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Studying the sleeping mind

College students tend to have a difficult relationship with sleep—denying their need for it so they can study, getting too much of it at the expense of attending class. At Santa Clara University, they can also study sleep. SCU is one of the few places in the country where undergraduates can gain hands-on research experience in sleep science.

Three years ago, associate psychology professor Tracey Kahan started a sleep research lab at Santa Clara to study how the sleeping mind works. Kahan’s interest is in how similar our dream selves are to our waking selves.

Students assist her in running the lab, applying the electrodes, monitoring participants on the overnight stays, and administering questionnaires at the end of a session. “They do pretty much everything,” Kahan says. “Once they’re trained.”

It’s an evolving discipline. “Sleep is a hugely fascinating field,” Kahan says. "And college students of course chronically mess about with their sleep patterns.”

Associate Professor Tracey Kahan
Director, Santa Clara Sleep Lab




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