Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The mathematics behind a good night's sleep

26.02.2010
Why can't I fall asleep? Will this new medication keep me up all night? Can I sleep off this cold?

Despite decades of research, answers to these basic questions about one of our most essential bodily functions remain exceptionally difficult to answer. In fact, researchers still don't fully understand why we even sleep at all.

In an effort to better understand the sleep-wake cycle and how it can go awry, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are taking a different approach than the traditional brain scans and sleep studies. They are using mathematics.

Professor of Mathematics Mark Holmes and his graduate student Lisa Rogers are using math to develop a new computer model that can be easily manipulated by other scientists and doctors to predict how different environmental, medical, or physical changes to a person's body will affect their sleep. Their model will also provide clues to the most basic dynamics of the sleep-wake cycle.

"We wanted to create a very interdisciplinary tool to understand the sleep-wake cycle," Holmes said. "We based the model on the best and most recent biological findings developed by neurobiologists on the various phases of the cycle and built our mathematical equations from that foundation. This has created a model that is both mathematically and biologically accurate and useful to a variety of scientists.

"This is also an important example of how applied mathematics can be used to solve real issues in science and medicine," Holmes continued.

To create the model, the researchers literally rolled up their sleeves and took to the laboratory before they put pencil to paper on the mathematical equations. Rogers spent last summer with neurobiologists at Harvard Medical School to learn about the biology of the brain. She investigated the role of specific neurotransmitters within the brain at various points in the sleep-wake cycle. The work taught the budding mathematician how to read EEG (electroencephalography) and EMG (electromyography) data on the brainwaves and muscle activity that occur during the sleep cycle. This biologic data would form the foundation of their mathematic calculations.

This research foundation allowed the team to develop a massive 11-equation model of the sleep-wake cycle. They are now working to input those differential equations into an easy-to-use graphic computer model for biologists and doctors to study.

"We have developed a model that can serve other researchers as a benchmark of the ideal, healthy sleep-wake cycle," Holmes said. "Scientists will be able to take this ideal model and predict how different disturbances such as caffeine or jet lag will impact that ideal cycle. This is a very non-invasive way to study the brain and sleep that will provide important clues on how to overcome these disturbances and allow patients to have better and more undisturbed sleep."

Rogers will continue her work on the program after receiving her doctoral degree in applied mathematics from Rensselaer this spring. Her work on the mathematics of the sleep-wake cycle has already garnered attention within the scientific community, earning her a postdoctoral research fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF). With the fellowship, Rogers will continue her work at New York University and begin to incorporate other aspects of the sleep-wake cycle in the model such as the impacts of circadian rhythms.

Gabrielle DeMarco | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rpi.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>