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BrainFacts.org

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One Family, Different Clocks

The brain is the home of the body’s internal clock. Genetics can alter this clock, as the 2012 second place Brain Awareness Video Contest winner explains.

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Introduction

People spend much of their lives asleep. Sleep is vital to survival, and it helps the nervous system function properly. Studies reveal that when animals and people fail to get enough sleep, concentration, coordination, memory, and mood suffer. Additionally, sleep issues often affect people with psychiatric and neurological disorders. Recent studies are revealing how brain cells and chemicals work together to regulate sleep and the changes that take place in the brain when a person is sleep-deprived. Using advanced molecular, cellular, and brain imaging technologies, researchers are exploring the activity of different brain regions during sleep, and how certain events and disorders alter sleep states. This information could lead to new treatments for sleep disorders — which affect millions worldwide — and deeper understanding of the relationship between sleep and various diseases.

Discoveries

The Different Kinds of Sleep

Source: CIHR – Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction
Each of us spends about one-third of our life asleep. By the time you’re 75, you will have spent 25 years sleeping. Suppressing sleep for an extended period has dramatic effects on an organism’s physiological equilibrium.

Sleep Disorders

Source: CIHR – Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction
People are too quick to label others as lazy if they accord a lot of importance to their sleep. But if there’s one thing for which we should show more respect, it’s our need for a good night’s sleep.

The Sleep-Wakefulness Cycle

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Why do we get sleepy? There are two main determining factors: the circadian system (time of day or night) and how long we have been awake.

Yawning

Source: CIHR – Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction
Yawning is both familiar to everyone and totally mysterious, as scientists continue to puzzle over its possible functions.

The Sleep Cycles in a Night

Source: CIHR – Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction

There are two main types of sleep, REM sleep and non-REM sleep, and non-REM sleep in turn is divided into four stages. But how are these various kinds of sleep distributed over the course of a night? In what order do they occur? Are they repeated several times?

Sleep in the News

Your Brain On Magic Mushrooms Is Actually Similar To Dreaming, Brain Scan Study Shows

Source: Huffington Post
Date: 7 July 2014
Scientists studying the effects of the psychedelic chemical in magic mushrooms have found the human brain displays a similar pattern of activity during dreams as it does during a mind-expanding drug trip.

Less Sleep Tied to Brain Shrinkage, Cognitive Decline

Source: FOX News
Date: 2 July 2014
Less sleep was found to be associated with brain shrinkage and cognitive decline, according to new research of older adults.

How Working Late is Harming Your Brain

Source: Fast Company
Date: 29 April 2014
Rather than boosting productivity, a recent study showed staying up all night is actually harmful to your brain.

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