Sleep may be the most influential aspect of our health that is widely taken for granted. Many these days aren’t surprised to learn that a large number of the population makes due with six hours of sleep or less on average, but they are surprised to learn that six hours of sleep a night puts your health at serious risk.
This widespread indifference towards sleep is partly due, of course, to the fact that so many of us tend to look at sleep as a burden, something that keeps us from friends and family, from our entertainment, and from getting things done. But a much deeper reason is just that so many are unaware of the profound difference getting good sleep makes in our lives, even in our day-to-day experiences.
Sleep is the difference between a productive work day, and a day spent fixing an avoidable mistake. Sleep is the difference between being an understanding parent and coworker, and becoming frustrated and angry with others at the flip of a switch. Sleep is the difference between a long life with a strong heart, and living under the shadow of heart disease due to high stress. Sleep makes a difference.
If you’re here and reading this, then that means you’ve already given yourself a leg up on getting better sleep. Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back! You now have some idea of the importance of sleep, and you know you want to get the best sleep possible—this is a great place to start.
So, how can you start to make that change for the better? Well, by talking with the experts in sleep, of course.
Enter Reverie’s amazing Sleep CoachTM program.
We offer one-on-one sessions with certified sleep coaches to help you get a customized plan for better sleep going forward.
Wondering what makes a sleep coach, well, a “sleep coach”? We’ve worked with our Sleep Advisory Board—comprised of scientists and doctors from leading universities—to take the latest in sleep science research and translate it for your life. Our sleep coaches come from wellness backgrounds and have gone through intensive training to become experts on the latest in sleep science and how it applies to your life. They’re here to educate, motivate, encourage, and hold you accountable to your sleep goals.
Sound good? It is! When you schedule a one-on-one, it’s like meeting with a personal trainer who cares a lot about your sleep and wants to see you succeed.
Better sleep is possible, and it’s right here at your fingertips.
Interested in talking to a sleep coach? Schedule your free 10-minute introductory call today.
Settling for less-than-awesome sleep means settling for a less-than-awesome life. Don’t leave your sleep up to chance—take advantage of our Sleep Coach program and start sleeping like you mean it.
The impact of sleep
Let’s be honest: when was the last time you woke up without an alarm clock and felt awesome? And when was the last time you made it through a whole day without feeling groggy and underslept (or without being alarmingly over-caffeinated)?
1 in 3 American adults report that they are not getting enough sleep, and as it turns out, when we don't sleep, it’s really bad for us. Sleeping less than six or seven hours a night wreaks havoc on all aspects of our wellness. Carried out over a long period of time, these negative effects are only compounded.
When you are sleep deprived, you:
Are more stressed, creating a higher risk of developing hypertension.
Are more likely to experience weight gain.
Have a higher risk of developing cancer.
These are only a few of the detrimental effects of losing out on sleep. The good news, though, is that when you get consistent quality sleep, you protect yourself from this damage, and you also reap the amazing, life-changing benefits of sleep. What do these look like? Well, for starters, getting great sleep:
Encourages a healthy microbiome in our gut.
Promotes the ideal state for our cardiovascular system.
Creates a better learning environment for our brain to memorize, remember, and make logical decisions.
The awesome thing about sleep is that it really and truly enhances every organ and function studied to date: there has yet to be a part of our physiology that has not been found to benefit from quality sleep.
Cover all your bases
If getting great sleep always seems to be just out of reach for you, you should make sure that you’re maintaining good sleep hygiene, which simply means taking steps to protect yourself from losing sleep. Here’s the list from the NIH with tips to help you get your best sleep:
Stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
Exercise is great for sleep, but don’t do it too late in the day, as this can prevent you from falling asleep.
Avoid caffeine and nicotine.
Avoid alcoholic drinks close to bedtime.
Avoid large beverages and meals late at night.
Don’t take naps after 3 p.m.
Relax before bed.
Take a hot bath before bed.
Keep your bedroom cool, completely dark, and free of any screens such as phones, TVs, tablets, etc.
Get the right sunlight exposure, as this will help regulate your sleeping pattern.
Don’t lie in bed awake. If sleep doesn’t come on after lying in bed for more than 30 minutes, or you start to feel anxious or stressed, get up and do a relaxing activity in a different room, and head back to bed once you feel tired.
The mighty slumber
Sleep is infinitely more complex, profoundly more interesting, and alarmingly more relevant to our health and wellness than we could've ever predicted even a hundred years ago—and we are always learning more about it. Many health professionals are calling sleep the single-most beneficial thing we can do for preventative care. There is just nothing out there that can claim to do for your body all the things that sleep can do. Make sure to take advantage of this wonderful remedy tonight!
A recent Michigan State University study showed that Reverie’s 3D-Wave massage goes well beyond the obvious feel-good benefits during the massage. Namely, using it for 30 minutes at bedtime can help you wake up feeling happier and more alert. And those effects last well into the day.
A quick recap on the massage itself
Our 3D-Wave technology is truly revolutionary. Using the scientific principle of resonant frequency, we developed a more dynamic massage with a circular motion not found on other massage furniture. It’s also gentler and quieter. No crude shaking of the bed or bruising shiatsu. Just a travelling, zen motion that increases blood flow and circulation. And because we’re Reverie®, we designed it so you can adjust it to your own needs. Up to four wave patterns at your beck and call, plus 10 levels of intensity. We have a short video explaining more here.
The methodology, in human-speak
So here’s how the study went down. Male and female college students were studied for approximately 24 hours. One group of participants slept with a 30-minute 3D-Wave massage at bedtime, and the other group did not. Both groups were given cognitive tests before going to bed to establish a baseline and also given standard physiological tests throughout the night to track their sleep quality.
Upon waking, they were evaluated across several measures. They were asked about their quality of sleep, and given another cognitive test. They rated their initial alertness and mood. Once they left the clinic and went about their normal lives, they were then texted every two hours throughout the day and asked to keep rating their alertness and mood.
The group that had the massage was compared to the group that didn’t. And the results were heartening. People who had used Reverie 3D Wave™ massage the night before woke up feeling happier. Better yet? The effects were not fleeting. Those who had 3D-Wave massage were more alert throughout the day and also in a better mood.
What does it mean for you?
Sleep is a complex thing. It is different for all people, and at Reverie, we view it as a puzzle to be solved on many fronts. For a long time, we’ve felt massage helped, and now we have some objective proof. Massage is just one of many things we invest a lot of energy into to help you succeed at great sleep.
There’s really no way to go wrong with our 3D-Wave massage. It feels amazing, and many of us who sleep on the bed ourselves feel strongly that it helps us fall asleep. This study also supports the idea that it will help you feel happier and less tired all day long. At Reverie, this truly makes us happy. Our tagline is “Sleep well tonight. Live better tomorrow.” We mean it, and hope that you experience life-changing sleep every night.
For our data hounds:
Here’s the science behind the study:
- EEG, EOG, EKG, respiration and oxygen levels measured to determine sleep quality.
- Stanford Sleepiness Scale to measure alertness.
- UNRAVEL computerized place-keeping test to measure cognitive fitness.
- PANAS test to measure mood.
This study was funded in part by Reverie and by a grant from the SCIP/TCA program from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Pregnant? New parent or have small kids? Tired? Get tips and info on our special site for exhausted moms.
Ready to start sleeping better?
Did you know that getting quality, restful sleep can help you lose weight?
According to Sanjay Patel, M.D. a researcher at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, at least two dozen studies have confirmed that people who sleep less tend to weigh more. Studying almost 70,000 women over the course of 16 years, Patel and his colleagues discovered that women who sleep less than five hours a night were far more likely to gain weight than those who get at least seven and a half hours. And the difference wasn't negligible. In fact, they were 30% more likely to gain 30 or more pounds. Yikes.
The sleep connection to appetite and metabolism.
There are several different ways losing sleep can thwart your weight loss efforts. Research from the University of Chicago suggests that sleep deprivation may lead to a change in how our bodies regulate appetite, leading us to crave more food. “You may start not only eating more, but eating unhealthy foods — those high in fat and carbohydrates,” says Patel. “Another possibility is that because people who are sleep-deprived feel more fatigued, they exercise less. Sleep deprivation can also change your basal metabolic rate, slowing down how many calories you burn just doing basic life-sustaining activities, like breathing and maintaining body temperature.”
The nitty gritty science of it.
Michael Breus, Ph.D., clinical director of the sleep division at Southwest Spine & Sport in Scottsdale, Arizona, and author of Beauty Sleep, reports that sleep deprivation leads to an overproduction of ghrelin and a decrease in leptin production. Ghrelin is hormone that causes hunger; leptin is a hormone that prompts people to stop eating. This imbalance can lead to over-eating. Furthermore, the brain secretes growth hormones during sleep, which helps metabolize fat in the body.
In short, the intertwined nature of sleep and weight loss continues to be uncovered, and in all cases it seems that better sleep contributes to a more ideal weight. If you're struggling to lose a few pounds, it might be time to refocus on your nightly slumber rather than the next juice cleanse.
For more info about how different sleeping positions can help you sleep better, click here.
Pregnant? New parent or have small kids? Tired? Get tips and info on our special site for exhausted moms.
Ready to start sleeping better?
Here's what people are saying about Reverie out in the big wide world in 2018, with our most recent press coverage first. Click the link to read the story.
Distinguished neurobiologist Dr. Benjamin Smarr, a member of Reverie's Advisory Board, is extensively quoted in this article about waking up before your alarm clock.
Home Furnishing Business magazine
Our very own CMO Lisa Tan was named to their Forty Under 40 List of top furniture industry executives. Everybody here knows this honor is well-deserved.
A long feature article on Reverie Sleep Coach with our CEO Martin Rawls-Meehan.
Reverie CEO Martin Rawls-Meehan talks about consistency as a key to getting better sleep.
Reverie Advisory Board member Dr. Dawn Dore-Stites weighs in on how sleep is linked to migraines in this site dedicated to female empowerment, founded by Zooey Deschanel, Molly McAleer and Sophi Rossi.
Reverie's new Sleep Coach™ program gets detailed coverage.
MSN does a short, fun news video explaining Reverie Sleep Coach.
Reverie's revolutionary new Sleep Coach™ program gets a glowing writeup by this tech-focused site.
Reverie's new Sleep Coach™ platform is deemed a hot trend in this article.
Our CMO Lisa Tan talks to Bustle.com about sleep disorders and how they can affect relationships.
Our CMO Lisa Tan is quoted in an informative article about power beds, aka adjustable bases.
Women's Choice Award®
Reverie wins the award in two categories. Again. The award is based on what women owners say about our beds. Details here.
Nice story on all the ways Reverie power beds are great for moms. Read it here.
Reverie Advisory Board member Dr. Dawn Dore-Stites, a pediatric sleep expert, is prominently featured by Romper, a popular site for moms.
Reverie Advisory Board member Benjamin Smarr, PhD, gives insight on coping with daylight savings time in an in-depth article here.
Our CEO, Martin Rawls-Meehan is interviewed about the sleep biz.
The Wall Street Journal
Our busy and fearless CMO Lisa Tan makes the WSJ (with a full accompanying illustration!) where they discuss her preferred method for de-stressing. Check it out here.
CEO Martin Rawls-Meehan discusses high tech sleep with this fitness-focused blog. Story here.
Reverie's Chief Marketing Office Lisa Tan talks New Years resolutions and weight loss. Story here.
We went to CES, the prestigious Consumer Electronics Show, for our first time ever. And we made quite an impression with our technology and our mind-control bed.
Innovation and Tech Today
Their assistant editor checks out our mind-control bed and interviews us on video at CES.
A top tech magazine gives us their CES Editor's Choice Award.
Innovation and Tech Today magazine gave us their Editor's Choice Award for 2018. Story here.
Check out our CES video.
They go to CES and feature our bed in this episode. Reverie coverage starts at 2:15 in the video.
Sleep tips with Tech Republic at CES.
Video sleep tips from our CEO, Martin Rawls-Meehan. See video.
Our smart bed with Tech Republic.
Our CEO discusses how reading your brain waves will lead to better sleep in the future. See video.
Our CMO, Lisa Tan, gives advice on best sleep positions, depending on what your situation is.
Pregnant? New parent or have small kids? Tired? Get tips and info on our special site for exhausted moms.
Ready to start sleeping better?
It’s an unfortunate but nearly universal fact that as we age, we become a little less…um…what’s the word we’re looking for… quick. Or, as our slowed synapses might have it, the brain don’t work so good no more. This is nothing to get down on yourself for—deficits in cognitive performance are a universal consequence of the aging process. It can start from as early as 45 years old, and its myriad forms—cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease—stem from the same basic condition: age. Like your skin and your bones, your brain gradually becomes weaker over time, and things like learning new skills, retaining memories, and using language become more and more difficult. For most, it usually happens so slowly that it’s hard to notice that anything is happening at all.
So is there anything you can do to halt, or at least slow down, this process? For those of us already in the age group most likely to suffer from dementia and mental decline—65 years and older—a variety of methods may help slow the onset, including managing blood sugar levels, staying physically active, consuming a lot of antioxidants (berries are a brain favorite), and keeping the brain challenged with activities like crossword puzzles, ongoing study, and meditation.
But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. What can be done to reduce the risk of cognitive decline? How can we stop it before it’s begun? The tactics above are certainly useful, but there’s an undervalued factor that’s as simple and effortless as closing your eyes.
Oh yeah, we’re talking about sleep.
You probably already know that when you’re tired, your mind moves a little more slowly than usual, and science has proven this from every angle. Sleep deprivation severely diminishes your ability to learn and retain information, all while decimating your coordination and reaction time to boot.
What’s really troubling is that these problems compound over the long term. One day of low sleep will disrupt a litany of hormonal reactions that your body needs for optimal function. Fortunately, catching up on those lost Zs with some better sleep will more or less right the wrong—the body is nothing if not good at bouncing back.
But what happens if the body isn’t given the time it needs to recover? What if one day of bad sleep is followed by another, and another? A 2014 study in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine sought to answer that question by looking at 2,822 men with a mean age of 76 years. After using a wrist actigraph to study their sleeping habits over an average period of three and a half years, they found that fragmented sleep resulted in a 40 to 50 percent increase in the odds of clinically significant cognitive decline. This is such a severe increase that the study authors equated it with adding on five years of age. They also noted that cognitive impairment is actually increasing in the elderly, making it all the more important to nail down its causes.
Sleep (or lack thereof) is a pretty darn big one, and other studies have found plenty of reasons why. Sleep apnea, for instance, disturbs sleep quality and can result in less oxygen reaching the brain, and a 20-year study of Californian women found that women with problematic sleep were almost twice as likely to experience dementia or cognitive impairment. Other research has found that fragmented sleep, whatever its cause, results in an overall reduction in slow wave sleep, which is crucial for normalizing cortisol and inflammation, which can both lead to mental decline.
In the end, sleep isn’t just important; it’s a pillar of a healthy lifestyle, equally as crucial as diet, exercise, and mental health. Indeed, it has a profound effect on all three. While six pack abs may be impossible to maintain in a nursing home, cognitive function is—especially if you start sleeping better tonight.
He said, she said. Venus, Mars. The battle of the sexes isn’t limited to waking hours. When you don’t get your way in terms of sleep, it usually means less sleep. Which leads to to more crankiness. And then all bets are off, grrr.
How do both of you happily coexist in the same bed? If you sleep differently, the answer could be a split king adjustable bed. A Split King has two twin-size mattresses that can be raised and lowered separately on top of one king-size adjustable base.
Here’s our handy guide to some of the top bedtime relationship issues a Split King could help resolve.
He snores, she doesn’t.
44% of all men are habitual snorers. Thankfully, Split King adjustable power bases have one of the greatest features ever developed for womankind: the Anti-Snore position. Raise the head of his side of the bed, and usually that locomotive roar will subside. Settle flat on the other side of bed and, ahhhh. Can you say #bliss?
She needs to check emails, he wants lights out.
Even though we strongly advise against it, we know many of you work in bed, arrgh. If you must, at least allow the saner partner some peace. You can dash off some late-night emails with a fully raised head and support under your knees to hold that laptop or tablet. Meanwhile, your partner can adjust to whatever sleep position works best, perhaps lying flat on his side. He can avoid all that bad blue-screen light and enjoy all that sleep you should be getting, hint, hint.
He sleeps one way, she sleeps another.
Side and back sleepers often enjoy a little elevation. Stomach sleepers, not so much – flat is best. In an adjustable bed, to each his or her own. No need to compromise. There are also different positions that help alleviate pain and allergies. If you have a sore back, you can sleep in Zero Gravity position, while he fights his allergies with a raised head. Or if you’re pregnant, you can sleep flat on your side, while he nurses that ankle sprain with elevated feet.
She sleeps like a nomad; he sleeps like a rock.
If one of you moves a lot while sleeping, it doesn’t have to disturb the other’s sleep. The small divide in the Split King keeps your partner from rocking your world in ways that you do not appreciate. It’s like hanging a Do Not Disturb sign on your side of the bed.
The infinite number of positions achievable in a split adjustable king can also help to alleviate many medical conditions like restless legs and keep both partners sleeping comfortably.
He gets up early, she sleeps in late.
Many power foundations have programmable massage features or raise-to-wake alarms. If the adjustable base is well-designed, you can enjoy either feature (or both) without the vibrations or moving parts disturbing your partner. Some also have nightlights under the bed, allowing you to hit the bathroom or even make a late-night fridge run without disturbing your partner. How considerate!
She’s cold, he’s a furnace.
Or vice versa. For many couples, it’s not a matter of fighting for the blankets, it’s fighting off the blankets as well. With a Split King, one of you can pile on extra twin blankets on your side of the bed, the other can forgo blankets altogether and sleep with a lightweight organic cotton sheet.
One caveat: if you’re a maximal cuddler, a Split King has a very small gap between the two mattresses which some people find less comfortable. If that’s the case, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons, i.e., cuddling versus crankiness. The gender gap can be further accommodated with a mattress that can be customized in firmness on both sides for each of you.
All in all, a Split King has some big advantages that can promote harmony, increase the amount of restful sleep you both get and work well for most couples. We wish you luck bridging the divide and sleeping happily ever after. For our obsessive explanation of what a Split King base is, click here.
A recent release from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed what many of us already knew: over a third of all American adults aren’t getting enough sleep. It’s enough for the government to label insomnia as a public health problem, but the inability to fall asleep doesn’t tell the whole story. What about those who do manage to get their nightly eight hours of sleep but still aren’t rested the next morning?
Sleep apnea is a condition that results in long gaps, or “apneas” between breaths. A person with sleep apnea breathes far less than a normal sleeper, which results in a much less restful sleep.
So, Sleep Apnea Makes You Tired?
Well, yes. But unfortunately, it does a lot more than that.
Not to be morbid, but sleep apnea could be described as really, really slow suffocation. Imagine that you spent eight hours each day – the length of an average workday – not breathing as often as you want to, and you might start to understand the kind of pressure put on a body when it’s experiencing chronic sleep apnea.
The tragic irony of sleep becoming the least restful part of the day has far-reaching ramifications. The lower rate of breathing robs the body of oxygen, resulting in higher levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. That has long-term consequences that can include high blood pressure, neuromuscular diseases, heart failure, and death.
To make matters worse, sleep apnea might also be the cause of a low sex drive by way of low testosterone. One study of 2,121 policemen found that men with the condition are 50 percent more likely to experience abnormally low levels of testosterone. Other studies have found that men with sleep apnea are more than twice as likely to suffer from erectile problems, and that women also become more prone to sexual dysfunction.
The warning signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include fatigue, morning headaches, brain fog, depression, waking frequently to urinate, and a dry mouth or sore throat upon waking.
3 Kinds of Sleep Apnea You Should Know About
The most common form of the condition is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which could be seen as a relative of snoring; the sound of a snore is caused by a partial obstruction of the airway, and OSA occurs when the airway is completely blocked. OSA is often simply labeled “sleep apnea,” but there are in fact two other kinds.
The second type, central sleep apnea, isn’t caused by an obstruction. Rather, it occurs when the brain temporarily fails to signal the muscles that are responsible for breathing – something we rely on the brain to do when we’re not conscious. Some estimate that just twenty percent of sleep apnea cases are caused by central sleep apnea, but the real number is probably lower. It’s usually caused by medical problems that affect the brainstem, like Parkinson’s disease and strokes, and treating the underlying medical condition, whatever that may be, is the typical remedy.
Finally, there’s complex sleep apnea, which is sometimes called mixed sleep apnea. This is a combination of the two kinds described above, and one study of 223 sleep apnea patients found that 15 percent of folks who reported having OSA actually were suffering from complex sleep apnea.
What Sleep Apnea Remedies Are Available?
Back sleepers are far more prone to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, and if a person is flexible with their sleeping position, simply lying on their side can be an effective remedy. Choosing the correct neck support pillow can help, and there’s also evidence that performing basic neck strengthening exercises can improve OSA.
But the most commonly prescribed method is to lose the weight. Overweight and obese people are far more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, and weight loss should help to reduce excess soft tissue of the mouth and throat that can cause the airways to become blocked. If a person has the condition and their neck circumference is greater than 17.5 inches, weight loss is almost certainly the solution.
If weight loss isn’t helpful or possible, or if a person is suffering from central or complex sleep apnea, doctors may prescribe a CPAP, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure. Helpful for any form of the condition, a CPAP is an air pump that maintains airflow as a person sleeps, and while they have a reputation for being loud like a generator, requisite of intrusive face masks, and not remotely conducive to a good night’s sleep, tech developers have been engineering progressively quieter and less invasive versions.
In the absence of a CPAP or a similar device, like a bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP) or adaptive-servo ventilation (ASV), medications like acetazolamide or theophylline may be prescribed. Talk to your doctor about what sleep apnea remedies are available to you.
Both as a neurobiologist and human, I love REM sleep.
REM sleep is a special stage of sleep. When we are asleep, our bodies and brains cycle through different kinds of sleep every couple hours. At the beginning, the cycles contain more deep sleep and slow wave sleep, both of which help reset the body and mind. Healing happens best in deep sleep, and both get the brain to calm down, clear itself, and make room for new memories and experiences the next day. These stages can be very refreshing, especially after a hard day’s work, but they’re not what I’d call fun.
In REM, the many different brain bits rehearse whatever they thought was the most salient part of the day, and nothing says all the bits have to agree. For example, when I enter REM, one part might focus on a moment I stumbled, another part might go over an experiment I need to plan, and yet another could be thinking about the tasty lunch place I found. I won’t be aware of what each region is doing, but the part of my brain that stitches together all my senses during my waking hours is still trying to make a coherent reality. And the awareness that arises from that mishmash has given rise to religions and prophecies, and less grandly for myself, nightly entertainment. This is the non-reality in dreams; mine are vivid.
The dreams of a neurobiologist. Much like anybody else's.
I know, as a sleep scientist, that everybody experiences sleep differently. I do not know how universal my experience is, but I share it here in the hopes that it might inspire those who are not yet REM enthusiasts. I experience all of my senses, and get a robust emotional ride. I have experienced terror and exuberance and even fallen in love in my dreams. When I was little, I used to have nightmares of being chased, and would wake up afraid to go back to sleep. It took me into my teen years to wake up one night, angry at being chased more than scared. I remember thinking “this is my dream. I get to win.” I went back to sleep, beat up the monster chasing me, and have felt more aware of my dreams since. I wonder how that works, and how common that is.
That is why I track my sleep. I’m my own guinea pig for many projects, only because getting good sleep data is too expensive and too invasive at present for me to do it at a large scale. My colleagues and I use a mixture of sensors, hormone assessments, and careful logging to build models of sleep that allow us – more and more with each experiment – to predict biological changes from sleep stages gathered by wearable devices.
The current state of sleep tracking.
Right now, most sleep trackers seem a little gimmicky, and that’s because they are. But it’s not their fault. The spring bloom of sleep trackers and wearable devices we are currently seeing is our society realizing that sleep is an important part of health, and trying to find a way to start learning about what sleep actually looks like. Since no one knows what the right approach for getting those data will be, there are a lot of experiments going on. Some are done by publicly-funded scientists like me. Some are done by companies hoping their device will be the one. And some are done by citizen scientists. But all of us together are feeling our way into sleep, and each experiment brings the subsequent ones closer to being really helpful. Sleep is in part a response of the body and brain to what is happening to it in waking life, so eventually we might be able to learn all kinds of sleep patterns with predictive medical applications.
I have used multiple sleep tracking devices over the years for my research, including more than one model of EEG – a mesh of electrodes recording electrical brain activity from my scalp. I have learned that my REM decreases in the days before I get sick, and that when I’m healthy I get about 40% of my night in REM, as compared to 10-20% for most people. Maybe that gives me room for a lot of big dreams.
I think that one day, sleep will be a vital part of how we track our health and take care of our loved ones as they grow and then age. In the meantime, learning about sleep gets me out of bed each day, and getting REM is enough fun to bring me back each night. I encourage you to try and share some of my sleep joy. Track your sleep or journal your dreams. Or share your sleep experiences with friends and learn about theirs. We all spend a lot of time sleeping. We ought to make use of it, and to enjoy it!
Dr. Benjamin Smarr studies the temporal structures that biological systems make as they move through time. An NIH research fellow at UC Berkeley, his work focuses on understanding how physiological dynamics like sleep, circadian rhythms, and ovulatory cycles are shaped by the brain, and how disturbances to those cycles gives rise to disease. Dr. Smarr is also an advocate for scientific outreach, and routinely gives public lectures and visits K-12 classrooms to help promote the idea that by understanding the biology that guides us, we can live more empowered lives.