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Can Neurostimulation Help You Sleep?

Jan 16 2019 Read 768 Times

As many as 44 million British adults currently suffer from disrupted sleep, with roughly 16 million snatching no more than five hours a night. Now, scientists are claiming that neurostimulation could provide a much-needed solution to those who struggle to get the recommended seven to nine hours a night.

The advances are based on neurotechnology, a field that "wires up" the human brain to machines and attempts to influence higher order activity. In 2019 neurostimulation advocates predict the technology will go mainstream and emerge as an exciting new way to treat not only insomnia and sleep disorders, but also relieve stress and anxiety, manage depression, fast-track weight loss and boost learning.

Neurostimulation, explained

Neurostimulation involves the use of low-power currents to stimulate brain neurons via internal or external nerves. They're known as “electroceuticals” and rely on neural signal pathways to actively target brain neurons. This allows scientists to address common issues associated with insomnia, including problems with the spinal cord and motor cortex, as well as the sacral, peripheral, occipital and pudendal nerves.

Many sleeping disorders have clear neurological roots, including insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy. These are often caused by physical health problems like breathing disorders, chronic pain and cardiovascular dysfunction. Armed with the power to stimulate the brain neurons that can cause sleep disorder symptoms, neuroscientists may be able to treat conditions without resorting to invasive surgery or pharmaceutical medications.

Neuroscientists target sleep, weight loss and learning

Early pilots and improved safety standards could mean that neurostimulation emerges as a coveted treatment for sleeping disorders in 2019. Sleep disorders aren't the only issue on the agendas of scientists, with companies like Thync creating a wearable device that sits on the right temple and targets neural pathways associated with inflammatory diseases like psoriasis. UK based company is using neurostimulation to "push" transcranial currents through the skull and actively improve learning. Modius, a weight-loss headset developed by parent company Neurovalens, is also making waves for using neurostimulation to target the vestibular nerve, which is linked to appetite, body mass regulation and ultimately, weight loss.

Want to know more about how science plays a central role in improving public health? Building on foundations laid by Leonardo da Vinci in the 15th century, 'How a Customised Autoclave Helped a Contact Lens Manufacturer to Solve a Packaging Problem' explores how one of the UK's leading autoclave manufacturers is working hard to meet industry standards and in turn, address conditions like astigmatism.

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