My interest for sleep
I must admit… I only recently got interested in sleep, since my background is more in visual perception research and learning and memory experiments in mice. Quite weird actually that it got by so unnoticed, since it’s something we do 1/3rd of the time (well hopefully for most of us) and actually one of my favourite occupations. Now I’m really passionate about the topic.
Sleep is the part of the day where we are least conscious about what’s going on in that head of ours. That’s one of the things that makes it so interesting to me. We do it for such a big part of the day, but it seems we know so little about it (but that’s of course true for a lot of other topics as well :-)). A lot of speculation has been done on the role of sleep in memory and learning and a lot of research now also focuses on sleep disorders and insomnia, since long term sleep deprivation could have detrimental effects on health and cognition, although not much is known about this at the moment (or well at the moment I haven’t read much about this).
Of course, as in any other domain or field of research, the diversity with which sleep is approached, is as diverse as the domains investigated within neuroscience itself. Just to get a grasp of topics approached in sleep research: sleep and memory/learning, sleep and circadian rhythm, sleep genetics, a wide range of sleep disorders, sleep and homeostasis, molecular sleep, sleep in children/adolescents… That means that I unfortunately will only be able to cover certain of these topics. If there is interest in other topics that I won’t cover, you’re of course always free to make suggestions or make your own contribution.
Aside from just summarising articles I’ve read, I’ll also try to make the topics accessible for readers that don’t have a lot background with the topic. I encourage you to comment on the blog messages for this purpose, but I will also occasionally post some links that provide a good introduction or are a nice complement to what I discuss in a certain blog. I’ll also try to complement blogs by pictures, but I’ll have to figure out how I can do this without copyright issues, so if you have recommendations definitely notify me!
In conclusion, I’ll add the first sleep-related link here that has helped me quite a bit in understanding more about sleep. This website provides some general knowledge at different levels of complexity/detail, which makes it very accessible.
http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/ –> hover over “Sleep and Dreams” and choose between “The sleep/dream/wake-cycle” or “Our biological clocks” to see how sleep is explained at the social, psychological, neurological, cellular and molecular level. Enjoy!