Monday, March 17, 2008

The Science of Sleep

Last night Jeff and I watched 60 Minutes. They had a story on the Science of Sleep. While we all know that sleep is important, it was quite interesting to hear the studies and results that prove just why it's important.

Interesting quotes (click on Science of Sleep for direct link)

"A single night at four hours or five hours or even six, can in most people, begin to show affects in your attention and your memory and the speed with which you think. A second night it gets worse. A third night worse. Each day adds an additional burden or deficit to your cognitive ability."

"I think it's a convenient belief. For the millions of people who don't get enough sleep because their commute to work is too long, or they spend too many hours at work, or they just want this lifestyle of go, go, go, it's convenient to say, 'I've learned to live without sleep.' But you bring ‘em into the laboratory - and we have an open challenge to any CEO or anyone in the world, come into the laboratory - we don't see this adaptation,"

One thing sleep researchers do see is that their sleep-deprived volunteers often have mood swings: they get short-tempered, then become almost giddy, sometimes within seconds.

And what's more, in the sleep-deprived subjects, Walker discovered a disconnect between that over-reacting amygdala (a region of the brain) and the brain's frontal lobe, the region that controls rational thought and decision-making, meaning that the subjects' emotional responses were not being kept in check by the more logical seat of reasoning. It's a problem also found in people with psychiatric disorders. "We did a study where we restricted sleep to four hours per night for six nights," Van Cauter explains. "And we noticed that they were already in a pre-diabetic state. And so, that was a big finding." The study's subjects were on the road to diabetes in just six days, and that’s not all - they were also hungry. Van Cauter has made a radical discovery: that lack of sleep may be contributing to the epidemic of obesity in this country through the work of a hormone called leptin that tells your brain when you’re full.

Several large-scale studies from all over the world have reported a link between short sleep times and obesity, as well as heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

0 people had this to say: