Top 5 Most-Read Sleep Articles of 2020

The top 5 most-read sleep stories of 2020 on AJMC.com spotlighted the role of sleep hygiene among children and adolescents, changes in sleeping habits amid the pandemic, and how a rare gene mutation may cause people to require less sleep to achieve wakefulness.

In the top 5 most-read sleep stories of 2020 on AJMC.com, several clinical discoveries were highlighted, including patients with comorbid sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome exhibiting higher insomnia-specific psychological symptoms and a rare gene mutation that affects an individual’s sleep necessity and wakefulness.

Sleep hygiene amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic was spotlighted as well, particularly among children and adolescents who can become irritable and undergo behavioral changes, attention difficulties, and memory problems if optimal sleep duration is not achieved. In the general population, findings of 1 of our top 5 stories indicate that 67% of Americans said they believe their sleep was healthier before the pandemic.

Notably, women were found to be an at-risk population when assessing inconsistent sleep, as those exhibiting sleep deficits were shown to be linked with inflammatory dysfunction, whereas such men were not.

Here are the top 5 sleep articles of 2020.

5. What Can Improve Sleep Hygiene in Children, Adolescents?

In an article published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers outlined factors that contribute to optimal sleep hygiene among children and adolescents. These factors include having consistent daily and evening routines and avoiding caffeinated beverages and technology usage. To assess whether sleep may be impaired, researchers say to look for signs, such as difficulty getting up in the morning, falling asleep during the day (outside the appropriate napping age), longer weekend sleep, yawning, or poor behavior.

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4. Patients With Sleep Apnea, Restless Leg Syndrome Exhibit Higher Insomnia-Specific Psychological Symptoms

As both sleep apnea syndrome (SAS) and restless leg syndrome (RLS) are associated with disturbed sleep, authors of a study published in Sleep and Breathing sought to examine whether comorbid SAS and RLS may further exacerbate reported issues of impaired daytime performance and sleep-related worries. In their findings, patients with comorbid SAS and RLS were found to exhibit a higher degree of insomnia-specific psychological symptoms, which they say may warrant the need for cognitive behavioral therapy in these populations.

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3. How Have Sleep Habits Changed Amid COVID-19?

With intensified levels of anxiety and depression being reported nationwide, insomnia, a chief catalyst and comorbidity of these factors, has also grown in prominence among employees, physicians, and the general public. In a survey by SleepStandards, researchers examined sleep habits both before and after lockdown measures caused by the pandemic. Based on survey findings, 53% of Americans indicated they are now spending less time sleeping than before the pandemic, with almost every participant (98%) reporting to have developed new sleep problems post lockdown.

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2. Inconsistent Sleep Linked With Inflammatory Dysfunction in Women

The consequences of poor sleep were addressed by authors of a study published in Frontiers in Neurology who noted that impaired sleep has been associated with higher levels of inflammatory biomarkers. Seeking to examine another factor that has emerged as an important approach to quantifying sleep, sleep inconsistency, the researchers then examined whether this factor may have a similar association. In their findings, inconsistent sleep among women, but not men, was shown to be significantly associated with inflammatory dysfunction.

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1. A Rare Gene Mutation Is Associated With Requiring Less Sleep, Researchers Say

According to a study published in Neuron, a newly identified rare gene mutation, ADRB1, is linked with heightened wakefulness and less sleep necessity. Notably, those with the mutation were all of the same family, who function normally on 6 hours of sleep, which is significantly less than average. Researchers plan to next study other families for additional genes correlated to sleep and the function of ADRB1 protein in other parts of the brain.

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