On May 7, the University of Bristol hosted a fascinating half-day postgraduate conference on sleep and related phenomena in literature. Paper abstracts can be found here. An interdisciplinary seminar on sleep was held the following day; we will link to audio files of that discussion when they become available.
A new version of the Great British Sleep Survey has recently been launched online by scientists at the University of Oxford working in association with the sleep improvement programme, Sleepio. This online questionnaire is open to all, and gives respondents an 'overall sleep score' (ie a mark out of 10 for overall sleep quality); it also offers feedback on the effects of our time schedules, lifestyles, moods/states of mind and medical histories on our quality of sleep -- and vice versa.
As England prepare for tonight's crunch World Cup fixture against Uruguay, football fans will be wondering if their star striker Wayne Rooney will finally be able to deliver on his huge promise on the world stage. Sleep aficionados, meanwhile, will remember that Rooney once admitted that he is unable to get to sleep without the noise of a vacuum cleaner, or his partner's hair-dryer, in the background.
An article on the BBC website gives details of the new forms of "anti-homeless sleeping design" that have become a brutally familiar part of the urban landscape in London, Paris, New York and elsewhere. Spikes, metal studs, sloped benches and pointed concrete sections of pavement are among the new measures designed to discourage the homeless from curling up by shop-fronts, luxury flats or bus shelters. Nor is jagged architecture the only means of deterring the would-be rough sleeper. Managers of San Francisco's Bill Graham Auditorium have taken to blasting the sounds of chain-saws, motorcycles and jackhammers through their outdoor PA system from 11pm to 7am in order to rid their doorsteps of the homeless.
New research by scientists at New York University School of Medicine and Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School shows how the brain forms new connections between cells during sleep. "Finding out sleep promotes new connections between neurons is new," says Professor Wen-Biao Gan of NYU. "[N]obody knew this before."