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The Science of Sleep
Shelby Harris, Psy.D., C.BSM is Director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Neurology as well as Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. A graduate of Brown University, Dr. Harris received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University.
As a licensed psychologist, Dr. Harris specializes in behavioral sleep medicine and CBT for anxiety and depression. She has published and presented research on the neuropsychological effects of insomnia in older adults as well as behavioral treatments for insomnia, parasomnias, narcolepsy and excessive daytime sleepiness. Dr. Harris is also a consultant for the New York Times "Consults Blog."
Question: What happens in our brains while we sleep?
Shelby Harris: So when you go to sleep at night, if you’re someone who hasn’t had any sleep deprivation, you have a very normal sleep pattern, what we tend to see is that, in adults, they go to bed and they start off by going into the deeper stages sleep. So the deeper stages of sleep are really those times of quiescence, you’re really restoring your body and we have a few different stages of sleep. So you have Sleep Stage One, Two, and then Three/Four. One is a little bit lighter stage of the quiet, non-REM sleep and then Three/Four is really deep, deep sleep. And what you want is, you actually want a number of – you want to go through all of these stages throughout the night. So people only focus on getting the really deep sleep, but in reality, we spend almost 60% of the night in the stage two sleep.
So we go through in the beginning of the night, we go into the really deep stages of sleep and we actually cycle through. So, when you go down to the deep stage, then you go back up and you actually come into something called REM sleep, which is after about 90 minutes. So when you’re in REM sleep, your brain is very active, our body is quiet, but your brain is really processing a lot of things, a lot of emotions; we dream the most in REM sleep. And then you go back down in the deep stages, and so on and so forth. And you cycle throughout so that you do about five to six cycles throughout the night. And we spend more time in REM later on in the night than we do earlier on.
That’s why people tend to remember their dreams in the morning a little bit better and if earlier in the night, when you’re in a lot of deep sleep, if someone wakes you, or the phone rings or something, you’re really confused. Really if it’s an hour or two after you’ve fallen asleep because you’re in such a deep sleep at that point.
Question: Why do we need to sleep?
Shelby Harris: Well sleep tends – we actually don’t know the function of sleep all that well yet, but sleep is a time of quiescence in the brain. When you’re in the more deeper stages of sleep – REM sleep, your body is quiet, but your mind is actually very active. So it’s a time when your body and your brain is restoring itself. It’s repairing any cell damage that happened during the day, it’s really repairing, like I said, repairing your body, but also helps with digestion, helps with memory. It has a lot of things that it’s doing while you are asleep.
Question: What happens to the brain when it doesn’t get sleep?
Shelby Harris: So, sleep deprivation, and sometimes an insomnia, which is a little bit of a different form, but just getting a lack of sleep, can lead to a number of different decrements. So, decrements in attention and concentration, being able to learn more efficiently, that’s just not as good. Also, there are motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, we see that a lot. Workplace accidents with people who are sleep deprived or people who work shifts and they don’t get the right amount of sleep during the day or at night.
And also, there’s a new line of research showing that people who don’t get enough sleep, they’re body doesn’t metabolize as well. And so they actually – it leads to weight gain. So if you’re not getting enough sleep, you might have difficulty losing weight.
Sleep is hardly a period of inactivity for the brain. During a normal night’s sleep, the brain cycles through various stages including REM sleep, during which the brain is just as active as when it is awake.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
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- Times of crisis tend to increase self-centered acts.