During the talk, Arun showed that sleep problems are very prevalent among people with mental illness. In order to understand the cause of this relation, he took perspectives from evolution of sleep, neuroscience, 'neuroanthropology' and evolutionary medicine.
Some interesting points included:
- Sleep has been evolving based on the ecological, metabolic and behavioural needs of the organism.
- People from varying cultures also differ in their sleeping behaviour.
- Getting up in the middle of sleep is an ancient trait that some people have inherited, and should not be considered abnormal.
- Insomnia could be better viewed as a sleep adaptation to impending danger reinforced by anxiety/stress.
- Hypersomnia, which is also seen during common conditions like fever, etc, could be viewed as an adaptation to aid in body-friendly inflammatory process.
- We humans have evolved additional brain-developmental and memory-optimizing functions during the unique brain state that sleep provides. Thus it's disruption could affect many cognitive abilities and result in or aggravate mental illness.
Prof. Pradhan (Head of Dept of Psychopharmacology) also participated in the discussions.