The Week in Sleep News: January 26, 2024

Both alcohol and energy drinks may be hurting your sleep quality.

Two people sitting up in bed reading newspapers. Text reads: Sleep News, January 26, 2024

This week in sleep news…

Alcohol before bed can reduce REM sleep

Alcohol is probably making you sleep worse, not better, according to a new study. In this new study, published in Sleep, researchers looked at whether consumption of alcohol prior to sleep might have a positive or negative impact on sleep quality and REM sleep. To find out, they recruited 30 adult volunteers who spent three consecutive days and nights in a sleep lab on two occasions, where their brains could be monitored as they slept. Participants were served only a mixer on one of their stays and a mixer with added alcohol on the other. Both times, the drink was consumed one hour before the participant went to bed.

They found that drinking just one alcoholic beverage led to an increase in slow-wave sleep across all three nights. It also decreased the duration of REM sleep. Overall, they found that while volunteers were able to fall asleep faster after consuming alcohol, their quality of sleep was worse due to shortened REM periods.

Obstructive sleep apnea may lead to early bone loss

Those with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may have an increased risk for early bone density loss, a study published in BMC Medicine reports. Researchers looked at data from 90 men aged 30 to 59 years old. Participants included 25 individuals with mild OSA, 21 with moderate OSA, 34 with severe OSA, and 10 controls without OSA at all. The total volumetric bone mineral density was significantly lower in patients with OSA than in controls and significantly different among OSA groups. Researchers believe this outcome is because the negative effect of OSA may mainly affect the development of bones.

Caffeine in energy drinks can lead to insomnia and other sleep-related issues

While it may be tempting to down an energy drink after an unrestful night, new research suggests it could contribute to poor sleep. The study, published in BMJ Open, found that those who drank energy drinks daily slept about 30 minutes less each night compared to those who didn't drink energy drinks or had them only occasionally. Additionally, they found that participants who regularly drank energy drinks also took longer to fall asleep, and daily energy drink consumers were more likely to have insomnia than those who drank the drinks occasionally or not at all.

Marsupial chooses mating over sleep

Every August, male antechinus enter a three-week breeding frenzy in which they mate with every female they can and then die. Curious as to how they make enough time for all this mating, researchers kept 10 male and five female antechinuses in different enclosures and then monitored them with activity collars. They then published their results in the journal Current Biology.

The researchers found that captive males, but not females, moved around more and slept less during breeding season than they did the rest of the year. On average, the males’ total sleep time per day was about 20% lower during the breeding season than during the non-breeding season. At the end of the breeding season, two of the males died within a few hours of one another, while the other eight became sterile. While it may seem the lack of sleep killed these marsupials, the two who died were not the ones who got the least amount of sleep. The researchers noted that more studies are needed to look into this.