Archive for Sleep Issues

Lack of Sleep – “A Perfect Storm”

It may be a “perfect storm” of mental and physical health plagues.

In three new studies, researchers at Penn State University have reported that obesity and depression are the two main culprits contributing to day-to-day excessive sleepiness and fatigue.

“The ‘epidemic’ of sleepiness parallels an ‘epidemic’ of obesity and psychosocial stress,” said Alexandros Vgontzas, MD, the principal investigator for three Penn State studies. “Weight loss, depression and sleep disorders should be our priorities in terms of preventing the medical complications and public safety hazards associated with this excessive sleepiness.”

The Penn State researchers, who presented their findings at the Boston Sleep 2012 conference in June, examined a random population of 1,741 adults and determined that obesity and emotional stress are the main culprits of the current national “epidemic” of sleepiness and fatigue. In addition, insufficient sleep and obstructive sleep apnea play a role and have been linked to hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, depression, diabetes, obesity and accidents.

Two-hundred and twenty-two of the 1,721 participants in the Penn State study initially reported excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and, for those whose EDS persisted at the time of follow-up – seven and a half years later – weight gain was the strongest predicting factor. “In fact, our results showed that in individuals who lost weight, excessive sleepiness improved,” Vgontzas reported.

In a second follow-up – seven and a half years later – researchers found that depression and obesity are the strongest risk factors for new-onset excessive sleepiness, a finding confirmed by a third study – this time of 103 research volunteers.

“The primary finding connecting our three studies are that depression and obesity are the main risk factors for both new-onset and persistent excessive sleepiness,” Vgontzas said.

The findings regarding EDS are important because it is linked to significant health risks and on-the-job accidents.

The bottom line: sleep disorders are just a “little problem.” Their accompanied by or cause a wide range of often life-threatening problems. If the persists beyond a difficult night or two, address them or risk being drowned in your own sleep-related “perfect storm.”

The Brain Training Centers of Florida are helping people improve their sleep without medication utilizing brain wave optimization seven days a week. Please contact us at 305-412-5050 with any questions.

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That bad night’s sleep just might kill ya

Okay, not just one night, but persistent insomnia – constant waking in the middle of the night and difficulty falling asleep – can have life-threatening – and too often unexpected – effects. The news reflects the findings of teams of researchers across the country, many of them publishing their studies at June’s Sleep 2012 Conference in Boston.

Insomnia – the inability to fall asleep or remain asleep – may increase the likelihood of developing hypertension.

“The cause of hypertension in insomniacs is due to the number of times the individual wakes during the night as well as their sleep latency — the length of time it takes to accomplish the transition from full wakefulness to sleep,” reports Christopher Drake, associate scientist at the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center (Detroit) and lead author of the study.

Thirty to forty percent of American adults say they have some symptoms of insomnia in a given year, according to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health. About 10 to 15 percent of adults say they have chronic insomnia.

The researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center compared 5314 subjects Internet-based questionnaires on insomnia symptoms, presence and severity of hypertension and sleep health habits. “We found that the longer it took the subjects to fall asleep and more times they woke during the night, the more severe their hypertension,” reported Drake. Normal sleepers were compared to insomniacs for the prevalence of hypertension.

Cure-Insomnia-Brain-TrainingIn another study – of 5,666 working adults aged 45 older and all free from strokes and stroke symptoms, transient ischemic attack, or sleep-disordered breathing problems who were followed over a three-year period – researchers found that middle- to older-aged subjects who regularly get fewer than six hours of sleep a night have an increased stroke risk, even if they don’t have a history of stroke, aren’t overweight and don’t have an increased risk for sleep apnea. Importantly, the researchers found a link between getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night and strokes is strong among normal weight subjects but did not find the same link in overweight and obese study participants.
It is possible that short sleep affects stroke risks by acting on other, known risk factors: increasing blood pressure, spurring inflammation and altering metabolic hormones. Even after adjusting for sleep apnea, a known risk factor for strokes, the researchers found that a nightly sleep of less than six hours was strongly associated with a greater incidence of stroke.
Their findings are especially important because it is estimated that 30 percent of working adults get fewer than six hours of sleep each night. “We speculate that short sleep duration is a precursor to other traditional stroke risk factors, and once these traditional stroke risk factors are present, then perhaps they become stronger risk factors than sleep duration alone,” reported researcher Megan Ruiter of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “A lot of people say that when things get stressful and schedules get tight sleep is the first thing to get sacrificed. It turns out that it’s a lot more problematic than we previously realized.”

“These people sleeping less than six hours had a four times increased risk of experiencing these stroke symptoms compared to their normal weight counterparts that were getting seven to eight hours,” note Ruiter.

In a new report at the 2012 American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, researchers noted that individuals with sleep apnea may have an increased risk of so-called “silent strokes” and small lesions in the brain. “We found a surprisingly high frequency of sleep apnea in patients with stroke that underlies its clinical relevance as a stroke risk factor,” noted Jessica Kepplinger, M.D., stroke fellow in the University Stroke Center’s Department of Neurology at the University of Technology (Dresden, Germany).

“Sleep apnea is widely unrecognized and still neglected,” noted Kepplinger. “Patients who had severe sleep apnea were more likely to have silent strokes and the severity of sleep apnea increased the risk of being disabled at hospital discharge.”

The researchers report that 91 percent of patients studied – 51 of 56 – who had a stroke had sleep apnea and were more likely to have silent strokes and white matter lesions in the brain that increased the risk of disability at the time of their discharge; having more than five sleep apnea episodes per night was associated with silent strokes; more than one-third of patients with white matter lesions had severe sleep apnea and more than 50 percent of silent stroke patients had sleep apnea; correlations between sleep apnea and silent strokes were thje same for men and women.

“We have been extremely successful in helping our clients improve their sleep!” reports Dr. Flynn, PsyD, the psychological director at The Brain Training Centers of Florida.

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Parental conflict may find its expression in infants sleep difficulties

It’s one of the great self-deluding myths of marital conflict: “We don’t argue in front of the children; we protect the kids from everything that is happening; the kids don’t know that we’re having trouble.”

Parental conflict may find its expression in infants’ sleep difficulties, according to a new report in the July/August 2011 edition of the journal Child Development.

Brain Training & Sleep IssuesPoor sleep patterns in children from nine to eighteen months are likely influenced by conflict in their parents’ marriage, notes Penn State professor of psychology Jenae M. Neiderhiser. While past research has shown a connection between marital distress and child sleeping habits, this study looked specifically at adopted infants and their parents. Studying adopted parents and their infants allowed researchers to focus on environmental issues and eliminate genetic factors that might affect children’s sleep problems.

“It is important to understand how parenting comes in to play here,” said Neiderhiser. “Looking at the marital relationship is not direct parent-child interaction, but it is an index of stress in the family.”

The research team interviewed 357 sets of adoptive parents – together and separately and assessed their habits and emotions as well as their children’s behaviors. Parents where interviewed twice – when children were nine and 18 months old.

Parents were asked a series of questions, including “Have you or your partner suggested the idea of a divorce?” They were also asked to describe their children’s bedtime behavior by rating several behaviors including “Child needs parents in room to fall asleep” or “child struggles at bedtime.”

The researchers found that marital conflict in the first survey at nine months predicted that the child would be more likely to have sleep problems at the time of the second survey. However, if the child had sleep problems at nine months, the parents were not more likely to have marital stress at eighteen months.

According to Neiderhiser, “Research indicates that stress can negatively impact sleep. We also know that infancy is an important time for the development of sleep patterns. Our study suggests that marital instability is impacting change in the child’s sleep patterns over time, and it could be that this is setting the child up for a pattern of problematic sleep.”

“The implications of the Penn State study is especially important for many contemporary adults with sleep patterns,” notes Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy.D., clinical director of the Brain Training Centers of Florida. “Too often we see clients who have never – almost since infancy – experienced a good night’s sleep and awakened refreshed.

“Our experience indicates that clients frequently have brain wave patterns that were adversely affected by early-life experience and have never allowed them to experience healthy, refreshing sleep. By allowing them to achieve a new appropriate balance of their brain wave activity, we allow them to experience refreshing and restorative sleep – often for the first times in their lives,” reported Flynn.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

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A good night sleep proves critical for healthy marriage

A “good night’s sleep” is proving more critical that many of us ever thought; it may be critical to the preservation of a marriage and can potentially keep inches off your waist.

When it comes to the ever-important world of sleep and the differences between men and women, here’s just one example of the fact that sometimes life really isn’t fair: If hubby tosses and turns, it doesn’t appear to affect the marriage but, if she’s rollin’ in the rack, it may critically affect the relationship.

At least that’s the report of Wendy M. Troxel, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, at the 25th Anniversary meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, June 11–15, 2011, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Effects Of Sleep Deprivation“We found that wives’ sleep problems affect her own and her spouse’s marital functioning the next day, and these effects were independent of depressive symptoms,” reported Troxekl. “Specifically, wives who took longer to fall asleep the night before reported poorer marital functioning the next day, and so did their husbands

The sleep issues – episodes of waking after sleep onset and total sleep time – of 32 “healthy” married couples were followed for ten night using electronic diaries to measure the quality of marital interactions and measured against the sleep data. The study concluded that insomnia could negatively impact a marriage.

The results show that when wives take longer to fall asleep at night it predicted their husbands’ reports of less positive marital interaction the following day. But the opposite results – husbands taking longer to fall asleep and negative impact on the marriage – did not materialize. strife.

The authors pointed to their results as proof that insomnia can be a warning sign for marital strife. “These results highlight the importance of considering the interpersonal consequences of sleep and sleep loss,” Troxel said.

Two studies presented at the Minneapolis meeting show that being sleepy can affect our desire for carb-heavy goods.

In a study of 262 high school seniors who answered surveys on sleepiness, carb cravings, and depression, researchers discovered that as daytime sleepiness became more acute, so did a craving for carbs. Teens who had extreme daytime sleepiness had a 50% higher chance of also “jonesing” for carbs. In addition, participants who were very depressed were nearly three times more likely to crave carbs.

“This study is important given the rising epidemic of obesity among teens as well as increasing metabolic syndrome and diabetes among young adult populations,” said Mahmood Siddique of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, in a news release. “This study highlights the importance of diagnosing sleep deprivation as a risk factor for obesity among young adults. Those who are depressed and sleep-deprived may be at special risk for obesity.”

In a second study, researchers found that sleeplessness adds to the attraction for rich, delicious foods. Twelve men and women age 19 to 45 underwent functional MRI studies while looking at pictures of high- and low-calorie foods, as well as images or rocks and plants, which served as study controls. Subjects were also surveyed about the intensity of their daytime sleepiness.

While looking at photos of high-calorie foods, subjects who reported higher levels of daytime sleepiness showed less activity in their brain’s prefrontal cortex; the prefrontal cortex is where decision-making takes place – the advantages and disadvantages of an anticipated event are weighed and social controls and inhibitions are exercised.  While researchers are not certain that being overly tired will result in downing an entire bag of potato chips or a plate of brownies, they noted that additional studies may be warranted. “Given the chronic level of sleep restriction in our society, such relationships could have epidemiologic implications regarding the current increase in obesity in westernized countries,” noted study co-author study William Killgore of Harvard Medical School

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How Important Is Sleep To Memory?

For the brain it may play a critical role in picking the good stuff and getting rid of the garbage, or “if you don’t get enough sleep it’ll be garbage in and garbage out the next time you take a test.”

And, if you’re a student – from the youngest ages through graduate school and beyond, after a good night’s sleep you will remember information better if you already know it will be useful in the future.

That’s the word from a research time led by Jan Born, PhD, of the University of Lubeck (Germany) and published in the February 2, 2011 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

The researchers found that the brain evaluates memories during sleep and preferentially retains the ones that are most relevant.

Just imagine all of the information the brain takes in every day – from all of the noise (commercials on TV and the radio) to spam and just plain misinformation on the Internet; useless phone numbers, meaningless comments by coworkers or classmates, and the critical little phrase from a professor: “This will be on the final exam.” Retaining all of it would make picking and choosing what is important much more difficult, especially when you sit down to a critical test or important board meeting.

The German researchers attempted to discover how the brain decides what to keep and what to ditch. “Our results show that memory consolidation during sleep involves a basic selection process that determines which of the many pieces of the day’s information is sent to long-term storage,” reports Born. “[I]nformation relevant for future demands is selected foremost for storage.”

Researchers set up two experiments to test memory retrieval in a total of 191 volunteers. In the first experiment, participants were asked to learn 40 pairs of words; in the second participants played a card game matching pictures of animals and objects – similar to the game “Concentration” – and practiced sequences of finger taps.

Half the volunteers were told immediately that they would be tested in 10 hours; in the end, all participants were tested on how well they recalled their tasks. People who were allowed to sleep between the time they learned the tasks and the tests performed better than those who did not sleep. More importantly, only the volunteers who slept and knew they would be tested had substantially improved memory recall.

Researchers also found that “The more slow wave (brain) activity the sleeping participants had, the better their memory was during the recall test 10 hours later,” according to Born. As a result of this study, the authors suggest that the brain’s prefrontal cortex “tags” memories deemed relevant while awake and the hippocampus consolidates these memories during sleep.

“These results suggest that sleep is critical to this memory enhancement,” notes Gilles Einstein, PhD, an expert in memory at Furman University. The new study helps to explain why a student is more likely to remember material from a lecture than small talk on the way to class. “This benefit extends to both declarative memories (memories about a lecture) and procedural memories (memory for a new dance step.”

-Dr. Francis Flynn

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More Information on the Importance of Sleep

According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, sleep disorders affect between 50 and 70 million Americans and lost productivity and mishaps due to fatigue cost businesses roughly $150 billion, while accidents involving tired drivers cost at least $48 billion a year. In 2007 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine reported on a study by the National Transportation Safety Board on how sleep deprivation affects air traffic controllers and other shift workers. The report noted that in four instances since 2001 in which air traffic controllers who were sleep deprived and were feeling tired made serious, on-the-job mistakes. The NTSB researchers identified three factors that played key roles in sleep loss: poor scheduling and rotating shifts that prevent the body from adapting to a new schedule; short rest periods that left too little time for the seven to eight hours of sleep that most adults need; and bad habits – spending too much time doing something other than sleeping. In September 2010, researchers from Washington State University discovered the mechanism by which the brain switches from a wakeful to a sleeping state. The mechanism is a cascade of chemical transmitters and proteins that they reported that ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the fundamental energy currency of cells, is released by active brain cells to start the molecular events leading to sleep. ATP binds to a receptor responsible for cell processing and the release of cytokines, small signaling proteins involved in sleep regulation.

On of the main things we assist people in doing at the Brain Training Centers of Florida is sleep better without medications.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D. 7740 Southwest 52 Avenue Miami, Florida 33143

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Another Study on Sleep Issues

Sometimes mother or father really did know best. For example, when they told us “You have school tomorrow. If you want to do well, turn out the light and go to bed.”

Now comes a report from researchers at Ohio State University that may indicate just how right they were. Working with female Siberian hamsters, co-authors Randy Nelson, professor of neuroscience and psychology at Ohio State, and doctoral student Tracy Bedrosian have shown that even a dim night-light may cause physical changes in the brain linked to depression. Presented on November 17 in San Diego at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, it is the first study to definitively show that by itself light at night may be linked to changes in the hippocampus, an area of the brain vital in regulating mood and learning.

The researchers exposed the hamsters to dim light for eight weeks and learned that “Even dim light at night is sufficient to provoke depressive-like behaviors in hamsters, which may be explained by the changes we saw in their brains after eight weeks of exposure,” reported Bedrosian. Most importantly (and surprisingly), the light used was only 5 lux – the same as having a television on in a dark room.

“You would expect to see an impact if we were blasting these hamsters with bright lights, but this was a very low level, something most people could easily encounter every night,” noted Nelson, a member of Ohio State’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.

During the study, half the hamsters lived in 16 hours of daylight at 150 lux and eight hours of light at 5 lux; the other half had a light-dark cycle of 16 hours at 150 lux and eight hours of complete darkness. After eight weeks, the dim-light hamsters displayed more depressive behaviors compared to the control group and the researchers found that the dendritic spines in their hippocampi had far less density. Dendritic spines are hairlike growths on brain cells, which are used to send chemical messages from one cell to another. No differences between the two groups were found in the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This is important because cortisol had previously been associated with changes in the hippocampus.

“The hippocampus plays a key role in depressive disorders, so finding changes there is significant said Bedrosian. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to document that light at night is a sufficient stimulus to induce changes in the hippocampus, without changes in cortisol levels.”

It may be that the brain changes are linked to the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps the body know when it is nighttime, and lower levels of melatonin at night may explain the lower density in dendritic spines in the experimental hamsters.

“The moral of this story is simple,” said Francis J. Flynn, Psy.D., CAP, president of the Brain Training Centers of Florida. “Whether you’re a child, an adolescent or an adult, make sure your sleep environment is as absolutely dark as possible, cover up alarm clocks and turn off televisions. And you probably don’t need that nightlight as much as you think – not if you want to avoid depression and learn as well as possible.”

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.
7740 Southwest 52 Avenue
Miami, Florida 33143
(305) 271-0973

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Sleep and Focus Issues Resolved


Justin Haines, Entreprenuer

“ At first when I heard of this technology I was a bit skeptical but after doing some research I decided to give it a try. I am a Mortgage Banker with some big opportunities ahead of me and with the lack of sleep and focus it would’ve been hard to achieve my goals. After my sessions with Brain State Technologies I found myself able to read a book without my mind wandering and my sleep improved drastically as well. It used to take me about 30minutes to fall asleep and I would wake up many times during the night. Now I am able to fall asleep within 10 minutes and rarely wake up during the night. Feeling rested and focused a few weeks later I accomplished a goal that every Mortgage Banker dreams about that only a few ever achieve. Here is my professional recommendation, if you want to be BETTER at anything Brain State Technologies will definitely help you get there! Thank you Brain State Technologies. “

As an affiliate of Brain State Technologies we have had many such successes with our clients. Please visit our website at

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Link Found Between Testosterone and Sleep

New research indicates that beds and male testosterone levels may have something more in common than sex. A researcher at the University of Montreal Department of Psychology has discovered a link between testosterone levels in men and their quality of sleep.

It’s long been known that testosterone levels begin to drop by one or two percent a year beginning at approximately age 30. But by age 40, men’s quality of sleep also begins to diminish.

Zoran Sekerovic, a graduate student, presented his findings at the annual conference of the Association Francophone Pour le Savoir (ACFAS). He reported a link between testosterone levels in men over 50 and their Phases III and IV sleep. While in young men, deep sleep represents 10 to 20 percent of total sleep, by age 50 it decreases to five to seven percent and can disappear altogether for men over 60.

The study found no correlation with other parts of the sleep cycle: falling asleep, Phases I and II, or paradoxical sleep, when most dreaming occurs.

It appears that the neuronal circuits of men in their 20s are essentially intact but, with aging, there is a loss of neuronal circuits and the quality of synchronization of cerebral activity begins to deteriorate slightly – perhaps accounting for a loss of deep sleep, which requires greater synchronization. “Lower levels of testosterone intensify the lack of synchronization and explain 20 percent of men’s inability to experience deep sleep,” explains Sekerovic.

He suggests that decreasing testosterone levels are what impact sleep, not vice-versa.

“The loss of deep sleep is a serious problem that could be treated with testosterone,” observes Sekerovic. “That would be tremendous progress. But hormone therapy can have secondary effect. Therefore, it will be essential to better understand the mechanisms leading to the loss of deep sleep.”

“Sekerovic’s suggestions have great potential for increasing the quality of sleep for many men,” notes Francis J. Flynn, Psy.D.,CAP, president of the Brain Training Centers of Florida. “I frequently encourage men with sleep problems to take a number of positive steps including increasing the quantity and quality of their cardio-vascular/aerobic workouts, adding weight/strength training, and requesting that their physicians conduct testosterone level blood tests.”

In addition, Flynn reports, his office runs a full scale electroencephalographic study of clients’ brains to determine if specific areas of the brain increase their activity levels at night.

“It seems counter-intuitive but in the vast majority of Brain Training clients who complain of sleep difficulties and report rarely waking feeling rested and refreshed the activity levels of their brains actually increases when their eyes are closed. That makes restful sleep extremely difficult. By reversing this process, we can quickly and easily restore healthy sleep – often after years of restless nights,” reports Flynn. “And, of course, the greatest advantages are that we can do this without medication and frequently within four or five days.”

At the Brain Training Centers of Florida we utilize Brain Wave Optimization to assist our clients with their sleep. After training their brains with us, most of our clients have improved their sleeping patterns which in turn has benefited the chemical balances of their b

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

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