Elon Musk’s Sleep Deprivation and More: The Top Sleep Stories of August

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tesla ceo elon musk doesn't sleep without medication - sleep news for august 2018
Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, says he rarely sleeps without the help of medication.

At Saatva, we like to keep an eye on the latest news about sleep and sleep science—and this month there was plenty of it. So whether you’re a sleep junkie, a science buff, or just want some fun facts to share at your next cocktail party, check out our monthly roundup of recent trends and research in one of our favorite fields of study.

It’s not just about Elon Musk: Here’s why sleep is important

Tesla CEO Elon Musk caused quite a stir earlier this month when he sat for a raw, emotional interview with the New York Times. Among the most striking admissions was that Musk rarely sleeps without the help of medication. As we’ve discussed many times before, sleep deprivation is seriously dangerous, and sleep aids come with their own risks. Musk’s comments sparked a back-and-forth with wellness evangelist Arianna Huffington. This article does a good job of summarizing the Musk-Huffington spat while also covering the wider sleep loss epidemic in Silicon Valley. (Read the full story at CNN Tech)

Stop trying to be productive while you’re asleep

From desperate students cramming before an exam to self-improvement devotees, the dream of learning passively in our sleep has a long history. While many scientists believe sleep helps us consolidate memories and process new information, our brains very deliberately shut themselves off from external stimuli—especially in deep sleep. The Outline reports on a recent study in which researchers exposed participants to distinct sounds while they slept. The authors conclude that, although the brain can perceive sounds during deep sleep, it lacks the ability to organize external stimuli in any meaningful way. (Read the full story at The Outline)

While we sleep, our mind goes on an amazing journey

Part deep dive, part photo essay, this sprawling, kaleidoscopic piece covers the state of global sleep as only Nat Geo can. We learn about circadian rhythm, and how the spread of artificial light has caused widespread disruption of sleep habits in industrialized nations. As the author takes us through each stage of sleep in a detailed and compelling account based on the latest science, we’re treated to gorgeous photos of diverse, unusual sleeping environments and nighttime cityscapes in Tokyo and other locations. As a companion piece, check out this Nat Geo article about sleeping in extreme locations. (Read the full story at National Geographic)

Sleep, the final frontier: This guy studies it. Here’s what he has to say

It’s always nice to meet the real people behind scientific research, and this charming profile by Boston Globe columnist Thomas Farragher is a perfect example. He introduces us to sleep researcher Charles Czeisler, who works at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and travels the world studying sleep deprivation and dreams. Czeisler’s work brings him, for example, to a remote mountain village in Brazil with no electricity, where nobody ever wakes up in the middle of the night. He also shares this unexpected insight from his research: “The circadian clock regulating sleep sends the strongest drive for wakefulness just before we go to bed at night and the strongest drive for sleep shortly before we get up in the morning.” (Read the full story at the Boston Globe)

Sleep loss can make people more isolated and lonely

We learn something new every day about the risks of sleep deprivation. That’s probably because scientists are only now coming to grips with the scope of our ignorance on this issue. Studies like the one ABC News reports on illustrate that a lack of sleep has consequences for more than just our physical health. Sleeplessness has broad implications for our emotional and psychological well-being as well. This small study, conducted by renowned sleep researcher Dr. Matthew Walker at UC Berkeley, demonstrated a connection between sleeplessness and anti-social tendencies in participants, as well as increased feelings of loneliness and isolation. The upside? Dr. Walker says “just one night of good sleep makes you feel more outgoing and socially confident, and furthermore, will attract others to you.” (Read the full story at ABC News)