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Make the most out of Daylight Saving Time

This weekend, we spring ahead and lose an hour of sleep as part of Daylight Saving Time. For many people, this may create some problems only because they forgot to set their clock ahead before going to bed.

For those who tend to be night owls, shift workers, or who have sleep disorders, it can be more problematic. The additional loss of precious sleep can be a more substantial problem. When we are sleepy, we often don’t perform as well at work and are more likely to make mistakes and have car accidents.

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Sleep key component to athletic performance

The world’s best athletes are descending upon Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Every elite athlete looks for an edge against their competitors to improve their athletic performance but what if the answer was as simple as getting more sleep?

According to Michael Howell, M.D., a sleep expert within the Department of Neurology, that’s precisely what elite athletes excel at.

“The best athletes I’ve ever met are extremely good sleepers,” said Howell. “Although you may not think your brain is doing much during sleep, your brain is putting connections together and it is amplifying circuits that are important.”

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Why we need sleep

Everyone knows that we need sleep to function but you probably haven’t thought about the biological necessities of sleep.

Health Talk spoke with Conrad Iber, M.D., director of sleep medicine at the University of Minnesota, and got his perspective. Here’s what he had to say:

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Ask more than you might think at the pediatrician’s office

The pediatrician is a parent’s first call for bad colds, flu shots and routine health care. But there’s a lot more your child’s doctor can do beyond basic childhood illness or healthcare troubleshooting.

To find out what types of things your pediatrician wishes you’d ask about, we spoke with Emily Borman-Shoap, M.D., a general pediatrician, director of newborn care at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital, and assistant professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School.

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New “chill out” drinks target students in need of a break

Most energy drinks promise college students a quick boost to help power through the day, but a new line of beverages is formulated to do just the opposite.

“Relaxation drinks” are trading sugar and caffeine for ingredients like melatonin, valerian root and L-theanine to promote a calming effect.

With names like (Bob) Marley’s Mellow Mood and Just Chill, the products are gaining attention in the marketplace. They accounted for over $32 million in sales in 2012…

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Study says sleep ‘cleans’ the brain of toxins

Last week, researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center released a new study in the journal Science that demonstrated why fostering a healthy “waste removal system” may be one of the fundamental reasons for sleep. According to the study, brain cells shrink during sleep to open gaps between neurons and allow fluid to wash the brain clean.

The scientists used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the brains of mice and found that the glymphatic system became 10 times as active while the mice were asleep. Brain cells shrink during sleep which increases the size of the interstitial space (gaps between brain tissue) allowing for more fluid to be pumped in and wash toxins away.

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