Recovery Sleep May Improve Memory, and Other News

Father and daughter sleeping on couchResearch and anecdotal experience both point to the harmful effects of sleep deprivation on memory, and researchers have new insight into this association. According to animal research published in the journal eLife, sleep deprivation might change neuron connectivity, thereby interfering with memory. The study also found resting might restore losses associated with sleep deprivation.

Researchers performed their study on mice, so it is unclear whether the results would also apply to humans. Previous research suggests sleep is a time of memory consolidation.

Researchers looked at the length and number of dendrite spines in the hippocampus—a brain region associated with memory—of mice after five hours of sleep deprivation. Dendrites branch out from nerve cells and are responsible for receiving impulses from other cells. Mice deprived of sleep had shorter dendrites with less dense dendritic spines in the hippocampus, suggesting even temporary sleep loss can change the brain.

Researchers then allowed the mice to sleep for three hours, as previous research suggests this can compensate for lost sleep. They again analyzed dendrites in the hippocampus and found three hours of sleep reversed the dendrite changes, potentially improving memory.

The Surgeon General Just Sent a Worrisome Letter to Every Doctor in America

In the past few years, drug overdose deaths have surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. In 2014, opioid overdoses killed more than 28,000 people—a number that has quadrupled since 1999. For the first time in history, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has sent a letter to 2.3 million doctors in America, calling on them to do their part in stemming the prescription opioid abuse and overdose epidemic. In the letter, Murthy encourages physicians to view drug addiction as a chronic illness rather than a “moral failing.”

Psychosis Associated with Low Levels of Physical Activity

According to an international study of more than 200,000 people, those who experience symptoms of psychosis are less physically active. Men with symptoms of psychosis are especially unlikely to meet recommended levels of physical activity. The study’s authors hope to use these findings to find ways to improve mental and physical health for those who experience psychosis.

THC Makes Rats Lazy, Less Willing to Try Cognitively Demanding Tasks: UBC Study

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, made rats less willing to perform a challenging task, according to a new study. The rats’ ability to do cognitively challenging work was not affected, but they were less motivated to do such work. When given the option between an easy task with a small reward and a harder task with a larger reward, rats who were given THC were more likely to choose the easy task. Without THC, they were more likely to try the harder task. Researchers say the study highlights the effects of marijuana use on willingness to exert more cognitive effort to reap a greater reward.

Digital Forms of Dating Violence Are on the Rise—What School Nurses Need to Know

Digital dating violence among teens is rising, and school nurses are often the first to recognize signs of abusive romantic relationships. Rates of physical violence in relationships are already high, but in this digital age, abusers may use digital media to control, stalk, or harass their victims. Previous surveys have found 26% of high school students said they had experienced online dating abuse, and another 12% admitted to harassing a significant other online.

Instagramming in Black and White? Could Be You’re Depressed

A small study of 166 Instagram users was able to predict depression based on Instagram posts. Previous research suggests people who have depression may gravitate toward darker or more muted colors. According to the study, users who posted more black and white photos were more likely to experience depression symptoms.

Family, Not Friends, Lowers Death Risk in Old Age

Many seniors often experience loneliness, which is linked to many negative health outcomes, including depression and premature death. A new study of seniors suggests friendships are not sufficient to ward off loneliness. Only family members offer the loneliness-reducing health benefits that can reduce the risk of death in old age.

Study Strengthens Evidence That Cognitive Activity Can Reduce Dementia Risk

A review of previous studies on the effects of cognitive activity, such as reading and brain training games, strengthens evidence that those activities during the senior years can reduce the risk of dementia. The authors caution that some other factors might be at play. For example, seniors who engage in high levels of cognitive activity might also come from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.

In the Aftermath of Disaster, Social Media Helps Build a Sense of Community

Social media postings after a disaster may do more than just offer a diversion. They can also help build a sense of community. Researchers found social media postings can provide access to new resources, while fostering community involvement in assistance efforts.

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Bev

    August 26th, 2016 at 10:47 AM

    Just saw that letter from Surgeon General come through email at work today. This really is a national crisis that we are up against.

  • Myron

    August 26th, 2016 at 1:48 PM

    Could power naps also help?

    I know they are only short but sometimes that is exactly what I need to recharge my batteries for a little while.

    I don’t know if they improve my memory but they sure to improve my ability to converse and just be normal for the day.

  • pennie

    August 27th, 2016 at 8:55 AM

    Parents we have to be more proactive about knowing what our kids are doing online. That means knowing their friends and knowing their passwords too!
    I don’t care if they see this as an invasion of privacy or not but I would much rather be accused of butting in on something online than i would be of ignoring the obvious signs of abuse.
    I think that as parents this is the very least we can do for our children, when so much violence can be acted out but a bruise may not ever show up.

  • Max

    August 27th, 2016 at 10:27 AM

    I know that my grand dad is in a nursing home and we go see him all the time…
    but there are other people there who seem to never have any family visiting them, at least not when we are there
    that is so sad when they are placed in a home like this and no one ever goes to see them.
    You know that this has to make them feel like they have been abandoned and forgotten about, left there to die alone.

  • tara d

    August 28th, 2016 at 10:06 AM

    Oh wow I only wear black, but not because I am depressed I just like the way it looks.
    Could it be those who like black and white photos just like that vintage look?

  • Stella

    August 29th, 2016 at 10:32 AM

    I know that the victims of LA floods are so thankful from the outpouring of support and generosity which has been given via social media. I know that it is not always the brightest shining star but you do have to admit that this is one way that you can get to know strangers and their stories and can learn so much more about how to help and make a difference.

  • matt

    August 29th, 2016 at 3:11 PM

    I could use some recovery sleep right about now

  • Michelle

    August 29th, 2016 at 6:36 PM

    interesting correlation between psychosis and lack of physical activity… wondering the age where this really begins to show most markedly

  • Harrison

    August 30th, 2016 at 11:24 AM

    ummm doesn’t THC make everyone lazy, not just rats?

  • maddie s

    August 30th, 2016 at 2:27 PM

    I do love my friends, don’t get me wrong. They play a very important role in my life and I wouldn’t want to have to live without them.

    But I agree that my family is more important and they always will be. Those are the people who have always been there, always provided that safety net for me and I wouldn’t want to ever have to go through something without them by my side.

  • Duane R

    August 31st, 2016 at 2:28 PM

    Sometimes I think that the doctors just write the prescriptions so the ones who want the meds will not bother them as much.

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