“Many of us are working more erratic hours and sleeping less, while the pace of our lives seems to be accelerating,” said Owen, who is the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging at The Brain and Mind Institute at Western and Chief Scientific Officer at Cambridge Brain Sciences. “We know that this sleep disruption affects us in some ways, and that some people feel the impact more than others, but there’s surprisingly little research into exactly how our brains deal with these sleep deficits.”
Sleep loss is a global problem that saps billions of dollars of productivity from the world economy and endangers lives. Lack of sleep is linked to physical ailments such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes and can impair driving abilities at least as significantly as alcohol intoxication. Yet the ability to function on just a few hours of sleep — to work around the clock on an assignment or drive all night to a vacation destination — remains a socially acceptable point of pride for many people.
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