The Science of Sleep

Fifty years of research on brain activity and physiological patterns of sleeping has revealed a great deal about what sleep is and what it is not.

What is Sleep?

Not the passive state many people once considered it to be, sleep is now known to be a highly active process during which the day’s events are processed and energy is restored. go to this section

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Hypnogram screen shot

Sleep Lab

This Sleep Lab interactive gives you a first-hand look at these aspects of sleep using examples of healthy sleepers of various ages, as well as exploring how shift work and certain sleep disorders can affect the amount, pattern, and depth of sleep.

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Dr. Robert Stickgold

Sleep and Dreams (1:11)

Dr. Robert Stickgold describes the physiological underpinnings for why we might dream about the things we do.

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Dr. Thomas Scammell

REM and NREM Sleep (1:21)

Dr. Thomas Scammell describes the different stages of sleep and their characteristics.

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Dream Sequence

The Characteristics of Sleep

Our brains and bodies undergo a wide variety of changes when we transition from wakefulness to sleep.

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How is Sleep Regulated?

The brain plays a critical role in the timing of sleep and wakefulness, but external factors, including our own behavior, can push many of the brain’s finely tuned systems out of sync. go to this section

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Hands showing brain parts

The Brain and Sleep (2:04)

Dr. Thomas Scammell discusses how structures and chemicals in the brain are responsible for producing both wakefulness and sleep.

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Dr. Charles Czeisler

The Biological Clock and Sleep Homeostat (1:25)

Dr. Charles Czeisler describes the interaction between the internal biological clock and the sleep homeostat.

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Dr. Epstein

Smoking and Sleep (0:56)

Dr. Lawrence Epstein describes how nicotine in cigarettes can prevent or disrupt sleep.

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Forces that define sleep screen shot

The Forces that Control Sleep and Wakefulness

How do we stay awake throughout the day and sleep through the night? See the forces that make this happen.

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Variations in Sleep

Age, shift work, and jet lag can all dramatically influence sleep patterns, and can keep people from getting the sleep they need. go to this section

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Mom with 2 kids

Kirsten’s Story: Developing Sleep Routines in Children (4:49)

Balancing the demands of work and parenthood, Kirsten explores how developing sleep routines in her children can help ensure a lifetime of healthy sleep habits.

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Senior exercising

Sleep Strategies Later in Life (4:22)

Sleep problems are not inevitable as we age, though individuals need to pay attention to healthy sleep habits.

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Dennis Dean

Jet Lag and How to Mitigate its Effects (1:11)

Dennis Dean describes how jet lag affects the body and suggests ways to minimize the negative effects.

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Dr. Charles Czeisler

Shift Work and Ways to Improve Sleep (1:29)

Dr. Charles Czeisler suggests some healthy sleep strategies for night shift workers.

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