The Science of Sleep

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Human beings spend on average one third of our lives asleep. We know we need to sleep, but most of us have never really given a whole lot of thought to why.

Why do we spend seven or eight hours a night immobile and unconscious? What really happens inside our brains and bodies while we’re sleeping?

As correspondent Lesley Stahl first reported this spring, it’s one of the biggest unanswered questions in all of science, which is why researchers all over the country are doing studies, and coming up with some new, intriguing discoveries.

Rapid Eye Movement Sleep: REM Disorders

Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is an important, yet often misunderstood, stage of sleep. While sleep experts know the body is temporarily paralyzed during REM sleep (except in people with REM sleep disorders), some of the characteristics of REM sleep remain a mystery. For example, although researchers have determined that we dream during REM sleep, they have still not identified the exact benefits of rapid eye movement sleep.

Treatment for Sleep Disorders

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

If you suffer from a sleep disorder, getting treatment is important to maintaining good health. However, because the causes of sleep deprivation are so vast, ranging from physical disabilities to lifestyle choices to emotional disorders, it may be hard to identify just what exactly is disrupting your sleep.

As a result, doctors will likely perform a series of tests and ask you about your lifestyle as they attempt to pinpoint the cause of your sleep deprivation. Knowing what is preventing you from falling and staying or even getting quality sleep is essential to getting the right treatment.

For example, if medications you are taking are interfering with your sleep, your doctor may prescribe you some alternate medication. Similarly, if depression is found to be the underlying cause of your sleep deprivation, then getting therapy and the right medication to treat this psychiatric disorder is what you need to help repair your sleep.