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Feeling tired? Here’s how the brain’s internal 'hourglass' controls our need for sleep – new research

By Lukas B Krone, DPhil student in Neuroscience, University of Oxford
Vladyslav Vyazovskiy, Associate Professor of Neuroscience, University of Oxford
Zoltán Molnár, Professor of Developmental Neuroscience, University of Oxford
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No one can stay awake forever. While we’re awake, our need for sleep gradually increases. If we deprive ourselves of sleep, our brain functions – such as attention or judgement – are impaired, and sleep becomes irresistible. No matter whether we are on a couch or at work – if we ignore our need for sleep, we ultimately crash.

Although sleep is absolutely vital, until now it hasn’t been known which structure of the brain tells us when we are tired. But our recent study has shown in laboratory mice that the…

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