Effects of Sleep Deprivation in High-Stress Work Situations
In the quest to understand the mystery of sleep, researcher Erin Evans has studied the effects of sleep deprivation in high-stress work situations, from astronauts to police and doctors.
Evans, a sleep medicine fellow at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, also helps hundreds of families improve the sleeping habits of their children. Even though she’s a sleep expert, Evans admits she’s constantly challenged by her 2-year-old son.
“I thought I knew everything about sleep,” she said, “but he’s putting me through the wringer.”
“Sleep in a young infant is a moving target, and while one 4-month-old might sleep through the night, another may need to nurse a few times. I believe there is no “one-size-fits-all” strategy. The most important thing is to develop a plan that is realistic and the family can implement with consistency”.
Sleep takes up a third of our lives. But why do we need to sleep so much? What is the point? We know now that sleep plays an important role in memory, learning, and cognition, but 10 years ago, it was more of a mystery. There continue to be many unanswered questions about sleep that intrigue me.
It depends on what you’re looking at. Sleep duration can be studied with a watch-like device that has an accelerometer inside [to measure motion]. If we have more extensive questions, such as what does caffeine or light exposure do to sleep, we might use electrodes to look at brain waves.
Erin Evans went to the Johnson Space Center in Houston to speak to astronauts before and after Space Shuttle voyages. Astronauts sleep a little less in space and we wanted to find out why, and whether we can control this. She is now analyzing that data.
Erin Evans says,”I work the night shift, monitoring sleep studies. There’s a saying among sleep researchers: “Some must watch while some must sleep.”
Erin Evans also says,”I find myself yelling at the television. If someone is doing a sleep study, they’ll put electrodes on someone to find out about their dreams. This cannot happen — we look at brain wave activity, but can’t know what someone is dreaming about”.
Filed under: Clinical Research • Sleep • Sleep Apnea News • Sleep Apnea Research • Sleep Apnea Study • Sleep Center • Sleep Deprivation • Sleep Disorders • Sleep Lab • Sleep Medicine • Sleep Problems • Sleep Study
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