Our team is tirelessly researching and investigating the best ingredients for better sleep based on the latest science surrounding natural products, but we don’t stop there. We also obsess over the latest in behavioral sleep science, integrative health, clinical psychology, nutritional biochemistry—essentially anything that could directly or indirectly impact sleep. Because THAT is what informs every single decision we make.
Below are three studies that have us buzzing this month—we think you’ll find them interesting, too.
1. Researchers have identified a “significant relationship” between sleep quality, anxiety, and psychological distress with COVID-related PTSD symptoms
As we pass the one-year mark of this pandemic, new research (1) is emerging out of Italy on the profound psychological impact of COVID-19 on sleep quality and generalized anxiety. The study, which included 2291 participants (only nine of whom were previously infected), revealed the following:
- 57.1% reported poor sleep quality
- 41.8% reported high anxiety
- 7.6% reported PTSD symptoms linked to COVID-19
When compared to the pre-COVID percentages among the Italian population (30% for sleep problems, 10% for anxiety disorders, and 29.3% for psychological distress), these numbers show “a substantially worse psychological condition during the actual emergency.”
The rates of sleep disturbances, anxiety, and general distress were higher among those who were “uncertain regarding possible COVID-19 infection” as well as those with “greater fear of direct contact with those infected by COVID-19.”
The takeaway? We are only now beginning to fully grasp the mental and emotional impact of this global health crisis, which cannot be discounted.
“These results should be used as a starting point for further studies aimed to develop psychological interventions to minimize the brief and long-term consequences of the COVID-10 pandemic,” write the researchers.
READ MORE: How Stress Affects Your Sleep
2. The consolidation of memories has been found to depend on “reactivation” during sleep
It’s no surprise that a poor night’s sleep leads to “brain fog” while a good night’s sleep makes us feel alert all day long. But according to new research (2) published in the Annual Review of Psychology, sleep may play a bigger role in our brains than originally thought.
For a bit of context...most memories we acquire every day are forgotten, which is normal (it’d be impossible to remember every single thing). The ones that DO stay with us, however, are consolidated and reactivated—two processes that depend heavily on sleep.
- Memory consolidation
After you acquire the memory, consolidation affects how it’s stored. The information is stabilized and integrated within the structure of multiple prior memories.
- Memory reactivation
This is when information stored in your brain network from a previous experience re-emerges with or without the conscious experience of actually retrieving it.
“We postulate here that consolidation largely transpires without us knowing about it—because we are asleep at the time,” write researchers. “Moreover, understanding the neurophysiology of memory processing during sleep may be the key to understanding how the memories formed while we are awake are preserved and transformed, and how they transform us. Ultimately, changes in memory storage during sleep may shape not only what we can remember but also who we are.”
3. New research underlines just how impactful sleep is on dementia risk
There has been reason to believe, (3) for some time now, that sleep abnormalities are a “distinct symptom of concern” for neurodegenerative disorders—a finding that has recently been confirmed in a report (4) published last month in Aging.
The five-year study was led by Rebecca Robbins of Brigham & Women’s Health in Boston, who leveraged data from the National Health and Aging Trends study to evaluate the relationship between sleep disturbance/deficiency and the risk of incident dementia among older adults.
Here’s what she found:
- Routinely sleeping fewer than five hours/night was associated with a two-fold greater risk of incident dementia
- Routinely taking 30 minutes or longer to fall asleep was associated with a 45% greater risk of incident dementia
These findings are especially impactful given the fact that, to date, 5.8 million US adults are living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia, with a total of 16 million expected by 2050.
“...few studies have included a comprehensive set of sleep characteristics in a single examination of incident dementia and all-cause mortality,” write researchers. “We address these gaps in the literature and examine the relationship between sleep disturbance, sleep duration, alertness and incident dementia, and all-cause mortality across a five-year time interval.”