden age of sleep in this country, as if Americans were well-rested before globalization, the Internet and women’s liberation came along and ruined everything. We’ve always worked hard. Even our old colloquialisms for sleep, such as “hitting the hay” and “sawing logs,” are work-related.

  But the collective fatigue is growing. People sleep nearly an hour less each night than they did two generations ago, according to historic estimates of sleep patterns. High-school seniors are among the most sleep-deprived, getting about two hours less each weeknight than the nine hours they need.

  The sleep experts say relax, drink less coffee and booze, eat better, rest more & exercise. The drug companies say take this pill.

These days, a prescription is far easier to acquire than a healthy life.

  American’s filled an astounding 42 million prescriptions for sleeping pills last year, up 60 percent since 2000, according to the research company IMS Health. Drug companies spent $300 million marketing sleeping pills such as Lunesta and Ambien last year and grossed $2 billion is sales!\

Meanwhile, coffee consumption keep rising. There’s a Starbucks almost every 6 blocks in my city.

  “Somethings’ got to give, ” says  another psychology professor who has begun to study sleeplessness as a symptom of work stress. Personal coping strategies can only do so much, she added, when the economy and culture are rigged against a good nights’ sleep.

  I don’t intend to pop a sleeping pill more than once every few years, no matter how many Lunesta ads crowd my favorite television shows. The drug-induced slumber feels to little too much like getting hit in the head. So the little pill beckons, offering instant relief for your Chronic Sleep Disorder, you get on the sleigh and pull the fur robes snug around your hands, and glide through the forest toward the golden pot of coffee shimmering on the horizon.

  It’s not a good nights’ sleep, but it’s the next-best thing.

Sufferers unknowingly have sex in their sleep…

  Researchers are struggling to understand a rare medical condition where sufferers unknowingly demand, or actually have, sex while asleep…

  Looking into sexsomnia – making sexual advances towards another person while asleep – has been hampered as sufferers are so embarrassed by the problem they tend not to own up to it, while doctors do not ask about it.

  As of yet, there is no cure for the condition, which often leads to difficulties in relationships.

 “It really bothers me that I can’t control it,” one woman exclaimed. “It scares me because I don’t think it has anything to do with my partner. I don’t want this foolish condition to hurt us in the long run.”

  Most researchers view sexsomnia as a variant of sleepwalking, where sufferers are stuck between sleep and wakefullness, though sexsomniacs ten to stay in bed rather than get up and walk about…lol 😉

 While sleepwalking affects two to four percent of adults, sexsomnia is not thought to be as a common problem, but an Internet survey of sexsomniacs carried out in 2005 that dew 219 reliable respondents concluded it was more prevalent than medical case reports alone suggested.

“Most of the time sleep sex occurs between peope who are already partners,” stated sleep specialist Mark Pressman.

“Sometimes they hate it, Sometimes they tolerate it, and on rare occasions you have stories of people liking it better than waking sex.” Pressman added of the reactions of sexsomniacs’ partners.

  With no cure, addressing triggering factors – stress or sleep deprivation – can help, while Michael Mangan, a pschologist at Unvr. New Hamsphire, has set up a Web site,, to help sufferers.

  Meanwhile they are trying to devise a procedure for diagnosing sexsomnia in legal cases where sufferers have been accused of sexual assult, that’s just great, people are really going to be able to stat getting away with assults, because they will pull this card that they are a sexsomniac!


  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…