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Can the Thin Veils between Sleep and Wakefulness Confuse our Consciousness?

Recent studies done in 2011 by Tononi and researchers at the University of California, LA are showing that “sleep and wakefulness can coexist in the brain.” (Scientific American Mind, July).  In sleep deprived brains certain areas of neurons stopped firing during the waking state.  This increased with the level of sleep deprivation.  And interestingly, during sleep some areas of the brain can behave as if they’re already awake.  So if during times of sleep deprivation parts of our brains are engaging in sleep activities, or not engaging at all, how present are we actually in our daily life?  How well are we able to accurately assess our world, interpret interactions, and find clarity?  What are the actual risks of pulling those all-nighters?  What could change about your ability to be present if you could have a good night’s sleep, every night, for even one week?

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