The Science of Better Sleep | Dr. Gina Poe | Knowledge Project Podcast 167
Neuroscientist and sleep expert, Dr. Gina Poe, shares her extensive knowledge on the science of sleep in this episode of The Knowledge Project Podcast.
She explores the stages of sleep, the reasons behind waking up at night, the significance of dreams, optimal bedtime routines, and the consequences of sleep deprivation.
Significance of REM Sleep
The transition from stage two to rapid eye movement sleep is a critical period for memory consolidation and schema updating.
The thalamus, the gateway to consciousness, is completely inactive during this stage, characterized by low levels of neurotransmitters that are usually high during wakefulness.
Sleep and Immunity
Sleep deprivation can compromise the immune system, making it less able to fight off viruses.
When we’re sick, our immune system signals our brain that we need more sleep.
Depriving someone of sleep when they’re fighting an infection can delay their recovery.
Sleep Deprivation in Hospital Settings
Hospital procedures that interrupt patients’ sleep can hinder their recovery.
Similarly, sleep-deprived hospital staff, like physicians and nurses, are more likely to make medical errors.
Nutrition and Sleep Quality
The gut nervous system, influenced by our diet, generates neurotransmitters that can affect our sleep.
However, this is a new field, and more research is needed to fully understand the connection between nutrition and sleep quality.
Irregular Sleep Patterns and Cognitive Outcomes
Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is crucial for cognitive outcomes.
A volatile sleep onset time can lead to worse cognitive outcomes, especially in older people.
Exposing oneself to bright light in the morning can help reset the circadian clock and regulate sleep patterns.
Activities and Sleep Disruption
Activities that stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, such as playing violent video games, can disrupt sleep.
Conversely, activities that promote the parasympathetic system, such as taking a warm bath, can help induce sleep.
Consistency in Daily Routines
Regular habits, such as eating and sleeping at the same time every day, can help regulate the body’s circadian clock and improve sleep quality.
Sleep is not a waste of time. Your brain is really active while you’re asleep and we know a lot about the functions of sleep right now. – Dr. Gina Poe
Role of Light in Sleep Regulation
Exposure to light in the morning is crucial for resetting the circadian clock.
However, during the night, it might be beneficial to use blackout blinds, especially in brightly lit cities, to create a conducive environment for sleep.
Significance of REM Sleep
REM sleep is considered a valuable part of sleep.
The body automatically adjusts the amount of REM sleep based on its needs.
For instance, if a person is learning a lot or has had an emotional day, they will get more REM sleep.
However, sleep disorders can result in too much REM sleep or REM sleep occurring too early in the night.