Tuesday November 12, 2019

Sleep Disturbances Associated with Mental Health Problems Among Natural Disaster Survivors

The researchers surveyed survivors for two years after the earthquake and found that 94 per cent participant reported experiencing insomnia symptoms and subsequent risk after the disaster

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Sleep, Mental Health, Students
Insufficient sleep is associated with a wide range of mental health issues. Pixabay

Sleep disturbances are associated with mental health problems among survivors of a natural disaster even two years after the tragedy, according to a study.

Published in the journal Sleep, the study involved 165 participants (52 per cent men) with an average age of about 31 years. Participants were living in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, one of the areas affected by the 2010 earthquake.

According to the survey, it was the most devastating earthquake in the country’s history. The disaster killed almost 200,000 people and displaced more than 1 million residents.

“This is one of the first epidemiological studies to investigate the prevalence of sleep disturbances among survivors of the 2010 Haiti earthquake,” said study lead author Judite Blanc from the New York University.

Students, CLass,
A graduate from Columbia University’s School of Engineering sleeps during the university’s commencement ceremony in New York, May 16, 2012. VOA

“Our study underscores the strong association between common trauma-related disorders and comorbid sleep conditions among a group of survivors,” Blanc said.

The researchers surveyed survivors for two years after the earthquake and found that 94 per cent participant reported experiencing insomnia symptoms and subsequent risk after the disaster.

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Two years later, 42 per cent showed clinically significant levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and nearly 22 per cent had symptoms of depression. Resilience did not appear to be a buffer against sleep disturbance.

“Findings from our study highlight the need to assess and treat sleep issues among disaster survivors, as they are highly prevalent after a natural disaster and are related to mental health conditions, our work supports the importance of sleep in disaster preparedness programs globally,” said Blanc. (IANS)

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Not Neurons But Stress Hormone Control Your Body Clocks

The body clocks are controlled by the stress hormone

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Stress hormone
Stress hormone control everything from sleep needs to body temperature. Pixabay

Stress hormone, and not neurons, manage the fixed circadian rhythm that controls everything from sleep needs to body temperature, the researchers have found.

Our internal clock is controlled by some very distinct hereditary genes, known as clock genes. These genes are particularly active in the so-called suprachiasmatic nucleus area of the brain.

However, these areas of the brain are not directly linked by neurons, and this made researchers at the University of Copenhagen curious.

Using lab tests, the team demonstrated that the circadian rhythm is controlled by the stress hormone, corticosterone.

“In humans, the hormone is known as cortisol, and although the sleep rhythm in rats is the opposite of ours, we basically have the same hormonal system,” said Associate Professor Martin Fredensborg Rath from the Department of Neuroscience.

In the study with the stress hormone corticosterone, the researchers removed the suprachiasmatic nucleus in a number of rats.

As expected, this removed the circadian rhythm of the animals.

Stress hormone
Research demonstrated that the circadian rhythm and sleep cycle is controlled by the stress hormone. Pixabay

However, the circadian rhythm of the cerebellum was restored when the rats were subsequently implanted with a special programmable micropump.

In this case, however, the researchers used the pump to emit doses of corticosterone at different times of the day and night, similar to the animals’ natural rhythm.

“Nobody has used these pumps for anything like this before. So technically, we were onto something completely new,” said Rath.

With the artificial corticosterone supplement, researchers were again able to read a rhythmic activity of clock genes in the animals.

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“This is interesting from a scientific point of view, because it means that we have two systems – the nervous system and the hormonal system – that communicate perfectly and influence one another, all in the course of a reasonably tight 24-hour programme,” Rath elaborated.

The researchers now plans to study other rhythmic hormones in a similar manner, including hormones from the thyroid gland. (IANS)