Study: Infants should sleep in own room, not with parents

A new study is encouraging parents of babies to put them to sleep in their own room, finding they sleep on average of 40 minutes more a night by nine months of age than their counterparts sharing a room with at least one parent.

American Academy of Pediatrics surveyed 30 first-time mothers at Penn State to come to the conclusion.

“We know from prior research that babies experience brief awakenings overnight regardless of where they sleep,” said lead study author Dr. Ian Paul, chief of academic general pediatrics at Pennsylvania State College of Medicine in Hershey.

The findings could be a controversial, though. They fly in the face of latest guidance of the very group doing the study which recommended parents share a room — but not a bed — with their infants for at least the first six months.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons/J.K. Califf.

“Our research suggests that parents respond to these brief awakenings, which interrupts both parent and child sleep when they are room-sharing, but not as much when the baby is sleeping in a separate room,” Paul told Reuters.

“This could set up a cycle where parents respond to the infant and then the infant grows to expect a parent response in order to get back to sleep.”

The guidelines to keep baby closer were meant to lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, which may occur while an infant is sleeping.

But the practice of having babies sleep in their own room might actually be safer. Infants were more than twice as likely to have unsafe objects around them like blankets or pillows that increase the risk of sleep-related deaths, the study found.

 To read the whole Reuters story click here.

Sleepy? Eyeless Mexican cave fish subject of research into Zzzs

Stop yawning and listen up.

Neuroscientists at Florida Atlantic University are studying an eyeless Mexican cave fish to understand how brains could evolve to require very little sleep just like this little creatures.

Think about how much stuff humans could get done if no sleep was ever required?

The researchers from the Boca Raton-based university just published in the Journal of Experimental Biology a study that provides a model for understanding how the brain’s sensory systems modulate sleep.

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Sleep is for suckers. So says the Mexican cave fish, seen here at an aquarium at Florida Atlantic University where researchers hope to learn from them how humans can evolve to need less shut-eye.

“Animals have dramatic differences in sleep with some sleeping as much as 20 hours and others as little as two hours and no one knows why these dramatic differences in sleep exist,” said Alex C. Keene, who helped write the study coming out of FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.

Living in a cave is no picnic, so the cave fish has evolved robust differences in how it feeds. They have evolved to sleep less while gaining enhance sensory systems. Researchers say this suggest that sleep loss is evolutionary and associated with the environmental and metabolic changes.

The cave fish is like Charles Darwin’s Galapagos finches. There are more than 29 different populations and all have evolved individually.

“We were surprised to find that there are multiple independent mechanisms regulating sleep loss in different cave populations,” said James Jaggard, a graduate student at FAU working with Keene.

He said their research shows there appears to many different ways to evolve a brain that sleeps less. “We are going to search to identify these mechanisms,” Jaggard said.

For the study, the researchers recorded the cavefish under infrared light set up in individual tanks. Check the little guys out on this livestream by clicking here.