If there was a disease that incapacitated a person for about a third of his/her life (say for 8 hours every day), you might think that researchers would want to find a cure. Well, that disease is called sleep, and folks are looking to why we need to sleep and how we might take more control over our sleep needs. And for the people who can't get enough sleep (over 40 million American insomniacs), there are sleeping pills that attempt to keep them asleep. So far, it doesn't seem like we've made much progress figuring out our sleep problems, but here are a few links that you might want to read before bedtime.
- Drugs like modafinil and armodafinil can counteract some of the negative effects of sleep deprivation, but pharmaceuticals, so far, all have limitations -- and eventually everyone must sleep. Not surprisingly, the military has done a lot of sleep research, developing a sleep mask, dietary supplements, and tests using transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). [url]
- A study of sleep deprived subjects showed that the lack of sleep made them look unattractive, sad and unhealthy. News@11: Sleep deprivation causes "mood swings, medical problems, relationship troubles, diminished motor skills, poor decision making, vision problems, increased appetite, inability to concentrate, poor memory, inability to handle stress." [url]
- A global human sleep study has been proposed to attach sensors to people sleeping in order to collect real-time data for a million people. The estimated cost of this study would be just $30 million, and the data might be invaluable. [url]
- Before artificial lighting was widely used, people used to routinely wake up in the middle of the night for a couple hours. We seem to have forgotten about the practice of "first" and "second" sleep, and we've adopted a continuous 8 hours of sleep at night as a norm that might not actually be so normal. [url]
If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post