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Analysis and Comment (37)

An all too familiar feeling? An all too familiar feeling? Sergey Mironov via Shutterstock

Firms wake up to profit potential from our declining sleep habits

Rest “is for wimps” – or so many would have us believe. In a world where “time is money” and there “aren’t enough hours in the day”, hard-working people are sleeping less and working more. This in itself…
Nordic nations enjoy regulated working hours, substantial welfare provision and strong economies. Nordic nations enjoy regulated working hours, substantial welfare provision and strong economies. www.shutterstock.com

We can learn a lot about public policy from the Nordic nations

At the end of this month Australia’s Productivity Commission will issue the final report of its inquiry into Early Childhood Education and Care. The inquiry was limited from the outset by the requirement…
Most adults need seven to nine hours sleep to function at their best. Most adults need seven to nine hours sleep to function at their best. Jiuck/Flickr

Explainer: how much sleep do we need?

The amount of sleep adults need has once again come under the spotlight, with a recent Wall Street Journal article suggesting seven hours sleep is better than eight hours and the American Academy of Sleep…
It’s not just the late nights. It’s not just the late nights. Student asleep via Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Explainer: why does the teenage brain need more sleep?

Throughout our lives we experience changes in sleep patterns and in the amount of sleep we need. While babies sleep between 16 and 18 hours per day, this is reduced to approximately seven to eight hours…
I hate sheep. I hate sheep. Schmirn

Insomnia is not just in the mind

It’s often said that no-one really knows what sleep is for. Sometimes it’s as if this lack of surety means its functions are relatively unimportant or even vestigial, like an appendix to the story of our…
Just telling yourself you’re well rested doesn’t mean you can override how your body is experiencing lack of sleep. Just telling yourself you’re well rested doesn’t mean you can override how your body is experiencing lack of sleep. William Brawley/Flickr

Think positively about sleep by all means, but you can’t fool your body

Sleep – elusive, precious, restful sleep – is a topic close of many of our hearts. Such is the importance of this activity that sometimes people cling on to half-baked ideas about it with an unnatural…
It’s mid-afternoon but your body clock’s telling you it’s the middle of the night. It’s mid-afternoon but your body clock’s telling you it’s the middle of the night. Ed Yourdon

Explainer: what is jet lag and how can you overcome it?

Long flights across many time zones often leave us feeling fatigued, sleepy, irritable and generally out of sorts. And it’s not just because of poor sleep on the plane and dehydration from the altitude…
Adjusting back to standard time is easy for most of us and can happen in one or two days. Adjusting back to standard time is easy for most of us and can happen in one or two days. jamelah e./Flickr

Spring forward, fall back: how daylight saving affects our sleep

Daylight saving time ends this weekend in most states and territories (barring Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory), meaning we’ll turn our clocks back by one hour on Sunday morning…
The question of why animals risk the vulnerability that comes with not being conscious for hours has led to many theories. The question of why animals risk the vulnerability that comes with not being conscious for hours has led to many theories. billfromesm/Flickr

Feeling sleepy? Maybe your brain’s too full

Sleep is an essential state of the brain but why do animals risk the vulnerability that comes with not being conscious for hours? What happens in the brain during sleep that’s so vital for life? Numerous…
Being tired is linked to eating unhealthy foods that may cause weight gain. Being tired is linked to eating unhealthy foods that may cause weight gain. Shuttershock

Does a bad night’s sleep make you likely to overeat?

Few people would argue with the idea that sleep is good for us, but not many of us know that a lack of sleep can cause weight gain. The health benefits of sleep are extremely well-documented. It provides…
Dark side of the moon: does it hold some power over us? Dark side of the moon: does it hold some power over us? PA/Anthony Devlin

We shouldn’t dismiss the moon’s power to influence

As a teenager I observed a strange phenomenon. On awakening from an unusually vivid dream, I would often find that the moon was full. And as the silvery light prevailed on subsequent nights, my nocturnal…
When daily stressors intensify and prevent good quality sleep, they can set off a downward spiral to poor mental health. When daily stressors intensify and prevent good quality sleep, they can set off a downward spiral to poor mental health. Shutterstock

Chill out: disturbed sleep plays havoc with your mood and mind

A poll by Lifeline released earlier this week shows almost two-thirds of Australians reported sleep loss because of stress relating to work or their finances. The findings went largely unremarked, even…
A few minutes of shut-eye considerably enhances short-term memory and mood. A few minutes of shut-eye considerably enhances short-term memory and mood. Image from shutterstock.com

Want to boost your memory and mood? Take a nap, but keep it short

We’re told to have power naps to keep us safe on the road and improve our alertness if we’ve had insufficient sleep. They even help our surgeons stay awake during long shifts. But siestas and nana naps…
Each dream has its own brain scan ‘signature’. Each dream has its own brain scan ‘signature’. mondi

An open book: the next chapter of ‘reading’ dreams

You may have read last week that a team of researchers has developed, for the first time, a way to detect the contents of people’s dreams. But what can we glean from this research? During the same week…
The dreams of people with PTSD tend to be accompanied by bodily movement. The dreams of people with PTSD tend to be accompanied by bodily movement. piXo

Acting out the nightmares of post-traumatic stress disorder

You can run a marathon, fly over foreign lands, fight to the death with a two-headed dragon … all while you lie peacefully in your bed. This is the beauty of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, where most…
Good news for those who like a weekend sleep-in: lost sleep can be recovered. Good news for those who like a weekend sleep-in: lost sleep can be recovered. Image from shutterstock.com

Explainer: can you pay off your ‘sleep debt’?

Ever have those moments on weekends or public holidays when you wake at your usual time, then realise there’s no pressing need to get up? If you go back for another couple of hours of shut-eye and use…
Elite tennis players put their bodies through a lot, so what does it take to recover properly? Elite tennis players put their bodies through a lot, so what does it take to recover properly? AAP Image/Joe Castro

Djokovic has longer to recover, so should Murray and FedEx bother?

Will an extra day’s rest and recovery give Novak Djokovic an advantage over Federer or Murray in Sunday’s Australian Open final? In case you missed it, Djokovic, the defending Australian Open champion…
Environmental heat disturbs the delicate balance between sleep and body temperature. Environmental heat disturbs the delicate balance between sleep and body temperature. Steven Mileham

Too hot to sleep? Here’s why

Bushfires are quite appropriately dominating our nation’s concerns during the current Australian heatwave. But for many, the struggle to sleep through soaring temperatures is a personal inferno that dominates…
Bed-sharing seems like a workable option to settle infants and to gain much-needed sleep. But is it worth the risks? Bed-sharing seems like a workable option to settle infants and to gain much-needed sleep. But is it worth the risks? DanielJames

Sharing a bed with your baby – realities vs recommendations

Most parents will tell you that as soon as they announced their pregnancy, the advice started rolling in. Much of it might have been sensible and evidence-based, but it’s difficult to sort the myths from…
The majority of people who have obstructive sleep apnoea are unaware they have the disorder. The majority of people who have obstructive sleep apnoea are unaware they have the disorder. Image from shutterstock.com

Explainer: what is obstructive sleep apnoea?

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a common sleep-related breathing disorder, where the upper airway repeatedly collapses during sleep. During an obstructive breathing event, someone with OSA continues…
Something’s going on behind your eyes … but what is it, and why does it happen? Something’s going on behind your eyes … but what is it, and why does it happen? Rubén Chase

Explainer: what is dreaming?

For most of human history, dreaming has been seen as a second “reality” in which altered forms of perception provide insights into ourselves and others, our fears, fantasies and motivations or even the…
President Barack Obama would be well advised to catch some sleep on the plane during his whirlwind tour. President Barack Obama would be well advised to catch some sleep on the plane during his whirlwind tour. EPA/Michael Reyonds

Obama’s all-nighter: fast, furious and foolish

Politicians of all persuasions often claim they need little sleep to lead their nations. Thatcher, Hawke, Abbott, Rudd, Berlusconi and Clinton are all examples of this “on the job 24 hours per day” club…
Sleeping pills aren’t the answer to sleep on demand. Sleeping pills aren’t the answer to sleep on demand. Drake Guan

Explainer: insomnia, pills and the pursuit of sleep

Insomnia is far from a modern concept, with sleep remedies such as opioids, chamomile and valerian root recorded in the earliest existing medical writings. The word insomnia itself dates back to at least…
Even the most avid TV Olympian can avoid ending up like this. Even the most avid TV Olympian can avoid ending up like this. Henti Smith

Olympics sleep survival guide

It’s half-time in the gold medal women’s basketball game, and the Opals lead the USA by a point. Lauren Jackson, the best female basketballer in the world, has dominated the first half in the same way…
Between 10% and 45% of children have one or more sleep problems. Between 10% and 45% of children have one or more sleep problems. Jack French

Explainer: childhood sleep disorders

Any parent will tell you the meaning of the saying “slept like a baby” is completely opposite to reality. Thankfully, many parents succeed in establishing a routine to their baby’s initial erratic sleep…
You might not be getting enough shut-eye (and you may not even know it). You might not be getting enough shut-eye (and you may not even know it). orangeacid

Dream appzzz: can the iPhone help you sleep?

Sleep matters – and yet many of us know how difficult it can be to get enough unbroken slumber. Research has shown that getting less than seven to eight hours' sleep daily is associated with increased…
Infants should sleep alone without bedding or toys that could cover their face. Infants should sleep alone without bedding or toys that could cover their face. Flickr/dontshoot me

Don’t believe the hype: sleeping with your baby is not okay

In a recent visit to Australia, US Anthropologist Professor James McKenna claimed that under the right circumstances, breastfed babies could safely sleep in the same bed as their mothers. This was a perfectly…
You can use all kinds of iPhone apps to track and improve your health. You can use all kinds of iPhone apps to track and improve your health. chunghow33

Reviewing the top medical iPhone apps … what’s the diagnosis?

Want to quit smoking, lose weight, manage your diabetes or get a good night’s sleep? No worries. There’s an app for all of that. But it’s not always clear which medical apps are based on solid evidence…
Human sleeping patterns could be about more than light and dark. Human sleeping patterns could be about more than light and dark. Kristof Borkowski

Sleeping with the fishes: Somalian cavefish shed light on our body clocks

Eyeless fish that have evolved underground, completely isolated from the day-night cycle, may offer clues to how our body clocks work up here on dry land. Authors of a report published today in the online…
Unconscious ups and downs are normal – and pretending otherwise is unhelpful. Unconscious ups and downs are normal – and pretending otherwise is unhelpful. sharmili r

Broken sleep? It’s a rollercoaster ride

Most people believe normal, healthy sleep should be long and uninterrupted from start to finish. Well, guess what? They’re wrong. This erroneous public perception of sleep was apparent in survey studies…
Wake up, it’s a beautiful … oh, shut up, let me be. Wake up, it’s a beautiful … oh, shut up, let me be. mislav m/Flickr

Forget Bob Geldof: this is why you don’t like Mondays

Feeling sluggish? Grouchy even? Difficulties getting out of bed? Mondayitis can happen to the best of us. But rest assured: it’s a phenomenon science can actually explain. In fact, there are a range of…
Trouble holding on to your memories? A bad night’s kip might be to blame. Trouble holding on to your memories? A bad night’s kip might be to blame. planetchopstick/Flickr

To sleep, perchance to learn

So here it is, another morning. Another day of yawns. Another day of … oh … what was I saying? We all know that if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you don’t function properly during the day. It could…
Late nights and jet-lag see us fighting our body clocks, but can we ever win? Late nights and jet-lag see us fighting our body clocks, but can we ever win? fmgbain/Flickr

Keeping time: how our circadian rhythms drive us

Do we control our body clocks or do those clocks, ticking imperceptibly, control us? It’s the kind of question that keeps sleep scientists awake at night. Rhythms are a good place to start. They are a…

Research and News (5)

Research Briefs (22)

Snoozing improves waking memory

Sleep helps lock in visual learning, according to new research from Brown University. The study observed the brain activity…

Quality of sleep improves with age

Sleep quality is best in those over 80 and worst in people aged between 40 and 59, according to new research from the University…

Possible new treatment for sleep apnea

A study into obstructive sleep apnea has found a new way to increase airflow without arousing patients from sleep. Hypoglossal…

Brain growth dependent on sleep

Lack of sleep during adolescent years could have a detrimental effect on brain development. Using adolescent mice, researchers…

Link between sleep disorders and dementia

Older women suffering from sleep-relating breathing problems could be more susceptible to problems with mental function and…

Sleep on it

A good night’s sleep could help you make better decisions, a study from the University of Massachusetts Amherst has found…