Abstract: The function of sleep remains one of the biggest mysteries in biology; however, it is well documented that disrupting the amount or quality of sleep has negative health consequences. One of the most pervasive sleep disruptors is artificial light, which has allowed for an extension of the natural daylight and for the generation of light-dark (LD) cycles that challenge our circadian system.

In our laboratory, we study how sleep is regulated and the consequences of sleep disruption in both laboratory animals and humans. Our studies in animal models have indicated that unusual LD cycles that disrupt sleep quality can impair memory consolidation and mood even if they do not disrupt sleep quantity. Our field studies in human communities have shown that access to electric light curtails sleep leading to up to one hour of sleep deprivation per day.

Recommended Reading:
1. Current Biology, "Circadian Timing of REM Sleep is Coupled to an Oscillator within the Dorsomedial Suprachiasmatic Nucleus"

2. Journal of Biological Rhythms, "Access to Electric Light is Associated with Shorter Sleep Duration in a Traditionally Hunter-Gatherer Community"

Event Contact:
Dr. Carla Finkielstein