“Even Aristotle, over 2,000 years ago, remarked on the benefits of sleep…there’s no doubt that it’s beneficial, but we are trying to understand the specific benefits and how those benefits are occurring,” says Dr. John Peever, professor at the University of Toronto Department of Cell & Systems Biology and Vice President of research at the Canadian Sleep Society.
It’s easy to identify the benefits of a good night’s sleep—we wake feeling more refreshed and alert, and we stay more focused and productive throughout the day—but it’s a lot harder to identify how exactly those benefits occur. Part of the investigation into this question involves understanding the neurobiology of sleep, which means understanding how different parts of the brain cause different behaviors relating to sleep.
The work being done in Dr. Peever’s lab is focused on the study of rapid eye movement sleep, commonly referred to as REM or dreaming sleep. Specifically, Dr. Peever and his team are trying to determine what part of the brain is responsible for pushing us into REM sleep, what occurs once we are experiencing REM sleep, the underlying mechanism of REM sleep behavior disorder, and why parts of brain that cause REM are so vulnerable to degenerative processes, such as those that underlie Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Peever offers an exciting and informative conversation that touches on a range of other topics, including sleep’s potential to repair DNA damage, genetic predispositions for being a night owl versus an early bird, and the importance of understanding the true nature of narcolepsy. Tune in for all the details and learn more by visiting www.peeverlab.com.