Here are the top sleep news stories from the past week.
Scientists in Australia pinpoint possible biomarker for SIDS
Sydney-based researchers released the results of a study in The Lancet Discovery Science confirming "strong evidence" that lower levels of a specific enzyme correlated with the development of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the name for the sudden and unexplained death of a baby under one year of age. Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), an enzyme found in blood plasma, gives an indication of autonomic nervous system function, which regulates breathing and heartbeat, among other functions. In studies of blood from babies who died of SIDS, the level was markedly lower, likely meaning that the babies were less likely to startle or awaken. Carmel Harrington, Ph.D., is a sleep specialist and the lead researcher on the study. She was compelled to research the heartbreaking and mysterious phenomenon after losing her own son to SIDS.
The brain separates positive and negative emotions during REM sleep
Researchers from Switzerland’s University of Bern and University Hospital Bern released a study this week exploring how the brain processes emotional memories during REM sleep. The brain separates and compartmentalizes positive and negative emotions during REM sleep, which could help inform mental health recommendations around sleep in the future.
Getting enough quality sleep may be the key to weight loss
While we know that lack of sleep is linked to in an increased risk of metabolic disorders, weight gain, and obesity, researchers from the University of Copenhagen have found that poor sleep may also prevent weight maintenance. The researchers presented their findings to the European Congress of Obesity last week, stating that those who got quality sleep were more successful at maintaining a lower weight.
This study looked at the data from the monitors 195 people wore for 12 months while trying to lose weight, and found that sleep quality and duration improved for those on short-term low-calorie diets.
Too little or too much sleep can foreshadow brain shrinkage
An April study from Shanghai, China, linked both too little and too much sleep in middle-aged people to lower cognitive function, decreased mental health and even an increased chance of brain shrinkage. The study confirms the findings from a 2021 study, looking at 150,000 U.K. adults.
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Additional reporting by Erin Hartigan