Stories tagged sleep


Sleeping? How quaint!: Why doesn't this guy just take a pill?
Sleeping? How quaint!: Why doesn't this guy just take a pill?Courtesy Stougard/Wikimedia Commons
If you don't have a lot of time, don't go to the BBC Future site. I made this mistake at bedtime recently--it was one of those "Oh, I'll just read a story or two" moments--and finally managed to extricate myself after two hours of reading link after link of their science and tech stories, too sleepy to continue but too fascinated to quit. So it seems appropriate that one of the links that caught my attention was
this one, from BBC Future's weekly Best of the Web feature.

To be fair, the essay here isn't scientific research, and it doesn't cite any sources. But it brings up some interesting ideas. Is "natural" sleep necessarily the best? If we can take a drug that does the same thing for our brains and bodies as sleeping, is there any reason we shouldn't? What if the sleep replacement wasn't a drug, but rather an external device?

Perhaps most importantly, what would you do if you didn't have to sleep? I obviously know what I'd be doing I'd be doing...


I posted this picture a few days ago on Facebook and got a ton of comments. Apparently, I am not the only one that does this. I also thought this was something new, but a friend pointed out that I did this since I was 14 (9th grade sleepovers). My husband is really creeped out by it and he has to physically push my arm back down. Has anyone else ever experienced this? Does anyone know what causes this? The human body sure does weird things!!

Weird Sleeping Habit
Weird Sleeping HabitCourtesy My Husband

Scientists at Columbia University have demonstrated that babies are capable of learning new things while they sleep, and that their frontal cortices are active during the process (crazy picture of the device used here). Evidence of this sort of thing has been found before, but without measuring brain activity.

As someone who's a big fan of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, this news is at once awesome and terrifying.


Sometimes, while lying awake at night, I will notice my wife momentarily stop breathing. This is known as sleep-disordered breathing or sleep apnea. Sleep apnea not only causes one to sleep poorly, it can result in death.

The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort study

Researchers followed 1522 generally healthy men and women for an average of 13.8 years after testing them for sleep-disordered breathing using a standard overnight sleep test.

Participants with severe sleep-disordered breathing were three times more likely to die during the study than those without breathing problems during sleep. Those who were not treated were at even greater risk. Participants with untreated severe sleep-disordered breathing were four times more likely to die from any cause and five times more likely to die from cardiovascular conditions. Science Daily

Do you have sleep apnea?

An estimated 12-18 million Americans have moderate to severe sleep-disordered breathing. How can you know if you have it? Complaints of snoring from bed partners, excessive daytime sleepiness, and morning headache are warning signs.

A friend of mine's girlfriend had a heart attack last week. I asked him if she had sleep apnea. She did. She also was not using the device that was supposed to keep her breathing at night.

We've talked before about how much sleep a person needs. Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that missing just one night of sleep makes the brain unstable and prone to sudden shutdowns.


National Sleep Awareness Week® (NSAW), is a public education, information, and awareness campaign that coincides with the return of Daylight Saving Time, the annual "springing forward" of clocks that can cause Americans to lose an hour of sleep.
--NSAW website (

Check out the sleep quizzes, tools and other information on the National Sleep Foundation website.

  • Do you get enough sleep?
  • What are you planning to do to recognize NSAW?
  • Share your sleep strategies with us!

Sleep good!: A midday nap is good for your health. Photo by alykat from

A perfect post for a Monday morning...

The new book Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream by Jennifer Ackerman explores a wide range of new findings in human physiology. According to a review in the NY Times,

A host of new hormones have been discovered to govern appetite and satiety, and while the doldrums that follow lunch are still not completely understood, recent research strongly supports a brief nap to treat them.

So the next time the boss catches me napping at my desk, I’ll have bona-fide scientific research to back me up – all the way to the unemployment line.


All night long: Scientists have found a gene that leads to increased nighttime activity. Photo by paperocks a.k.a. evalinda at
All night long: Scientists have found a gene that leads to increased nighttime activity. Photo by paperocks a.k.a. evalinda at

Scientists in England have discovered a gene which regulates the internal body clock of mice. Mice with a particular mutation of the gene operated on a 27-hour cycle, rather than a 24-hour cycle, and thus stayed active later into the night. A similar gene in humans could help explain why some people are night owls while others are early birds. And research into this gene may lead to new treatments for sleep disorders.

No word on whether the gene makes you want to boogie-oogie-oogie till you just can’t boogie no more…