Neuroscience of sleep
The neuroscience of sleep is the study of the neuroscientific and physiological basis of the nature of sleep and its functions. Traditionally, sleep has been studied as part of psychology and medicine. The study of sleep from a neuroscience perspective grew to prominence with advances in technology and proliferation of neuroscience research from the second half of the twentieth century. The fact that organisms daily spend hours of their time in sleep and that sleep deprivation can have disastrous effects ultimately leading to death, demonstrate the importance of sleep. For a phenomenon so important, the purposes and mechanisms of sleep are only partially understood, so much so that as recently as the late 1990s it was quipped: ""The only known function of sleep is to cure sleepiness"". However, the development of improved imaging techniques like EEG, PET and fMRI, along with high computational power have led to an increasingly greater understanding of the mechanisms underlying sleep.The fundamental questions in the neuroscientific study of sleep are - What are the correlates of sleep i.e. what are the minimal set of events that could confirm that the organism is sleeping? How is sleep triggered and regulated by the brain and the nervous system? What happens in the brain during sleep? How can we understand sleep function based on physiological changes in the brain? What causes various sleep disorders and how can they be treated?Other areas of modern neuroscience sleep research include the evolution of sleep, sleep during development and aging, animal sleep, mechanism of effects of drugs on sleep, dreams and nightmares, and stages of arousal between sleep and wakefulness.