Category: Health Benefits

02 Jan


Goldidlocks was right... this side is just right!

Goldilocks was Right II

Goldilocks Was Right:
For Back Pain, Medium Mattress Is Just Right

November 14, 2003 Sponsor Researchers in Spain could be giving a nod to Mother Goose with a new study that proves what Goldilocks has been saying all along: the medium firmness mattress is “just right,” at least for patients with chronic low back pain.

In a study published in The Lancet medical journal, over 300 study participants with chronic, unexplained low-back pain that occurred when they were either lying in bed or upon getting out of bed, were given mattresses to test out to determine what relief different mattresses could provide. Half of the participants were given firm mattresses while the other half were given medium mattresses to sleep on.

After three months of using the new mattresses, 82 percent of the participants who slept on medium firmness mattresses reported low back pain improvements while only 68 percent of the subjects on firm mattresses reported improvements. Researchers indicated that since some participants may have been able to tell they were sleeping on firm mattresses and biased into believing that a firm mattress would better solve their low back pain, the results could be interpreted to mean that a medium firmness mattress was really twice as beneficial for relieving low back pain.

Dr. Scott Boden, professor of orthopedics and director of the Emory Spine Center at Emory University in Atlanta, told the Associated Press that while the relationship between mattress firmness and low back pain hasn’t been widely studied in the past, this study “clearly indicates mattresses can make a difference for individuals, but the question remains whether or not there’s one formula that’s going to work for everyone.”

“Everyone has to figure out what works best for them,” said Boden, “but mattresses could be something, if you have chronic back ache, that you should pay attention to.” Boden, incidentally, had no affiliation to the Spanish study.

In September 2003, Ergoweb Inc.’s publication, The Ergonomics Report™, addressed back pain in the workplace, including recommendations for working with back pain and advice on how to manage it. For a free trial issue of The Ergonomics Report, visit

Source: Associated Press

— Jeanie Croasmun

editors note: if you been following FloBeds, you’ll remember that Newsweek also said Goldilocks Was Right and if you got a FloBed you could get your latex mattress just right.

01 Jan

Diabetes and Sleep

Disturbed sleep link to diabetes


sleeping man


Deep sleep is associated with changes that affect metabolism
A disturbed night’s sleep may increase the risk of developing diabetes, US research has suggested.

The US team discovered that volunteers who were roused whenever they were about to fall into the deepest sleep developed insulin resistance.

This inability of the body to recognize normal insulin signals leads to high blood sugar levels, weight gain and, eventually, even type 2 diabetes.

The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

2 Strategies to improve sleep duration and quality should be considered as a potential intervention to prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes 1
Dr Esra Tasali

Previous studies have shown an association with diabetes and a lack of sleep.

It is also already known that the deepest sleep, known as slow-wave sleep, is associated with changes that affect metabolism.

Brain patterns

To test the impact of sleep quality on blood glucose control, nine healthy men and women were first monitored for two consecutive nights to see what their normal sleep patterns were.

Then on the following three nights, the research team woke them with a loud noise when they drifted into deep sleep – characterized by long slow-moving delta waves in the brain.

The amount of overall sleep they had was unchanged.

After injecting the volunteers with glucose and measuring their daytime blood sugar levels and insulin response, the researchers found that eight of them had become less sensitive to insulin.

Lead researcher Dr Ersa Tasali, of the University of Chicago, said there was an alarming rise in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes associated with an ageing population and increased obesity and it was important to understand the factors that promote its development.

“We had shown previously that restricting sleep duration in healthy young adults results in decreased glucose tolerance.

“The current data further indicate that not only reduced sleep duration but also reduced sleep quality may play a role in diabetes risk.

“The current evidence suggests that strategies to improve sleep duration and quality should be considered as a potential intervention to prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes in at-risk populations.”

Dr Tasali added that chronic shallow sleep and diabetes are typical factors associated with ageing and more research was needed to find out if age-related changes in sleep quality contribute to such metabolic changes.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/01/01 00:02:03 GMT

02 Feb

Sleep and Creative thinking

Sleep essential for creative thinking

Scientists say they have demonstrated for the first time that our sleeping brains continue working on problems that baffle us during the day, and the right answer may come more easily after 8 hours of rest.

William McCall, Associated Press
Published January 21, 2004

Everybody feels refreshed following a good night’s sleep. But can you wake up smarter? More artistic perhaps?

German scientists say they have demonstrated for the first time that our sleeping brains continue working on problems that baffle us during the day, and the right answer may come more easily after 8 hours of rest.

The German study is considered to be the first hard evidence supporting the common sense notion that creativity and problem solving appear to be directly linked to adequate sleep, scientists say. Other researchers who did not contribute to the experiment say it provides a valuable reminder for overtired workers and students that sleep is often the best medicine.

Previous studies have shown that 70 million Americans are sleep-deprived, contributing to increased accidents, worsening health and lower test scores. But the new German experiment takes the subject a step further to show how sleep can help to turn yesterday’s problem into today’s solution.

“A single study never settles an issue once and for all, but I would say this study does advance the field significantly,” said Dr. Carl E. Hunt, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health.

“It’s going to have potentially important results for children for school performance and for adults for work performance,” Hunt said.

Scientists at the University of Luebeck in Germany found that volunteers taking a simple math test were three times more likely than sleep-deprived participants to figure out a hidden rule for converting the numbers into the right answer if they had eight hours of sleep. The results appear in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

The study involved 106 people divided into five separate groups of equal numbers of men and women ages 18 to 32. One group slept, another stayed awake all night, and a third stayed awake all day for eight-hour periods before testing following training in the main experiment. Two other groups were used in a supplemental experiment.

The study participants performed a “number reduction task” according to two rules that allowed them to transform strings of eight digits into a new string that fit the rules. A third rule was hidden in the pattern, and researchers monitored the test subjects continuously to see when they figure out the third rule.

The group that got eight hours of sleep before tackling the problem was nearly three times more likely to figure out the rule than the group that stayed awake at night.

Jan Born, who led the study, said the results support biochemical studies of the brain that indicate memories are restructured before they are stored. Creativity also appears to be enhanced in the process, he said.

“This restructuring might be occurring in such a way that the problem is easier to solve,” Born said.

Born said the exact process in the sleeping brain for sharpening these abilities remains unclear. The changes leading to creativity or problem-solving insight occur during “slow wave” or deep sleep that typically occurs in the first four hours of the sleep cycle, he said.

The results also may explain the memory problems associated with aging because older people typically have trouble getting enough sleep, especially the kind of deep sleep needed to process memories, Born said.

“Even gradual decreases in the total time for slow wave sleep and deep sleep is correlated to a kind of decrease in memory function, and in turn to a decrease in the ability to recognize hidden structures or the awareness of such things,” Born said.

Other researchers said they have long suspected that sleep helps to consolidate memories and sharpen thoughts. But until now it had been difficult to design an experiment that would test how it improves insight.

History is dotted with incidents where artists and scientists have awakened to make their most notable contributions after long periods of frustration.  For example, that’s how Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev established the periodic -table of elements and British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote his epic “Kubla Khan.”

Born and his team “have applied a clever test that allows them to determine exactly when insight occurs,” wrote Pierre Maquet and Perrine Ruby at the University of Liege in a commentary on the research, also published in Nature.

Maquet and Ruby both say the study should be considered a warning to schools, employers and government agencies that sleep makes a huge difference in mental performance.

The results “give us good reason to fully respect our periods of sleep – especially given the current trend to recklessly curtail them,” they said.

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