Monday, December 8, 2008

You May Already Be Asleep

And not even know it. Your brain might just be waiting for one more segment to fall asleep before it shuts you down completely. Seriously.

Have you ever wondered why you can't remember the exact moment that you go to sleep? That always seemed weird to me. It turns out that a Washington State University paper is proposing that parts of our brain fall asleep little by little. The big sleep, the total shut down where you stop registering your surroundings and start dreaming, happens once a large enough portion of your brain has gone to sleep.

I like the cut of this paper's jib. It makes sense to me; it explains how I can be working on boring, repetitive tasks and just completely lose track of what I'm doing (parts of my brain fell asleep, but I stayed awake overall).

I'm also a fan of their argument for "sleep inertia," where your brain wakes up a little at a time. It explains why you're sluggish in the morning (or in my case, from the time the alarm goes off until four hours later).

The only weird question that this study raises is how I can tell if I'm awake or asleep at any given moment. Maybe I'm conscious, but most of my brain is asleep?

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5 comments:

JEANNE said...

Awesome post... that makes so much sense!! LOL I think I'm asleep right now...

Jen said...

Interesting. I have been trying to remember what position I wake up in the morning but never seem to be able to. I guess I am still asleep on some level.

Stanley! said...

@JEANNE: Yeah, I've done the sleep-browsing thing before. Let's just say that me+internet+sleep=results that are NOT PRETTY.

@Jen: I don't think I'm really fully awake until after my 2nd cup of coffee. At least, that's when I'm able to start remembering things.

Thanks to both of you for stopping by!

Cromely said...

Hmm. That's actually how mobile processors work. Centrino2, for example, works by shutting downs parts that aren't in use to save power.

Stanley! said...

Maybe we've designed our computers to function more like our brains than we had previously realized?

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