Story in the College of Arts & Sciences
Psychology professor studies the sleeping mind and engages students in the science of sleep.
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 the director of the Sleep Lab in running it, 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 fascinating field," Kahan says. "There are enormous public health concerns for sleep loss or sleep disruption. And college students of course chronically mess about with their sleep patterns."
Watch a video about Santa Clara's sleep lab below.