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Greylock Talks: Lara Aillon-Sohl Discusses Sleep

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Greylock Talks: Lara Aillon-Sohl Discusses Sleep


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Last Friday, the first Greylock Talks of the 2018-2019 school year kicked off during directed study in the meeting room. Organizers sophomore Victoria Melkonyan, senior Margo Smith, and Kaatje White brought in guest speaker Lara Aillon-Sohl, who is currently a psychiatrist at Williams. Discussing why they chose the speaker that they did, Melkonyan noted that “she can come at the topic of sleep from more of a social angle than one that’s purely scientific. There were two people we were choosing between, one more of a scientist than a social scientist. We didn’t want kids to hear a lecture; we wanted them to hear something they might respond and connect to better… because nobody likes a lecture.”

Aillon-Sohl herself began her lecture by stating that her intention was “not to create a lecture on telling you what to do… I don’t like to be told what to do!” She argued that instead of lecturing people to sleep more, it’s more convincing to simply give them straight facts.

She began these with the fact that although the brain takes up 10% of our body mass, it uses about a fourth of our energy supply. The waste removal system that the rest of our body uses does not occur in the brain; the brain’s only method of removing waste is sleep. If this removal doesn’t happen, proteins can build up that can lead to such things as dementia.

Aillon-Sohl then introduced several stages of sleep, noting that the REM sleep, which allows one to retain information, gets longer throughout the night, meaning that getting less sleep severely impacts access to REM. She also brought up some of the effects on health that sleep deprivation brings, such as susceptibility to colds, lack of growth, tendency to gain weight, and bad attitudes.

Teenagers, according to Aillon-Sohl, should be getting 9 ½ hours of sleep each night (a number which produced a hearty chuckle and a few gasps throughout the room). Aillon-Sohl argued that “phones have no place in the bedroom,” and that food and water intake 2-3 hours before bedtime should be limited. She ended her talk by instructing students to see the nurse or a doctor if they are having constant trouble sleeping or are sleeping well but are tired the following day.

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Greylock Talks: Lara Aillon-Sohl Discusses Sleep