The 2017 SLEEP Conference wrapped up on Thursday, capping off five days of sleep-medicine panels, sleep-swag booths and research poster presentations. I perused booths, attended panels and oohed over my favorite posters. I know what caught my eye — stay tuned for my SLEEP 2017 research round-up — but I was curious to know which presentations, discussions and research trends stood out to experts. So I asked them. And, while a few people admitted that they weren't blown away by SLEEP 2017, others shared observations and highlights from the conference. Here's what nine Zzz-Listers said.
1. "'I think one interesting ‘hot area’ this meeting was the interest shown about memory augmentation in sleep. Both [Northwestern University Cognitive Scientist] Ken Paller’s talk and the one on enhancing slow waves were well attended. Much interest was shown on the theme of boosting sleep to enhance memory. The science has been there for awhile but it was interesting to hear reports from trying to translate ‘proof of concept’ ideas into techniques non-experts can one day use to boost their memory. Very relevant in today’s short sleeping world’" - Michael Chee, Professor & Director Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke-NUS Medical School Singapore
2. "Sleep researchers are developing new tools to manipulate brain oscillations during sleep via sensory stimulations to improve cognitive functions" - Nicola Cellini, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Padova
3. "Dirk Dijk had a talk in which he had data looking at what objective measures predict when a person subjectively feels good about sleep. In other words, if you wake ‘feeling refreshed’, what was it about your sleep — more slow-wave sleep? Less fragmentation? More REM? The answer was that (1) low number of awakenings and (2) high [amount of] REM both predicted a subjective report of feeling refreshed. To me the # of awakenings wasn’t surprising, but that SWS or total sleep time weren’t significant was. And that REM was important to that feeling.” - Rebecca Spencer, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
4."What impressed me enormously is the number of new methodologies for investigating the neural circuits involved in sleep and the very creative work that is being done especially by young investigators." -H. Craig Heller (SLEEP 2017 keynote speaker), Professor of Physiology and Biology at Stanford University
5. "I was particularly excited about H. Craig Heller's presentation, [in which he explained that] the SCN gates neuroplasticity and successful learning depends on an intact circadian system." - Katie Sharkey, Assistant Dean for Women in Medicine and Science at Brown University's Alpert School of Medicine.
6. "We appear to be at the edge of some important circadian science and technological breakthroughs that will not only transform the assessment and treatment of circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders, but also our ability to integrate circadian rhythms into health and well-being." - Peter Cheng, Research Scientist at the Henry Ford Health System Sleep Disorders Center
7. "Increasing evidence supports the central role of circadian rhythms and sleep in all sorts of health outcomes, from diabetes and obesity to cardiovascular disease and depression. Our next step should be to translate our knowledge of sleep and circadian rhythms into interventions to improve health." - Daniel Buysse, Professor of Sleep Medicine, Psychiatry and Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
8. "Amazed by how far we’ve come in understanding the challenges facing astronauts in their quest for sleep while in space, yet better aware of the tremendous work that lies ahead to counter the effects of extended spaceflights on sleep and overall performance." - Antonio Zadra, Psychology Professor at Université de Montréal
9. "One insight that I found particularly interesting was: While people with insomnia are often thought of as being chronically tired, insomnia actually seems to stem from hyperarousal and reactivity." - Garrett Hisler, Graduate Student in Psychology at Iowa State University