Practice Problem 2 - Sleep Patterns
Approximately one-third of our lives is spent sleeping. For nearly a century, scientists have been able to record brain activity and see the dynamic changes during sleep. Lack of sleep can affect brain function, especially memory, language, and emotional balance. Physical effects include fatigue, stress and health problems including heart disease and obesity. Today, technology on our wrists can measure sleep habits and movements.
Globally, businesses developing sleep aids are witnessing significant growth due to the rising incidence of sleep disorders. This has been exacerbated by the growing senior population. It is manifest in increasing demand for sleeping pills due to stressful modern lifestyles and increasing numbers of initiatives by various health organizations to increase awareness about sleep disorders. Sleep medications often have undesirable side effects and patents of major sleep drugs expire. Wakefulness aids, stimulants and prescription drugs such as coffee, energy drinks, benzodiazepines and even illegal drugs are gaining in popularity as a perceived solution to the need to perform effectively despite sleep deprivation.
How might our over-scheduled lives and increased digital presence disrupt natural circadian and sleep patterns? Can the benefits of sleep be replicated? What new technologies might be available to help people monitor and adjust brain wave activity during sleep? Will scientists discover more about the genes that enable functionality with less sleep?