TOP STORY - SLEEP AIDS BRAIN DEVELOPMENT
April 25, 2001 - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sleep, whose need is not questioned but whose function is shrouded in mystery, performs a critical role in brain development in early life, scientists said on Wednesday.
Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco found sleep dramatically enhances changes in brain connections during a vital period of visual development in young cats.
They examined the effect of sleep on the brain after cats experienced an environmental challenge -- vision blocked in one eye for six hours. They found that cats allowed to sleep for six hours after the experience developed twice the amount of brain change as those kept awake during that period.
The study appeared in the journal Neuron.
"One of the aspects of the mystery is that young animals and human babies sleep a whole lot more than they do when they get older," Stryker (head of the university's department of physiology) said in an interview. "And this is precisely the time in life when the connections in the brain are being reorganized to attain the perfect precision that they have in normal adults."
The capacity for brain change -- growth and strengthening of connections between nerve cells -- is the basis of early development in the brain, the researchers said. The enhancement and refinement of neural circuitry continues to a lesser extent in the adult brain, they added.
The study represented strong evidence that one function of sleep is to help consolidate the effects of waking experience on cortical plasticity, putting memories into permanent storage, Stryker said. While the study examined sleep's effect on young cats, sleep may play a similar role in older animals and people, he added.
"There may be similar phenomena going on in other areas of the brain later in life," Stryker said. "I think it's likely to be true that other areas of the brain, higher areas of the brain, have their critical (developmental) periods later in life -- and some of them, in the highest areas, the critical periods never close until senility."
The study found the amount of plasticity in the brain depended on the amount of sleep known as non-rapid eye movement -- the deep, quiet sleep marked by large, slow brain waves. This type of sleep alternates with periods of rapid eye movement, or so-called "dream" sleep, which is marked by rapidly changing brain waves and bursts of eye movement.
(original article by reporter Will Dunham, Reuters press)
LAZINESS KEY TO OLD AGE
April 18, 2001 - MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - A German scientist is now prescribing aimless sloth as the antidote to professional stress and the secret to a long life.
"People who would rather laze in a hammock instead of running a marathon or who take a midday nap instead of playing squash have a better chance of living into old age," Professor Peter Axt, co-author of the newly published study "On the Joy of Laziness" (Vom Glueck der Faulheit), said on Wednesday.
Axt, who teaches at a college in Fulda, emphasized that moderate exercise like walking -- at least if taken at leisure and not snatched hectically from the working day -- and avoiding overeating were nonetheless healthy. But overdoing it was not.
"Research shows that people who run long distances into their 50s are using up energy they need for other purposes," said Axt, a health researcher whose previous publications include "Just Stay Young" and "Eat Yourself Slim."
"They suffer memory loss. They risk premature senility."
Committing heresy in a country where many consider waking after sun-up a sin, he also slammed early rising -- getting up too soon leaves people stressed for the whole the day, he said.
And keeping down stress was vital to good health, especially at work, added Axt, who writes with his physician daughter.
"Waste half your free time. Just enjoy lazing around."
SleepTilNoon.com finally shaping up
April 21, 2001 - Yes, it's official. After twiddling around for 6 months and being as lazy as humanly possible, the owner of www.sleeptilnoon.com, Chuck aka Hoenir, has finally started to put more than a half-assed effort into building this site. What has prevented this before you ask? It's a combination of several video games, television programs, a general lack of ambition, and a severe addiction to online chatting ;o).
Keep watching this space for further updates including cool links, lazy time fun, generally wacky articles by guest columnists, personal rants and raves, and other such hyperskitsch related to laziness.
- Chuck aka Hoenir
April 28, 2001 - Page updates - I have added pages for all of the areas linked via the navigation bar. Some links are up, one article has been posted, the other pages have begun development. Check back often for updates!
- Chuck aka Hoenir
April 28, 2001 - NEW STAFF
We wish to welcome Jeffy to the SleepTilNoon staff. His details are added to the staff page and his first opinion piece is posted.