Tag Archives: sleep

The Science of Sleeplessness


A survey of the latest in sleep science (and sleep science books) by Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker.  This is from The Slumbering Massesby Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer:

“Americans, like other people around the world, used to sleep in an unconsolidated fashion, that is, in two or more periods throughout the day.” They went to bed not long after the sun went down. Four or five hours later, they woke from their “first sleep” and rattled around—praying, chatting, smoking, or making love. (Benjamin Franklin reportedly liked to spend this time reading naked in a chair.) Eventually, they went back to bed for their “second sleep.”

Wide Awake

An NYT review of Wide Awake: A Memoir of Insomnia, by Patricia Morrisroe.

Morrisroe interviews an anthropologist who says that in many traditional, non-Western cultures people sleep on light mats, not beds, sometimes in groups around a fire. Instead of what the anthropologist calls our “lie down and die” model, people drift in and out of slumber. Sometimes, they get up to sing or dance for a while…

Sleep = Energy

Brain’s energy restored during sleep–not exactly a news flash.  But a study looks at what actually goes on in your head while you’re slumbering:

In the initial stages of sleep, energy levels increase dramatically in brain regions found to be active during waking hours [suggesting] a surge of cellular energy may replenish brain processes needed to function normally while awake.

Take a Nap

Sara Mednick, PhD wants you to take a nap.  She wrote a book about it (Take a Nap, Change Your Life). No, you don’t have to stop at 20 minutes:

Research shows longer naps help boost memory and enhance creativity. Slow-wave sleep — napping for approximately 30 to 60 minutes — is good for decision-making skills, such as memorizing vocabulary or recalling directions. Getting rapid eye movement or REM sleep, usually 60 to 90 minutes of napping, plays a key role in making new connections in the brain and solving creative problems.