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Sleep, Clocks and Health Alarms

© Lena Held via Compfight
  • Saturday 11 June 2016, 1.30PM to 4:30pm
  • Free admission
    No booking required
  • Tempest Anderson Hall, Yorkshire Museum, Museum Gardens (map)
  • Wheelchair accessible

Event details

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Why do we sleep at night and what does our brain do when we sleep? How do plants tell the season and why do some mosquitoes bite in the evening? The answers all lie in circadian body clocks present in all organisms. Come along and find out how scientists are investigating circadian clocks and their implications for health, food and disease prevention.

The event is divided into two sessions. Session One runs from 1.30pm to 2.50pm, Session Two from 3.10pm to 4.30pm, with a 20-minute interval in-between. There will be an extended opportunity to ask the speakers questions at the end of each session.

Session One Talks:

1)    Some Science and Myths of Sleep 

There are over 20 million people in the UK alone who have problems with sleep. It is a source of frustration and stress, which impacts on our work, relationships, health and mental wellbeing. There is also growing evidence that it causes serious chronic diseases, and contributes to deterioration in mind and body.

We need to breathe, drink water, eat food, have shelter from the environment - but we are only slowly growing to understand that sleep is as essential as these other things.

We all need to improve our sleep, and need to do this for many reasons. Scientific research into sleep has dramatically increased during the past decade. There is greater understanding of the hormonal and brain activity during sleep. These play key roles in your life, and determine your health and wellbeing. Graham Law will ‘bust’ some of the myths around sleep - myths that damage your chances of sleeping well. He will start by exploring an often quoted view that “I need eight hours sleep”. That, he will explain, is just not correct.

About the speaker

Dr Graham Law is Associate Professor of Statistical Epidemiology at the University of Leeds School of Medicine. Graham is a scientist with over 25 years of research experience, publishing over 90 research papers and two books.  He is Honorary Secretary of the British Sleep Society, set up the Leeds Sound Asleep Laboratory and is Director of the SleepResearch@Leeds initiative. His main research focusses on the effects of sleep on health. He has delivered seminars on ways to improve sleep and health, including the use of yoga for helping to deal with problems with sleep and general sleep health.

2)    You Are How You Sleep

We have all heard the saying ‘You are what you eat’, particularly when it comes to the epidemics of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. In this talk Eleanor Scott of the University of Leeds will outline how important sleep is to your wellbeing, particularly the influence it has on your weight and risk of diabetes.

About the speaker

Dr Eleanor Scott is a Senior Lecturer in Medicine at the University of Leeds. She is also a Consultant in Diabetes and combines providing NHS clinical care with her research on sleep.

3)    Play it Again: Reactivating Memories in the Sleeping Brain 

Memories that we form during the day are reactivated, and thereby strengthened, during sleep. Join Scott Cairney of the University of York as he shows how it is possible to harness such memory reactivations via experimental manipulations in sleep and, ultimately, influence what we remember the following day.

About the speaker

Dr Scott Cairney obtained a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from the University of Manchester in 2012. He has since been working as a full time sleep researcher at the Department of Psychology, University of York.


Session Two Talks:

1)    How to Make a Clock on a Fly

Ezio Rosato of the University of Leicester will show how a small and insignificant fruit fly has been instrumental to the discovery of the components of the circadian body clock. The circadian clock is a major regulatory mechanism impacting on all aspects of our life – and is not so different in flies and humans.

About the speaker

Dr Ezio Rosato is a Reader in the Department of Genetics at the University of Leicester. He is interested in understanding the neuronal basis of rhythmic behaviour using the fruit fly Drosophila Melanogaster as a model.

2)    Can Changing Your Meal Times Make You Healthier?

Studies in mice show that restricting the time window in which they eat (therefore leading to extended fasting intervals) can bring with it an impressive array of health benefits. However is the same true in humans? Rona Antoni, a member of the University of Surrey research team, who recently conducted one of the first studies in humans (as featured on the BBC's Trust Me I'm a Doctor), explains more.

About the speaker

Rona Antoni is a third year nutrition PhD student at the University of Surrey and practicing dietitian. Her research is focused on understanding the metabolic effects of intermittent fasting diets such as time restricted feeding and the 5:2 diet.

3)    Sleeping Plants and Human Health

Do plants even sleep? Seth Davis of the University of York will explain that they tell time and ‘rest’ at night. He will outline how we have moved forward from the time-keeping botanical work of Charles Darwin to our current understanding of how we can exploit the plant clock to maximise our ability to capture those plant-derived compounds that promote human health.

About the speaker

Professor Seth Davis is the Chair of Plant Biology at the University of York. His laboratory explores the timing mechanisms, termed circadian clocks, that plants have evolved to judge daily and seasonal changes in light and temperature in order to effectively regulate their vital processes.



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