sleep, travel, exhausted travelers, bay area rapid transit, bart train passengers

Sleep is an essential part of travel. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

 

Why Science Says Sleep Is Essential

Sleep. It is something that we all have in common and need in our lives. Like food and water, sleep is an essential element  in the 24 hour daily life cycle of a human being. Without proper sleep we become cranky, inattentive, lethargic and may even become disoriented. Sleep is a time for our bodies to rest and our brains to recharge.

UC Berkeley research suggests that sleep remodels our brains to enhance memory and balances our brain circuitry to promote happiness.  Several Berkeley faculty on the frontiers of sleep science shared the latest on the hows and whys of getting proper rest.

Our focus is the ever fascinating topic of SLEEP. Humans spend one-third of their lives sleeping. Yet there are still so many puzzles that remain to be solved about why humans sleep. It is a very exciting time to be studying sleep because it is a relatively young science; much has been learned but much remains to be discovered

How to adjust to new sleep patterns during travel

“Our bodies are incredibly rhythmic,” says Allison Harvey, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director, Golden Bear Sleep and Mood Research Clinic. “In order to maintain harmony within our bodies, it is important to go to bed and wake up at the same time,” notes Harvey.  When asked how to avoid jet lag during travel,  Harvey recommends not  going into the trip sleep deprived. She also said that creating dim light conditions help to provide a suitable sleep environment.

Allison Harvey’s research focuses on developing new treatments for sleep problems related to chronic insomnia, mood and anxiety disorders, and adolescence. Harvey has published more than 130 research articles and two books. Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Matt Walker, Associate Professor and Director, Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory

Matt Walker, a National Academy of Sciences Kavli Fellow, uses a number of neuroimaging techniques to understand the role of sleep in human brain function. Walker received a National Science Foundation fellowship in 2002 and has won numerous National Institutes of Health awards for his work. Walker noted that, “while you may think you perform well with only a few hours of sleep, studies show that humans with less sleep performed poorly in testing environments.”

Do you have trouble sleeping? What coping mechanisms do you employ to assure you receive adequate sleep during your travels?

To learn more about UC Berkeley topics of interest, visit the UC Berkeley NewsCenter. I was a guest of Discover Cal, part of the University of California, Berkeley lecture series.

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