Technology can enable our lives in positive ways, if used wisely. Take my experience just over the last twelve hours. Last night I downloaded a sleep app that wakes you up at an optimal point in your sleep cycle. In other words, it makes sure the alarm doesn’t go off during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, when you’re dreaming, or deep sleep. How a mobile phone app accurately measures sleep cycles is still a mystery to me (an accelerometer?), but I can say that this morning, I was ready to get up with the alarm (a novel experience for me) and felt remarkably well rested, even with only seven hours of sleep. Tech for the win!
How well we sleep has a huge impact on our daily lives, making it a fascinating area of research. A recent study in mice takes a fresh look at the neural circuits involved in sleep by applying enabling tech. The scientists employed a miniaturized microscope targeted to the dorsal pons, an area at the base of the brain that is thought to first generate REM sleep. This tech gave researchers the ability to reach a deep brain area and record activity from individually identified neurons while mice freely transitioned between sleep and wake cycles. Plus, they recorded activity from a large-scale ensemble of neurons simultaneously, greatly facilitating data collection.
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