Getting older a nightmare for sleep: study

Getting good quality sleep and enough of it has been proven to be a nightmare for older people.

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It’s well known that as people age, they sleep less and wake up more frequently.

New research suggests the ageing process affects the quality of sleep people get, wreaking havoc on a person both mentally and physically and could even be implicated in the prevalence of many diseases and dementia.

A review of scientific literature published in medical journal Neuron found that adults may be losing their ability to produce deep, restorative sleep from their mid-30s.

“Sleep changes with ageing, but it doesn’t just change with ageing; it can also start to explain ageing itself,” said review co-author Matthew Walker, who leads the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Every one of the major diseases that are killing us in first-world nations – from diabetes to obesity to Alzheimer’s disease to cancer – all of those things now have strong causal links to a lack of sleep. And all of those diseases significantly increase in likelihood the older that we get, and especially in dementia.”

As the brain ages, neurons and circuits in the areas that regulate sleep slowly degrade, resulting in a decreased amount of non-REM sleep.

Since non-REM deep sleep plays a key role in maintaining memory and cognition, that’s a problem, says Professor Walker

There is a debate in the literature, he says, as to whether older adults need less sleep, or rather, older adults cannot generate the sleep that they need.

“The evidence seems to favour one side – older adults do not have a reduced sleep need, but instead, an impaired ability to generate sleep. The elderly therefore suffer from an unmet sleep need,” said Prof Walker.

The authors stress that there is variability between individuals when it comes to sleep loss.

However the review did find that women seem to experience far less deterioration in non-REM deep sleep than men.

With loss of deep sleep starting in the mid-thirties, Prof Walker says this must been seen as an important health issue.

“We need to recognise the causal contribution of sleep disruption in the physical and mental deterioration that underlies ageing and dementia. More attention needs to be paid to the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disturbance if we are going to extend healthspan, and not just lifespan,” he said.

Morrison tells firms to help sell tax cuts

Treasurer Scott Morrison has taken aim at business leaders, telling them to step up and help sell the virtues of company tax cuts rather than leave the government to do the heavy lifting.

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In a week when two business groups expressed concern about the state of politics and the slow pace of much-needed economic reform, the treasurer has hit back, criticising the lack of support the government is getting from big firms to sell its 10-year tax cut plan.

He says Australians readily accept that supporting small and medium-sized businesses is good for the economy and jobs but they remain less convinced about the contributions of larger companies.

“I have raised consistently with large business representatives the need to address the broader collective reputation issues large businesses have with the Australian public that are being cynically exploited by an opportunistic Labor party,” he told a banking conference in Sydney on Thursday.

He said the job started by talking with employees and not just relying on the media to convey the message.

“This task cannot be pursued by the government in isolation,” he told he told the AFR Banking and Wealth Summit on Thursday.

The parliament passed part of the government’s 10-year tax plan last week, agreeing to cut the corporate tax rate for businesses with a turnover up to $50 million.

The tax package that aims for an eventual reduction in the corporate tax rate to 25 per cent for all businesses will remain on the government’s agenda.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive James Pearson said he was fully aware of the critical role business could play in demonstrating the benefit of pro-enterprise policies to employees and the broader community.

“We have a long history of joining public debate on company tax and other issues impacting business and will continue to do so,” Mr Pearson told AAP.

But government frontbencher Zed Seselja said business leaders had to do more than write a letter or opinion piece in a newspaper.

“Business is effectively bringing constantly a knife to a gun fight,” he told Sky News.

Labor finance spokesman Jim Chalmers said Mr Morrison should be fixing his own mess just weeks out from the budget rather than engaging in another “red-faced rant”.

“It’s pathetic,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

Australia Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox told the National Press Club on Wednesday there was a “deep and endemic frustration” about the pace of reform and the nature of the political debate.

He said it risked Australia being left behind in the global economy.

Earlier in the week, the Australian Institute of Company Directors warned the country was stuck in “policy limbo and partisan paralysis”.

The Business Council of Australia notes polling shows support for the government’s enterprise tax plan is higher than either major party’s primary vote.

It says all institutions – including business, government and unions – must listen to community concerns and take every reasonable step to address them.

“For business, this means communicating with employees, suppliers, shareholders and communities in the forums that are most relevant to them,” a council spokesperson told AAP.

Axed Panthers face anxious NRL wait

Penrith’s axed trio of skipper Matt Moylan, Peta Hiku and Waqa Blake could be in the doghouse for more than one game after coach Anthony Griffin declined to guarantee a recall next week.

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Griffin sensationally dropped his three frontliners to NSW Cup on Tuesday after breaking the team’s curfew following last week’s NRL loss to Melbourne.

While it’s unlikely Penrith will risk another week without their best line-up, Griffin on Thursday refused to confirm the length of the punishment.

“I can’t tell you that. Only the players can tell you that, the ones that play Friday night and the three guys that have gone back to NSW Cup,” Griffin said after the captain’s run.

The second-year Panthers coach stood by his decision to send a message to his playing group ahead of Friday’s crucial round-six NRL clash with South Sydney.

Installed as premiership favourites alongside Melbourne at the start of the year, Penrith will drop out of the top eight if they lose the match at Pepper Stadium.

But Griffin insisted it was in the best interests of the club.

“It’s not a major issue as far as breaking laws or anything. But it’s something that we take seriously within our own club. The boys have reacted very well,” he said.

The trio will take on Newcastle in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW at St Marys on Saturday.

“They understood the reasons and to their credit they didn’t play the victim. They understood the decision they made wasn’t the right thing by the team. That’s the main thing,” said Griffin.

“They trained very well with NSW Cup – I went to training last night – that’s what they need to do.”

The former Brisbane mentor said he didn’t consider stripping the captaincy from Moylan, who will be replaced by youngster Dylan Edwards with veteran Peter Wallace to fill in as skipper.

“If Matt wants to be captain of this club, I’m not going to stop him doing that. Maybe one day we’ll look back and see this as a point that it helped him assume that authority,” he said.

Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, older brother of Panthers flyer Dallin, will make his NRL debut on the wing, while Michael Oldfield will also make his first appearance for the club.

In some good news for the Panthers, Tyrone Peachey could be back next week after initial reports suggested he could be out for up to six weeks with broken ribs.

Bryce Cartwright (ankle) and James Fisher-Harris (eye socket) are also expected to return.

South Sydney hooker Robbie Farah enters Saturday’s match under a fitness cloud after picking up a back spasm that limited his training this week.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Penrith have won the past two, and 10 of 13 matches against South Sydney at home, where they have also averaged 31 points in their past seven matches.

* Penrith concede the most offloads (11.6 per game), miss the second most tackles (32.2 per game) and make the equal second most errors (12.2 per game).

* The Rabbitohs are forcing 2.2 dropouts per game, equal with Brisbane.

UK hand transplant recipient pens letter

The first person in the UK to have a double hand transplant says writing a letter to thank his surgeon has been one the highlights of his first nine months since the pioneering operation, as well as being able to clap the achievements his favourite rugby league team.

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Chris King, 57, described how he has got his life back since the surgery in July last year, when he became the second person to have a hand transplant at the UK’s specialist centre for the operation at Leeds General Infirmary and the first to have both hands replaced.

King demonstrated how he can now do a range of tasks, including writing, making a cup of tea and gardening as he progresses even faster than his surgeon anticipated.

He said he is improving every week and his next aims are to tie his own shoelaces and button up his shirt. He said he has already cracked undoing them.

“They are my boys, they really are,” King said, looking at his hands.

“It’s been going fantastically.

“I can make a fist, I can hold a pen, I can do more or less the same functions as I could with my original hands. There are still limitations but I’m getting back to the full Chris again.”

King lost both his hands, except the thumbs, in an accident involving a metal pressing machine at his work in Doncaster four years ago.

He was close to death in the ambulance after the incident, but a team of what he calls the “unsung heroes” at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital managed to save his life and enough of his lower limbs to enable the later transplant surgery.

King and Consultant plastic surgeon Professor Simon Kay became friends and are now members of an exclusive club, which now has an additional member after Kay’s team carried out a further double transplant. The hospital is hoping the procedure will one day be as routine as a kidney transplant.

King described how he celebrated re-learning how to hold a pen and write again with a letter to the professor.

“When I picked a pen up first time was with my right hand,” he said.

“The next time I picked it up it was left. I might be able to write with both hands now.”