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Monday's papers: Less sleep, Finland leads in violent crimes, and the future of fur farming

The Finnish print press starts out the week with a look at important Finnish research into sleep deprivation, a tabloid comparison of violent crime in Finland and Sweden, and a poll of Finnish MPs on the fur trade.

Vanhempi pariskunta nukkuu.
Do you get enough sleep at night? Image: AOP

The country's largest circulation daily Helsingin Sanomat starts out the week with tragic news. A young man who had gone missing last Thursday from the Helsinki island district of Lauttasaari was found dead on Sunday evening. Divers from the Finnish Coast Guard recovered the body of 18-year-old Rasmus Räsänen three kilometres south of Lauttasaari, near an island called Melkki. Räsänen disappeared on Thursday morning, after he told his family he was going out for a ski on the ice. In a Facebook post, his mother thanked everyone who had participated in the weekend's massive search and rescue operation.

Importance of a good night's sleep

The paper goes on to cover a new study that shows that people in Finland are now sleeping one hour less on average than they did in the 1970s. Finnish researchers find this worrying. Professor of clinical neurophysiology at Kuopio University Esa Mervaala says the number of patients with sleep problems in Finland is growing exponentially.

"It's connected to our contemporary hectic lives," he tells HS. "It disturbs our sleeping rhythms. This creates all kinds of symptoms and ailments during the day."

In order to wake up refreshed, research has shown that 20 percent of our nightly sleep cycle should be periods of REM (rapid eye movement). REM deprivation causes mild psychological disturbances, such as anxiety, irritability, hallucinations, and difficulty concentrating.

New research shows that the brain actually clears itself out during these REM periods, as spinal cord fluid circulation improves and cleanses metabolites such as amyloids (the build-up of which is linked to Alzheimer's disease) from the brain's cell membrane.

"New imaging methods have proven that accumulation disappears after a good night's sleep, when the brain is cleaned up and refreshed. We wake up ready to process new data. This is why sleep is so important," Mervaala says.

30 percent more violent deaths in Finland

The tabloid Iltalehti features a "mega-investigation" into violence, comparing statistics from Finland with Sweden. The comparison finds that Finland is clearly the country with the most violent crimes leading to death among the Nordics. Finland has 30 percent more of these kinds of violent deaths than Sweden, IL finds. Investigator Martti Lehti from Helsinki University's criminology department says the gaping difference can be explained almost entirely by alcohol-related violence perpetrated by men.

The situation used to be much worse in both countries, IL reports, but the incidence of violent crimes in both neighbours fell consistently for decades. Now violent crimes associated with conflicts between criminal organisations are back on the rise in Sweden. A Swedish crime researcher tells IL that this is most evident in statistics that reveal that 69 percent of violent crimes in Sweden is now concentrated in urban areas like Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.

MPs still divided on fur trade

And the Oulu-based newspaper Kaleva supplies the last entry in Monday's press review: a survey of Finland's MPs on fur farming.

Amid news that Norway's new government is planning to discontinue the Norwegian fur trade by the year 2025, a Lännen Media poll of Finnish decision-makers shows that 60 percent are still in favour of continuing fur farming in Finland. 101 parliamentarians responded to the poll between January 23 and February 9.

Only 20 percent of the Finnish MPs polled considered the farming of animals for their fur ethically sustainable, however, and over half agreed that steps should be taken to improve fur farming methods. The survey showed that the Greens, Left Alliance and Social Democrats (SDP) were in favour of slowly phasing out the trade in Finland, while MPs from the other parties tended to be okay with the profitable export business continuing.

The paper says that even if the survey shows that close to two-thirds of Finland's parliamentarians aren't interested in closing down Finland's fur trade, the latest polls showing the SDP and Greens enjoying increasing voter support might put them in power after the next parliamentary election, meaning things could change quickly.

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