A pregnant woman sleeping on her side. If she has gestational sleep apnea, she is at risk.

Gestational Sleep Apnea: The Risk to Pregnant Women

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A pregnant woman sleeping on her side. If she has gestational sleep apnea, she is at risk.

As doctors ignore gestational sleep apnea in pregnant patients, they are at risk for complications.

According to new research, one of every four pregnant women suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Unfortunately, pregnant women with OSA are more likely to be left untreated because it is not seen as a danger to either the mother or child. However, this new research suggest that OSA can be the cause of several symptoms in pregnant women. Now, researchers are recommending that doctors diagnose this condition as gestational sleep apnea.

Doctors Ignore OSA in Pregnant Women

Doctors are ignoring OSA in pregnant women because they attribute difficulty breathing during sleep, as well as daytime fatigue, to their pregnancy. Doctors are usually unwilling to refer pregnant patients to an ENT specialist, believing that symptoms will subside after their child is born. Some researchers believe that this thinking is a misstep in helping pregnant women with gestational sleep apnea.

Prof. Yehuda Ginosar, director of the Mother and Child Anesthesia Unit at the Hebrew University, and co-author of the study, states that “Currently there is a lack of uniform criteria to diagnose, treat and classify OSA in the pregnant population, which in turn complicates efforts to determine the risk factors for, and complications of, gestational sleep apnea.”

The Risk of Gestational Sleep Apnea

Without proper diagnosis and treatment of Gestational Sleep Apnea, pregnant women are left at risk. Not only do they suffer from both difficulty breathing during sleep and daytime fatigue, but the disorder is known to cause several complications in their condition, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and heart disease.

When non-pregnant adults are diagnosed with OSA, they are treated with continuous positive airway pressure (PAP machine) to relieve their symptoms. Researchers stress the importance of diagnosing pregnant women so that they might receive the same treatment. Without proper action, women and their babies are at risk.

Dr. Suzanne Karan, co-author of the study and Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Director of the Anesthesiology Respiratory Physiology Laboratory at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, sends out a call to action for doctors, stating, “The time has come for our profession to wake up to the diagnosis of Gestational Sleep Apnea. This will allow us to research obstructive sleep apnea in pregnant women more effectively, and to develop and implement more effective treatments.”

A little girl, who appears restless in bed due to sleep loss.

Sleep Loss: Children at Risk For Emotional Disorders

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A little girl, who appears restless in bed due to sleep loss.

Sleep loss can affect your child’s emotional state, leading to disorders like insomnia and anxiety.

Parents constantly worry about their child’s development. They stress over their child’s health, as well as their emotional state of being. However, what if their health and emotions were tied together? One study suggests that sleep loss in children increases their risk for emotional disorders.

Emotional Disorders

Scientists for the University of Houston recently revealed the long-term effects of sleep loss. Without an adequate amount of sleep, children are at risk for developing depression and anxiety as they grow up. These are serious conditions that can have severe consequences down the line.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 1 out of 20 Americans, 12 years of age and older, reported current depression in 2009–2012. Depression comes with a variety of emotional symptoms. This includes a loss of appetite, loss of interest, sadness and hopelessness, insomnia, and thoughts of death or suicide.

While occasional anxiety is common among people, conditions such as general anxiety, panic, and social anxiety disorder can deeply affect one’s quality of life. Symptoms of this condition can affect the way people operate within the world around them, as they are in constant fear. Intense worry, attacks of fear, and an inability to interact with others, are just some of the issues people with anxiety have to deal with on a daily basis.

How Sleep Loss Affects Children Emotionally

Candice Alfano, a clinical psychologist and associate psychology professor at the University of Houston, says that the study’s purpose was to determine “how children appraise, express, regulate and later recall emotional experiences, both when sleep is adequate and when it is inadequate.”

The study tested 50 children, between the ages of 7 to 11, by restricting their sleep. They found that the children not only began to show sign of negative emotions, but were less impacted by positive experiences. Sleep loss seemed to have affected how they view things emotionally, putting a negative veil over everything they did, and making activities less exciting.

In the end, Alfano suggested that “Continually experiencing inadequate sleep can eventually lead to depression, anxiety and other types of emotional problems. Parents, therefore, need to think about sleep as an essential component of overall health in the same way they do nutrition, dental hygiene and physical activity. If your child has problems waking up in the morning or is sleepy during the day, then their nighttime sleep is probably inadequate. This can result for several reasons, such as a bedtime that is too late, non-restful sleep during the night, or an inconsistent sleep schedule.”

An X-Ray of a Human brain with parts like the auditory cortex highlighted in several colors.

Auditory Cortex Is Identical in Deaf and Hearing People

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An X-Ray of a Human brain with parts like the auditory cortex highlighted in several colors.

Scientists discover new information about the auditory cortex and the role it plays in hearing.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, nearly 10 percent (25 million people) of the United States population has experienced tinnitus lasting at least five minutes. Approximately 15 percent (26 million people) of Americans, between the ages of 20 and 69, have hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises.

Scientists continue to search for answers to how hearing loss affects the body. A recent study has made an interesting discovery about the auditory cortex—which is the part of the brain that processes sound.

Revealing Details About the Auditory Cortex

Researchers at several institutions, including Harvard University, sought to better understand how the auditory cortex works. Using tonotopic maps (images of the brain), the scientists were able to analyze how this part of the brain reacts to different tones. They discovered that for both the hearing impaired and those with normal hearing, the neural architecture in the auditory cortex is identical.

“One reason this is interesting is because we don’t know what causes the brain to organize the way it does,” said Striem-Amit, the lead author of the study. “How important is each person’s experience for their brain development? In audition, a lot is known about (how it works) in hearing people, and in animals…but we don’t know whether the same organization is retained in congenitally deaf people.”

The result of the study raises a lot of questions. In their test, the auditory cortex reacted to not only sound but visual stimulation. “We know the architecture is in place—does it serve a function?” Striem-Amit said. “We know, for example, that the auditory cortex of the deaf is also active when they view sign language and other visual information. The question is: What do these regions do in the deaf? Are they actually processing something similar to what they process in hearing people, only through vision?”

More research needs to be done. While the auditory cortex seems to develop in a similar manner, whether or not the person is deaf, some suggest it still might play a vital role in hearing.

A woman sleeping in bed because of a sleep aid.

Over-the-Counter Sleep Aid Improves Quality of Sleep

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A woman is sleeping in bed because of a sleep aid.

An over-the-counter sleep aid proves to be just as effective as it claims.

Everyone occasionally has trouble sleeping. For minor sleep difficulties, we search for over-the-counter medicines to help us get a good night’s rest. However, is an over-the-counter sleep aid really effective? A new study reveals good news for people who wish to sleep better at night.

Over-the-Counter Sleep Aid: ZzzQuil™

ZzzQuil is an over-the-counter sleep aid made up of diphenhydramine HCL (DPH), which is a type of pharmaceutical drug known as an antihistamine. Zzzquil has been available to the public as a nonprescription drug since 2012, and comes in both liquid and liquicap forms.

The medicine is primarily used to treat allergic symptoms, the common cold, insomnia, and also extrapyramidal symptoms – a drug-induced movement disorder. Due to the drug’s sedative properties, it has been used as an effective sleep-aid for years, as well as a substitute local anesthetic for those who are allergic to lidocaine.

The Study’s Results

Thomas Roth, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Disorder and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, along with his team of researchers, sought to determine the benefits of sleep-aids such as ZzzQuil. “This study demonstrates that diphenhydramine HCI can provide benefit to people who sometimes need help getting a good night’s sleep,” said Roth.

In order to prove their theory, Roth and his researchers gathered 33 people, average age of 40. The researchers analyzed the effectiveness of DHP, versus a placebo, in order to find out if the drug had any impact on sleep.

Results were positive. On average, the test subjects fell asleep 8 minutes faster with DHP versus using the placebo, meaning they were able to fall asleep in less than 20 minutes.  They also stayed asleep longer, leading to better quality sleep.

This is good news for those who suffer from sleep occurrences, which is described as having trouble sleeping for more than two nights in a row, and taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep. It is also positive news for those who deal with sleep disorders such as insomnia. A lack a sleep can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, asthma, diabetes, and other conditions. An over-the-counter sleep aid may be what some people need to sleep through the night.

A man is sleeping bed next to his alarm clock. Bad sleeping habits like oversleeping can increase the risk for diabetes in men.

Bad Sleeping Habits Linked to Diabetes Risk in Men

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A man is sleeping bed next to his alarm clock. Bad sleeping habits like oversleeping can increase the risk for diabetes in men.

Oversleeping or sleep deprivation can increase the risk of diabetes in men.

Diabetes mellitus is a disease affecting more than 22 million people in the United States. For some time, the condition has been linked to sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. Scientists have yet to discover why the connection exists, but research into the matter is ongoing. One of the studies researching the link between the two disorders has found that bad sleeping habits in men can lead to a higher risk for diabetes.

Bad Sleeping Habits: Too Little and Too Much Sleep

This cross-sectional study was performed by the VU Medical Centre in Amsterdam. They tested and analyzed 788 healthy adults ranging in age from 30 to 60 years old. With this study, scientists hoped to discover whether the amount of sleep one receives correlates to his or her risk for diabetes. According to the CDC, for adults, 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day is recommended.

Testing included measuring the patient’s sleep and physical activity using a device called a single-axis accelerometer to track movements. Simultaneously, using a device called a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp, researchers tested how effectively the body used the hormone insulin, which processes sugar in the bloodstream. Their findings presented interesting results.

Disparity Between Men and Women

“In a group of nearly 800 healthy people, we observed sex-specific relationships between sleep duration and glucose metabolism,” said Femeke Rutters, PhD, and the study’s senior author. “In men, sleeping too much or too little was related to less responsiveness of the cells in the body to insulin, reducing glucose uptake

and thus increasing the risk of developing diabetes in the future. In women, no such association was observed.”

Men were less likely to be able to process sugar in their blood stream due to their bad sleeping habits. However, the women who participated in the study seemed to have no such problem. In women, regardless of their sleep habits, their bodies produced more insulin due to their enhanced beta cells. Their bodies were also more receptive to the insulin.

Hopefully, the results of the study will prompt more men to consider how much sleep they are getting each night. A healthy amount of sleep has shown positive results in people. However, bad sleeping habits can have a negative effect on your health and lead to other disorders.

A doctor is using a stethoscope to listent to a patient's heart. This is a common procedure for heart patients.

Sleep Disorders Leave Heart Patients at Risk

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A doctor is using a stethoscope to listen to a patient's heart. This is a common procedure for heart patients.

Despite surgery, heart patients are still at risk for complications if they suffer from a sleep disorder.

Sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, can have a negative impact on your health. Prolonged suffering has been known to cause diabetes and cognitive deficiencies, as well as affect your overall quality of life. New research suggests that heart patients who have some form of sleeping disorder are at risk of developing further complication—and even death.

The Risk to Heart Patients

All 241 of the patients who participated in the study successfully underwent a procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). The procedure is meant to treat acute coronary syndrome (ACS), a condition where the blood supplied to the heart is blocked. PCI seeks to remove the blockage and reopen blocked arteries.

The goal of the study was to gather more data on the link between sleep apnea and heart disease. “Sleep-disordered breathing, which includes snoring and sleep apnea, has long been recognized as an important risk factor for heart disease. However, there is limited awareness of sleep-disordered breathing among cardiologists who care for PCI patients,” said Toru Mazaki, M.D., study author and chief physician of the Department of Cardiology, Kobe Central Hospital, Kobe, Japan.

When the patients were hospitalized for the surgical procedure, researchers examined their breathing during the night. For the next 5.6 years, the patients’ health was monitored for any further complications. Here is what they found:

  • 3 percent had sleep-disordered breathing.
  • 4 percent of those with sleep-disordered breathing had major cardiovascular events.
  • Only 7.8 percent of those without sleep-disordered breathing had major cardiovascular events.

These cardiovascular events include deaths, strokes, recurrent ACS, and heart failure. The research shows that there may be a link between the two disorders, even after the person has taken care of their heart issue.

Sleep disorders are becoming a prevalent problem for many people. The researchers hope that other doctors see sleep disorder as a warning signal for heart patients. “Doctors and patients should consider sleep studies post-PCI to rule out sleep-disordered breathing or take necessary precautions to restore healthy breathing during sleep,” says Dr. Mazaki.

The doctors even suggest that hospitalized heart patients who have undergone surgery should be routinely tested for sleep-disordered breathing. More research still needs to be done, and hopefully doctors can treat patients before their sleep disorder leads to more complications.

A man is laying in bed, covering his face with his hands as he yawn. Sleep-disturbance warning on drugs seek to prevent scenarios like this one.

Medicines Provide Inaccurate Sleep-Disturbance Warnings

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A man is laying in bed, covering his face with his hands as he yawn. Sleep-disturbance warning on drugs seek to prevent scenarios like this one.

Clinical trials contradict the results of drugs with sleep-disturbance warnings.

People have to be very careful about the medicine they use. Many drugs come with side effects and warnings that can have a severe impact on your health. It can be more troublesome when the warnings on the label are incorrect. Researchers have discovered that many of the medications that carry sleep-disturbance warnings do not seem to affect the quality of one’s sleep.

Assessing the Accuracy of Sleep-Disturbance Warnings

Sleep disorders like sleep apnea, insomnia, sleep paralysis, and narcolepsy can have a detrimental effect on your daily life. Sleep apnea has been known to cause headaches, daytime sleepiness, and mood changes. Prolonged treatment of these disorders has also led to other health problems.

Many drugs are labeled as “Sleep Disturbing” after they have been tested in clinical trials. However, some scientists believe that these sleep-disturbance warnings are far from accurate. Anna-Therese Lehnich and her colleagues of the University of Duisburg-Essen in German sought to discover the truth behind the discrepancies.

Lehnich and her colleagues analyzed information on 4,221 individuals, ranging from 45 to 75 years old. They found there was no correlation between the drugs and sleep disturbance. Many of the people taking these drugs had no problems that were related to sleep disturbance.

“We found that drugs labeled as sleep disturbing do not contribute strongly to the high frequency of sleep disturbances in the general population. Moreover, the intake of several sleep disturbing drugs at the same time barely led to more sleep disturbances at night,” said Lehnich.

Clinical trials

This study calls into question the results of clinical trials. Perhaps the test group was not large enough to provide accurate information, or the individual may have had preexisting conditions. However, scientists do know that the clinical trials for the drugs with sleep disturbance warnings do not reflect the general population. More accurate trials need to take place in order to properly inform the public about a possible drug side effects.

Young child sleeping in bed with teddy in background. Sleep apnea in children like him affect their learning.

Sleep Apnea in Children: Learning Challenges

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Young child sleeping in bed with teddy in background. Sleep apnea in children like him affect their learning.

How well your child sleeps is an essential part of their development. Sleep apnea in children threatens their educational development.

As parents raise their children they often worry about the state of their well-being. Thoughts such as how they are sleeping throughout the night, and how well they are preforming in school, are examples of everyday concerns. Sometimes, those concerns are one in the same. Sleep apnea in children is a growing issue, and a recent study shows that learning challenges are also on the rise.

How Sleep Apnea in Children Affects Schoolwork

Scientists from the University of Chicago brought together 1,359 public school children ages 5 to 7 years, those with and those without a pre-existing snoring condition. The students were separated into four groups based on the severity of their sleep apnea.

They underwent sleep assessment questionnaires, an overnight sleep study and a measurement of their cognitive functions. Scientist found that even snoring has a detrimental effect on a child’s memory and language and his ability to understand and pay attention. Sleep apnea in children increases the chance of developing these cognitive defects.

How to Prevent Sleep Apnea in Children

The results of the study were presented at the ATS 2016 International Conference where Leila Gozal, MD, MSc, from the University of Chicago, states, “Our findings provide further justification for exploration and development of simple cognitive batteries that can be coupled to the current clinical evaluation of children with habitual snoring such as to better guide the management of the decision-making process.”

If you are a parent worried that your child is at risk for sleep apnea, here are some common symptoms you can look for:

  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
  • Snoring, pauses in breathing, snorts, or gasping.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Daytime sleepiness.
  • Behavioral problems.
  • Learning difficulties.

The study shows that sleep apnea in children can lead to cognitive difficulties, which slow the progress of your child’s development. An ENT physician specializes in helping patients with sleep apnea symptoms. Consider having your child evaluated by a local ENT physician, so that the state of their well-being is less of a concern in the back of your mind.

A side view of a young man waiting for the bus while listening to music on his phone. One of the habits that can lead to tinnitus.

Tinnitus Becomes a Growing Problem for Teens

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A side view of a young man waiting for the bus while listening to music on his phone. One of the habits that can lead to tinnitus.

Teens have become at risk for tinnitus due to a lifestyle of concerts, parties and loud music, which can lead to hearing damage.

Concern has led to an immediate warning from scientists at the McMaster’s Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behavior. Their research into the ringing-ear condition known as tinnitus shows early signs of permanent hearing damage in teenagers.

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a hearing condition most commonly characterized by the hearing of a sound similar to ringing, clicking, hissing or roaring—when no external sound is present.  People suffering from this condition usually hear the noise in one or both ears or from within their head. It can result from hearing loss, an ear infection, brain tumors, head injury, or emotional stress.

Most people have subjective tinnitus, where only the affected person hears the sound, while the other – known as objective tinnitus – can be heard by your physician using a stethoscope. Within the North American region, a third of people over age 55 experience the condition, as it is common among their age group.

Scientists’ Warnings for Teens

The lifestyle of the young has caused Larry Roberts, author of the study, to issue a warning. The growing problem of tinnitus in young people is caused by an exposure to loud noises at clubs, parties and from listening to music on personal devices. Roberts states, “My personal view is that there is a major public health challenge coming down the road in terms of difficulties with hearing.”

The initial research involved 170 students between 11 and 17 years old. Through interviews and testing, researchers learned that more than a quarter of the teens are experiencing signs of the condition. Another test with the same group of students found that those with tinnitus had a reduced tolerance for loud noise, meaning that normal sound appear louder than usual.

This is an early warning of permanent hearing damage, which can become worse as these children grow older. Once damage is done to the nerves in the ear, the condition cannot be reversed. Most doctors, and even Roberts, suggest prevention over treatment. Some methods to lessen the impact of tinnitus include avoiding loud sounds and noises, and getting plenty of rest and exercise.

Brain Activity During Sleep Linked to Improved Memory

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A new study has made a revealing discovery. It seems that certain parts of the brain interact with one another to improve both your memory and recollection during sleep. This is the first time that scientists have ever found definitive proof of the connection between sleep and improved memory.

Improved Memory and the Hippocampus/Cortex Connection

The recent study was performed by the scientists at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology. Previous studies have been done, and theories have been put forth, about the how the brain works to preserve memory. Scientists believed that improved memory is formed in the hippocampus, and then moved to the cortex for long-term storage. However, until this new study, researchers have never proven their hypothesis.

The scientists at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology set out to prove these theories about how the brain operates. Their first step was to record the activity of both the hippocampus and cortex during sleep. They observed that when the hippocampus emitted sharp wave-ripples, the cortex reacted with delta waves and spindles.

However, the researchers needed further proof. The next step involved training rats to memorize identical objects and their positions. They moved one of the objects the next day to test whether the rats could conclude which one. The rats that had spent 20 minutes in the room on the first day passed the test, while those that had been there for only three minutes failed. Similar results were reflected in the interaction between the hippocampus and the cortex during sleep after the first day of testing.

The researchers’ next test involved using a system to monitor and trigger the interactions between the two sections of the brain. Using the rats who failed the test before, the system provided significant results. Not only did the rats pass the test, but the scientists were able to prove that the process that happens between the hippocampus and cortex during sleep leads to an improved memory.

This research has the potential to unravel the mysteries and hopefully help people with certain memory disorders. While the system the scientists used has yet to be tested on humans due to ethical concerns, they hope further research will clear up all the facts about the relationship between the hippocampus and cortex.

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