Med thumb rest area

Looking to catch up on the latest discussions and research in the world of shuteye? I've got you covered.  

SAD and sadder

Light, sleep and mood are a tightly knit triumvirate. It's well known that reduced sunlight can set off the winter blues, aka Seasonal Affective Disorder (technically now called depression with a seasonal pattern). But SAD is far from the only mood disorder that's caused by, and can be treated by, changes in sleep-and-light patterns. Richard A. Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Cornell, makes a case for heavier reliance on chronobiological solutions, e.g., chronotherapy, in mental health treatment. [NYT] 

Elephants hardly sleep

And they generally do it standing up. The majestic vegetarian mammals average two hours of sleep, and not in a row. Using GPS collars, researchers were able to gain insight into the resting habits of two lady elephants in Botswanna. [Forbes]

The trouble with sleep trackers

You should pay attention to the state of your health — but not to the point where you become obsessed with collecting data about your body and what's going on inside it. Sleep-tracking is the sort of good-for-you habit that probably isn't good for everyone. In a case report published earlier this year, researchers at the Rush University and Northwestern University schools of medicine introduce us to three people whose allegiance to their sleep-tracker data landed them in a sleep clinic. [Van Winkle's]

CBT, the abbrevs. version 

It typically takes 6-8 weeks to complete a course of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a non-drug regimen that's like the indie band of insomnia treatments — "You mean you don't know CBT? It will change your life." But Jason Ellis, a UK researcher at Northumbria University, has designed a condensed, one-week-long CBT program for insomniacs in a rush. Ellis was also at the helm of a 2015 study in which 60 percent of insomnia-addled participants were able to hit the hay after a single, hour-long therapy session. [Daily Mail]

If you give an insomniac a bed to stare at...

...they'll keep staring at it. Studies have shown that people who suffer from the all-consuming sleep disorder pay attention to sleep-related sights and sounds in a way that healthy sleepers don't. This unconscious tendency to focus one's gaze on beds and pillows and dream limericks and bottles of Ambien is called an attentional bias. [Van Winkle's]

When I yawn, you yawn, just like that? 

30 years of research has supported the phenomenon of contagious yawning: Breaking out into a yawn in response to someone else yawning is thought to be an adapted form of empathy exhibited by humans, birds and reptiles. But at least some researchers now think that over-hyped, methodogically flawed studies have mischaracterized spontaneous I'm-tired-or-anxious-and-gotta-yawn yawns as contagious yawns. Quelle horreur? Well, if this claim is true, then it's another instance of the replicability crisis undermining findings in behavior science. It would also be another instance of the worst science getting the most media coverage. Let the yawning debates commence. [Dallas News] 

LED vs. Bed

More and more, cities are replacing traditional street lamps with spiffy new, energy-efficient LED lights. About 10 percent of American streets are now LED-lit. And while the long-lasting bulbs save the Department of Energy a lot of money, they may not be such a boon to sleep. Some people — a vocal dim-the-lights lobby! — are complaining about LED lights beaming into their bedrooms and contributing to light pollution in perma-lit urban areas. The future, they hope, will be anything but bright. [BBC]