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Bodies...The Blog


Nightcaps and Caffeinated Sleep


Nowadays, Americans average less than the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night. A nightcap, or drink taken before bed, is thought by many to help with sleep. However, alcohol actually interferes negatively with sleep as your body processes it. Throw an energy drink mixer in and it is chemically worse news for your rest. "Just as with caffeine, your brain proves remarkably adept at adapting itself and responding to the ethanol molecules jamming up its receptors and interfering with neuron firings. It takes a bit for the brain to catch up, though." (Braun's Buzz via Lifehacker)

The brain's receptors and pathways try to reclaim equilibrium, which can wreak havoc on general resting and on crucial REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement - it is the stage of sleep during which the brain gets its most critical rest and rejuvenation. If you've had caffeine, too, this adds to the situation. Caffeine is a drug that can take up to 5 hours to break down half a dose. Throw caffeine into the mix (as many fans of vodka Red Bull mixed drinks do) while your brain is trying to compensate for alcohol, and the combined "revenge" of both drugs can lead to some fairly restless sleep.



A Cure for HIV?


German researchers at Charite-University Medicine Berlin have reported curing a man of HIV. In 2007, doctors treated the patient for acute myeloid leukemia by wiping out his own immune system with high-dose chemo, radiation, and a stem-cell transplant. At this time, he ceased taking anti-HIV medication. His leukemia relapsed in 2008 and he underwent a second round of these treatments, including more stem-cells from the same donor. Today, the patient shows no signs of leukemia or HIV replication.

However, his case was unique and does not indicate a universal cure: The donor had a highly rare HIV-resistant inherited gene mutation; wiping out an immune system is hazardous and only ideal for those in good health; and stem cell transplants would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for most people. While this is promising and exciting research, pragmatically, AIDS researchers do not see it impacting treatment today.

The World Health Organization estimates that 33.4 million people have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Source: CNN "Researchers report possible HIV infection cure; others cite dangers"


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