We live in a high tech world, and sleep research is starting to capitalize on all this technology – from very disparate disciplines. This genetic engineering study is interesting because it blends science and statistics.
A Study From An Unlikely Source
This study is from the Kellogg School of Management (go figure), and describes what happens when you blend genetic sequencing (a field that’s growing at an order of magnitude every two years), old-school sensitive electronics (monitoring brain activity in mice), computer controlled videography (using a camera and a computer instead of a human to determine the sleep state a mouse is in), and deep, deep statistical analysis (this is where the Kellogg expertise comes in).
The answer is a deeper, genetic understanding of what sleep is – something sorely lacking today.
The long term target of this research is to know what gene does what as it pertains to our sleep. Once we know, we can genetically engineer out way out of sleep problems (and there are lots of sleep problems). Turn genes on and off, as it were.
While the study is currently working with mice, the hope is to one day work with humans. Imagine going to your doctor, being issued a video-recorder and a headband (to watch you sleep, and to pick up your EEG), and reporting back a week later to find out what particular gene isn’t working the way it should.
I’m a firm believer that “sleep is all in your head” today, and that the myriad of drugs available just postpone this conclusion – a band-aid on a wound, as it were.
This is the kind of research is what will lead us to some newer, more targeted kinds of therapy (drugs, bio-feedback) that actually controls the fundamental sleep functions, instead of what we do today – which is kind of like swatting a fly with a baseball bat, and often missing.