Getting just four hours of sleep every night reduces a person's ability to perform complex tasks over the period of a five-day working week, a new EU study has found.
The ongoing study collaborated by researchers at universities from UK, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland has also shown the diverse ways in which the social context of everyday life has profound influences on sleep quality.
In-depth interviews with women in Italy show how women's sleep is severely disrupted by care-giving roles, especially for frail elderly relatives. Analysis of large-scale surveys has found strong social inequalities in sleep problems with poorer sleep recorded for people living in more disadvantaged social circumstances, such as with low income and low educational attainment.
The Chronobiology Group at the University of Surrey has been investigating the effect of blue short wavelength light on circadian rhythms and sleep in the young and elderly. A reduced responsiveness to short wavelength light has been observed in older people and this may have implications for the design of lighting in elderly homes.
The group in Munich and Ingolstadt has first evidence for an influence of a chronic sleep disorder going along with severe sleepiness (narcolepsy) on the processing of emotional stimuli in the brain, suggesting that disturbed sleep regulation profoundly interferes with our well being and the interaction with the environment.
Basic research in the human sleep research laboratory of the University of Zürich revealed clear age-related changes in the impairment of sustained vigilant attention after one night without sleep. This finding is consistent with epidemiological studies and has important implications for the prevention of accidents associated with the loss of sleep.
The group from the University of Zurich, dedicated to animal research, recorded sleep in different mouse models under normal conditions and under enhanced sleep pressure attained by sleep deprivation of a few hours. The effect of pharmacological stimulation of different types of GABAA receptors was investigated. This research aims at opening new avenues for the development of hypnotics. The hypnotic efficacy, when based on normal sleep physiology, should be optimized and lead to less adverse effects.
The mentors recognize the pressing need to bring the results of this research network available to all people. Training of the Fellows includes, in addition to the scientific training, also training in communication with the general public. The Fellows are encouraged to write articles and give general presentations.