What a year it has been; truly remarkable on all fronts! Whether you look back on 2017 with fondness or with some regret, there is no question it left a lasting impact on sleep science and the industry. Let’s break down the best discoveries of the past 12 months.
• According to the American Pain Society, there appears to be a definite link between night-time quality of sleep and persistent pain after surgery in children. A new study showed that 20% of children suffered significant pain post surgery due to poor sleeping habits. Pain management would appear to suggest that deep and restful sleep is the best medicine for a speedy recovery.
• A study done in July by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that in pregnant women, restless leg syndrome (RLS) is very common. Due to poor sleep quality associated with RLS, frequent daytime sleepiness is the most common symptom, as is poor cognitive function. Studies surprisingly reveal that in the most severe cases, women will suffer from this up to 4 times per week during their pregnancy. It is recommended that women use holistic therapies to help manage these symptoms.
• Researchers at Binghamton University found that late bedtimes are associated with lower perceived control of obsessive thoughts linked to OCD. It was found that patients who went to bed consistently at 3am, despite getting 8 hours of sleep, could not control their obsessions as well as patients who went to sleep at 12am. It is, therefore suggested that bedtimes before midnight are best to control the intensity of the symptoms.
• Researchers at Marche Polytechnic University in Italy found that severe lack of sleep can cause brain synapses to be eaten by other brain cells. In layman terms, your brain is literally eating itself when you are sleep deprived.
A more concerning discovery was that ‘microglial’ brain cells, which remove damaged cells, were also more active in brains experiencing sleep deprivation. Hopefully, this study will encourage you to make sure you are getting your necessary sleep hours.
• A recent anthropological study on hunter-gatherer tribes in northern Tanzania proved that restlessness might be evolutionary. The study found that frequent night-time waking and staggered sleep schedules between the young and old ensured that there was always at least one tribe member to stand guard. Research suggests that disturbed sleep could be an ancient survival impulse designed to fend off against nocturnal threats. So, if you are having trouble sleeping, your very distant ancestors might be to blame.
• A study done in the U.S. found that air pollution could have a seriously negative impact on your quality of sleep. The results discovered that greater exposure to nitrogen dioxide is linked to insomnia. Your sinuses and throat can be easily irritated by air born pollutants, causing restlessness, and many other health-related issues. Noise pollution generated by traffic is also a significant sleep irritant in large North American cities.
And just like that, 2017 has come to an end. It is an optimistic conclusion that, as quickly as science presents significant discoveries about our health and sleep, new innovations and technologies will appear on the horizon to help improve our quality of life.
Our team at BrandSource wishes you a healthy, happy and restful new year! Be sure to check out our refreshed blog page in the new year!
Gerry, Your Sleep Expert