Newsletter #041: The Dark Side of Screen Time: Children's Sleep Affected 💻 💤
Welcome to the latest edition of the humanOS newsletter! Here, we’ll share our work, plus some of the cool studies and media that we reviewed this week and that found their way onto our social media channels. 🤓
This Week’s Research Highlights
💻 Children who gaze at screens before bed - particularly in a dark room - are at substantially greater risk of inadequate sleep.
Researchers collected data from 6616 kids (ages 11-12), more than 70% of whom reported using at least one screen-based device within an hour of bedtime (no surprise there!). They found that children who used a phone or watched television in a room with a light on were 31% more likely to get less sleep, compared to those who did not. The odds of insufficient sleep duration were 147% higher for those who used a screen in a dark room.
💊 Supplementation with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids can reduce systemic inflammation associated with aging.
Researchers randomly assigned older adults to either EPA+DHA (2.5 grams per day) or a placebo. After eight weeks, the treatment group showed significantly lower levels of circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-6, IL-1β, and TNF-α.
Researchers collected fasting blood samples from 680 women, and determined vitamin D levels and glucose levels. They found that a serum 25(OH)D level less than 30 ng/mL was associated with having a blood glucose level greater than 100 mg/dL. Previous research has suggested that vitamin D may increase insulin sensitivity and enhance pancreatic beta-cell function.
🤰🏽 Prenatal exposure to different concentrations of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids may influence asthma risk in childhood.
Researchers examined cord blood phospholipid PUFA concentrations in two cohorts, then assessed how these concentrations associated with various atopic conditions later on in childhood. They found that higher concentrations of omega-3 long-chain PUFAs (EPA & DHA) and a higher total n-3:n:6 ratio at birth were associated with a reduced risk of developing asthma when the child reached the age of 6.
Researchers compared male mice with zinc deficiency to animals with normal zinc levels. Zinc-deficient mice went on to develop high blood pressure and an accompanying decline in urinary sodium excretion. When the researchers red a subgroup of zinc-deficient rodents a diet rich in zinc, blood pressure dropped and urinary sodium rose. The research team stated: “These significant findings demonstrate that enhanced renal [sodium] reabsorption plays a critical role in [zinc-deficiency]-induced hypertension.”
Podcasts We Loved This Week
- Daniel Kahneman: Cutting through the noise. Via Conversation with Tyler.
- Michael Ristow: Longevity, Mitochondria, and Free Radicals. Via Sigma Nutrition.
- Stu Phillips: The importance of dietary protein and its role in muscle. Via STEM-Talk.
Products We Are Enjoying
Ginny says: Most of y’all are probably pretty familiar with this guy by now so I don’t have to explain too much about it, except to say that I now fully understand the hype. This device is remarkably versatile - functioning as a rice cooker, pressure cooker, and steamer all in one. It’s also energy-efficient, super easy to use, and can cook things like legumes, grains, potatoes, tubers, etc. really fast without requiring much effort on your end. If you’re busy and don’t like to spend a ton of time in the kitchen, but you still want to make most of your food yourself, I would highly recommend it.
New humanOS Content
- Blog: The Fast Track to the Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation. By Greg Potter.
This week on the blog, Greg addressed mindfulness meditation, a topic that has been gradually growing in popularity over the past couple years (and which Greg has talked about previously, in the context of sleep). I’m sure you’ve noticed the zillions of meditation apps that have come out recently. However, we really don’t know that much about the effects of mindfulness training when delivered in this manner, because it hadn’t been tested rigorously - until just recently.
Wendy Suzuki and colleagues recruited a group of healthy adults who were not habitual meditators. They were assigned to either 1) repeat a 13-minute guided meditation every day or 2) listen to a different 13-minute segment of a podcast every day. At baseline, midpoint, and end of study, all participants underwent a battery of tests assessing sleep, mood, anxiety, fatigue, memory, executive function, and attention.
So, at the four-week mark, there were no significant differences between groups. But after eight weeks, there were indeed some notable changes in cognitive function. If you’re interested in the results of this study (and perhaps testing out mindfulness meditation yourself), check out the blog!