Monthly Archives: August 2014

Researcher Investigates Relationship Between Sleep Apnea and Pharyngeal Tissue

There’s good news for sleep apnea sufferers out there: Guilherme Garcia, a PhD and research scientist at the Medical College of Wisconsin, recently received a grant to study how pharyngeal tissue affects obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a common disorder that affects many adults with pauses or shallow breaths during sleep. These pauses can occur over 30 times an hour and last from a few seconds to several minutes. Sleep apnea can often lead to more serious conditions, which is why Garcia’s research is so important.

Garcia’s goal is to use computer simulations and in vivo measurements to more deeply understand the properties of the soft tissue in the pharynx which affects airflow and causes snoring. These are also the tissues that combine with specific airflow conditions to collapse the airway and induce obstructive sleep apnea.

The goal of this project is to quantify the soft tissue properties in the pharynx using computer simulations and in vivo measurements. These soft tissue properties are important because it is the interplay between tissue properties and airflow that causes snoring and airway collapse in obstructive sleep apnea.

The computational models Garcia and his colleagues create will hopefully allow surgeons to identify primary sites of pharynx airway collapse and treat OSA patients more effectively.

Garcia will be funded by a 3-year Mentored Career Development Award from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin, one of four grants that CSTI awarded this year. The grant will provide Garcia $25,000 in research support and up to $140,000 in salary and benefits per year.

The grant will also provide Garcia with a training mentor. Over the next three years, he’ll study clinical and translational research under MCW Professor and Chairman of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences John Rhee, MD, MPH. Garcia will also be mentored by professor of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences Tucker Woodson, also a professor at MCW and director of Froedtert Hospital’s Sleep Center.

Garcia himself is an assistant professor in the same disciplines as his mentors at MCW’s Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center. The results of his research will likely be made available after the grant period.

The Trick to Better Sleep and Health for Office Workers: Get Some Sunlight

One of the most frequently held debates over the office environment revolves around the pros and cons of cubicles and open plan offices. Proponents of the open plan office state that the open spaces give the chance for collaborations and breakthroughs to occur; those who prefer cubicles, which were invented in 1967 by Robert Propst, prefer the low-key solitude and privacy that these spaces offer.

While each side of the divide makes a convincing case, citing metrics such as worker productivity and employee happiness, new research from the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine brings another assessment of office space to the table: the presence or lack of windows in an office.

The study found that workers who saw less natural sunlight during the workday got less sleep and physical activity than those who were seated near windows.

Although there have been studies that looked at the relationship between daylight, psychological well-being, and productivity at work, the authors of the study state that “few have addressed the impact of daylight at the workplace on sleep, quality of life, and overall health.”

The study compared results from 49 day shift employees, 27 of whom worked in offices with windows and 22 who had no windows in their building or nearby. The workers self-reported their data on a subjective sleep-quality questionnaire.

Overall, they found that employees with access to natural light at work slept 46 minutes longer — and more soundly — than those who worked in windowless offices. “Windowed” workers also rated higher than “windowless” workers on a standard health survey in two categories, one being vitality.

In addition to self-reporting, 21 participants (10 windowless workers and 11 windowed workers) wore wristbands to measure their activity during their sleeping and waking hours. This monitoring revealed the extra 46 minutes of sleep for windowed workers and also found that they were four times more active during the workday.

The explanation for these differences? Daylight serves an environmental cue for the body’s circadian rhythm, which lets us know when to sleep and wake up. The workers who worked in windowless environments had this pattern disrupted by the lack of exposure to natural light.

The effects of insufficient sleep, says the study, can have an impact in the short-term by leading to memory loss, slower psychomotor reflexes and diminished attention. These have a chance of leading to more accidents and errors on the job and lower levels of productivity.

The quality of sleep can also affect mood, cognitive performance and a worker’s general health. The researchers also discovered a link to sleep quality and diabetes.

Even on days off, workers who had windows in their offices got more rest and slept better and longer.

One way to help workers get more sunlight has to do with building design. Mohamed Boubekri, the lead researcher on the sleep study, said that architects should create open-plan offices that are no more than 50 or 60 feet deep, so more employees can benefit from the daylight and views outside the window.

For workers who are stuck in windowed environments, however, the researchers recommend taking walks and eating lunch outdoors, which they say can benefit those windowed workers, too.

Celebrities Take on Home Imrovements

From their moving performances onscreen to their chart-topping music hits, celebrities are undoubtedly talented individuals. For many, however, the talent doesn’t stop on set or in the studio. Many celebrities also seem to have a knack for home improvements.

Whether or not they plan to actually live in the house they are working on, current loan market trends make luxury home purchases a great investment for celebrities. Lenders are being more lenient with jumbo loans, but rates favor those with a very high credit score who are able to make a 20% down payment.
Akon, Megan Fox and Shirley MacLaine are three celebrities who have poured their time and energy into their homes and are now reaping the benefits.

Akon recently put his newly renovated Los Angeles home up for sale for $3.5 million, although for a half million more he offered to include the furniture and equipment from the recording studio.
The hip hop and R&B artist purchased the home for $1.9 million last summer and went at it with white paint–literally. The 4,098 square foot house and all of its accessories were made completely white.
He must be doing something right because he’s already had an offer for the place.

Also in L.A., “Transformers” actress Megan Fox and her husband, “Beverly Hills, 90210” actor Brian Austin Green, are on the search for a new home after recently selling their upgraded mansion.
After purchasing the home in 2009, the couple transformed the old school 4 bedroom, 5 bathroom home into a very desirable, modern luxury house. Equipped with an updated sound system and movie projection screens, large, wallpapered walls and colorful tiles throughout the kitchen and bathroom, the home was listed at $3.995 million.
A couple states over in New Mexico, actress Shirley MacLaine is also on the move. After spending many years in her secluded Abiquiu home, MacLaine is looking to move to the more lively capital city of Santa Fe.
The desert property, totaling 7,450 acres, is home to what MacLaine calls the Plaza Blanca Ranch. The estate is being sold for $18 million, and not at the recommendation of her real estate agent. Rather, the number was a suggestion from a psychic. Either way, it
s a lot of money.

The estate is eco friendly, including a sustainable and off–the–grid horse barn, chicken coop, pool, yurt and caretaker’s house. There are greenhouses on the property as well.
A house is an investment, and these celebrities have all worked hard to make their homes a worthwhile one.