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双语新闻播报(January 26)

chinadaily.com.cn 2024-01-26 14:40


> Do humans need to hibernate?



“If you feel like sleeping more in the winter, you’re not alone,” said Dr. Raj Dasgupta, an associate professor of clinical medicine at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California, citing research that found at least a third of American adults reported they sleep more in the winter.


The 188 patients who underwent sleep studies at St. Hedwig Hospital in Berlin slept about an hour longer in winter than they did in summer, which the authors said wasn’t statistically significant.


But participants did get 30 more minutes of rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep during winter.


The REM phase of sleep is the sweet spot of sleep cycles, characterized by more dreaming and faster heart rate and breathing more than in other stages.


It’s “an essential stage of sleep that helps with memory, concentration, mood regulation and immune function,” Dasgupta said.


The desire for, or occurrence of, more sleep during winter may have to do with how light fluctuates throughout the year.


“Our bodies receive cues from the sun when it comes to our circadian rhythm, meaning that when it is bright outside we tend to be active, but when the sun goes down, you may tend to feel tired,” Dasgupta said. “The decrease in sunlight causes an increase in melatonin, a hormone made in the body that regulates sleep-wake cycles.”


And light influences not only sleep quantity but also sleep quality.


“REM sleep is highly affected by light and darkness, so when during the winter months we have less light, the body is going to basically overcompensate by giving more REM sleep,” said Dr. Joshua Tal, a New York City-based clinical psychologist specializing in sleep issues.


Humans still don’t need to hibernate, Weiss said, nor can we afford to due to our social and occupational obligations.


“But we can make adjustments to perform in a better way, to rest in a better way during winter,” she said.


> US home sales see worst year since 1995



Home sales in the US sank to the lowest in nearly 30 years, as a sharp rise in interest rates increased costs for buyers and persuaded many potential sellers with lower rates to stay put.


Just 4.09 million homes were purchased, the fewest since 1995, as tight supply pushed prices to a new record, the National Association of Realtors said.


The organisation said it expected the market to improve in 2024. But it warned that affordability would remain an issue.


The median sale price in 2023 climbed 1% over the year, to $389,800, according to the NAR.


The housing market in the US has slowed abruptly since 2022, when the Federal Reserve started raising interest rates in a bid to curb inflation.


Last year, US mortgage rates, which are typically fixed for a 30-year period, shot above 7% for the first time in decades.


It has also created a stark divide between would-be buyers and existing homeowners, many of whom have loans with rates below 4% and would face sharply higher costs to move.


But Nancy Vanden Houten, lead US economist for Oxford Economics, said while that may help demand, rates are likely to remain above 6% - not enough to bring a substantial number of sellers into the market.


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