Sleep on it

Caffeine affects the circadian body clock

Karyn O'Keeffe Sep 22, 2015

It has long been known that drinking coffee close to bedtime can increase the time that it takes to fall asleep and change the structure of our sleep.  It was thought that these effects were primarily mediated through caffeine’s alerting properties; it binds adenosine receptors which causes the release of excitatory neurotransmitters.  Research published this month in Science Translational Medicine by … Read More

Insufficient sleep increases your chance of developing a common cold

Karyn O'Keeffe Sep 02, 2015

Most of us would happily avoid the nuisance of having a head cold.  A new study published by Prather and colleagues in the journal Sleep this month has demonstrated that short sleep is associated with increased susceptibility to the common cold.  While recent research has highlighted that insufficient sleep is associated with susceptibility to infectious diseases, most research has … Read More

Beliefs about normal sleep

Karyn O'Keeffe Mar 24, 2015

Having an understanding of what normal sleep looks like helps us identify when we are experiencing worrying sleep difficulties. Anecdotally, many people believe that good healthy sleep involves one solid period of sleep from lights out to waking in the morning.  Recently, a group of Australian researchers tested this hypothesis by asking a group of young (18-25 years) and older … Read More

World Sleep Day 2015

Karyn O'Keeffe Mar 12, 2015

This Friday, 13 March, is World Sleep Day, an event organised each year by the World Association of Sleep Medicine to highlight the importance of sleep to health and wellbeing.  This year’s slogan is ‘when sleep is sound, health and happiness abound.’ Sleep is a common issue for New Zealanders.  In a survey of 10,000 New Zealanders drawn at random … Read More

Can we sleep more efficiently?

Karyn O'Keeffe Aug 11, 2014

Most of us have days when we wish there were a few more hours to get things done.  The solution proposed seems relatively straightforward, cut sleep short and sleep more efficiently.  Right? It is suggested that one way to achieve this might be with polyphasic sleep.  However, from a scientific point of view, polyphasic sleep has little merit. Polyphasic sleep … Read More

False memories after sleep deprivation

Karyn O'Keeffe Jul 29, 2014

Last week I read a cool study about false memories after sleep deprivation.  Published the week before in Psychological Medicine, the study was comprised of several experiments which examined whether sleep deprivation was associated with creation of false memories of witnessing a plane crash or after being fed misinformation. The researchers asked 193 undergraduate … Read More

Sleep disorders in New Zealand teenagers

Karyn O'Keeffe Dec 09, 2013

Last week saw media reports stating that, alarmingly, almost 40% of New Zealand teenagers have a sleep disorder. This stemmed from a Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners press release, and a paper published in the Journal of Primary Health Care. At face value, these findings are very concerning indeed. The study surveyed 1388 Auckland high school students, from … Read More


Food cravings and sleep

Karyn O'Keeffe Sep 10, 2013

Some of you may have seen or heard last month’s news reports stating that when we are sleep deprived, we crave junk food.  These reports stemmed from a study conducted by Stephanie Greer and her colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, which investigated changes in brain function after one night’s sleep deprivation, compared to a preceding night of healthy … Read More

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