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Why do we sleep, how is vision loss linked to sleep disruption, and what is our research exploring?

We recently gave a talk, hosted by TAVIP, where we explored the relationship between vision loss and sleep disruption. The talk covered topics such as: why we sleep; how behaviour, health, and well-being can affect sleep; and why the eye is important for circadian timing. We also gave an overview of our what we’re researching, including; the needs of the community; new methods to measure non visual functions of the eye; and new methods to detect sleep and circadian disruption. You can listen to the full talk, and Q&A sessions here:

In the dark: Body clocks and blindness

‘Our eyes are the window through which we make sense of the colours, people and objects around us. But scientists at Oxford University say they have another important role – setting our internal body clocks. When bright light enters the eye in the morning, it kick-starts the brain into generating a regular pattern of sleeping and waking. So what does this mean for people who can’t see anything at all? Smitha Mundasad reports from Oxford.’ (3 minute video).
Click this link to watch the video on the bbc news website:

Why do we Sleep? A TED Talk by Russell Foster

Russell Foster is a circadian neuroscientist: He studies the sleep cycles of the brain. And he asks: What do we know about sleep? Not a lot, it turns out, for something we do with one-third of our lives. In this talk, Foster shares three popular theories about why we sleep, busts some myths about how much sleep we need at different ages — and hints at some bold new uses of sleep as a predictor of mental health. (22 minute video)

In Our Time – Understanding Your Body Clock

Circadian rhythms are found throughout the living world. How much do you know about yours? Read the article here:

Victory Over Blindness – knowledge for the benefit of disabled veterans and wider humanity

“Losing your sight is devastating. It is both physically and mentally challenging and leads to a plethora of difficulties at different stages of life, and it often co-exists with other challenges and disabilities. As the Chief Scientific Officer at BRAVO VICTOR, part of the Blind Veterans UK group, I work with these issues with the aim of using research to find solutions to improve the lives of thousands of veterans, all visually impaired. We perform research on factors to enable veterans to maintain and improve the quality of their health and well-being, and their level of social inclusion and satisfaction with life. We accelerate innovation by stimulating the rapid development of technologies based on evidence and research.” Listen to Dr Renata Gomes give a talk outlining some of the research being conducted at BRAVO VICTOR, including our collaboration with them looking at the link between sleep and sight loss. (44 minute talk).

Discovery – Circadian Rhythms

“The importance of the human body’s natural clock or circadian rhythms. We all live our lives at the centre of a triangle of time, including a clock, a schedule and our own biological clock. The programme looks at what we can do to make sure our body rhythm keeps step with our lives.” Listen to the short podcast here (24 minutes):

Sleep – Freedom to Think

“Take control of your sleep,” says Professor Russell Foster CBE, leading neuroscientist and this year’s opening lecturer on the festival theme of the Speed of Life. Sleeping consumes a third of our lifetimes, but Professor Foster believes our sleeping hours are still not properly appreciated. His research shows how our bodies, honed by three million years of evolution, follow a natural clock and not the man-made one in daily use. He believes that all life on the planet has developed a 24-hour timing system which humans now use to fine-tune our rhythms.” Click this link to listen to Russell Foster talking about the importance of sleep at the BBC Free Thinking Festival (59 minute podcast):

In the Shade of Lockdown – How does the lack of daylight affect us?

Talks from Professor Russell Foster, Dr Samer Hattar, and Professor Till Roenneberg, moderated by Professor Debra Skene for the Daylight Academy. (1 hour 35 minute video)

Sleep and Dreams: Professor Russell Foster in Conversation with Kristin Scott Thomas

Understanding Mental Health – A series of online conversations featuring leading mental health researchers and well known celebrities. Brought to you by Dora Loewenstein and Partners in association with the University of Oxford’. (60 minute video)

Overcoming Sleep Problems

A talk from the University of Oxford’s Psychology department exploring what sleep is for, how does it work, and how can we deal with tricky sleep problems. (48 minute video)

Don’t tell me the score – Circadian Rhythms

“How our circadian rhythms impact our athletic performance, mood and overall health. Dr Panda is Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in California – and a leading expert in the field. He argues that developing a robust circadian rhythm is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself against Covid – and in this episode he explains exactly how you can. He reveals how athletic performance can vary by as much as 26% in the course of a day – and how some top teams are using that to their advantage when playing matches away”. Listen to the podcast here (1 hour 10 minutes):

Sleep, Photosensitivity and Retinoblastoma

Dr. Iona Alexander explores how the body’s sensitive biological clock regulates sleep, and how some effects of retinoblastoma treatment may disrupt this highly tuned system.
Click this link to read the full article:

Body Clocks, Sleep and Light

In a podcast for the University of Oxford, Russell Foster explains the role of light in regulating our bodies and discusses the implications of today’s almost constant exposure to light
Click this link to listen to the podcast on the University of Oxford website (1 hour 10 minute podcast):

How Sleep Science Explains Eye Disease and Mental Health

“Sleep disruption is so much more than the inconvenience of being able to sleep at the desired time — it is a global health disruption,” said Russell Foster, a professor of circadian neuroscience at the University of Oxford, speaking at Wired Health in London. (17 minute video)

The Science of Sleep: Melatonin to Neural Pathways

Russell Foster, Debra Skene and Stafford Lightman discuss the science of sleep in this video from The Royal Institution. Why do we need sleep and what are the physiological processes driving our circadian rhythm? When is our circadian clock disrupted and how does this affect our health? Cognitive neuroscientist Vincent Walsh chairs the debate. (52 minute video)

Light and the circadian rhythm: The key to a good night’s sleep?

We spend about a third of our lives asleep and cannot survive without it. But while scientists have long understood the importance of getting enough sleep, the key part played by light exposure can sometimes be overlooked. Click this link to read more on the BBC website:

In Our Time – Seven things that might surprise you about time

“We live in a world where an atomic clock can keep to time and only lose a second every 15 million years – we arrived at this incredible feat of engineering ingenuity from simply noticing the movements of the sun and the moon and the stars. To mark the 900th episode of In Our Time, BBC Radio 4 have compiled a list of some of the many, many fascinating facts that the programmes have uncovered about our understanding of time.” Read the article here:

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