Book & Article of the Month (June – July)

If you follow us on social media, you already know what we picked for our monthly reading material. For those who don’t, don’t worry: we’re also highlighting them here, on the blog. Let’s dive in, with…

June’s article of the month

Interindividual variability in neurobehavioral response to sleep loss: A comprehensive review

We picked this article because we think the kind of math we do at Arcascope—coupling biophysics with machine learning—is going to be clutch for capturing inter-individual effects in real world data.

And this is important, because (drumroll):

The big differences from person to person in how they handle sleep loss can make it a challenge to predict an individual’s fatigue risk level. That’s why we need new and sophisticated models to track fatigue—including models that take into account the dynamic, constantly shifting nature of the human circadian clock.

There are other reasons to care about inter-individual differences. Quoth the authors:

“Individual variability in response to countermeasures with different pharmacological targets suggests it may be possible to personalize the selection of countermeasures against the effects of sleep loss using information about genetic variants of implicated receptors.”

In other words, the fact that caffeine and other stimulants work differently for different people means that someday we could be recommending when to drink coffee based on your genes.

We completely agree with the authors that “Research should strive toward a systems approach to the study of interindividual vulnerability to sleep loss in which behavioral, neurobiological, and genetic data are integrated in a larger framework delineating the relationships between genes, proteins, and their functional consequences with observable alterations in cognitive functioning and behavior.”

July’s book of the month

In July, we went in a different direction, reading

Wild Nights: How Taming Sleep Created Our Restless World by Benjamin Reiss.

We really enjoyed this tour of sleep through the lens of history, literature, and society, featuring quotes like:

Did the switches go on because people wanted to stay up later, or did people stay up later because the switches went on?

Light at night has definitely changed the way we live, and most of us aren’t in a rush to go back to 1878 levels of illumination. But the growing evidence that light at night can disrupt your health in a whole host of ways should have us all asking: What can we do differently?

The good news is that there are a lot more ways of improving your circadian health than just keeping the switches off in the evening.

One of the other quotes that stood out to us:

In this age of connection, people might take classes on the other side of the world when it’s 3am in their home time zone. Or they might check their phone at night and be jolted awake by news.

This puts our body clocks, which track the light around us, in conflict with the things that demand our attention, which are running round-the-clock.

We also liked the call-out to how sleep deprivation has had massive, society-level impacts throughout history:

“Sleep deprivation has been blamed for such high-profile industrial and transportation accidents as the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the Challenger space shuttle disaster, as well as less spectacular but more systemic problems such as loss of worker productivity, impaired memory, and increased health and emotional problems.”

History has shown that sleep deprivation is not a topic that should be taken lightly. Yet it can still be dismissed as nothing more than just “feeling tired”. We want to change that. With our app, Shift, we are giving people the tools they need to fight sleep deprivation and finally take the “tired” out of their life.