Tag: sleep apnoea

Prompts During Sleep Boosts Recall of Names and Faces

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Hearing names repeated during deep sleep may help bolster recall of names and faces, according to new research from Northwestern University.

The researchers found that people’s name recall improved significantly when memories of newly learned face-name associations were reactivated while they were napping. Uninterrupted deep sleep was key in this improvement.

“It’s a new and exciting finding about sleep, because it tells us that the way information is reactivated during sleep to improve memory storage is linked with high-quality sleep,” said lead author Nathan Whitmore, a PhD candidate in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program at Northwestern University.

The research is reported in the Nature partner journal npj Science of Learning.

The three main stages of the experiment of Whitmore et al. (2022). First, participants learned 80 face-name associations. Next, they slept while EEG was monitored to determine sleep stage, and 20 of the spoken names were presented softly over background music during slow-wave sleep. Finally, memory testing showed superior memory due to memory reactivation during sleep, but only when sleep was undisturbed by sound presentations. Credit: Nathan Whitmore, a Ph.D. candidate in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program at Northwestern University.

The results also highlighted the importance of adequate sleep: for study participants with EEG measurements that indicated disrupted sleep, the memory reactivation had no effect and may even be detrimental. But in those with uninterrupted sleep during the specific times of sound presentations, the reactivation helped participants recall just over 1.5 more names.

The study recruited 24 participants, aged 18-31 years old, who were asked to memorise the faces and names of 40 pupils from a hypothetical Latin American history class and another 40 from a Japanese history class. When each face was presented again, they were asked to recall the associated name. After the learning exercise, participants took a nap while the researchers carefully monitored brain activity using EEG measurements. When participants reached the N3 “deep sleep” state, some of the names were softly played on a speaker with music that was associated with one of the classes.

When participants awoke, they were again tested on recognising faces and recalling their names.

According to the researchers, the finding on the relationship between sleep disruption and memory accuracy is noteworthy for several reasons.

“We already know that some sleep disorders like apnoea can impair memory,” said Whitmore. “Our research suggests a potential explanation for this—frequent sleep interruptions at night might be degrading memory.”

The lab is currently exploring the reactivation of memories and deliberately disrupting sleep in order to learn more about the relevant brain mechanisms.

Source: EurekAlert!

Nicotine Linked to Sleep Apnoea Risk

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In a first-of-its-kind, scientists from the Heart Research Institute (HRI) have made the link between amounts of nicotine in the blood and their sleep apnoea risk.

Sleep apnoea occurs when a person’s throat and upper airway become partly or totally blocked during sleep, causing short periods where breathing ceases.

In a new paper published in ESC Heart Failure, Heart Research Institute (HRI) scientists found increases in nicotine levels were associated with a 2.3 minute increase in the time spent with oxygen saturations below 90%.

One of the markers of severity of sleep apnoea is time spent with an oxygen saturation less than 90%.

Lead researcher Dr John O’Sullivan, said this meant that for every cigarette a person smoked, the more they increased the risk of “dangerously low” oxygen levels.

“People who spend more time with an oxygen saturation less than 90 percent end up with more cardiovascular death than people who don’t,” Dr O’Sullivan said.

“We know smoking is bad for the heart – it’s one of the major risks for heart attacks – and although smoking is known to reduce oxygen concentration in the blood, the interaction of smoking with sleep apnoea has not been quantified. Using blood concentrations of the major nicotine metabolite, we were able for the first time to quantify the effect of smoking on oxygen concentrations at night in people with sleep apnoea.

“A standardised increase in levels of this metabolite was associated with 2.3 more minutes with an oxygen concentration less than 90 percent in people with sleep apnea. Time with an oxygen concentration less than 90% is a proven indicator of bad cardiovascular outcome.”

Sleep apnoea and congestive heart failure comorbidities are common, but their interaction is unclear. To find out more, Dr O’Sullivan’s team used hundreds metabolites to understand this interaction.

“Believe it or not, stiff heart failure – when the heart muscle can still pump blood but is stiff and cannot relax properly – is the most common form of heart failure today and we have almost no treatment options,” Dr O’Sullivan said.

“We measured molecules in the blood called metabolites and looked at the changes in these metabolites and related these to the severity of sleep apnoea.”

Metabolomics is a relatively new field of study that investigates metabolites, which are the components of your metabolism and play key roles in disease. They can provide insight into how one disease is linked to another, like in this case the consequences of sleep apnea and heart failure. Several metabolites are also key fuels for the working heart, and others form the units of energy by which the heart works.

The team studied metabolites and lipids in 3443 people from two US studies, including the landmark Framingham study.

Dr O’Sullivan said Framingham was known as the “town that changed America” because of the multi-generational study started in 1948 that subsequently identified the cardiovascular risk factors we still use today. Much research using this study is openly available internationally, enabling researchers around the world.

“Accurate measurement of disease combined with blood metabolite levels is far more accurate than self-reported questionnaires – that’s one of the strengths of this study,” he said.

While sleep apnoea is very common (up to one in four adults), its consequences and interactions with other diseases remain poorly understood. Almost no studies  have sleep study data, heart failure data, and metabolomic data in the same individuals, which is a major new feature of this study.

Source: Heart Research Institute

Exercise Reduces Sleep Apnoea and Improves Brain Function

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In a small study, researchers found that exercise could help reduce sleep apnoea symptoms and improve brain function.

Sleep apnoea is characterised by loud snoring and disrupted breathing and is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. It is typically treated with continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, which is uncomfortable for patients and often not adhered to. 

“Exercise training appears to be an attractive and adjunctive (add-on) non-pharmacological treatment,” said lead investigator Linda Massako Ueno-Pardi, an associate professor at the School of Arts, Science and Humanities at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. She also is a research collaborator at the university’s Heart Institute and Institute of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine.

Sleep apnoea is more common in men than women and becomes more prevalent as people age.  According to a scientific statement by the American Heart Association, between 40% and 80% of people with cardiovascular disease have sleep apnoea. Cigarette smoking and type 2 diabetes are among the risk factors for sleep apnoea, as well as obesity, which narrows the airway when sleeping.

People with sleep apnoea have been shown to experience a decrease in brain glucose metabolism, which can impair cognitive function. The researchers sought to find out whether exercise could help correct that, building on a small 2019 study where aerobic activity improved brain glucose metabolism and executive functioning in Alzheimer’s patients.

The new study recruited 47 adults with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnoea. Half did 60 minutes of supervised exercise three times a week for six months, and the other half were a control group.

Participants in both groups were given a series of tests to measure exercise capacity, brain glucose metabolism and cognitive function, including attention and executive function. Obstructive sleep apnoea symptom severity was measured, such as hypoxia.

At the end of six months, those in the exercise group showed an increased capacity for exercise; improvements in brain glucose metabolism; sleep apnoea symptom reduction; and a boost in cognitive function, including a 32% improvement in attention and executive function. The control group experienced no changes except a decline in brain glucose metabolism.

A “significant reduction” seen in the exercise group’s body fat may have improved sleep apnoea severity by decreasing body fat, especially around the airways.

Source: American Heart Association

Physical Activity, Less Sitting Reduces Risk of Sleep Apnoea

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Higher levels of physical activity and fewer hours sitting still have been linked with a lower risk of sleep apnoea in a new study.

Researchers studied information from three different databases. These databases had collected health information on men and women using tests and questionnaires over several years. In this study, researchers looked at cases of sleep apnoea that had been diagnosed by a doctor, the amount of physical activity a person completed each week and how much time a person sat still while watching TV or working.

Drawing on the database, the study found 8733 cases of sleep apnoea (6652 women, 2081 men). Across all three databases, it was found that higher levels of physical activity were linked to lower levels of sleep apnoea. Fewer hours of sitting while watching TV or while working was also linked with lower levels of sleep apnoea.
The study also noted that there was a strong link between low levels of activity and long hours sitting in women, as well as those who were overweight or obese.

According to its authors, this is the largest study of its kind that looks at the link between sleep apnoea and physical activity and the number of hours sitting down. The findings support the benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle, and avoiding sitting for long periods of time, to help to reduce the risk of sleep apnoea.

Source: European Lung Foundation

Dual Drug Therapy a First for Sleep Apnoea

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In a first, researchers have hit upon a combo of two existing medications to reduce the severity of sleep apnoea in people by at least 30 percent.

Millions of people around the world are affected by sleep apnoea, a condition where the upper airway from the back of the nose to the throat closes repetitively during sleep, restricting oxygen intake and causing people to wake as often as 100 times or more per hour.

Those with untreated sleep apnoea have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, dementia and depression, and are two to four times more likely to crash a car than the general population. There are no approved drug therapies to treat the condition despite nearly three decades of research, and until now, the main therapy for sleep apnoea involves wearing a mask to bed, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy (CPAP). However, many people find it uncomfortable and half the people that try it find it hard to tolerate. Second line therapies, such as mouthguards fitted by dentists, can be unpredictable and expensive.

Prior studies had shown that two classes of medication, reboxetine and butylbromide, were able to keep muscles active during sleep in people without sleep apnoea, and assist breathing ability.

Researchers used a multitude of recording instruments to measure whether reboxetine and butylbromide could successfully target the main causes of sleep apnoea.

This included balancing the electrical activity of muscles around the airway, preventing the throat from collapsing during sleep, and improving the regulation of carbon dioxide and breathing.

Results from the study, published in the Journal of Physiology, showed these medications did in fact increase the muscle activity around participants’ airways, with the drugs reducing the severity of participants’ sleep apnoea by up to one third.

Almost everyone studied had some improvement in sleep apnoea. People’s oxygen intake improved, their number of breathing stoppages was a third or more less. These new findings allow researchers to further refine these types of medications so that they have even greater benefit than what has currently been found.

Senior author Professor Danny Eckert, Director of Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health at Flinders University commented: “We were thrilled because the current treatment options for people with sleep apnoea are limited and can be a painful journey for many.

“Next, we will look at the effects of these and similar medications over the longer term. We will assess whether we can harness the benefits of one drug without needing to use them both.

“Equally, we will test whether these treatments can be combined with other existing medications to see if we can improve their efficacy even more,” he says.

Source: University of Flinders