How is the day AFTER the time change treating you?

I hope you got my tips and adapting well. If not check out this Daylight Savings blog post for more details.

I was at the National Sleep Foundations Inaugural Sleep Show, in Houston Texas this week, it was fantastic! We had thousands of consumers at the show, and dozens of vendors showing the latest in sleep-related technology. Here are two products I thought were particularly innovative and a little weird.

SNOO: This is a smart bassinet which allows a new parent to zip up their newborn into a safe starting sleep position – on their back, swaddled. Then when you turn it on, it will gently rock the child in a motion that is similar to what the child would experience inside the womb. Next Womb sounds surround the child. Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby On The Block, has collected some data on the effectiveness of the device. It turns out that kids sleeping in the SNOO fall asleep faster and seem to stay asleep longer between awakenings. It’s a hefty $1200 but they do offer a rental program, at $5 a day with a 30-day minimum. Since it is only for kids 0-6 months this could be a very economical way for you and your child to get better sleep if say your child is having issues in month three or something like that.

Sleep Robot: This was just weird, but in the end I kind of liked it. It looks like a giant jelly bean, but you cradle it in your arms like a baby and when you put your hand on it, the device will mimic your breathing. Then over time, it slows the breathing a signal to slow your breathing, which in turn will lower heart rate, and help you enter into sleep. It’s also a bit pricey at $599. But as the tech gets more accessible I would image the price will go down.


Also, this week I am introducing a new feature, the Question of the week! Feel free to write in your questions and I will try to answer one each week for everyone.


This week’s question: What do sexual dreams mean?

As I have written before, there is no dream dictionary out there where we can correctly interpret our dreams.

While there have been many people who have studied dream content, one of the most famous is Sigmund Freud. The result of his work is the book On Dreams. Recently, more research is being aimed at understanding the process of dreaming, and how it affects our waking lives (e.g., the consolidation of memory, learning, etc.). With that understanding, here are the basics of dream meaning:

  • The dreamer is the best person to know what a dream “means.” This is because they may best understand the context or theme of the dream in relation to something going on in their waking life.
  • Sexual dream content is often based on recent sexual activity. If you are intimate before sleep, then you may be thinking about sex as you fall asleep which may make it appear in your dreams.
  • Sexual activity with someone other than your partner in your dream is NORMAL. This does not appear to mean anything about your relationship.
  • Some people will reach orgasm during a dream (usually teenagers when they hit puberty) which also turns out to be a normal occurrence.

Sleep Research that may impact YOU:

In a new research finding to be presented at The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 2019, researchers have started to answer the question: How is sleep apnea linked to Alzheimer’s disease?

Looking at the sleep apnea population there is data to suggest that those with apnea are at an increased risk for cognitive impairment and dementia. These data are a few years old and I have written about Alzheimer’s and sleep before which you’ll find here. What’s new and fascinating about the research reported in Medical News Today is that researchers found those with sleep apnea actually have an accumulation of a specific protein associated with Alzheimer’s called tau.

Tau is a particular protein that when accumulated in the brain appears to wrap around the neurons, and literally strangle them, which can lead to symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

In the next study, you will learn how sleep helps remove this waste through something called the glymphatic system. In this new study specifically, participants with sleep apnea were found to have on average to have:

“ 4.5% higher levels of tau in this region of the brain after controlling for age, sex, years of education, body mass index, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, reduced sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, and global amyloid.”

What’s hard to determine is if the undiagnosed Sleep Apnea leads to an accumulation of Tau, or if an accumulation of Tau affects the respiratory centers and causes sleep apnea. Either way, getting your sleep apnea treated, immediately is a good idea. If you are wondering about what a sleep study is, and if you might need one check out my blog post that explains what a sleep study is and how to know if you might need one.

In a related piece of research, there is a new study, which appears in the journal Science Advances, indicating that:

“the slow and steady brain and cardiopulmonary activity associated with deep non-REM sleep (that’s slow wave or stage 3 and 4 sleep) are optimal for the function of the glymphatic system, the brain’s unique process of removing waste. Back in 2012 researchers discovered a system of plumbing which piggybacks on blood vessels and pumps cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) through brain tissue to wash away waste. A subsequent study showed that this system primarily works while we sleep.”

Because the accumulation of toxic proteins such as beta amyloid and tau in the brain are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, researchers have speculated that impairment of the glymphatic system due to disrupted sleep could be a driver of the disease.

Not only that, but this study also looks at animal brains after anesthesia and discovered that there was less clearance of the anesthesia when they used one that reduced slow wave sleep! Cognitive impairment post-surgery is a HUGE issue, and this could help us all understand how this works better and what to avoid.

The research becomes more and more clear, sleep is a core component of a healthy lifespan. If you aren’t getting quality sleep you must focus on doing what it takes to get enough restorative sleep each night. If you don’t find that you can get better sleep on your own, see a sleep specialist and get the help you need to get the sleep your body requires.

Here are a few places I was interviewed that you may find interesting:

Wishing you Sweet Dreams!

Dr. Breus