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Concept: Sleep


The sleep-wake cycle and circadian rhythmicity both contribute to brain function, but whether this contribution differs between men and women and how it varies across cognitive domains and subjective dimensions has not been established. We examined the circadian and sleep-wake-dependent regulation of cognition in 16 men and 18 women in a forced desynchrony protocol and quantified the separate contributions of circadian phase, prior sleep, and elapsed time awake on cognition and sleep. The largest circadian effects were observed for reported sleepiness, mood, and reported effort; the effects on working memory and temporal processing were smaller. Although these effects were seen in both men and women, there were quantitative differences. The amplitude of the circadian modulation was larger in women in 11 of 39 performance measures so that their performance was more impaired in the early morning hours. Principal components analysis of the performance measures yielded three factors, accuracy, effort, and speed, which reflect core performance characteristics in a range of cognitive tasks and therefore are likely to be important for everyday performance. The largest circadian modulation was observed for effort, whereas accuracy exhibited the largest sex difference in circadian modulation. The sex differences in the circadian modulation of cognition could not be explained by sex differences in the circadian amplitude of plasma melatonin and electroencephalographic slow-wave activity. These data establish the impact of circadian rhythmicity and sex on waking cognition and have implications for understanding the regulation of brain function, cognition, and affect in shift-work, jetlag, and aging.

Concepts: Psychology, Male, Gender, Sleep, Cognition, Circadian rhythm, Jet lag, Melatonin


Traditional screen time (e.g. TV and videogaming) has been linked to sleep problems and poorer developmental outcomes in children. With the advent of portable touchscreen devices, this association may be extending down in age to disrupt the sleep of infants and toddlers, an age when sleep is essential for cognitive development. However, this association has not been demonstrated empirically. This study aims to examine whether frequency of touchscreen use is associated with sleep in infants and toddlers between 6 and 36 months of age. An online survey was administered to 715 parents reporting on child media use (daily exposure to TV and use of touchscreens), sleep patterns (night-time and daytime sleep duration, sleep onset - time to fall asleep, and frequencies of night awakenings). Structural equation models controlling for age, sex, TV exposure and maternal education indicated a significant association between touchscreen use and night-time sleep, daytime sleep and sleep onset. No significant effect was observed for the number of night awakenings. To our knowledge, this is the first report linking the use of touchscreen with sleep problems in infants and toddlers. Future longitudinal studies are needed to clarify the direction of effects and the mechanisms underlying these associations using detailed sleep tracking.

Concepts: Infant, Sleep, Sleep disorder, Circadian rhythm, Narcolepsy, Structural equation modeling, Sleep hygiene


Insufficient sleep is common among high school students and has been associated with an increased risk for motor vehicle crashes (1), sports injuries (2), and occupational injuries (3). To evaluate the association between self-reported sleep duration on an average school night and several injury-related risk behaviors (infrequent bicycle helmet use, infrequent seatbelt use, riding with a driver who had been drinking, drinking and driving, and texting while driving) among U.S. high school students, CDC analyzed data from 50,370 high school students (grades 9-12) who participated in the national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBSs) in 2007, 2009, 2011, or 2013. The likelihood of each of the five risk behaviors was significantly higher for students who reported sleeping ≤7 hours on an average school night; infrequent seatbelt use, riding with a drinking driver, and drinking and driving were also more likely for students who reported sleeping ≥10 hours compared with 9 hours on an average school night. Although insufficient sleep directly contributes to injury risk, some of the increased risk associated with insufficient sleep might be caused by engaging in injury-related risk behaviors. Intervention efforts aimed at these behaviors might help reduce injuries resulting from sleepiness, as well as provide opportunities for increasing awareness of the importance of sleep.

Concepts: Sleep, Injuries, High school, Somnolence, Driver's license, Automobile, Helmet, Remove Intoxicated Drivers


Greater fish consumption is associated with improved cognition among children, but the mediating pathways have not been well delineated. Improved sleep could be a candidate mediator of the fish-cognition relationship. This study assesses whether 1) more frequent fish consumption is associated with less sleep disturbances and higher IQ scores in schoolchildren, 2) such relationships are not accounted for by social and economic confounds, and 3) sleep quality mediates the fish-IQ relationship. In this cohort study of 541 Chinese schoolchildren, fish consumption and sleep quality were assessed at age 9-11 years, while IQ was assessed at age 12. Frequent fish consumption was related to both fewer sleep problems and higher IQ scores. A dose-response relationship indicated higher IQ scores in children who always (4.80 points) or sometimes (3.31 points) consumed fish, compared to those who rarely ate fish (all p < 0.05). Sleep quality partially mediated the relationship between fish consumption and verbal, but not performance, IQ. Findings were robust after controlling for multiple sociodemographic covariates. To our knowledge, this is the first study to indicate that frequent fish consumption may help reduce sleep problems (better sleep quality), which may in turn benefit long-term cognitive functioning in children.

Concepts: Sleep, Sleep disorder, Cognition, Mediation, Narcolepsy


The current study provides details of sleep (or inactivity) in two wild, free-roaming African elephant matriarchs studied in their natural habitat with remote monitoring using an actiwatch subcutaneously implanted in the trunk, a standard elephant collar equipped with a GPS system and gyroscope, and a portable weather station. We found that these two elephants were polyphasic sleepers, had an average daily total sleep time of 2 h, mostly between 02:00 and 06:00, and displayed the shortest daily sleep time of any mammal recorded to date. Moreover, these two elephants exhibited both standing and recumbent sleep, but only exhibited recumbent sleep every third or fourth day, potentially limiting their ability to enter REM sleep on a daily basis. In addition, we observed on five occasions that the elephants went without sleep for up to 46 h and traversed around 30 km in 10 h, possibly due to disturbances such as potential predation or poaching events, or a bull elephant in musth. They exhibited no form of sleep rebound following a night without sleep. Environmental conditions, especially ambient air temperature and relative humidity, analysed as wet-bulb globe temperature, reliably predict sleep onset and offset times. The elephants selected novel sleep sites each night and the amount of activity between sleep periods did not affect the amount of sleep. A number of similarities and differences to studies of elephant sleep in captivity are noted, and specific factors shaping sleep architecture in elephants, on various temporal scales, are discussed.

Concepts: Sleep, Mammal, Relative humidity, Lion, Hunting, Elephant, Elephants, Musth


Despite the fact that midday naps are characteristic of early childhood, very little is understood about the structure and function of these sleep bouts. Given that sleep benefits memory in young adults, it is possible that naps serve a similar function for young children. However, children transition from biphasic to monophasic sleep patterns in early childhood, eliminating the nap from their daily sleep schedule. As such, naps may contain mostly light sleep stages and serve little function for learning and memory during this transitional age. Lacking scientific understanding of the function of naps in early childhood, policy makers may eliminate preschool classroom nap opportunities due to increasing curriculum demands. Here we show evidence that classroom naps support learning in preschool children by enhancing memories acquired earlier in the day compared with equivalent intervals spent awake. This nap benefit is greatest for children who nap habitually, regardless of age. Performance losses when nap-deprived are not recovered during subsequent overnight sleep. Physiological recordings of naps support a role of sleep spindles in memory performance. These results suggest that distributed sleep is critical in early learning; when short-term memory stores are limited, memory consolidation must take place frequently.

Concepts: Sleep, Neuroscience, Memory, Electroencephalography, Childhood, Knowledge, Siesta, Polyphasic sleep


Feelings of loneliness are common among young adults, and are hypothesized to impair the quality of sleep. In the present study, we tested associations between loneliness and sleep quality in a nationally representative sample of young adults. Further, based on the hypothesis that sleep problems in lonely individuals are driven by increased vigilance for threat, we tested whether past exposure to violence exacerbated this association.

Concepts: Present, Time, Future, Sleep, Sleep disorder, Circadian rhythm, Past, Sleep hygiene


Human sleep is highly regulated by temperature. Might climate change-through increases in nighttime heat-disrupt sleep in the future? We conduct the inaugural investigation of the relationship between climatic anomalies, reports of insufficient sleep, and projected climate change. Using data from 765,000 U.S. survey respondents from 2002 to 2011, coupled with nighttime temperature data, we show that increases in nighttime temperatures amplify self-reported nights of insufficient sleep. We observe the largest effects during the summer and among both lower-income and elderly respondents. We combine our historical estimates with climate model projections and detail the potential sleep impacts of future climatic changes. Our study represents the largest ever investigation of the relationship between sleep and ambient temperature and provides the first evidence that climate change may disrupt human sleep.

Concepts: Climate, Weather, Sleep, Climate change, Change, Solar variation, Climate model, Global climate model


Sleep plays a crucial role in the consolidation of newly acquired memories. Yet, how our brain selects the noteworthy information that will be consolidated during sleep remains largely unknown. Here we show that post-learning sleep favors the selectivity of long-term consolidation: when tested three months after initial encoding, the most important (i.e., rewarded, strongly encoded) memories are better retained, and also remembered with higher subjective confidence. Our brain imaging data reveals that the functional interplay between dopaminergic reward regions, the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus contributes to the integration of rewarded associative memories. We further show that sleep spindles strengthen memory representations based on reward values, suggesting a privileged replay of information yielding positive outcomes. These findings demonstrate that post-learning sleep determines the neural fate of motivationally-relevant memories and promotes a value-based stratification of long-term memory stores.

Concepts: Brain, Sleep, Neuroscience, Memory, Cerebrum, Hippocampus, Limbic system, Long-term potentiation


Background:Short sleep and weight gain are inversely related. Sleep deprivation acutely increases food intake but little is known about eating behavior in chronically sleep-deprived, obese individuals.Objective:To characterize the relationship between sleep, food intake and alcohol consumption under free-living conditions in obese, chronically sleep-deprived individuals.Design:Cross-sectional study of a cohort of obese men and premenopausal women.Subjects:A total of 118 obese subjects (age: 40.3±6.7 years; 91 females/27 males; body mass index 38.7±6.4 kg m(-2)).Measurements:Energy, macronutrient, alcohol and caffeine intake assessed by 3-day food records. Sleep duration estimated by actigraphy. Respiratory disturbance index assessed by a portable device.Results:Subjects slept 360.7±50.2 min per night and had a total energy intake of 2279.1±689 kcal per day. Sleep duration and energy intake were inversely related (r=-0.230, P=0.015). By extrapolation, each 30-min deficit per day in sleep duration would translate to an ∼83 kcal per day increase in energy intake. In addition, sleep apnea was associated with a shift from carbohydrate to fat intake. Alcohol intake in subjects consuming >3.5 g of alcohol per day (N=41) was inversely related to sleep duration (r=-0.472, P=0.002).Conclusions:Shorter sleep duration and obstructive sleep apnea are associated with higher energy, fat and alcohol intakes in obese individuals. The importance of this study relies on the population studied, obese subjects with chronic sleep deprivation. These novel findings apply to the large segment of the US population who are obese and sleep-deprived.

Concepts: Nutrition, Obesity, Mass, Sleep, Sleep deprivation, Body mass index, Sleep apnea, Obstructive sleep apnea