REST FOR THE BRAIN
Russell Foster, professor of molecular neuroscience in the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College, and his associate Katharina Wulff, faced the crucial topic of sleep-wake cycles in brain health (The rhythm of the rest and excess. (Perspectives). Nature Reviews Neuroscience 6, 407-414, 2005).
In 2004, Foster co-wrote Rhythms of life with Leon Kreitzman. Wulff, who moved from Berlin to join Russell Foster’s laboratory, is an expert at abnormal circadian cycles in patients suffering from schizophrenia. Their critical review focuses on the stark contrast between our attitudes to sleep and the healthier ones of the pre-industrial age. They wrote that in Shakespeare’s Julies Caesar we are told to “Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber”. There seems little chance of this today, as we crave more, work more and expect more, and, in the process, abandon sleep. Our occupation of the night is having unanticipated costs for both our physical and mental health, which, if continued, might condemn whole sectors of our society to a dismal future.