The Week in Sleep News: August 26, 2022

If you struggle to sleep through the night, eating right before you go to sleep and right when you wake up may be your solution.

Two people sitting in bed, holding up newspapers. Text at the top says: Sleep News. week of August 26, 2022.

REM eye movements mimic your dreams

If you’ve ever witnessed someone’s eyes moving beneath their eyelids while they’re sleeping, you’ve likely gotten a peek into their dreams. A new study published in Science on Thursday has found that when our eyes move during REM (rapid eye movements) sleep, the pattern mimics the things we’re looking at in our dream world. Researchers have discovered that the direction and number of rapid eye movements during REM sleep reveal the direction and volume of the ongoing changes in dreams. This shows us that rapid eye movements disclose gaze shifts in the virtual world of REM sleep, giving us a window into the cognitive processes of the sleeping brain.

Should you eat close to bedtime?

Maybe you should grab that bedtime snack after all. It seems to go against everything that we’re usually told but in a viral TikTok video, chiropractor experience middle-of-the-night awakenings. His theory hinges on a possible imbalance of two adrenal hormones: cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol is responsible for regulating blood sugar, but it also gets released at higher levels when you're under stress. Your cortisol levels should be increasing while you're sleeping and peak in the morning. But, according to Beyer, if you're under stress, your "cortisol rhythm becomes blunted and flat," which could cause the hormone adrenaline to be released while you're sleeping which is a stimulant for your nervous system.

This is why Beyer suggests eating close to bedtime and then again when you wake up, at least for a couple of weeks. He explains that for some people it will relieve the demand for blood-sugar regulation, nothing that in time people will go back to sleeping throughout the night.

Sleep makes us more generous

When you’re tired, you’re not just more irritable, you may be less generous, too. A new study from PLOS Biology has uncovered that sleep deprivation reduces people’s likelihood to help others. In the mornings, participants completed a questionnaire rating their probability of helping strangers or acquaintances in various scenarios. Researchers then observed participants’ brain activity in a functional MRI machine, comparing each participant’s neural activity in a rested versus sleep-deprived state. Scientists found that sleep deprivation reduced activity in a network of brain regions linked to the ability to empathize with others.

This happens on a seasonal level, too. Researchers also looked at the charitable donations to Donors Choose around Daylight Savings Time from 2001 to 2016 and found that donations tended to dip during the week following the time change.

Less sleep for teenagers leads to weight gain

A new study from the European Society of Cardiology has found that teenagers who sleep less than eight hours a night are more likely to be overweight or obese compared to their peers with sufficient sleep. This study measured sleep for seven days with a wearable activity tracker three times in each participant at ages 12, 14, and 16. Researchers found that the frequency of overweight or obesity was 27%, 24%, and 21% at 12, 14, and 16 years of age, respectively. Those teenagers who slept less were also more likely to have other unhealthy traits including elevated blood pressure and abnormal blood lipid and glucose levels.

In sleep-centric social media...

TikTok user Nicole Hindman embodies what we all feel when we disturb our dog during sleep.

A girl on her bed begging her dog to come back to bed.
Nicole Hindman / TikTok

Victoria Tang's illustration for The New Yorker perfectly encapsulates the struggles of trying to get a good night's rest as a cat owner.

A cat on a sleeping woman's head, paws stretched out on the headboard.
Victoria Tang