The Week in Sleep News: November 11, 2022

Lose sleep over the midterm elections this week? You're no alone. New research shows elections scientifically impact our sleep.

Two people sitting up reading newspapers in bed.

Here’s the sleep news for this week:

Elections do impact sleep

A new study published in the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Health journal looked at the impact of the 2020 election on sleep and validated the impact major political events can have on sleep as well as how they affect the public’s collective mood, overall well-being, and alcohol consumption. The team surveyed 437 participants in the United States and 106 international participants daily between Oct. 1 and Oct. 13, 2020 (before the election), and from Oct. 30 to Nov. 12, 2020 (the days surrounding the Nov. 3 U.S. election). The participant responses revealed reduced sleep quantity and efficiency coupled with heightened stress, negative mood, and alcohol use in the period surrounding the election. Researchers would like to conduct further research with a more representative and diverse sample in order to confirm the impacts of political stress on public mood and sleep for the general public.

Sleeping medication may help fight alcohol and drug addictions

Researchers from Rutgers think they may have identified a biological process for drug and alcohol addiction and believe existing insomnia treatments could be used to reduce or eliminate these cravings. A December 2022 issue of Biological Psychiatry explains how ongoing studies and research demonstrate that the brain’s orexin system — which regulates sleep/wake states, reward systems and mood — motivates drug-seeking behavior. They’ve found that many drugs that are abused increase orexin production; blocking this system reverses addiction. Studies have even found that sleep medications that aid in insomnia treatment block the orexin system and decrease cravings.

AIs are utilizing artificial sleep to learn new tasks

Typically, artificial intelligence systems (AIs) can only be good at one task, meaning they must forget their task to learn another. However, a team of researchers is challenging this by having AIs learn and remember how to do multiple tasks by mimicking the way sleep helps humans cement what we learned during waking hours. The researchers simulated sleep in the neural network of the AIs by activating the network’s artificial neurons. In follow-up experiments, they found that it was important to have alternating sessions of training and sleep while the AI was learning the second task. This helped consolidate the connections from the first task that would have typically been forgotten. “Such a network will have the ability to combine consecutively learned knowledge in smart ways and apply this learning to novel situations — just like animals and humans do,” says Hava Siegelmann at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

In sleep-centric social media...

A preheated bed sounds nice these days with winter right around the corner.

Tweet reads: I should be able to preheat my bed like an oven
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