English-Video.net comment policy

The comment field is common to all languages

Let's write in your language and use "Google Translate" together

Please refer to informative community guidelines on TED.com

TED Residency

Dan Gartenberg: The brain benefits of deep sleep -- and how to get more of it

Filmed
Views 1,708,543

There's nothing quite like a good night's sleep. What if technology could help us get more out of it? Dan Gartenberg is working on tech that stimulates deep sleep, the most regenerative stage which (among other wonderful things) might help us consolidate our memories and form our personalities. Find out more about how playing sounds that mirror brain waves during this stage might lead to deeper sleep -- and its potential benefits on our health, memory and ability to learn.

- Sleep scientist
TED Resident Dan Gartenberg has spent his adult life trying to make seven and a half hours feel like eight hours. Full bio

What if you could make
your sleep more efficient?
00:13
As a sleep scientist,
00:17
this is the question
that has captivated me
00:19
for the past 10 years.
00:22
Because while the lightbulb
and technology have brought about a world
00:24
of 24-hour work and productivity,
00:28
it has come at the cost
00:32
of our naturally occurring
circadian rhythm
00:34
and our body's need for sleep.
00:37
The circadian rhythm dictates
our energy level throughout the day,
00:40
and only recently we've been conducting
a global experiment on this rhythm,
00:44
which is putting our sleep health
00:49
and ultimately
our life quality in jeopardy.
00:51
Because of this,
00:56
we aren't getting the sleep we need,
00:57
with the average American
sleeping a whole hour less
00:59
than they did in the 1940s.
01:03
For some reason,
01:05
we decided to wear it as a badge of honor
01:07
that we can get by on not enough sleep.
01:09
This all adds up to a real health crisis.
01:12
Most of us know that poor sleep
is linked to diseases
01:16
like Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease,
01:20
stroke and diabetes.
01:23
And if you go untreated
with a sleep disorder like sleep apnea,
01:25
you're more likely
to get many of these illnesses.
01:29
But did you know about sleep's impact
on your mental states?
01:33
Poor sleep makes us
make risky, rash decisions
01:38
and is a drain
on our capacity for empathy.
01:42
When sleep deprivation literally makes us
more sensitive to our own pain,
01:46
it's not so surprising that we have
a hard time relating to others
01:52
and just generally
being a good and healthy person
01:56
when we're sleep-deprived.
01:59
Scientists are now starting to understand
02:01
how not only the quantity
02:04
but also the quality of sleep
impacts our health and well-being.
02:06
My research focuses
02:12
on what many scientists believe
is the most regenerative stage of sleep:
02:14
deep sleep.
02:19
We now know that generally speaking,
02:20
there are three stages of sleep:
02:23
light sleep,
02:25
rapid eye movement or REM
02:27
and deep sleep.
02:29
We measure these stages by connecting
electrodes to the scalp, chin and chest.
02:31
In light sleep and REM,
02:37
our brain waves are very similar
to our brain waves in waking life.
02:39
But our brain waves in deep sleep
have these long-burst brain waves
02:43
that are very different
from our waking life brain waves.
02:47
These long-burst brain waves
are called delta waves.
02:51
When we don't get the deep sleep we need,
02:56
it inhibits our ability to learn
02:59
and for our cells and bodies to recover.
03:01
Deep sleep is how we convert
all those interactions
03:04
that we make during the day
03:08
into our long-term memory
and personalities.
03:09
As we get older,
03:13
we're more likely to lose
these regenerative delta waves.
03:14
So in way, deep sleep and delta waves
03:18
are actually a marker
for biological youth.
03:20
So naturally, I wanted to get
more deep sleep for myself
03:25
and I literally tried almost every gadget,
gizmo, device and hack out there --
03:29
consumer-grade, clinical-grade,
03:34
what have you.
03:36
I learned a lot, and I found
I really do need, like most people,
03:38
eight hours of sleep.
03:42
I even shifted my circadian component
03:44
by changing my meals,
exercise and light exposure,
03:47
but I still couldn't find a way
to get a deeper night of sleep ...
03:51
that is until I met
Dr. Dmitry Gerashchenko
03:55
from Harvard Medical School.
03:58
Dmitry told me about
a new finding in the literature,
04:00
where a lab out of Germany showed
that if you could play certain sounds
04:03
at the right time in people's sleep,
04:08
you could actually make sleep
deeper and more efficient.
04:10
And what's more, is that this lab showed
04:15
that you actually could improve
next-day memory performance
04:17
with this sound.
04:21
Dmitry and I teamed up,
04:23
and we began working on a way
to build this technology.
04:24
With our research lab
collaborators at Penn State,
04:28
we designed experiments
in order to validate our system.
04:32
And we've since received grant funding
from the National Science Foundation
04:35
and the National Institute of Health
04:39
to develop this deep-sleep
stimulating technology.
04:41
Here's how it works.
04:45
People came into the lab
04:47
and we hooked them up
to a number of devices,
04:48
two of which I have on right here --
04:50
not a fashion statement.
04:52
(Laughter)
04:53
When we detected
that people were in deep sleep,
04:56
we played the deep-sleep
stimulating sounds
04:59
that were shown
to make them have deeper sleep.
05:01
I'm going to demo this sound
for you right now.
05:04
(Repeating sound waves)
05:08
Pretty weird, right?
05:16
(Laughter)
05:17
So that sound is actually at the same
burst frequency as your brain waves
05:19
when your brain is in deep sleep.
05:25
That sound pattern
actually primes your mind
05:27
to have more of these
regenerative delta waves.
05:30
When we asked participants
the next day about the sounds,
05:34
they were completely unaware
that we played the sounds,
05:37
yet their brains responded
with more of these delta waves.
05:39
Here's an image of someone's brain waves
from the study that we conducted.
05:44
See the bottom panel?
05:48
This shows the sound being played
at that burst frequency.
05:49
Now look at the brain waves
in the upper part of the graph.
05:53
You can see from the graph
05:56
that the sound is actually producing
more of these regenerative delta waves.
05:58
We learned that we could
accurately track sleep
06:04
without hooking people up to electrodes
06:06
and make people sleep deeper.
06:09
We're continuing to develop
06:12
the right sound environment
and sleep habitat
06:14
to improve people's sleep health.
06:17
Our sleep isn't
as regenerative as it could be,
06:20
but maybe one day soon,
06:24
we could wear a small device
06:26
and get more out of our sleep.
06:28
Thank you.
06:31
(Applause)
06:32

▲Back to top

About the speaker:

Dan Gartenberg - Sleep scientist
TED Resident Dan Gartenberg has spent his adult life trying to make seven and a half hours feel like eight hours.

Why you should listen

Daniel Gartenberg is a PhD in Human Factors and Applied Cognition and is currently an adjunct assistant professor at Penn State University. He has 10 years of experience making sleep technology and is an entrepreneur who founded Proactive Life LLC, Mobile Sleep Technologies LLC, and Fly Fleet LLC. At Proactive Life, Gartenberg developed smartphone and wearable apps, like the Sonic Sleep Coach Alarm Clock, for tracking sleep quality and playing sounds that make sleep deeper. He is currently conducting grant-funded research from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Aging to develop sound environments that can diagnose and treat sleep disorders, improve sleep quality, and optimize daytime alertness. Gartenberg works with companies and individuals who want to get more out of their sleep.

More profile about the speaker
Dan Gartenberg | Speaker | TED.com