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Is a good night's sleep crucial for your health?
Date:10/22/2007

In spring 2005 a large European research and training network was established to investigate the causes and implications of poor sleep from a medical as well as from a social point of view. This EU-financed sleep research project, The biomedical and sociological effects of sleep restriction, is coordinated by Dr. Tarja Porkka-Heiskanen (Stenberg) MD, PhD, at the University of Helsinki, Institute of Biomedicine.

The other partners are from UK (University of Surrey), Belgium (Universit Libre de Bruxelles), Germany (Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry & Center of Mental Health, Klinikum Ingolstadt) and Switzerland (University of Zurich).

The topic of the project is important and timely: our environment is changing to a 24/7 society, which inevitably means that time spent in sleep decreases. What are the consequences of this reduction for human health and well-being" This is the central question of the present consortium.

The training network consists of 16 young Marie Curie Fellows from 12 countries, who are trained in the six consortium laboratories by experienced mentors. They are researching the role of sleep in the quality of life; in mood disorders, and how it can affect performance, accident rates, and cardiovascular diseases. Animal models complement the project aiming to understand the basic mechanisms underlying sleep regulation and thereby provide recommendations for the development of new hypnotics.

Although the work is only half way through, interesting results have already emerged, and the project has now been nominated as one of the success stories among EU-funded projects.

The Helsinki group has investigated the effect of partial sleep loss on human health using an experimental setup that resembles a normal working week. They found that following sleep restriction to 4 hours per night, an individuals ability to perform complex tasks gradually decreased during the five days. Several changes in their imm
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Contact: Tarja Porkka-Heiskanen
porkka@cc.helsinki.fi
358-919-125-317
University of Helsinki
Source:Eurekalert

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