To Keep Teenagers Alert, Schools Let Them Sleep In –


COLUMBIA, Mo. – Jilly Dos Santos really did try to get to school on time. She set three successive alarms on her phone. Skipped breakfast. Hastily applied makeup while her fuming father drove. But last year she rarely made it into the frantic scrum at the doors of Rock Bridge High School here by the first bell, at 7:50 a.m.

Then she heard that the school board was about to make the day start even earlier, at 7:20 a.m.

“I thought, if that happens, I will die,” recalled Jilly, 17. “I will drop out of school!”

That was when the sleep-deprived teenager turned into a sleep activist. She was determined to convince the board of a truth she knew in the core of her tired, lanky body: Teenagers are developmentally driven to be late to bed, late to rise. Could the board realign the first bell with that biological reality?

Jillian Dos Santos studies at her home in Columbia, Mo.


The sputtering, nearly 20-year movement to start high schools later has recently gained momentum in communities like this one, as hundreds of schools in dozens of districts across the country

via To Keep Teenagers Alert, Schools Let Them Sleep In –


Pekovic-Vaughan (2014): Body clocks, chronic lung diseases linked, new research suggests

March 17, 2014
Manchester University
The body clock’s natural rhythm could be utilized to improve current therapies to delay the onset of chronic lung diseases. “This research is the first to show that a functioning clock in the lung is essential to maintain the protective tissue function against oxidative stress and fibrotic challenges. We envisage a scenario whereby chronic rhythm disruption (e.g., during aging or shift work) may compromise the temporal coordination of the antioxidant pathway, contributing to human disease,” authors explain.

V. Pekovic-Vaughan, J. Gibbs, H. Yoshitane, N. Yang, D. Pathiranage, B. Guo, A. Sagami, K. Taguchi, D. Bechtold, A. Loudon, M. Yamamoto, J. Chan, G. T. J. van der Horst, Y. Fukada, Q.-J. Meng. The circadian clock regulates rhythmic activation of the NRF2/glutathione-mediated antioxidant defense pathway to modulate pulmonary fibrosis. Genes & Development, 2014; 28 (6): 548 DOI: 10.1101/gad.237081.113

via Body clocks, chronic lung diseases linked, new research suggests — ScienceDaily.

Do Plants Sleep? | Popular Science


I’ve been thinking a lot about sleep lately, mostly because I wrote a story on the topic for the March issue of Popular Science. Sleep, of course, is a key part of our lives as humans. We do it every night (or at least we should). We also see other animals sleep, from our pet dogs snoozing at our feet to the wild birds roosting in the trees outside our windows. But what about the life forms that frequent Our Modern Plagues? Do microbes rest? Do insects regularly turn in at some point each day? What about plants, from crops to invasive species?

And if all these organisms do sleep, or exhibit some parallel behavior, are scientists manipulating the trait to our benefit?

To explore these questions, I will post a three-part series over the next several weeks. First up: plants.

So, do plants sleep? I posed the question to several plant experts and the short answer is no, at least not in the literal sense. Plants don’t have central nervous systems that seem to be key in what we think of as sleep in humans. But plants do havecircadian rhythms tuned to Earth’s 24-hour light-dark cycle, which they maintain even if they’re kept in light fulltime, just as we do. And that is where things get really interesting.

Cyclical cues

For us, the circadian cycle determines when we should sleep and when we should wake up: sunlight enters our eyes each morning, triggering cells in the brain that control levels of the hormone melatonin, which, in part, controls drowsiness. The more melatonin, the sleepier we are—levels drop in the daytime and rise at night. And while our main sleep clock resides in the brain, we also have clock genes in nearly all of the cell types throughout the body, and vital physiological processes occur as we sleep.

Plants also go through physiological changes during each stage of the day, says Janet Braam, a plant biologist at Rice University. “There are likely diverse and very important advantages of circadian clock function to plants,” she told me by email. For example, “we know that plants use the clock to be able to monitor day length and thus can prepare for seasonal changes (like winter) before the weather actually changes.”

Indeed, plant behavior is tightly controlled by the sun. During the day, plants soak up sunlight during photosynthesis, the process they use to get energy. But when the sun goes down, plants’ opportunity to eat disappears and other physiological processes take over, including energy metabolism and growth.

Plants can anticipate the dawn each day and follow the sun to maximize their photosynthesis potential. The sunflower in the time-lapse below, for example, sways back and forth as the sun rises and falls, and the videos at this great website sLowlifeshow corn seedlings bowing towards a light bulb and sunflower seedlings that appear to dance as they reach for sunlight.

…continued at link…

via Do Plants Sleep? | Popular Science.

Oily Fish = Better Sleep For Kids?

What if a daily supplement could make your child sleep better?  New research is suggesting that may be the case for some kids.


The study was conducted at Oxford University.  Researchers studied 352 children aged seven to nine who were struggling readers at a mainstream primary school.  Parents filled out a questionnaire which showed that 40-percent of the children also suffered regular sleep disturbances.  The researchers fitted wrist sensors to 43 of the children rated as poor sleepers to monitor their movements in bed over five nights.

The study found that children taking a daily omega-3 supplement had 58 minutes’ more sleep and seven fewer waking episodes per night compared with those on the placebo. The best dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids is oily fish.

Previous work by the team had discovered low levels of omega 3 fatty acids in children’s blood, which predicted how well they could concentrate at school.  One of the key omega-3 fatty acids is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is thought to help nerve cells communicate with each other.

The study, due to be published in the Journal of Sleep Research, found higher blood levels of the long-chain omega-3 DHA (the main omega-3 fatty acid found in the brain) were significantly associated with better sleep, including less bedtime resistance and total sleep disturbance.

Slumber: Boosting omega-3 fatty acids resulted in children sleeping for longer and waking up less in the night

Slumber: Boosting omega-3 fatty acids resulted in children sleeping for longer and waking up less in the night

Lead author Professor Paul Montgomery of Oxford University said: ‘To find clinical level sleep problems in four in ten of this general population sample is a cause for concern.

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