It’s a well-known fact that sleep is of utmost importance to health. Specifically, it’s been shown that a lack of high-quality sleep negatively impacts our resilience, productivity and performance. Furthermore, long-term chronic sleep deprivation is linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Now, new research suggests that irregular sleeping patterns may contribute to the risk of cardiovascular problems. The study was carried out by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, who analysed data from 1,992 patients in their 60s and 70s with no cardiovascular problems at baseline. They found that those who had the most irregular sleep patterns (defined as 2 hours or more difference in sleep duration each night) had a twofold plus increased risk of cardiovascular disease than patients with one hour or less difference in sleep duration. Importantly, even after adjusting for other risk factors, patients with irregular sleep patterns remained at significant risk of cardiovascular events. Publishing their findings in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the researchers said: “Our study indicates that healthy sleep isn’t just about quantity but also about variability and that this can have an important effect on heart health.” Do you get enough sleep each night? Is your sleeping pattern pretty irregular? If not, you could be increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Remember, getting enough high-quality sleep is extremely important and beneficial to your health.
Babies who are fed solid food in addition to breast milk from the age of three months sleep better than those who are solely breastfed, a new study has revealed. Publishing their findings in JAMA Pediatrics, the authors of the study noted the following: “The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. However, 75% of British mothers introduce solids before 5 months and 26% report infant waking at night as influencing this decision.” Experts say women should still heed WHO’s advice, but that the guidelines are currently under review. For the study, the researchers from King's College London, and St George's, University of London, split 1,303 three-month-old infant into two groups: one that was solely breastfed and one that also had solid foods incorporated from the age of three months. The babies’ parents were then surveyed to see if the addition of solid foods had made a difference to the sleep patterns of the infants and the mothers’ quality of life. The parents of the babies who were given solid foods from three months reported that their children slept longer, woke less frequently and had far fewer serious sleep problems. Prof Gideon Lack from King's College, London, said: "The results of this research support the widely held parental view that early introduction of solids improves sleep. "While the official guidance is that starting solid foods won't make babies more likely to sleep through the night, this study suggests that this advice needs to be re-examined in light of the evidence we have gathered." [Related reading: Bottle feeding is a woman’s right, midwives advised]
Toddlers who regularly use touchscreen devices, such as smartphones and tablets, don't sleep as well as their counterparts who don't, according to new research. The study in Scientific Reports shows that every hour a toddler spends playing with a touchscreen device each day shortens their sleep by almost 16 minutes. Conducted by Birkbeck, University of London and King’s College London, the study questioned 715 parents, with kids under three years old, about their children's touchscreen device usage and sleep patterns. It found that 75% of toddlers used a touchscreen device on a daily basis and slept for nearly 16 minutes less for every hour of use as a result. While the study isn't definitive, it does suggest that playing with touchscreen devices could be linked with possible sleep problems. However, the study also found that toddlers who play with smartphones and tablets have accelerated development of their fine motor skills. Speaking about the findings of the study, Dr Tim Smith, one of the researchers involved told the BBC: "It isn't a massive amount when you're sleeping 10-12 hours a day in total, but every minute matters in young development because of the benefits of sleep." His advice is not to ban toddlers from playing with touchscreen devices altogether, but to limit the amount of time they spend on them instead - the same as a lot of parents do with time spent in front of the TV.