The Week in Sleep News: May 6, 2022

This week, scientists shared data on the ideal amount of sleep for adults, how sleep loss impacts our ability to evaluate emotions, and more.

Two people lying in bed in a blue bedroom, each holding open newspapers that block their faces.
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Here are the top sleep news stories from the week of May 1st, 2022.

Seven hours’ sleep is the ideal amount in middle to old age

A new study of 500,000 people has found the optimal amount of sleep for adults over the age of 40 is seven hours. This study looked at sleep data for people ages 38 to 73 and found that for them to perform at their absolute best, the key was making sure they weren’t sleeping too much or too little. While this link can’t prove a causal relationship, one possible reason for the link is disruption of deep sleep. This optimal sleep duration has been shown to affect cognitive function and mental health; in April 2021, a study published in Nature Communications cited an association with persistent short sleep and increased risk for dementia.

Acute sleep loss may alter the way we perceive others

By using eye-tracking technology researchers performed a small study observing what 45 people look at in real time. Participants were split into two groups — half were kept awake all night, and the other half slept for a full eight hours. This study examined how sleep loss affected their ability to evaluate emotions in other people.

The results, published in Nature and Science of Sleep, found that those who spent the night without sleep, had a harder time fixating on faces, and were more likely to form negative impressions or misread facial expressions.

Sleep deprivation impairs stem cells in the cornea, and could impair vision

Scientists have recently found that poor sleep could be impacting your eyes. In a new trial conducted on mice, researchers found that sleep deprivation can cause the cornea, which is the eye’s protective outer layer, to lose its reparative property.

This can lead to a larger chance of discomfort and dry eye. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. This study also found that eye drops with antioxidants can help restore the damage done by sleep deprivation.

Senate passes the Safe Sleep for Babies Act

After Consumer Reports launched an investigation into inclined sleepers and crib bumpers, the Senate has now voted to ban the products. Consumer Reports found that over 200 deaths can be linked to the popular baby products. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued an advisory saying the inclined sleepers and crib bumpers due to the increased chance of suffocation and other sleep-related deaths.

Children without diapers sleep more poorly than children who sleep in diapers

A new study out of Rutgers School of Nursing shows that children without diapers were more likely to sleep poorly than children who slept in diapers. After talking with 129 parents of children three and under, they found that the children who went without diapers were more likely to have more disrupted sleep and to sleep for shorter amounts of time overall, leading to lower sleep scores; this was especially prevalent during the pandemic.

This study encourages pediatricians or care providers to inquire about diaper needs during well-child visits, and to assist families by connecting them with resources to provide diapers when needed.

In sleep-centric social media...

Star designer Kelly Wearstler shares her "bed head," a one-of-a-kind headboard made from a vintage statue.