Molecules that may hold the key to new ways to fight cancer and other diseases have been found to play an important role in regulating circadian rhythm, says Liheng Shi, a researcher in Texas A&M's Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences. Circadian rhythm is the roughly 24-hour cycle of physiological activities of humans, animals and even bacteria, Shi explains. He and colleagues have had their research, currently focusing on the circadian rhythm in chickens' eyes, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Chicken eyes have a lot in common with human eyes. "The prefix 'photo-' in photoreceptors means light, and photoreceptors in animals' eyes receive light signals and then translate them into signals that their brain can understand, and that is how they see, " he explains.
Too much light at night can lead to symptoms of depression, according to a new study in mice. Researchers found that mice housed in a lighted room 24 hours a day exhibited more depressive symptoms than did similar mice that had a normal light-dark cycle. However, mice that lived in constant light, but could escape into a dark, opaque tube when they wanted showed less evidence of depressive symptoms than did mice that had 24-hour light, but only a clear tube in their housing. "The ability to escape light seemed to quell the depressive effects, " said Laura Fonken, lead author of the study and a graduate student in psychology at Ohio State University.
The kids may be sleeping soundly this season with "visions of sugar plums in their heads, " but almost half of the nation's moms and dads (44%) say they are worried about being able to afford the holidays this year, with one in six Americans (17%) expecting to lose sleep due to holiday-induced stress. The findings are part of a national year-end survey - the SleepBetter.org Holiday Slumber Index, which measures the impact of the holidays on Americans' sleep patterns. According to the survey, parents are most susceptible to sleep changes. Two in three (66%) of mothers and fathers, for example, say they will get six or fewer hours of sleep the night before gift-giving.
A research collaboration led by biologists and neuroscientists at the University of Pennsylvania has found a molecular pathway in the brain that is the cause of cognitive impairment due to sleep deprivation. Just as important, the team believes that the cognitive deficits caused by sleep deprivation, such as an inability to focus, learn or memorize, may be reversible by reducing the concentration of a specific enzyme that builds up in the hippocampus of the brain. It is known that sleep deprivation can have cognitive consequences, including learning and memory deficits, but the mechanisms by which sleep deprivation affects brain function remain unknown.
Despite recent advances in anti-inflammatory therapy, many rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients continue to suffer from pain. Research published in BioMed Central's open access journal, Arthritis Research & Therapy found that inflammation is associated with heightened pain sensitivity at joint sites, whereas increased sleep problems are associated with heightened pain sensitivity at both joint and non-joint sites. Researchers from the Division of Rheumatology and Pain Management Center of Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Center of the University of Michigan Medical School, assessed experimental pain sensitivity, disease activity, sleep problems and psychiatric distress in 59 women with RA.
Sleep apnea is common in individuals who receive a kidney transplant and is associated with increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology (CJASN). Researchers found that kidney transplant patients are just as likely to have this sleep disorder as dialyzed kidney disease patients who are on the transplant waiting list. Therefore, both types of patients who have sleep apnea should be considered at high risk for developing serious heart-related complications. Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in individuals who receive kidney transplants, and doctors monitor transplant recipients for high blood pressure, or hypertension, and other signs of heart trouble.