• Things You Can Do In Your Sleep, Literally

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    For those who find themselves sleeping through work — you may one day find yourself working through sleep.

    People who are fast asleep can correctly respond to simple verbal instructions, according to a study by researchers in France. They think this may help explain why you might wake if someone calls your name or why your alarm clock is more likely to rouse you than any other noise.

    The brain map produced by the EEG showed where activity was taking place in the brain and what parts of the brain were being prepped for response. This preparation might include hearing the word elephant and then processing that an elephant is an animal. The participants did this until the task became automatic.

    Why do we sleep? And, for that matter, why do all mammals, birds, and reptiles require sleep on a regular basis in order to function? It’s a question that been intensively studied with no definitive answers… except that we know it’s vital to survival.

    In people carrying the gene for fatal familial insomnia (FFI), a damaged thalamus (which is located in your brain) makes it impossible to sleep. First, the ability to nap disappears, then it becomes increasingly difficult to sleep at night, progressing over the course of a year until, eventually, it kills you.

    It’s known that sleep is crucial for your brain, and that your brain doesn’t simply “turn off” while you’re sleeping. Instead, it goes through periods of deep sleep and activity – activity levels similar to those that occur when you’re awake.

    You Can Follow Instructions, Classify Items, in Your Sleep

    Sleeping leads to a loss of sensory awareness and …

    While this sounds like great news for those who could use a few extra hours in the day for memorizing irregular verbs or cramming for the bar exam, the researchers caution that the neural activity they found may apply only to automated tasks. They hope that future studies may look into whether any similar cognitive task begun in an awake state might continue through early sleep — like crunching calculations.

    “It's a terrible thought, in the modern world,” says Bekinschtein, referring to the pride people take in forgoing sleep for work. “I think, in a way, these experiments are going to empower people … that we can do things in sleep that are useful.”

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