The observable examined

Sleepless at Stanford

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This lecture was given by Dr.Clete Kushida MD, PhD

key learnings

  • There are about 90 disorders of sleep!
  • 1-1.5 hrs of sleep deprivation in young adults reduces alertness by a third, on average
  • REM sleep comprises about 25% of total sleep time
  • NREM-N3 is the deepest sleep state in humans (0.25 – 4 cycles/sec)
  • NREM-N1, N2, N3 are the sleep stages
  • REM sleep sometimes described as “an alert mind in a paralyzed body”
  • In babies, 50% of sleep is REM sleep. Speculation that this is a sign of brain maturation
  • How much sleep is needed? It follows an almost normal distribution, with the mean around 8-9 hrs.
  • I learned two new terms – hypnogogic (transition from wakefulness to sleep) and hypnopompic (transition from sleep to wakefulness)
  • Hypocretin deficiency (in the CSF and brain, lateral hypothalmus) contributes to nacrolepsy
  • There were a couple of interesting videos – one on restless leg syndrome (this poor guy, filmed in the lab, was constantly moving in bed as he could not keep his legs still during sleep) and the other on a young kid afflicted with sleep apnea (snoring loudly and waking up startled).
  • CPAP while cumbersome, is very effective for sleep apnea
  • Kushida’s word of caution – Benadryl as a sleep medication has many cognitive side effects. In general, avoid any of the OTC sleep medications
  • For insomnia, the most effective treatments are behavioral (for example ,meditation, not reading in bed)
  • Two useful sites for sleep related information – Sleepeducation.com, sleepcenters.org
  • Throughout the lecture there was repeated emphasis on the importance of morning light for synchronizing circadian rythms

During Q & A , I asked Dr.Kushida about how yawning was related to sleep? The surprising answer was that nothing much was known and the relationship had not been systematically studied!! There are some weak theories on yawning as a behavioral adaptation. Seems like an interesting topic for research. Any takers?


Written by asterix98

November 24, 2010 at 5:56 am

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