Sleep: rousing research
Along with food and exercise, a good night's sleep is considered the third pillar of health. Yet sleep problems are a global epidemic affecting around 45% of the population. This week we explore the latest rousing sleep research.
We start with a report on a very particular type of patient: those who can’t see. With no light to reset their body clock, many in the blind community have a sleep pattern out of sync with the rest of the world. Researchers at the hospital Hôtel Dieu in Paris have begun a trial using a derivative of melatonin, a hormone that makes us sleepy, in an attempt to realign blind patients with the 24-hour day.
Next, why did Napoleon only need 4 hours of sleep, while Einstein preferred 11 hours in bed? The answer may lie in our DNA, after scientists identified a gene that makes some people sleepier than others.
Finally, we head to central Africa, where sleep disturbances can be a sign of serious illness. Thirty thousand people each year die of an infection known as sleeping sickness. We explore the latest drug treatments to eradicate this neglected disease.