Expert dreamers | Science 

VIDEO: Building better dreamers

Source: Expert dreamers | Science

SCIENCE brief documentary about research in the Dream & Nightmare Laboratory.

Features interview with Elizaveta Solomonova, Michelle Carr (subject) and Cloé Blanchette-Carrière (technician).


Valérie Mongrain, laboratoire de physiologie moléculaire du sommeil, traite des variations sur la période de sommeil – The Globe and Mail

Though our tendency to go to bed late or get up early is affected by our genes, sleep habits can be changed

Source: Can night owls become early birds? – The Globe and Mail

New study suggests sleepwalking may be genetic – The Globe and Mail

New study suggests sleepwalking may be genetic – The Globe and Mail.

If you have a history of sleepwalking, chances are your children will be somnambulists, too.

A new study from Montreal researchers adds support to the growing belief that behaviours such as sleepwalking and sleep terrors run in families. The findings were published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

The offspring of parents who are or were sleepwalkers are between three and seven times more likely to sleepwalk than other children, report the researchers, from the Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine at Sacré-Coeur Hospital, a teaching hospital of the University of Montreal.

The likelihood rises if both parents have a history of sleepwalking. Researchers found that in families with two parents who are or were sleepwalkers, nearly two-thirds of the children experienced sleepwalking incidences.

Among the children studied, about 47 per cent of the sleepwalkers had one parent with a history of sleepwalking. Nearly 23 per cent of the children who were sleepwalkers had parents with no history of somnambulism.

“Not all sleepwalking is problematic,” noted first author Dominique Petit, a research assistant at the centre. “Very often you don’t need to do anything with sleepwalking. (But) in some rare cases, there’s potential for injury.”

Sleepwalkers can navigate around their households with relative ease – for instance, they can climb or descend stairs. They may even perform tasks such as preparing and eating a snack. They do not remember the incident later.

Petit said sleepwalkers can get hurt on occasion. She noted there have been reports of children dying of hypothermia after leaving their homes in winter and falling back into a deeper sleep in the snow. Petit said it’s recommended that parents consider an alarm for doors if children who sleepwalk tend to leave the house.

Sleepwalking is more common among children than adults. The research was designed to estimate how common sleep terrors and sleepwalking are among children, to look for links between the two behaviours and to see if they ran in families. The researchers followed 1,940 children in Quebec from the ages of 1 1/2 or 2 1//2 to 13. Parents were asked annually whether their children experienced sleep terrors and sleepwalking, and whether they had a history of sleepwalking.

…continued on site: New study suggests sleepwalking may be genetic – The Globe and Mail.

Culinary Culprits of Bizarre and Disturbing Dreams | Psychology Today

Culinary Culprits of Bizarre and Disturbing Dreams | Psychology Today.

blog post by Michelle Carr

PDF: Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: food and diet as instigators of bizarre and disturbing dreams

Tore Nielsen and Russell A. Powell

Dream of the Rarebit Fiend

In the early 1900s, the Dream of the Rarebit Fiend comic strip conveyed how the spicy cheese dish Welsh rarebit leads to bizarre and disturbing dreams. Today, the perception that foods disturb dreaming persists. But apart from case studies, some exploratory surveys, and a few lab studies on how hunger affects dreaming, there is little empirical evidence addressing this topic. The present study examines three aspects of the food/dreaming relationship; it attempts to: (1) assess the prevalence of the perception of food-dependent dreaming and the types of foods most commonly blamed; (2) determine if perceived food-dependent dreaming is associated with dietary, sleep or motivational factors; and (3) explore whether these factors, independent of food/dreaming perceptions, are associated with reports of vivid and disturbing dreams. Three hundred and ninety six students completed questionnaires evaluating sleep, dreams, and dietary habits and motivations. Items queried whether they had noticed if foods produced bizarre or disturbing dreams and if eating late at night influenced their dreams. The perception of food-dependent dreaming had a prevalence of 17.8%; with dairy products being the most frequently blamed food category (39–44%). Those who perceived food-dependent dreaming differed from others by reporting more frequent and disturbing dreams, poorer sleep, higher coffee intake, and lower Intuitive Eating Scale scores. Reports of disturbing dreams were associated with a pathological constellation of measures that includes poorer sleep, binge-eating, and eating for emotional reasons. Reports of vivid dreams were associated with measures indicative of wellness: better sleep, a healthier diet, and longer times between meals (fasting). Results clarify the relationship between  food and dreaming and suggest four explanations for the perception of food-dependent dreaming: (1) food specific effects; (2) food-induced distress; (3) folklore influences, and (4) causal misattributions. Research and clinical implications are discussed.


7 foods to help you sleep better : TreeHugger

7 foods to help you sleep better : TreeHugger.

Foods to help sleep

CC BY 2.0 Pauline Mak/Flickr

The CDC calls insufficient sleep a public health epidemic, those who suffer from insomnia know it more as an awful vexing nuisance that hampers quality of life and taxes productivity. Not only that, it is linked to everything from car crashes and occupational errors to chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as cancer and increased mortality. Oh, elusive sleep!

An estimated 50 to 70 million U.S. adults have a sleep disorder, and about 4 percent of American adults use a prescription sleep aid, not to mention over-the-counter medications. But both families of sleep aids have their host of problems and side effects, from allergic reactions to “complex sleep-related behavior,” in which a person taking sleep-inducing sedatives might get up at night, eat, make phone calls, have sex, and even get in the car and go for a drive, all while not really quite awake. To sleep, perchance to get up and sleep-call an ex – ay, there’s the rub.

In the meantime, there has been ample research looking into foods that can help you sleep better. While they may not conk you out as forcefully as a sleeping pill, they can definitely have an effect. So in an effort to steer clear of pharmaceuticals and avoid a potentially embarrassing “complex sleep-related behavior,” here are some of the foods that experts say can inspire some Zs.

1. Tart cherry juice
Research out of Louisiana State University found that adults with insomnia who drank 8 ounces of tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks had an average of 84 more minutes of sleep time nightly compared to two-week periods in which they drank no juice or a placebo. It is thought that cherry juice’s natural supply of the sleep-wake cycle hormone melatonin and the sleep-friendly amino acid tryptophan are behind the magic. Study co-author Frank L. Greenway, says, “Proanthocyanidins, or the ruby red pigments in tart cherry juice, contain an enzyme that reduces inflammation and decreases the breakdown of tryptophan, letting it go to work longer in your body.”

Public Domain/Public Domain

2. Kiwi
A study from Taiwan’s Taipei Medical University found that eating two kiwi fruits around an hour before bedtime had surprising results. Psychology Today reports that study participants fell asleep more quickly, with a decrease in falling-asleep time of 35.4 percent. They also slept 28.9 percent more soundly and slept better, with a 42.4 percent improvement on a standardized sleep quality questionnaire. Overall, total sleep time for the study subjects increased by 13.4 percent.

3. Seaweed
A University of Oxford study found that higher blood levels of omega-3 DHA (the fatty acids found in algae and seafood) were linked to better sleep. In a randomized, placebo-controlled study, the researchers examined if 16 weeks of taking 600 mg of algae supplement would improve the sleep of 362 children. Indeed, they found the children experienced better sleep, including less bedtime resistance, parasomnias and total sleep disturbance.

4. Walnuts
University of Texas researchers found that walnuts are a great source of melatonin and that eating them can lead to higher blood levels of this internal-clock controlling hormone, resulting in improved sleep.

5. Almonds
A study published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine found that if the body is suffering from low levels of magnesium, sleep problems often ensue. The National Institutes of Health lists almonds as the number one source of magnesium; adding almonds to your diet is good all around, but may be especially good for boosting some shut-eye.

FromSandToGlass/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

6. Chamomile tea
Here’s one from grandma’s natural remedy playbook. According to the National Institutes of Health, chamomile tea is a traditional remedy to treat insomnia and induce calm. Widely regarded as a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer, studies confirm its calming effect. One Japanese study found that chamomile extract helped rats fall asleep as effectively as rats that got a dose of the tranquilizer, benzodiazepine! Use two or three tea bags for best effect, and make sure to cover the cup while steeping.

7. Peanut butter sandwich
Researchers say that a spike of insulin can change our circadian rhythms and can induce sleep. A good dose of carbs and sugars can make people feel sluggish and so eating carbs at dinner can help slow your body down and prepare it for sleep. The National Sleep Foundation suggests a mix of protein and carbohydrates to induce slumber –peanut butter, or better yet, almond butter, on whole grain toast may be all you need to bring out your inner Morpheus

Valérie Mongrain : de noctambule à chercheuse – Faculté de médecine

Valérie Mongrain : de noctambule à chercheuse – Faculté de médecine.


Valérie Mongrain au CÉAMS de l’Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal

Valérie Mongrain, professeure sous octroi adjointe

Affiliation principale
Département de neurosciences

Lieu de travail

  • Laboratoire de physiologie moléculaire du sommeil
  • Centre de recherche de l’Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal

Discipline de recherche

  • Neurosciences, sommeil et rythmes biologiques

D’aussi loin qu’elle se rappelle, Valérie Mongrain a toujours été un oiseau de nuit. « Lorsque j’étais adolescente, je travaillais de 16 h à minuit pour un kiosque de crème glacée, je sortais ensuite avec mes amis, je me couchais à 4 h du matin et je me levais à midi. Pour moi, c’était le rythme idéal, raconte la directrice du laboratoire de physiologie moléculaire du sommeil du Centre d’études avancées en médecine du sommeil (CÉAMS) à l’Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal. Mais évidemment, tout cela a changé avec l’arrivée de mes deux fils. » C’est ce goût pour la vie nocturne qui a poussé la chercheuse à s’intéresser au sommeil. « Pendant mon baccalauréat en sciences biologiques à l’Université de Montréal, j’ai effectué un stage de recherche avec la Dre Marie Dumont au CÉAMS en chronobiologie, plus précisément sur le chronotype, soit la préférence pour l’horaire de sommeil, explique-t-elle. C’était un projet qui m’interpellait parce que j’étais curieuse de savoir d’où venait ma propre préférence. Et une fois que j’ai découvert qu’il y avait une foule de variations biologiques à l’origine de ce phénomène, j’ai vraiment eu la piqûre pour le domaine. »

suite : Valérie Mongrain : de noctambule à chercheuse – Faculté de médecine.



The crossroads of sports concussions and aging | OUPblog

The crossroads of sports concussions and aging | OUPblog.

PDF: Brain-2014-Tremblay-brain-awu236


The consequences of traumatic brain injury (TBI) are sizable in both human and economic terms. In the USA alone, about 1.7 million new injuries happen annually, making TBI the leading cause of death and disability in people younger than 35 years of age. Survivors usually exhibit lifelong disabilities involving both motor and cognitive domains, leading to an estimated annual cost of $76.5 billion in direct medical services and loss of productivity in the USA. This issue has received even more intense scrutiny in the popular media with respect to sports-related concussions where there is a proposed link between having suffered multiple injuries, regardless of severity, with later neurodegeneration. At present, there is a dearth of evidence to either support or undermine the role of sports concussions in the later development of neurodegenerative processes, much less the influence of those brain injuries on the normal aging process.

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