This week’s health news highlights how sleep – or rather lack of it – can make you unhappy and hurt you emotionally, as well as the role artificial intelligence could play in solving what is an intractable problem: resistance to antibiotics.
Sleep problems and emotions
Lack of sleep can contribute to unhappiness and higher anxiety levels. Insufficient sleep harms people’s emotional functioning.
That’s according to a study published by the American Psychological Association in the Psychological Bulletin, which examined half a century of research on sleep deprivation and mood.
“In our largely sleep-deprived society, quantifying the effects of sleep loss on emotions is essential for promoting psychological health,” said the study’s lead author, Cara Palmer, of Montana State University, in A press release. “This study represents the most comprehensive synthesis of experimental research on sleep and emotion to date, and provides strong evidence that periods of prolonged wakefulness, shortened sleep duration, and nighttime awakenings negatively influence emotional functioning human.”
The researchers looked at data from 154 studies totaling 5,715 participants. For each study, researchers interrupted sleep for one or more nights and sometimes participants stayed awake for long periods of time. Some studies have examined the effects of sleep interruption or shortened sleep.
Overall, the researchers found that interrupted sleep, short sleep, and lack of sleep led to what they called “fewer positive emotions such as joy, happiness, and contentment among participants, as well as an increase in anxiety symptoms such as rapid heart rate and increased worry.”
They say the findings for depression were narrower and less consistent. The same goes for sadness, worry, and stress.
Among limitations, they noted that the participants were mostly young adults and said future research should consider what happens among a more age-diverse group of participants.
Can AI find new antibiotics?
Antibiotic resistance, which makes antibiotics less effective against bacteria, is a major problem in health care. But researchers in a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study say deep learning artificial intelligence has discovered a class of compounds capable of killing a drug-resistant bacteria that causes more than 10,000 deaths in the United States each year.
In a study published in Nature, researchers said the compounds killed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in a laboratory dish and in two mouse models of MRSA infection. They also noted that the compounds “exhibit very low toxicity against human cells, making them particularly good drug candidates.”
MRSA infects more than 80,000 people in the United States each year. The most severe cases often lead to sepsis, a serious blood infection that can be fatal.
Because they were able to see what types of information the deep learning model was using, it could help researchers find other drugs that might work even better, they said in a press release.
The researchers shared their findings with Phare Bio, a non-profit organization created as part of the Antibiotics-AI project. The nonprofit organization now plans to conduct a more detailed analysis of the chemical properties and potential clinical use of these compounds.
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