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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

This Jet-Lag App Does the Math So You'll Feel Better Faster

Source: NPR Shots Blog
Date: 11 April 2014
Mathematicians say they can make jet lag less painful with a smartphone app that calculates the swiftest way to adjust.

Lost Sleep Leads to Loss of Brain Cells, Study Suggests

Source: BBC
Date: 19 March 2014
Sleep loss may be more serious than previously thought, causing a permanent loss of brain cells, research suggests.

Study: The Key to Remembering Your Dreams Might be the Blood Glow in Your Brain

Source: The Washington Post
Date: 22 Feb 2014
A new study has discovered that heightened blood flow activity within certain regions of the brain could help explain the great dreamer divide.

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