Jason Ivanoff’s work is literally putting people to sleep.
Ivanoff, a psychology professor at Saint Mary’s University, has a $150,000 grant to study whether a quick power nap helps sleep-deprived people make better decisions.
Over the next three years, Ivanoff, along with Ben Rusak of Dalhousie University and Chris Bowen of the National Research Council, will monitor subjects’ brain activity before and after they’ve had naps. One sleep-deprived group will get 20-minute afternoon naps; another will get two-hour ones.
“We really don’t know much about the areas of the brain that become more active when we recuperate some of that sleep,” Ivanoff said yesterday.
Researchers have done studies on how sleep deprivation affects medical doctors when they make complex decisions, but Ivanoff will evaluate how naps affect subjects when they’re making simpler — but no less important — judgements.
“If you have someone who comes in with chest pains, that could be something very serious, or it could be indigestion,” Ivanoff said. The wrong decision, made quickly because of lack of sleep, could be just as dangerous as a shaking scalpel.