Prevention

What's New in Sleep Research?

Allison Tsai Jun 11th, 2013 (updated Nov 5th, 2014)
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Because it’s such an important part of our lives, it’s not surprising that researchers keep looking for new insights into how sleep—or the lack thereof—affects our health and mood. Here are some recent findings.

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Windows improve sleep of office workers
Windows improve sleep of office workers

People who work in offices with windows get 173 percent more white light exposure during work hours, and then sleep an average of 46 minutes more per night than workers without windows. Researchers also found that people with office windows were more physically active and had higher quality of life scores. The scientists concluded that natural daylight exposure seems to contribute to employee well-being.

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Night work may increase risk for Type 2 diabetes
Night work may increase risk for Type 2 diabetes

A recent Harvard Medical School study found that just one simulated night shift could increase a person’s peak glucose levels by 16 percent, compared with a day of simulated daytime work. A night shift also boosted insulin levels by 40 to 50 percent at 80 minutes and 90 minutes after a meal. Researchers say night shift work may impair glucose tolerance, which often can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

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Sleep deprivation alters men’s perception of women’s sexual interest
Sleep deprivation alters men’s perception of women’s sexual interest

Sleep-deprived men are more likely to think that a woman is interested in sex, compared to well-rested women and men who also rated the sexual interest of women.  Just one night of sleep deprivation led men to significantly increase their ratings of a women’s level of sexual interest. Researchers say that sleep deprivation is known to cause frontal lobe impairment, which can negatively affect decision-making.  

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Heart attacks may cause poor sleep and PTSD
Heart attacks may cause poor sleep and PTSD

Researchers looked at data from 200 patients who had a heart attack within the previous month and they found that the more symptoms of heart attack-induced PTSD a patient reported, the worse their self-reported sleep was in the month after their heart attack. They determined that patients with poor sleep after a heart attack were more likely to be women with a higher body mass index and to have more symptoms of depression.

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Fatigue affects baseball players’ careers
Fatigue affects baseball players’ careers

Two new studies have linked fatigue and sleepiness to the performance and career longevity of major league baseball players.  24 of 30 major league teams, players’ strike-zone judgment was worse in September than it was in April at the start of the season. Researchers believe the decline is due to fatigue that comes with a long season. 

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Sleeping on its back does not limit a baby’s ability to roll over
Sleeping on its back does not limit a baby’s ability to roll over

Putting a baby to sleep on its back has been recommended as a way to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). But, some people have worried that putting baby to sleep in that position could hurt its gross motor development, specifically the ability to roll from tummy to back and vice versa.