New Study: Lunar cycle modulates human sleep and melatonin rhythms

Researcher Prof Christian Cajochen and colleagues from Basel University in Switzerland found evidence of a lunar influence in a study of 33 volunteers sleeping in tightly controlled laboratory conditions.

Published in the journal Current Biology the study “Evidence that the Lunar Cycle Influences Human Sleep” found that the volunteers fell asleep 5 minutes later, had 20 minutes less sleep, 30% less deep sleep.

Read Abstract Here

When the Moon was round, the volunteers took longer to nod off and had poorer quality sleep, despite being shut in a darkened room, Current Biology reports. They also had a dip in levels of a hormone called melatonin that is linked to natural-body clock cycles. When it is dark, the body makes more melatonin. And it produces less when it is light.

Lunar rhythms
The volunteers were unaware of the purpose of the study and could not see the Moon from their beds in the researchers’ sleep lab. They each spent two separate nights at the lab under close observation. Findings revealed that around the full Moon, brain activity related to deep sleep dropped by nearly a third. Melatonin levels also dipped. The volunteers also took five minutes longer to fall asleep and slept for 20 minutes less when there was a full Moon. Prof Cajochen said: “The lunar cycle seems to influence human sleep, even when one does not ‘see’ the Moon and is not aware of the actual moon phase.” Some people may be exquisitely sensitive to the Moon, say the researchers. Their study did not originally set out to investigate a lunar effect. The researchers had the idea of doing the lunar analysis years later, while chatting over a few drinks.

They went back to their old data and factored in whether or not there had been a full Moon on the nights the volunteers had slept in their lab. UK sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley said, nonetheless, the small study appeared to have significant findings. ”There is a such a strong cultural story around the full Moon that it would not be surprising if it has an effect. ”It’s one of these old myths that you would suspect has a germ of truth. ”It’s up to science now to find out what’s the cause of why we might sleep differently when there’s a full Moon.”

Source: Elsevier

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Ex NFL Dallas Cowboy Legend, Tony Dorsett joins up with the Pro Player Health Alliance

Officially launched today, two NFL legends, Tony Dorsett and Derek Kennard who have been heavily involved in the “Tackle Sleep Apnea” campaign, have their own personal pages within the Pro Player Health Alliance (PPHA) website where sleep apnea specific products can be ordered. One of which is the Snore Owl, that is a fix for snoring and temporary solution for minor sleep apnea. In addition, by visiting the PPHA website at, home sleep tests can be ordered upon request.

The campaign was brought to life by David Gergen, President of PPHA and Gergen’s Orthodontic Lab last year. Since then he has only gained momentum treating over 160 former professional athletes and educating over 1,000 people in communities throughout the country on the harmful effects of leaving it untreated by hosting free public events. David Gergen says, “I urge anyone, if possible, to come to these events. And if you don’t have an event in your area, visit the website and be proactive in educating yourself. Sleep apnea is real and the effects are real. Why let it go untreated?” In fact, there are talks of Pro Player Health Alliance holding an event in Denver in the coming months.

Tony Dorsett recently took part in a Pro Player Health Alliance commercial on sleep apnea as a way of showing his support. He has, along with Roy Green, Derek Kennard and Mark Walczak, mentioned how being treated for sleep apnea has changed his life. To hear their stories and watch the Tony Dorsett commercial, visit

About Pro Player Health Alliance

Pro Player Health Alliance (PPHA) is an organization dedicated to helping former NFL players and the public through providing testing and treatment options for those who suffer from sleep apnea. In addition, the PPHA is dedicated to integrating education and raising awareness, in a fun and memorable way. The PPHA was created by David Gergen

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Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Medical Advisory Board, and The American Academy of Craniofacial Pain Devise Best Approach for Truckers with Sleep Apnea!

A meeting was held on July 11, 2013 at The Department of Transportation in response to regulations under consideration by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Medical Advisory Board for truckers who suffer from sleep apnea and are treated by CPAP machines or surgery. The American Academy of Craniofacial Pain (AACP), led by Dr. Elliot Alpher, assembled a group to discuss the viability of a high-tech alternative of compliance chips in oral appliances and home sleep tests. Other attendees included: Marty Russo, Dr. Richard Klein, Dr. Richard Bonato, Mitch Livingston, David Gergen, Elaine Papp, Larry Minor, and Susan Chandler.

Oral Appliances Over CPAP Machines

AACP believes the oral appliances are a viable alternative to the CPAP machine and also reintroduced the concept of home testing. The new technology “DentiTrac” is a micro-recorder which can be used to indicate that truckers are wearing their sleep device in conjunction with home sleep testing. This is believed to be a much easier alternative and more superior to major surgery, or the CPAP machine.

Sleep Apnea as a Sleep Disorder

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing and often shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep. These issues are often attributed to weight and may lead to serious health concerns.  It is believed that the trucker lifestyle contributes to sleep apnea. The oral appliances would keep the tongue in place so the airway is kept open for easier breathing and better sleeping

Source: FMCSA

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Vanity Joins Comorbidity on the List of Sleep Consequences

The notion of “beauty sleep” has been around for a long time, but physician-scientists at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center have confirmed that sleep quality does, in fact, affect skin function and aging.

The recently completed study, commissioned by Estée Lauder, demonstrated that poor sleepers had increased signs of skin aging and slower recovery from a variety of environmental stressors, such as disruption of the skin barrier or ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Poor sleepers also had worse assessment of their own skin and facial appearance.

The research team led by Elma Baron, MD, presented their data this spring at the International Investigative Dermatology Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland in an abstract titled “Effects of Sleep Quality on Skin Aging and Function.”

Read Announcement from University Hospitals

“Our study is the first to conclusively demonstrate that inadequate sleep is correlated with reduced skin health and accelerates skin aging. Sleep deprived women show signs of premature skin aging and a decrease in their skin’s ability to recover after sun exposure,” said Baron, director of the Skin Study Center at UH Case Medical Center and Associate Professor of Dermatology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in a related wrapup article in Science Daily. “Insufficient sleep has become a worldwide epidemic. While chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and immune deficiency, its effects on skin function have previously been unknown.”

The researchers found statistically significant differences between good and poor quality sleepers. Using the SCINEXA skin aging scoring system, poor quality sleepers showed increased signs of intrinsic skin aging including fine lines, uneven pigmentation and slackening of skin and reduced elasticity.

Source: Science Daily


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“Unexpected Decline” for Natus Medical

Second quarter revenue at Natus Medical Incorporated took an “unexpected decline,” with the dip partially blamed on “weakness in international markets.” Revenue for the second quarter of 2013 is expected to be between $81 million and $82 million versus previous guidance of $86 million to $90 million.

“Weakness in our International markets, particularly Europe, led to an unexpected decline in revenue late in the second quarter,” said Jim Hawkins, president and CEO of the Company. “Domestic revenue was within our expectations.”

The report on BusinessWire confirms that Natus will update its third quarter and full year 2013 financial guidance during its second quarter financial results conference call on August 1, 2013. Natus has scheduled an investment-community conference call to discuss its financial results for the second quarter of 2013 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time (8:00 a.m. Pacific Time) Thursday, August 1, 2013.

Individuals interested in listening to the conference call may do so by dialing 1-866-515-2912 for domestic callers, or 1-617-399-5126 for international callers, and entering reservation code 33919640. A telephone replay will be available for 48 hours following the conclusion of the call by dialing 1-888-286-8010 for domestic callers, or 1-617-801-6888 for international callers, and entering reservation code 63402814.

The conference call also will be available real-time via the Internet at, and a recording of the call will be available on the Company’s Web site for 90 days following the completion of the call.

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CleveMed announces the release of IDcheck to verify the identity of patients during home sleep studies

CleveMed announces the release of IDcheck to verify the identity of patients during home sleep studies with Sleepview®. Home sleep testing with IDcheck meets the requirements of many department of transportation guidelines while providing patients with a lower cost alternative to fulfill required testing. The diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea is vital for preventing daytime sleepiness in drivers, which is a leading factor in auto accidents.

An estimated 40 million people in the US alone are affected by a sleep disorder, many of whom are undiagnosed. About 30 million Americans have undiagnosed Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea is the intermittent failure to breathe while you sleep. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common type of Apnea. In this form of the disease, the airway collapses, cutting off air flow to the lungs. As Obstructive Sleep Apnea progresses, it has a cumulative effect. This means that the longer the disease goes untreated, the greater the negative side effects and associated health risks. If sleep apnea remains untreated, other health conditions may emerge or current health problems may worsen, including: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

“IDcheck is worn discreetly under the patient’s shirt, allowing the patient to fully participate in activities during the day,” said Sarah Weimer, Director of sleep products, “this is important for patient acceptance and makes the home sleep test very convenient.”

Read full announcement

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Sleep Apnea and Sudden Cardiac Death

Add sudden cardiac death to the long list of possible sleep apnea consequences.

The study “Obstructive Sleep Apnea and the Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death: A Longitudinal Study of 10,701 Adults” published in the J Am Coll Cardiol 2013 was covered in a blog report from Michael J. Breus, PhD, summarizes the results of a large-scale study of more than 10,000 adults over a period of 15 years.

In addition to determining a “significantly increased” risk, the researchers found:

• Over the 15-year follow up period, 142 people experienced sudden cardiac arrest. In some cases this was fatal, while others were resuscitated.

• Researchers’ analysis found people with OSA were at significantly greater risk of sudden cardiac death.

• The three strongest predictors of risk for sudden cardiac death were: being 60 years or older, having low blood oxygen levels, and having at least 20 episodes of apnea per hour.

According to the abstract published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology:

In a population of 10,701 adults referred for polysomnography, OSA predicted incident SCD, and the magnitude of risk was predicted by multiple parameters characterizing OSA severity. Nocturnal hypoxemia, an important pathophysiological feature of OSA, strongly predicted SCD independently of well-established risk factors. These findings implicate OSA, a prevalent condition, as a novel risk factor for SCD.

Breus concludes that, “This study was the first one to establish a directly link between OSA and sudden cardiac death. The current research both confirms and also expands evidence of this connection.  Neither of these studies established a cause-and-effect relationship between sleep apnea and sudden cardiac death. But they do indicate a strong association between the two.”


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Fatigue Strategies Recommended for Canadian Physicians

Lengthy shifts for physicians in training have been a cultural norm in North America for decades. Viewed as almost a rite of passage, the caffeine-fueled marathons of the past have largely given way to strict limits on hours.

Just north of the border in Canada, however, The Globe and Mail reports that “sleepless shifts of up to 26 hours are routine for many of Canada’s 12,000 resident doctors.” A panel of medical experts calls the practice “unacceptable,” and plans to implement fatigue risk management strategies throughout the country.

According to The Globe, the report by the National Steering Committee on Resident Duty Hours, does not recommend limiting continuous shifts or the workweek to a specific number of hours—conditions that are in place in American and most European hospitals. Instead, the committee envisions implementing “fatigue risk-management” strategies in residency programs nationwide that would introduce measures, such as mandatory sleep breaks, to ensure residents are getting restorative shuteye.

“What we’re saying is that the status quo of residents working as much as 26 hours without sleep needs to change,” said Kevin Imrie, MD, physician-in-chief at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, and a co-chair of the committee. “There is a consensus that a one-size-fits-all, hard number [on work hours] is not the solution.”

Imrie expects the report to have a near-immediate impact on the grueling schedules of residents because its authors include representatives of the bodies that accredit residency programs, including the Royal College of Physicians, Surgeons of Canada, and the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

The Globe reports that the ruling followed proposals by the Institute of Medicine in the United States in 2008 to require naps and more structured shift changes to reduce the risk of fatigue-induced medical errors. Now, American residents are limited to 80-hour work weeks.

Source: The Globe and Mail

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Big Pharma (Merck) Gets Rejected by FDA

The financial stakes are high in the insomnia medication market, but officials at Merck & Co will have to revamp their latest offering to suit regulators. Health officials at the FDA rejected the latest insomnia drug application from the New Jersey-based giant, but reportedly opened the door to approving a lower-dose version of the medication.

A recent announcement confirmed that the FDA would consider a 10-mg starting dose of suvorexant for most patients. Merck, however, had maintained lower dosing, which had not been studied in clinical trials, was less effective and was pushing for agency approval of the higher doses.

Merck had proposed that elderly patients start by taking 15 mg of the drug and increase that to 30 if necessary, and had recommended that non-elderly adults start on 20 mg and increase to 40 mg if needed. In its letter, the FDA determined that doses of 30 mg and 40 mg were not safe for approval, Merck said last week.

ISI Group analyst Mark Schoenebaum forecasted annual suvorexant sales of $700 million by 2018, and estimated a modest impact to Merck from the delay.

Schoenebaum said the manufacturing study could lead to about a one-year delay in approval, especially if the FDA asks for long-term stability testing of the lower dose version.

Suvorexant belongs to a new class of insomnia medicines called orexin receptor antagonists and would be the first such medicine on the market if approved. It is designed to facilitate sleep by blocking neurotransmitters in the brain that help to keep a person awake.

Visit FDA website for letters and announcements


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Sleep-Related Regulations Hit Truckers

Regulations requiring truckers to be tested for sleep apnea have spread rapidly in recent years, and the movement toward highway safety took another turn last week. This time it’s an effort to keep drowsy drivers off the road—particularly those exceeding 70 hours a week.

The new rules mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) took effect July 1. The effort to reduce crashes limits the average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours to ensure adequate rest.

“Safety is our highest priority,” stated U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These rules make common sense, data-driven changes to reduce truck driver fatigue and improve safety for every traveler on our highways and roads.”

Trucking companies were given 18 months to adopt the new rules. Only the most extreme schedules will be impacted and 85% of the truck driving workforce will see no changes.

“These fatigue-fighting rules for truck drivers were carefully crafted based on years of scientific research and unprecedented stakeholder outreach,” FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said in a statement. “The result is a fair and balanced approach that will result in an estimated $280 million in savings from fewer large truck crashes and $470 million in savings from improved driver health. Most importantly, it will save lives.”

The new service hours affect drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that weigh 10,001 pounds or more, are involved in interstate or intrastate commerce to transport hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards, and some passenger carriers.

Source: Offical announcement from FMCSA

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