Sleep and Dreams // Category

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17 Aug

The Guardian reports that for almost a century, between the 1850s and 1950s, separate beds were seen as a healthier, more modern option for couples than the double, with Victorian doctors warning that sharing a bed would allow the weaker sleeper to drain the vitality of the stronger.

Delving through marriage guidance and medical advice books, furniture catalogues and novels, Lancaster University professor Hilary Hinds found that twin beds were initially adopted in the late 19th century as a health precaution.

In her new book, A Cultural History of Twin Beds, Hinds details how doctors warned of the dire consequences of bed-sharing. In 1861, doctor, minister and health campaigner William Whitty Hall’s book Sleep: Or the Hygiene of the Night, advised that each sleeper “should have a single bed in a large, clean, light room, so as to pass all the hours of sleep in a pure fresh air, and that those who fail in this, will in the end fail in health and strength of limb and brain, and will die while yet their days are not all told.”

Hinds did not set out to write about beds: she was researching interwar fiction written by women, and kept seeing references to separate beds. “I assumed they signified what they signify now, some kind of marital distance or sexual dysfunction,” she said.

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16 Aug

TODAY Home spoke with Dr. W. Christopher Winter, a leading sleep expert and author of “The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How To Fix It” to find out why some people like top sheets and others hate them.

Dr. Winter believes that “our bedding plays a huge role in how we feel during our sleep.” Whether that is the material, the moisture-wicking properties or the way the bedding is positioned, it can be the difference between a good night’s sleep and a restless one.

“The only thing you can say relatively definitively is that we sleep better in a cool environment,” Winter said. He added that “if two partners are fighting because one likes it hot in the bedroom and one likes it cold, I’m going to have to side with the person who wants it cold.”

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16 Aug

How you fall asleep at night may correlate with how outgoing you are, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Leesa Sleep, examined the sleeping positions and personality traits of 2,000 Americans and found nearly half of Americans polled prefer to sleep on their sides.

There may be something to that preference, as side sleepers also get the most amount of sleep a night — at six hours on average. Side sleepers, however, take the most amount of time to fall asleep (24 minutes).

Side sleepers are also most likely to identify as night owls (33%) and extroverts (28%). Being a night owl may also be related to side sleepers’ movie genre preferences; four in 10 side sleepers reach for a horror movie.

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16 Aug

A mother has warned other parents about the dangers of co-sleeping after her two-month-old son, Hugo Loughlin, died while sharing a bed with her and Hugo’s father.

Hugo’s mother, Stacey Costello, had taken him out of his cot for a feed on an unsettled night last August.

Afterwards, she placed him on top of a pillow in between herself and Hugo’s father, Matthew. She drifted off, but woke to found her son unconscious hours later.

Now, his mother wants to issue a stark warning about the dangers of co-sleeping. “I can’t stress enough that parents should never co-sleep with their babies, no matter what the circumstances. It’s not worth the pain and heartache we feel every day we have to live without our beautiful special son.”

Giving evidence at the inquest, consultant pediatrician, Melanie Newbould, said: “This kind of death has a lot in common with sudden unexpected deaths in infancy, which can be related to unsafe sleeping, such as co-sleeping with an adult, and we know Hugo was doing that at the time he died.”

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16 Aug

When New Jersey surveyed schools with standard start times two years ago, 91% said they were not considering any change, reports the North Jersey Record.

Under the new law, five high schools would push start times to 8:30 a.m. or later and participate in an assessment of health, academic and safety benefits, as well as negative effects on school districts and families. The program would last four years.

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16 Aug

NASA has developed an eye movement test to detect acute sleep deprivation in people, reports The Week.

The study, published in The Journal of Physiology, shows that a range of eye-movement tests provide a reliable biomarker of individual acute sleep loss.

The research, conducted at NASA’s Ames Research Center in the US, found that a set of easily-obtainable eye-movement measures could be used to provide a sensitive and reliable tool to detect small neural deficits.

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15 Aug

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) just published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on changes to hours of service (HOS) rules to increase safety on America’s roadways by updating existing regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.

“This proposed rule seeks to enhance safety by giving America’s commercial drivers more flexibility while maintaining the safety limits on driving time,” says US Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, in a release.

FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez, says, “FMCSA wants drivers and all CMV stakeholders to share their thoughts and opinions on the proposed changes to hours of service rules that we are putting forward today. We listened directly to the concerns of drivers for rules that are safer and have more flexibility—and we have acted. We encourage everyone to review and comment on this proposal.”

First adopted in 1937, FMCSA’s hours of service rules specify the permitted operating hours of commercial drivers. In 2018, FMCSA authored an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to receive public comment on portions of the hours of service rules to alleviate unnecessary burdens placed on drivers while maintaining safety on our Nation’s highways and roads. In response, the Agency received more than 5,200 public comments.

Based on the detailed public comments, FMCSA’s proposed rule on hours of service offers 5 key revisions to the existing HOS rules:

  • The agency proposes to increase safety and flexibility for the 30 minute break rule by tying the break requirement to 8 hours of driving time without an interruption for at least 30 minutes, and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on duty, not driving status, rather than off duty.
  • The agency proposes to modify the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: one period of at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than 2 consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window.
  • The agency proposes to allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than 3 hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.
  • The agency proposes to modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by 2 hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
  • The agency proposes a change to the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

FMCSA states that the proposed rule would not increase driving time and would continue to prevent CMV operators from driving for more than 8 consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute change in duty status.

FMCSA’s proposed rule on hours of service regulations is estimated to provide $274 million in savings for the US economy and American consumers.

The public comment period will be open for 45 days. The Federal Register Notice, including how to submit comments, is available online. Leave your comments now.

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15 Aug

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved WAKIX (pitolisant) by Harmony Biosciences LLC for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) in adult patients with narcolepsy. WAKIX is the first and only treatment approved for patients with narcolepsy that is not scheduled as a controlled substance by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

“We are extremely proud to bring WAKIX to market for those living with narcolepsy, a chronic, debilitating, rare neurologic disorder,” says Harmony’s chairman and CEO, John C. Jacobs, in a release. “At Harmony, we share a vision to develop novel treatment options for people living with rare diseases, with a focus on those that affect the central nervous system. The approval of WAKIX strengthens our commitment to making that vision a reality.”

WAKIX, a first-in-class medication, is a selective histamine 3 (H) receptor antagonist/inverse agonist that works through a novel mechanism of action to increase the synthesis and release of histamine, a wake-promoting neurotransmitter in the brain. WAKIX is administered orally once daily in the morning upon wakening.

“The approval of WAKIX provides healthcare professionals managing people living with narcolepsy a new and important treatment option for their patients,” says Harmony’s chief medical officer, Jeffrey Dayno, MD. “Additionally, WAKIX is the only non-scheduled treatment option approved for adult patients with narcolepsy, and it offers an important benefit/risk profile to address the unmet medical need that exists in people living with narcolepsy.”

The efficacy of WAKIX for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness in adult patients with narcolepsy was evaluated in two multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies (HARMONY 1 and HARMONY 1bis). These studies included a total of 261 patients who were randomized to receive WAKIX, placebo, or active control; these patients had a median age of 37 (HARMONY 1) and 40 (HARMONY 1bis). Treatment duration was eight weeks, with a three-week dose titration phase followed by a 5-week stable dose phase; 75% to 80% of the patients in these studies had a history of cataplexy. In both of these studies, WAKIX demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in EDS as measured by the Epworth Sleepiness Scale score. In the placebo-controlled trials conducted in patients with narcolepsy with or without cataplexy, the most common adverse reactions (occurring in ≥5% of patients and at twice the rate of placebo) with the use of WAKIX were insomnia (6%), nausea (6%), and anxiety (5%).

WAKIX will be commercially available to healthcare professionals and appropriate patients in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2019.

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15 Aug

A team of sleep professionals and colleagues from Stony Brook University share results from their drowsy driving prevention website and social media campaign.

Drowsiness impairs driving abilities and is a real danger and a public health concern. Drowsiness is linked with reduced reaction time, attentiveness, and decision-making skills, even if a driver manages to stay awake.1 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 91,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year—with nearly 800 deaths and 50,000 injuries.2 In New York state, drowsy driving contributed to 4,520 crashes, 25 fatalities, and 2,175 injuries in 2014.3

The incidence of drowsy driving is difficult to measure and there is agreement that it is both underreported and underestimated. Contributing factors to inconsistencies include lack of physical evidence, limited protocols, insufficient data collection, and not enough training for law enforcement.4 United States government statistics report that between 1-2% of all motor vehicle crashes are attributed to drowsiness.2 However, recent research using in-vehicle dash cams found the scope of the issue to be significantly higher. A large study using a percent time of eye closure measure to assess drowsiness found that about 10% of crashes involved drowsiness.5

Certain populations at high risk of driving drowsy include drivers under the age of 25 years; people with undiagnosed sleep disorders; shift workers; commercial drivers (such as truck and bus drivers); and people who are sleep deprived, such as new parents or caregivers of infants and young children.6 According to Amy Stracke, managing director of traffic safety advocacy for the American Automobile Association, “over one-fifth of all fatal crashes involve driver drowsiness and just missing two hours of sleep can quadruple a driver’s crash risk.”7

Faculty affiliated with Stony Brook University’s School of Health Technology and Management (SHTM) with backgrounds in sleep diagnostics, respiratory care, social work, and public health recognized that drowsy driving was particularly problematic in the local area and throughout New York and that public awareness about the danger was limited. To address the issue of drowsy driving, the authors of this article partnered with the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) to develop an interactive and educational website,, and launched a prevention of drowsy driving social media campaign.

The campaign strategies included using social media platforms to drive users to the website, where they are prompted to take a sleepiness quiz to learn their individualized sleep score and discover their likelihood of falling asleep in low stimulus environments. The team integrated the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, a validated tool utilized in most sleep centers, as a standard to measure subjective sleepiness.8 After receiving their results, the site provides feedback that helps the user connect their sleep score to their risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. also promotes strategies to suggest positive changes to sleep habits in an effort to reduce the risk of drowsy driving. Educational content includes myths and facts about drowsy driving, at-risk populations, tips for better sleep, and strategies for prevention of falling asleep while driving.

The project culminated with an intense social media campaign launched in November 2017 through Facebook and Twitter in conjunction with Drowsy Driving Awareness month and supported by funding from the Governors Highway Safety Association and the National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF). The campaign was featured in November 2017 on, the website for trade media outlet Sleep Review.9

According to performance metrics, Facebook posts associated with the social media campaign reached 17,041 people throughout the United States, with the majority being from New York. The website,, was accessed by over 2,333 people throughout all four weeks of the campaign. Users came from 30 states, including numerous states on the east coast. Five hundred eighty-four people (25.1%) used the website quiz to assess their sleepiness and learn their risk of falling asleep at the wheel. The team was quite surprised at the user profile demographics. Of those who took the quiz, the majority (59%) were over 55 years old. About one-quarter of these users had moderate to severe sleepiness scores and approximately 35% reported moderate to high levels of sleepiness while watching TV, sitting and reading, and as a passenger in a car for an hour without a break.

The collaboration between Stony Brook University’s SHTM and GTSC has offered a unique approach to ongoing efforts at addressing drowsy driving. The website and subsequent prevention of drowsy driving social media campaign were effective in raising awareness about the dangers of drowsy driving, both locally and nationally, and targeting a high risk population of drivers. The Prevention of Drowsy Driving team members were invited to present their project development and outcome measures to the NRSF during a webinar aimed at encouraging other states to develop and promote strategies at addressing this important public health issue.

Future programs should be focused on targeting other high-risk groups, including males, truck drivers, shift workers, and younger drivers. Additional funding could be used for improved marketing and utilization of platforms, such as Snapchat and Instagram, that are especially relevant to high risk groups like young adults. A greater collaboration with state agencies, such as law enforcement, schools, hospital organizations, and the trucking industry could be particularly useful to expand the reach of the social media campaign and have a greater impact on the public health issue of drowsy driving. The Prevention of Drowsy Driving team seeks to continue to change cultural norms on sleep deprivation by engagement and education on the need for adequate and restorative sleep as we link drowsy driving to the 4 D’s of driving impairment: drunk, drugged, distracted, and drowsy.

Prevention of Drowsy Driving team members include Lisa M. Endee, MPH, RRT-SDS, RPSGT, RST (PI), Erik Flynn, MS, Pamela Linden, PhD, Anna Lubitz, MPH, MBA, Russell Rozensky, MS, RRT-SDS, CPFT, RPSGT, Stephen G. Smith, MPA, RT, RRT. The authors would also like to thank Chris Pervelis and Sonia Bellem from CGP Creative for their expertise and services in creation of the website.


This project was supported by funding from the Governors Highway Safety Association and the National Road Safety Foundation.


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drowsy Driving — 19 States and the District of Columbia, 2009–2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). 2013 January 4;61(51 & 52): 1033-7.

2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drowsy Driving (2017 statistics). Available at

3. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. Summary of Motor Vehicle Crashes: 2014 Statewide Statistical Summary. Available at

4. Governors Highway Safety Association (2016). Wake Up Call! Understanding Drowsy Driving and What States Can Do. Available at

5. Owens JM, Dingus TA, Guo F, et al. Prevalence of drowsy driving crashes: Estimates from a large-scale naturalistic driving study. 8 Feb 2018. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Available at

6. National Sleep Foundation. Drowsy driving: Who’s at risk? Accessed at

7. Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. You snooze, you lose, Florida! Don’t drive drowsy. 2017 Aug 31. Available at

8. Johns MW. A new method for measuring daytime sleepiness: the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. Sleep. 1991 Dec;14(6):540-5.

9. Stony Brook University launches Sleep Review. 8 Nov 2017. Accessed at

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15 Aug

“Extreme larks” get up naturally when some people have hardly gone to bed, reports The Atlantic.

There are some limits to this study. Since Ptáček and Jones ran their study at a sleep clinic, most of the patients had sleep apnea. Ptáček said he found that the presence or absence of sleep apnea does not affect whether someone will be a lark or a night owl, but Abbott and other experts I asked were not so sure that the data are perfectly generalizable to the general population.

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