People laughed at Sleep Researcher

Posted by thesleeprevolution 27/07/2020 1 Comment(s) Mind Your Brain,

Tanja Stenberg: People laughed and said that sleep research was meaningless and disgusting

Tarja Stenberg poserar mot en sommaräng.
Tarja Stenberg is a sleep researcher and teacher at Helsingfors university. Picture: Parad Media, grafic: Baptiste Boidin

When Vegas summer talker Tarja Stenberg began her career as a brain and sleep researcher 40 years ago, many laughed. What was there to research about something as meaningless as sleep?

It has been over 40 years since Tarja Stenberg began her career as a researcher and teacher at the University of Helsinki

- When I started researching sleep, many researchers thought that there might be a valid reason to study the brain, but sleep - it was really ridiculous!
But as a researcher, Tarja Stenberg has always had a strong conviction: sleep is important for the brain.

- Many colleagues smiled politely when I told them I was studying sleep. Then I was usually the only woman in the room. Some colleagues laughed out loud when I presented my ideas on sleep-inducing molecules.

The brain was also said to be too complicated to ever be studied with scientific methods. There was also a strong reluctance to study the brain.

- It was considered harmful to morality to learn about the brain, which is the most sacred in human physiology. The brain and morality were what make us human and separate us from animals.

The idea that we have evolved from animals was just disgusting enough.

- It was simply unthinkable that our fine thoughts and feelings could be measured and analyzed

Tarja Stenberg tränar kirurgi med ansiktsskydd.
Tarja Stenberg tränar kirurgi i början av sin karriär. Bild: Privat/Tarja Stenberg


Could sleep deprivation really cause serious illness?

Since then, Stenberg has been interested in the importance of sleep - especially the lack of sleep. She especially mentions a memorable moment.

- Twenty years ago, we received the first exciting reports from researcher Eve van Cauter in Chicago on how lack of sleep can disrupt our sugar balance and insulin resistance.

Van Cauter performed an experiment in which young and healthy men for five days shortened their sleep to four hours per night. The discovery surprised Stenberg. Insulin levels in test subjects rose.

- I had a hard time believing my ears, because the lack of sleep up to that point had always been downplayed.

Then it was thought that the one who sleeps the least is a superhuman, the strongest and wisest.

- Successful business leaders, politicians and others boasted about how little they slept.

As if it was something good!

- Many people had a hard time believing that such an unassuming thing as lack of sleep could cause such serious disorders in the body. During my career, attitudes have changed and the importance of sleep has been taken more seriously.
The whole body is affected when we sleep a little

Later, it has also been discovered that obesity occurs more often in people who sleep little, but also type 2. diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Alzheimer's disease and depression are also linked to sleep deprivation.

Tarja Stenberg i laboratorium.
For two years, Tarja Stenberg worked at Harvard in the USA. Here in the lab. Photo: Private / Tarja Stenberg

- As a sleep researcher, I often get the question "What happens if we do not get enough sleep?". I think we all know what's going on. We get tired, annoyed and uncomfortable.

This is because the plasticity of the brain decreases, it becomes more difficult to learn new things, concentrate and more difficult to remember. It also becomes much more difficult to motivate oneself to start new assignments.

- Problem-solving ability also deteriorates. Old solutions are being repeated, although it has already been seen that the old method does not work.

Sleep affects the whole body.

Tarja Stenberg talks in the summer about what happens in our brains when we go to bed in the evening - or how we are affected when we ignore doing so.

Vegas summer talk show is broadcast every weekday at 10:03 and 22:15. You can listen to the Arena at any time.


1 Comment(s)

Joe Miller:
06/08/2020, 12:06:04 AM, UHDTA

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