Knights of the Pain Table

A Camelot for Sufferers of Chronic Pain

“The Science of Sleep” – Latest Research on Sleep on “60 Minutes”

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”
Irish   Proverb

What secrets are hidden as we sleep?  What is the purpose of sleep?

Recently “60 Minutes”, the TV show on CBS, chronicled the subject of ‘Sleep’ in one of their segments.  The latest research delves into the function of sleep.   According to the studies, it appears that it is critical that we get a good night sleep.   It is perhaps more important than we realize in a culture that encourages fighting off sleep at any cost. 

For those who suffer chronic pain or a chronic illness, they will often find that sleep becomes difficult to achieve.   Pain interferes with sleep and lack of sleep will often trigger more pain.   These latest studies outlined in the show “60 Minutes”, help us to focus on what is happening when our sleep is interrupted.    Hence, it gives us more insight on how to approach this web of sleep deprivation.

During the 60 Minutes segment called “The Science of Sleep”,  Matthew Walker,  director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California, Berkeley,   found that sleep serves a whole constellation of functions.    He believes that sleep is as vital as food.  Walker’s research involved the relationship of sleep and memory and learning.     He found that sleep appeared to enhance our memories.  His subjects performed better on tests if they had a good night sleep prior to the tests. 

One study at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine subjected four healthy volunteers to five nights of chronic partial sleep deprivation.    After the first night the subjects already showed negative effects in their attention, memory, and speed with which they thought.    Each night without proper sleep added an additional burden to their cognitive ability.    For those who are chronically sleep deprived and who suffer with pain, this may explain how difficult it can be to problem solve or do many simple tasks during the day.

At Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute, their study found that driving while drowsy was the highest risk for being involved in a car crash.    Apparently, it only takes 2 seconds to have a lapse while driving and you are off the road in 4 seconds.    The researchers also examined other accidents and disasters and found many occurred when people were tired.    A lot of these accidents occurred at night.

One fascinating observation was that the volunteers who were chronically sleep deprived did not realize how impaired they were.    They had no sense of their limitations.   Also these volunteers exhibited mood swings and often became short tempered.    Their MRI’s showed a hyperactive brain response.    The researchers concluded that sleep might be playing a role in mental health and psychiatric diseases.

Eva Van Canter,  an endocrinologist at the University of Chicago School of Medicine studies the effect of sleep on the body.    During a normal night, we cycle through different stages of sleep, progressing from light into deep sleep, then into REM  (Rapid eye movement),  or dream sleep, and back again. 

In one study a young healthy 19-year-old man is deprived of his deep sleep for five nights without his knowledge.  After the fifth night the man was hungrier, less alert and his body no longer was able to metabolize sugar effectively.    He was now at risk for Type 2 diabetes because of lack of deep sleep. 

Lack of sleep appears to impact our appetite, our metabolism, our memory and how we age according to these recent studies.   It is important to understand the detrimental effect that lack of sleep has on our bodies, especially if we are ill or in pain.   

Watch this insightful segment called  “The Science of Sleep” on CBS News website.

 Sleep well dear Knights. 

Lady Sharon
Scribe of the Knights of the Pain Table News

Visit to learn more about sleep disorders.

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2 Responses to ““The Science of Sleep” – Latest Research on Sleep on “60 Minutes””

  1. Your blog has been really informative. I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2005 and sleep was a big issue. The disorder interrupts sleep and the sleep deprivation increases the affects of the disorder. It’s a terrible catch-22. It’s one of the reasons for medication. I was given anti-depressants and an “anxiety reducer” both of which contained some level of sleep agent just to help me sleep through a full night. Thank you for the additional information and the links.

    I’m currently up to Part IV on PTSD – A view from the inside. I’d like to add a trackback to your blog if you don’t mind. Please feel free to check out my site at and tell me what you think.

  2. Lady Sharon says:

    Deere Lady Laura,

    Wilcume to our Kingdom where thou can sooth thy weary heart. Behold thy chair at the Pain Table with King Arthur and your fellow Knights. Thy name is inscribed in gold. As Merlin dost maketh an elixir to hasten thou sleep, drinketh thy posset.

    Lay down thy poleaxe as you are in a sacred place deere frend. Wilt thou speketh of thy quest that held many great battles. We shall hear of thy great battles that you have won. We bow to your courage dear Knight.

    You are a great scrivein in thy Kingdom at
    We encourage those who doth suffer with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to read your tale as we are stronger when we ride together.

    It would be a grete honour to be linked to thy Kingdom Lady Laura. We thanketh thee.

    Rest well tonight and may your dreams be made of honey.

    Your Humble Scribe,

    Lady Sharon