Press Room
 
1. Sleep Deprivation
2 .A Good Night Sleep
3. Beauty Sleep More than a Myth
4. Nighttime Sleep Essential for Mental Development in Young Children
5. Sleep and School
6. Restless Legs in Pregnancy Predict Later RLS
7. Sleep Suffers in Wartime Deployment
 
 
1. Sleep Deprivation Affects Air Traffic Controllers & Other Shift Workers
 
Three factors play key roles in the sleep loss that air traffic controllers often experience.
 
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
AASM | 06/04/2007
 
A letter from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sheds light on how sleep deprivation affects the job performance of air traffic controllers and other shift workers.
The letter describes four instances since 2001 when an air traffic controller made a serious mistake on the job. In each case the controller had not gotten enough sleep and was feeling tired. These two types of errors were common:
Forgetting important information
Failing to pay close attention to runways and displays
Research shows that air traffic controllers often fail to get enough sleep. They only get an average of 2.3 hours of sleep before a "midnight shift." This is a shift in which most of the hours worked are between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. The NTSB identified three factors that play key roles in this sleep loss:
 
Poor Scheduling
Air traffic controllers often work shifts that keep them from being able to sleep well. "Rapidly rotating" shifts are one problem. These shifts have work times that change drastically from one day to the next. This prevents the body from adapting to a new schedule.
The use of "counterclockwise schedules" is another problem. The worker rotates to a shift that starts earlier than his or her last shift. This opposes the body's natural sleep-wake rhythm. The body adapts better when a person rotates to a new shift that has a later start time.
 
Short Rest Periods
Air traffic controllers often have only eight or nine hours between shifts. After work they need time to drive home, eat and take care of other personal needs. This leaves too little time for them to get the seven to eight hours of sleep that most adults need. It is even harder for a shift worker who has to try to sleep during daytime hours.
 
Bad Habits
Shift workers must make it a priority to get enough sleep. Often they spend too much time doing other things. Then they only have a few hours to sleep before starting their next shift.
The NTSB letter was dated April 10, 2007. It was sent to the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Air Traffic Controller Association.
 
More Information
View the NTSB letter online.
View the American Academy of Sleep Medicine's Sleep Tips for Shift Workers.
 
Reviewed by S. Ijlal Babar, MD, FCCP
Updated June 4, 2007
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2. Get Enough Sleep, Monitor Your PAP Device during Change to Daylight-Saving Time
 
Sleep experts warn that you should pay close attention to your sleep needs as daylight-saving time (DST) begins.
 
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
AASM | 03/09/2007
 
Sleep experts warn that you should pay close attention to your sleep needs as daylight-saving time (DST) begins early Sunday morning, March 11.
Although the time change involves the loss of only one hour, it can have a negative effect on your mood and alertness. Studies have shown that there may be a link between sleep loss and an increase in traffic accidents the day after the time change. Dr. Ralph Downey III is medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, Calif. He suggests that you should plan ahead for the time change.
"People should set their clocks back before the weekend starts," he said. "They should start living like it is already Monday. This advice doesn't sound too great on a Saturday, but it will feel better on Monday."
Go to bed 15 or 20 minutes earlier each night before the time change. This will help ease your body into the new schedule. Changing other routines also may help your body clock adjust. For example you may want to eat dinner an hour earlier than normal.
Experts also warn you to be careful if the time change makes you drowsy. Try to keep a light schedule of activities. Avoid driving if you feel sleepy. People who use positive airway pressure (PAP) to treat sleep apnea should monitor their machine over the weekend. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that the time change may affect some medical devices. Any device that uses, creates or records the time may not function properly after the time change. Older medical devices are not programmed with the new dates for DST. This is the first year that DST begins in March instead of April. It also lasts a week longer, ending on November 4.
The FDA advises you to contact the maker of your medical device to see if a programming update is needed. If you are unable to reach the maker, then contact your doctor.
DST officially begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 11. Check your medical device after DST begins to see if the display shows the correct time.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine offers these tips to help you adjust to daylight-saving time:
Begin to adjust your sleep schedule a few days before the time change. Go to bed earlier each night.
Eat dinner or perform other routines an hour earlier.
Be careful when driving or operating machinery on the day of the time change.
Avoid napping before bedtime.
Keep a light schedule on the Monday after the time change.
Eat properly, drink plenty of water and get some exercise.
It is important to discuss any sleep problems with a primary care doctor. He or she may refer you to a sleep specialist for more help.
The amount of sleep you need depends on many factors. Most adults should get seven-to-eight hours of sleep each night to feel alert and well rested.
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3. Beauty Sleep More Than a Myth
 
Sleep deprived people tend to appear tired and less healthy, therefore less attractive.
 
Sleep Education
AASM | 01/07/2011
on your beauty sleep really can make you more attractive. Sleep deprived people tend to appear tired and less healthy, therefore less attractive, Swedish researchers discovered.

In the study, a group of participants randomly rated photos of 23 men and women based on their attractiveness. Each person was photographed twice: once after a normal night's sleep and once after sleep deprivation.

The results were clear – the sleep-deprived looked a lot less attractive in the eyes of the raters. Ratings of perceived health, attractiveness and tiredness were lower for photos taken after a sleep-deprived night.

So next time you want to impress a date, give yourself an extra hour in bed the night before. Not only will you be physically more attractive, but you'll be in a better mood – so might leave a lasting impression.

Plus your body will thank you, after all, people who prioritize sleep are happier and have fewer health issues overall.
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4. Nighttime Sleep Essential for Mental Development in Young Children
 
Plenty of nighttime sleep at a very early age may help kick-start cognitive development and give kids a leg-up in school.
 
Sleep Education
AASM | 01/06/2011
 
Good nighttime sleep at every early age may help kick-start cognitive development and give kids a leg-up in school. The amount of nighttime sleep – not daytime naps – is the key component to advanced executive function in children, a study included in the November/December issue of Child Development reports.

Executive function is another name for a specific group of mental skill areas essential for success in the classroom. Skills include attentiveness, self-discipline, organization, memorization and the abilities to plan, think and work with others. Executive function develops rapidly across the first six years of life. Little is known about why some children are more successful at developing those skills than their peers.

The study followed 60 Canadian children between their 12 and 26 months of age. At the 12 and 18 month mark, each parent completed sleep diaries by recording when their child slept and for what length. Researchers tested the children's executive function at 18 and 26 months of age.

Results show children who slept mostly at night did better at most executive function-related tests, especially the tasks involving impulse control. The number of times the children woke per night did not impact test results. The findings held true even after the authors adjusted for factors such as socio-economic class, parents' education level and children's general cognitive skills.

The authors of the study note that infant sleep later sets in motion the development of more advanced executive skills. This may help flesh out recent findings that linked earlier bedtimes to higher test scores in school-aged children.

The AASM recommends infants get a minimum of 14 hours of sleep per day for
healthy development. Toddlers should sleep 12 to 14 hours per night. Start your child's health habits out on the right foot and make their sleep a priority.
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5. Sleep: Nature's Study Aid
 
A new study found that sleeping after a study session dramatically helps with the recall of new words.
 
Sleep Education
AASM | 01/07/2011
 
Get some sleep instead of pulling an all-nighter to buy extra time to cram for a vocabulary exam. A new study found that sleeping after a study session dramatically helps with the recall of new words. This approach can help prospective students improve their performance on the make-or-break tests like the SAT, ACT or GRE.

Two groups of study participants learned a series of new words phonologically similar to familiar words. Both groups were tested after the initial study session. The session occurred in the evening for half of the subjects; the others studied in the morning.

Volunteers who studied in the evening slept before taking a follow-up test in the morning. The people who studied in the morning had to take the second test later in the evening, and were not permitted to sleep.

Results indicate the participants remembered more words when they slept before the follow-up exam. Brain activity data suggests sleep spindles during deep sleep helped the volunteers retain the new words.

In a statement to the media, one of the authors suggested sleep plays an important role in the reorganization of new memories.

Regular may notice studies these findings are in line with several recent studies involving sleep and memory. One noted study involved word association problems commonly found in the SAT. The research concluded that long naps with REM sleep led to higher test scores than short naps or waking rest periods.

Another article published in April reported that naps helped a group of study participants learn the correct path through a complex maze.
The message is clear: sleep on your academic success and shun the caffeine and cram sessions.
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6. Restless Legs in Pregnancy Predict Later RLS
 
a quarter of women who experience restless leg syndrome while pregnant may have chronic symptoms when they are older
 
Sleep Education
AASM | 01/07/2011
 
A sleep disorder that may appear during pregnancy could be the sign of things to come later in life. Nearly a quarter of women who experience restless leg syndrome while pregnant may have chronic symptoms when they are older. Short-term symptoms may also reappear in future pregnancies.

People with restless leg syndrome have the strong urge to move their legs, paired with a sensation of burning, prickling, itching or tingling. These symptoms tend to flare up at night, making it difficult to sleep. Older adults tend to get restless leg syndrome, as the symptoms progress with age.

A recent study about restless leg syndrome involved about 200 women. Only 74 reported restless leg syndrome during pregnancy. Six and a half years later, the women responded to questions about later symptoms, pregnancies and other diseases.

Results show 18 of the 74 women who had restless leg syndrome during pregnancy saw the symptoms reappear. Compared to women who did not have the disorder during pregnancy, the group was four times more likely to have the condition again. About 60 percent of the women who had restless leg syndrome reported the symptoms again in future pregnancies.

The study appears to have one notable shortcoming due to the nature of restless leg syndrome. The condition is difficult to diagnose, so researchers had to rely on the patients self-diagnosis of the symptoms.

While you can take medication to reduce the symptoms of restless leg syndrome, changing your lifestyle may be just as effective. Start exercising and reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol and tobacco to help restless legs syndrome. The AASM also reports activities like walking, soaking in a hot tub and massaging the legs may help when symptoms flare up.
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7. Sleep Suffers in Wartime Deployment
 
Despite months or even years of preparation, many troops struggle to sleep arriving in a war zone.
 
Sleep Education
AASM | 01/07/2011
 
Despite months or even years of preparation, many troops will struggle to sleep for some time after they arrive in a war zone. Insomnia affects about 28 percent of deployed American troops, a study in the December issue of the journal SLEEP suggests.

The symptoms may not improve when the tour of duty is over. 21 percent of troops reported difficulty sleeping after returning home to the United States. Troops may have twice the risk of insomnia if they had poor health or mental health problems such as depression or posttraumatic stress disorder prior to deployment.
The study involved 41,225 troops from all service branches and components of the U.S. military, including active duty and Reserve/National Guide personnel. The participants completed a baseline survey with questions about sleep and overall health prior to deployment. About a quarter of the troops responded to a follow-up survey three years later, either in Iraq or Afghanistan, or after returning from either war zone.

Sleep duration was limited even for the troops who did not have insomnia. The average sleep time during wartime was 6.5 hours - slightly less than the recommended amount of sleep for adults. The AASM reports adults require 7 to 8 hours to be fully alert during the daytime. Insomnia or not, lost sleep may have dire consequences. While military personnel are trained to function on little to no sleep, a single mistake may be fatal.

For us in the civilian world, the findings should come as no surprise. It's hard to image trying to sleep to the sound of gunfire and explosions or even the prospect of an attack.

As a side note, the study also looked at mothers of young children and pregnant women who served in the military. On average, the women slept less than six hours. The authors speculate that the possibility of future deployment and separation from their families may multiply the normal stress of pregnancy and motherhood.
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[Dr. Clerk's Office Hours:]
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