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Microsleep Overview – Microsleep is a brief episode of sleep lasting a few seconds. – It occurs due to a lapse in consciousness and can […]

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Microsleep Overview
– Microsleep is a brief episode of sleep lasting a few seconds.
– It occurs due to a lapse in consciousness and can affect both sleep-deprived and well-rested individuals.
– Detection methods vary, including EEG markers and behavioral criteria.
– Microsleep poses a significant danger in situations requiring constant alertness, such as driving.

Neural Correlates and Detection Methods
– Microsleeps show decreased activity in wakefulness-related brain regions and increased activity in sleep-related regions.
– Detection methods include EEG, fMRI, EOG, and behavioral tests.
– Awakening from a microsleep activates specific brain regions related to decision-making.

Prevalence and Impact
– Drowsy driving leads to over 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 nonfatal injuries annually in the US.
– Microsleep episodes can result in accidents and decrease worker productivity.
– Fatigue and microsleeps contribute to a percentage of fatal and injury crashes on the roads.

Risk Factors, Prevention, and Associated Terms
– Risk factors for microsleeps include fatigue, monotonous tasks, and lack of awareness.
– Prevention strategies include proper sleep hygiene and avoiding activities demanding constant alertness.
– Associated terms include drowsiness, sleep apnea, vigilance, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Clinical Studies, Pharmacology, and Future Research
– Sleep apnea is linked to microsleeps, and drugs like modafinil are used to reduce microsleeps.
– Stimulants like caffeine, Adderall, and tobacco can decrease microsleep frequency.
– Future research should focus on objective microstates underlying microsleep events and their impact on different diseases and populations.

Microsleep (Wikipedia)

A microsleep is a sudden temporary episode of sleep or drowsiness which may last for a few seconds where an individual fails to respond to some arbitrary sensory input and becomes unconscious. Episodes of microsleep occur when an individual loses and regains awareness after a brief lapse in consciousness, often without warning, or when there are sudden shifts between states of wakefulness and sleep. In behavioural terms, MSs may manifest as droopy eyes, slow eyelid-closure, and head nodding. In electrical terms, microsleeps are often classified as a shift in electroencephalography (EEG) during which 4–7 Hz (theta wave) activity replaces the waking 8–13 Hz (alpha wave) background rhythm.

Example of an EEG alpha wave
Example of an EEG theta wave

MSs frequently occur as a result of sleep deprivation. However, healthy individuals who are not sleep-deprived or tired can also experience MSs during monotonous tasks. Some experts define microsleep according to behavioral criteria (head nods, drooping eyelids, etc.), while others rely on EEG markers. Since there are many ways to detect MSs in a variety of contexts there is little agreement on how best to identify and classify microsleep episodes.

Microsleep is extremely dangerous when it occurs in situations that demand constant alertness, such as driving a motor vehicle or working with heavy machinery. People who experience microsleeps often remain unaware of them, instead believing themselves to have been awake the whole time, or to have temporarily lost focus.

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