COLLEGE PARK, MD, April 14, 2009 -- Sleep is such an essential part of human existence that we spend about a third of our lives doing it -- some more successfully than others. Sleep disorders afflict some 50-70 million people in the United States and are a major cause of disease and injury. People who suffer from disturbed sleep have an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, hypertension, obesity, depression, and accidents. Nearly a fifth of all serious car crashes, in fact, are linked to sleeplessness.
Diagnosing sleep disorders is not necessarily easy. In standard "sleep studies," people spend one or more nights at hospitals or other inpatient centers, sleeping while sensors and electrodes attached to the head and torso record breathing, brain waves, heart rate, and other vital signs.
Now, a group of scientists in Israel and Germany has discovered a simple new way to monitor sleep and potentially diagnose sleep disorders just by recording someone's heart rate. Their method relies on using a mathematical technique to analyze these recordings and tease out information related to the synchronization between heartbeat and breathing, which might be a measure of fitness of the cardio-respiratory system.
Their work may one day help clinicians more easily diagnose sleep disorders and determine optimal treatments for people with congestive heart failure. Athletes might also be able analyze their own recordings to optimize workouts.
Conducted by researchers at Technische Universitt Ilmenau in Germany, Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, Martin-Luther-Universitt Halle-Wittenberg in Germany, and Schlafmedizinisches Zentrum der Charit Berlin, the work appears in a special focus issue of the journal Chaos, which is published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP). The special issue is focused on nonlinear dynamics in cognitive and neural systems. It asks how chaos affects certain brain areas and presents interdiscipl
|Contact: Jason Bardi|
American Institute of Physics