The top three news stories of the week, as chosen by our resident students. This week’s top stories include endangered coffee, the dangers of a rough night’s sleep and why having a lie-in is better for your health.
By Willow Hight-Warburton
Need a pick-me-up after a bad night’s sleep? Your breakfast faces extinction! That may be a bit dramatic, but a new study looking at the effects of climate change and global warming has shown that the wild Arabica population (the species that includes the coffee we drink) could reduce by between 50-80% by 2088. The researchers applied this finding to the IUCN Red List criteria and found that this should place coffee on the endangered list if no changes are made. Seeing as our appetite for coffee grows in the UK, it is worthwhile thinking about the changes global warming could have on our morning pick-me-up.
Tossing and turning leaves your brain in a tangle
Ever felt groggy if you haven’t slept well? Anecdotal evidence highlighted by the Alzheimer’s Society has suggested that dementia patient struggle to sleep and may have worse memory after a restless night. Now a team of scientists from Washington University School of Medicine suggest that tackling sleep interruption could be key in keeping your brain healthy in old age: tau is a protein that is known to be linked to the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The research, published in Science, indicates that sleep deprivation in mice and humans increases the amount of tau in the fluid surrounding the brain. The team found that sleep deprivation caused this protein to tangle and spread across the brain. This new evidence could highlight a new route to prevent and treat these diseases.
Sleep well, you’ll feel better in the morning
New evidence both in and out of the lab has indicated that a rough night’s sleep could leave you feeling a bit… well, rough. The work from Center for Human Sleep Science (CA, USA), has shown that sleep deprivation increases the activity of the part of the brain involved in responding to pain, and decreased activity in the part of the brain that modulates pain perception. Excitingly, they found that this effect was reversible after a restful night. This provides a new approach for pain management in hospitals and for individuals experiencing chronic pain.
So, it looks like that lie-in is just what the doctor ordered!