SLEEP 2008, June 7-12, 2008
SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, took place June 7-12 in Baltimore, and attracted more than 5,000 scientists and sleep specialists. The meeting is a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. Key topics included the association between sleep disorders and chronic conditions such as depression, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke in children, adolescents and adults.
"Sleep has an impact on virtually every aspect of our daily lives, including our daytime alertness, job performance, mental wellness, physical health and longevity," Michael Vitiello, M.D., chair of the APSS program committee, said in a statement.
Some of the most significant research presented at the conference showed that children and teenagers with sleep disorders face a wide range of health risks. Two such studies were presented by Xianchen Liu, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh.
In one study, Liu and colleagues assessed 335 children aged 7 to 17. Compared to normal-weight children, they found that overweight children averaged 22 minutes less sleep per night and had less efficient sleep. Their adjusted analysis showed that one hour less of total sleep, one hour less of REM sleep, and REM density and activity below the median increased the odds of overweight by as much as threefold.
"Given the fact that the prevalence of overweight among children and adolescents continues to increase, and chronic sleep insufficiency becomes more and more prevalent in the modern society, family and school-based sleep interventions, which aim to enhance sleep hygiene and increase sleep duration, may have important public health implications for the prevention and intervention of obesity and type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents," Liu said in a statement.
In a second study, Liu and colleagues studied the responses to a sleep and health questionnaire completed by 798 adolescents (average age 14.4). Compared to teens whose parents did not have insomnia, the researchers found that teens who reported parental insomnia were more than twice as likely to report insomnia, daytime fatigue and use of hypnotics. They also found that depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts were more common among teens reporting parental insomnia.
"These results suggest that a history of chronic insomnia in parents is not only associated with elevated risk for insomnia, but also with elevated risks for a wide range of mental health problems, substance use and suicidal behavior in adolescent offspring," Liu said in a statement. "Family sleep interventions may be important to enhance sleep quality and decrease risks for sleep disturbance, psychopathology and suicidal behavior in adolescents. Further studies are warranted to examine how and the extent to which genetic and environmental factors interact in determining sleep disturbances and psychopathology among adolescents."
Rosemary Horne, Ph.D., of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues conducted a sleep study of 88 children aged 7 to 13 whose mean arterial pressure was continuously recorded. Compared to children without a sleep-related breathing disorder, they found that children with disorders ranging from primary snoring to mild, moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea had elevated blood pressure during sleep.
"Sleep-related breathing disorders are very common in children, occurring in up to 30 percent of children," Horne said in a statement. "In adults, sleep-related breathing disorders are associated with hypertension and increased risk for cardiovascular disease. These findings highlight the importance of considering the long-term cardiovascular effects of any severity of sleep-related breathing disorders in children."
Another study, presented by Orna Tzischinsky, Ph.D., of Emek Yzereel College in Israel, confirmed what many parents of sleep-deprived middle-school students have long suspected: that their children might perform better if the school day started one hour later. After randomly assigning 47 eighth-grade students to a control group that started school at the regular time (7:30 a.m.) or an experimental group that started school at 8:30 a.m., they found that the experimental group got significantly longer sleep (an average of 51 minutes per night) and performed better on cognitive tests.
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