Sleep Studies

22 09 2011

Yesterday at work I attended a seminar on Sleeping Disorders. It was actually extremely interesting. It was led by what I have been led to believe is the leading sleep expert in the DC area, Dr. Helene Emsellem. Dr. Emsellem works at The Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders which is based in Chevy Chase, MD. In addition to her research and practices there, she has also written a book focussing on teenagers’ sleeping habits and their relation to high school early starting times, called, Snooze or Looze! 10 No-War Ways To Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits. The book is actually on a topic that I have been interested in for a while, and I even wrote a research paper on this topic back in high school.

The lecture I attended covered a number of very interesting topics. Below are some of my notes and interesting things I learned:

  • Sleep deprivation can cause bursts of REM (Rapid Eye Movement aka: the deep sleep that occurs when you are dreaming) during the day. An example of this is when you have to read a sentence multiple times and you space out and are unable to focus.
  • On insufficient sleep, you crave more carbs and get hungry more often.
  • People can only be awake for 16-17 hours and still perform well.
  • Lucid dreaming is when you are dreaming, wake up from a dream, and are able to get back into the dream when you fall back asleep. [I think this is awesome and I’ve always wanted to be able to do this!]
  • The best nap should only last 40 minutes maximum and should occur before 4pm.
  • In most states, it is considered Vehicular Homicide if you drive while sleepy and get into a car accident.
  • As adults, we can only tolerate a two (to three) hour shift in wake-up and bed times on “off” days.
  • Getting more than enough sleep is not good for you. (Similar to not getting enough sleep.)
  • There are some people who have a normal sleep schedule and get a good amount of sleep but who have a kind of narcolepsy called Hypersomnia where you experience Excessive Daytime Sleepiness and frequently fall asleep during the day. The onset of this can last up to 15 years and begins in adolescence.
  • Robert Stickgold did a study at Harvard about playing Tetris playing on different amounts of sleep. The research was related to REM sleep and the processing of information.

It may have been a lot of information in a short period of time, but it was truly fascinating. Ironic, that I didn’t end up falling asleep during a lecture about sleep!




One response

23 09 2011

Lucid dreams can be wonderful, but they’re a little surreal, because–at least for me–I realize that the dream isn’t real, but I still think it’s real. Very weird.

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