The Week in Sleep News: September 22, 2023

Sleep-wake therapy may be the best way to help night-owl children who struggle with depression.

Two people sitting uuup in bed with newspapers. Text reads: Sleep New Week of September 22, 2023

This week in sleep news…

Preparing for sleep is a survival instinct

Researchers have discovered how mice’s brains are wired to instinctively prepare for sleep by nesting, which they believe is a survival feature likely shared among mammals. The team noted in their study published in Nature Neuroscience that when mice were deprived of sleep, a need to nest presented, which is controlled by dedicated brain cells in the prefrontal cortex. This region, which is responsible for survival planning in both humans and mice, connects to the hypothalamus, triggering nesting and sleep. The findings emphasize the importance of “sleep hygiene” for humans.

Sleep-wake therapy may help children with depression

Researchers at UC San Francisco have found a way to help depression-prone, night-owl kids adjust to their natural sleep-cycle rhythms while still fulfilling their school responsibilities. The findings are a welcome sign for adolescents with depression, who are more likely than most to report staying up late. The study, which was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, analyzed data from 42 participants with clinical depression who had been part of a larger study of 176 night-owl adolescents. Twenty-four of these adolescents received the therapy intervention and 18 received educational sessions on how to lead a healthy lifestyle.

All the participants scored at least a 40 on the Children’s Depression Rating Scale, a level showing clinically significant depression. After six months, the intervention group’s average score fell to 21.67, compared to 32.5 for the group that received the healthy lifestyle intervention. These results held for at least 12 months, at which point the intervention scored 24.97, while controls were at 32.75. A larger study is now being run by the National Institute of Mental Health looking at data from 200 teens this fall.

In fun sleep news…

After a great six innings of pitching, Blue Jays pitcher Yusei Kikuchi walked off the pitch Tuesday night due to cramps. Kikuchi later went on to explain to press that the cramping was most likely due to only getting 11 hours of sleep instead of his normal 14. We hope Kikuchi gets his full 14, especially if the Blue Jays want to make a World Series run this year.

The new romcom to watch when you can’t sleep

Apple TV’s new romantic comedy Still Up revolves around two people, Lisa and Danny, who have chronic insomnia and who only talk to each other over the phone, trading stories about all the sleep tips they’ve collected over the years that haven’t worked. This eight-part series takes place almost exclusively at nighttime while the pair are up as the rest of the world is asleep.