Originally posted on TED Blog:
We spend about a third of our lives asleep — a figure that may make all that time spent in bed seem like a waste. But according to neuroscientist Russell Foster, it is quite the opposite.
[ted_talkteaser id=1810]In today’s talk, given at TEDGlobal 2013, Foster explores why we sleep, a question which no one has been able to definitively answer. We know that it is vital for our general health, that is likely connected to memory consolidation and that, without it, we are more prone to accidents. In the talk, he also gives a few tips for getting better sleep and debunks some common sleep-related myths.
At the University of Oxford, Foster studies circadian rhythms — the internal 24-hour clocks that govern when we sleep, and that are partially regulated by exposure to light. According to his recent research, abnormal circadian rhythms are likely related to mental illness. Foster and his colleagues have found that patients with a range of afflictions — from schizophrenia to bipolar disorder — show severely disrupted sleep cycles. The work may have implications for diagnosing mental illness; certain sleep patterns may help pinpoint a disorder. The work could also eventually lead to new treatments for mental illness through tweaking sleep patterns with light therapy.