Thoracic and Sleep Group Queensland People caring for how you breathe and sleep

June 30, 2017

Pollution keeping you up a night?

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , , , — Erika Mateus @ 6:46 am

While most of Australia has nice, clean air, Smog hanging over major cities can still be a problem. People can experience health impacts from polluted air including respiratory irritation and/or breathing difficulties. The risk of adverse effects depends on their present health status, the pollutant type and concentration, and the length of their exposure to the polluted air. Some of the associated diseases caused by this air contamination are stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma.

Nowadays, it has been discovered that this environmental issue may also have a big impact in individual’s sleep quality.

Research presented at the ATS 2017 International Conference has found that there is a relationship between sleep fragmentation and long-term exposure to derived traffic-related air pollution. The researchers analysed data from 1,863 participants (average age 68) in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) who also enrolled in both MESA’s Sleep and Air Pollution studies. The researchers looked at two of the most common air pollutants: NO2 (traffic-related pollutant gas) and PM2.5, or fine-particle pollution. Using air pollution measurements, the research team was able to estimate air pollution exposures at each participant’s home at two time points:  one year and five years.

The sleep patterns were measured using wrist actigraphy over seven consecutive days and the researchers found that the sleep efficiency of the worst 25 percent of participants was 88 percent or less. The research team studied if pollution exposures differed among those in this low sleep efficiency group. This population was divided into “fourths” according to levels of pollution. The quarter of those who experienced the highest levels of pollution was compared to the quarter with the lowest levels.

The study found:

  • The group with the highest levels of NO2 over five years had an almost 60 percent increased likelihood of having low sleep efficiency compared to those with the lowest NO2
  • The group with the highest exposures to small particulates (PM5) had a nearly 50 percent increased likelihood of having low sleep efficiency.

The air contamination that we are suffering involves every area of our existence, including the effect on the quality of our sleep and subsequent general well-being.  However, in our society sleep is considered as a luxury rather than a necessity. We have no problem spending long hours at work and then adding other activities on top of it, a poor choice, especially when the quality of our sleep is being reduced. Perhaps it should become another reason for us to think what can be done to address this. The participation of nations, governments, industries, companies, and individuals may be the principal action leading incentives to pollute less and then to sleep well.


Insomnia treatment… A position statement from the ASA.

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , , , — Phil Teuwen @ 4:35 am

Insomnia can be both chronic and acute. Insomnia is thought to be the most common sleep disorder, with most of us experiencing acute insomnia at some point in our lives (exams, crisis, jet lag etc). However for those of us with chronic insomnia, treatment options can vary widely. The Australasian Sleep Association (ASA) has published a position statement regarding the use of psychological/behavioural treatments to manage this chronic condition.


  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) as a first line treatment in the management of Insomnia.
  • there is emerging evidence for the use of Mindfulness Based Therapy for Insomnia when used in combination with behavioural techniques (MBT-I)
  • Medications should be limited to the lowest necessary dose and shortest necessary duration.

Original article can be found here:

June 28, 2017

Drink coffee or sleep in?

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , — Trent Segal @ 6:56 am

Caffeine is the world’s most widely used psychoactive stimulant, a natural drug occurring in tea, coffee and chocolate.   It works to promote wakefulness by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain.  The adenosine receptors when activated normally act to slow down neural transmissions and promote sleep, thus blocking their action has the opposite effect and prevents sleep.  There is a wide variety of new caffeine containing products available these days but are they safe for everyone and what are your kids getting their hands on?

Children aged 2-19 have steadily increased their consumption from the 70s through the 90s with a similar decrease in dairy and increase in soda.  Since the 90s the rise of the energy drink has taken on some with very high caffeine contents.

Maximum safe intake levels appears to be around 400mg / day in healthy adults, 100mg/day in adolescents and 2.5mg/kg/day in children (less than 12 years old).  One standard sized can of energy drink provides 77mg of caffeine.   The safe levels are much lower for people with cardio vascular issues or pregnant women.  Certain energy drinks have been measured with up to 500mg of caffeine which is higher than the adult safe intake let alone an adolescent.

A recent study on 309 children ages 8-12 years showed 41% drink tea or coffee and 40 % drink caffeinated sodas making up an average intake of 10.2+- 17.4 mg/day.  Caffeine consumption was significantly associated with sleep routine, morning tiredness, restless sleep and internalising behavioural problems.  Although the overall intake was low compared to normal adult consumption, there was an effect on sleep problems and related behaviour.

Remember that caffeine is a drug even if it is sold on every street corner of the city.  Recommendations are to not consume caffeine 6 hrs prior to going to bed.  If you have trouble sleeping or getting the jitters after too many cups of coffee, consider curbing your intake and sleep in for the extra rest.

The full review can be read at

June 26, 2017

June 19, 2017

Have you watched yourself snore?? It may help…

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — Phil Teuwen @ 7:40 am

Have you been told that you snore or stop breathing in your sleep? Have you been shown that you do this? If you have watched a video of yourself snoring or stopping breathing in your sleep, that video may actually be a helpful tool for you.

Aloia et al. from the National Jewish Heath in Denver recently released some preliminary findings at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. They are currently performing a randomised controlled trial. The trial consists of patients with an average age of 50 years old,  who have recently been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). These patients were split into three groups:

  • Those that watched a video of themselves snoring and gasping for air
  • Those that watched a video of others snoring and gasping for air
  • Those who watched no video

All patients received routine CPAP education.

What they found was that those that watched video of themselves used CPAP for a mean of 6.5hrs per night, those that watched someone else used it for 4.1hrs and those who didn’t watch anyone had 3.5 hrs of usage per night. This usage was measured over the first 90 days of therapy.

These findings are quite interesting, and in future (with more data) video may become an important tool in CPAP education.


View the original article here:

June 13, 2017

A road side test for a tired brain? Not yet…

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , , , — Phil Teuwen @ 3:24 am

Measuring fatigue is an interesting topic, and an important one. With fatigue and drowsiness shown to reduce reflexes, our ability to concentrate and increases road accidents; it is no surprise that measuring this is of interest. This author recently wrote of a prototype road side fatigue test that involves a driving simulator and various sensors (measuring eye blinks, eye movements and ability to maintain concentration).

You can read that article here:

There are other methods currently being developed to assess sleepiness, and while not specifically for road side testing, perhaps this may one day be a possible application for these methods. Recently Jawinski et al. published a paper in the Journal of Sleep that looks to assess the relationship between VIGALL, a form of computerised brain wave (EEG) analysis and a common subjective sleepiness tool, the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). What they found was that the VIGALL-ESS association approximates the ESS-MSLT results. The MSLT is an objective sleep study that measures the ability of a person to fall asleep throughout the day and is the gold standard assessment of sleepiness. The authors suggest VIGALL could be used to assess the daytime sleepiness of large populations but are not yet confident VIGALL can identify actual disorders of excessive sleepiness.

While we are a long way from road side brain activity testing, VIGALL is an interesting if not yet well proven system for objectively assessing sleepiness.

Original article can be found here:

June 9, 2017

Suicide and Sleep in Veterans

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 5:13 am

Past research has shown when people lose hope that they will ever get another good night’s sleep they become at high risk for suicide. Furthermore, insomnia and nightmares, which are often confused and may go hand-in-hand, are known risk factors for suicide. Returned serviceman often report sleep disturbances and when combined with other risk factors, such as PTSD and mood disorders, the risk of suicide is significantly increased.

Much of the previous research into the correlation between sleep and suicide has been centred on insomnia, however, recent research is investigating the link between Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and suicide among veterans. The research, presented at the 31st Annual meeting of  the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS):SLEEP 2017, adjusted findings for comorbidities such as depression, anxiety and PTSD and showed that OSA remains an independent variable in the ideation, planning and committal of suicide in veterans.

To hear Dr Kathleen Sarmiento, MD, Pulmonary Sleep Physician and VA San Diego Healthcare System, discus the research and more about sleep and veteran health click on the link below:

June 7, 2017

Before you post your pic on Tinder… think twice and get some sleep!

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , , , — Erika Mateus @ 6:25 am

One article published last month in Royal Society Open Science evaluated “the negative effects of restricted sleep on facial appearance and social appeal” and they found that lack of sleep can make people appear less attractive to others, as well as to less healthy.

The aim of this study was to investigate whether a more naturalistic sleep restriction—4 h in bed for two nights—is enough to affect how one is perceived, specifically regarding attractiveness, perceived health and sleepiness of someone’s face. The authors wanted to know whether a decreased willingness to socialise with sleepy people might be based on their being less attractive and looking less healthy, or possibly less trustworthy.

Twenty-five university students were asked to get a good night’s sleep for two nights in a row. Following this, they were photographed by the researchers. A week later, they were asked to restrict themselves to a small four hours of sleep for two nights in a row. Once again they were photographed. Fifty facial photos were analysed (two of each subject, one from each condition) showing the two sets of photographs to 122 strangers, asking them a range of questions regarding (How much would you like to socialize with this person? Not at all –Very much), trustworthiness (How trustworthy is this person? Very untrustworthy–Very trustworthy), attractiveness (How attractive is this person? Very unattractive–Very attractive). Health (How is this person’s health? Very poor–Very good) and sleepiness (How sleepy is this person? Very sleepy–Extremely alert).

The results showed that people were less inclined to socialise with individuals who had not had insufficient sleep. Additionally, when sleep-restricted, participants were perceived as less attractive, less healthy and more sleepy. There was no difference in perceived trustworthiness. The researchers said that the findings suggest that naturalistic sleep loss can be detected in a face and that people are less inclined to interact with a sleep-deprived individual.

Many things have been said about the benefits that a good night’s sleep brings to people’s lives. The benefits are seen in our heart, brain, weight, mind, and sense of humour. Humans are social creatures by nature and value how they are perceived by their peers, therefore, this article can serve as a valuable reminder that in the era of selfies a good night’s sleep is essential to show the world how healthy, active and fantastically attractive we are!







June 2, 2017

Secrecy, poor sleep and asthma in adolescents

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , — Erika Mateus @ 4:15 am

It is undeniable that parenting is not an easy labour and during adolescence it may be really hard keeping an effective relationship with teenagers.  However, it is necessary to establish a good parent-child relationship because it can lead to beneficial health outcomes during late childhood and adolescence.

In one article published in the Journal of Phychosomatic Research, the authors evaluated how keeping secrets are associated with more severe asthma symptoms and lower ratings of sleep quality in adolescents. L. Immami, et al.  argue that among older children and young, keeping secrets from parents is consistently associated with lower levels of psychological well-being. They investigated the associations among youth secrecy towards parents, daily asthma symptoms and daily sleep behaviours.

The results showed that more frequent secret-keeping was associated with more severe asthma symptoms, lower ratings of sleep quality and a greater number of night-time awakenings. Secrecy was also associated with increased negative affect, which is a personality variable that involves the experience of negative emotions and poor self-concept. Negative affectivity subsumes a variety of negative emotions, including anger, contempt, disgust, guilt, and fear, and nervousness.

Investigations have shown that one of the reasons why youth keep secrets from parents may depend on the perception of lower warmth and trust from their parents. One way to combat the issues that teenagers have is the development of trust in parent-child relationships. This may constitute a mechanism to reduce secrecy and improving well-being in asthma and sleep quality in young people.

Thus, a good parent-child relationship may ensure the adolescents’ feeling of emotional autonomy and the physical and emotional well-being.


Imami, Ledina; Samuele Zilioli; Erin Tobin, et al. Youth secrets are associated with poorer sleep and asthma symptoms via negative affect. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 96 (2017), 15 – 20. DOI:

Who are the most interesting people in sleep??

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , — Phil Teuwen @ 2:27 am

Hint: it’s not the tooth fairy, Santa Claus or Freddy Kruger!

Van Winkles recently created a list of the most interesting people in sleep… and its not the lab coat wearing, number crunching, electrode wielding scientists. Rather, the list is made up of actually interesting people (no offence to my fellow electrode wielding scientists!).

Here is the list:

A full write up on each can be found here in the original article:

Name: Till Roenneberg
Title: Chronobiologist at the Institute of Medical Psychology at Ludwig-Maximilian University
Why they’re interesting: Revolutionized the study of biological rhythms and sleep-wake schedules

Name: Arianna Huffington
Title: CEO of Thrive Health and author of “The Sleep Revolution”
Why they’re interesting: Media-and-wellness mogul who turned sleep into a mainstream conversation

Name: Kelly Bulkeley
Title: Psychologist of religion specializing in dream research
Why they’re interesting: Data-banking dreams to understand the waking world

Name: James Hamblin
Title: Health Editor at The Atlantic and author of “If Our Bodies Could Talk”
Why they’re interesting: A doctor-turned-writer with a sleep obsession

Name: Baland Jalal
Title: Neuroscientist at The University of Cambridge
Why they’re interesting: Invented a simple method for escaping sleep paralysis

Name: Cheri Mah
Title: Research Fellow at the UCSF Human Performance Center and UCSF School of Medicine and NBA sleep consultant
Why they’re interesting: Pioneered the use of sleep optimization in pro sports

Name: Maria
Title: Youtube creator/ASMR-tist
Why they’re interesting: Making videos that lull people to sleep

Name: Roger Ekirch
Title: Historian at Virginia Tech University
Why they’re interesting: Reintroduced the long-lost practice of “segmented sleep” to the modern world

Name: Benjamin Reiss
Title: Professor and author of the book “Wild Nights: How taming sleep created our restless world.”
Why they’re interesting: A cultural historian exploring the past and present through a prism of sleep

Name: David Samson
Title: Evolutionary biologist at The University of Toronto
Why they’re interesting: Examining how human sleep has changed since Homo erectus dozed in trees

Name: Drew Ackerman
Title: Host of the podcast “Sleep with Me”
Why they’re interesting: Responsible for making “adult bedtime stories” a thing

Name: William “Scott” Killgore
Title: Director of the Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience Lab in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona
Why they’re interesting: Figuring out how skipping sleep changes your perceptions, thought processes and behaviour

Name: Wendy Troxel
Title: Senior Behavioral and Social Scientist, RAND Corporation
Why they’re interesting: Studying sleep in couples

Name: Michael Grandner
Title: Director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona
Why they’re interesting: Probing the relationship between sleep and socioeconomic inequality

Name: Michel A. Cramer Bornemann
Title: Lead investigator – Sleep Forensics Associates
Why they’re interesting: The world’s foremost expert on crimes committed during sleep

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress