When we miss a night of sleep, the toll it takes on our minds and bodies is obvious the next day. Not only do we look tired –red eyes and dark circles – but we feel fatigued and have difficulty focusing. But getting enough sleep also can provide protection against other physical and mental health issues.
Sleep apnea linked to aggressiveness of melanoma
New research presented at the European Respiratory Society Annual Congress suggests that the severity of sleep apnea can independently predict the aggressiveness of melanoma. Previous studies have looked at the connection between sleep apnea and cancer, but this is the first study in humans to link melanoma and sleep apnea.
For the study, researchers looked at 56 patients diagnosed with malignant melanoma. They measured the aggressiveness of the cancer, which included growth rate and depth of the tumor, and compared to the presence and severity of sleep apnea. They found that 60.7 percent of the patients had sleep apnea and 14.3 percent had severe sleep apnea.
Results indicated that as the severity of sleep apnea increased, so did the aggressiveness of the melanoma. Researchers say this shows that sleep apnea can worsen melanoma. A previous study in mice found that the reduced oxygen levels in the blood, which is common in sleep apnea, enhanced tumor growth.
Phobias fought during sleep
A recent study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience has found that emotional memory can be manipulated during sleep, which may allow for new phobia treatments that do not involve gradually introducing a person to their fear.
Researchers gave 15 healthy participants mild electric shocks while pictures of two different faces were shown to them. They also smelled different odors, such as clove, new sneakers or mint, while looking at the faces and receiving the shock. Researchers say this linked the face and smells to fear for the volunteers. Then, as the volunteers were in slow wave sleep where memory consolidation occurs, researchers released one of the odors, but this time without the faces or shocks.
When the subjects awoke they were shown the faces again. But, this time when they saw the face linked to the odor they smelled during sleep, their fear levels were lower than when they saw the other face. Fear was measured through amounts of sweat in the skin and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The fMRI results showed that there were changes in regions linked to memory and emotions, which showed a decrease in reactivity when shown the face linked to the odor smelled in their sleep.
Researchers hope a new sleep treatment for phobias can be developed that doesn’t force a person to endure re-exposure to their fear.
Naps help preschoolers learn
Preschoolers who nap do much better on memory tests than those kids who don’t nap, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.