Online t-shirt retailers No Demographic have created a t-shirt with EEG (‘brainwave’) traces from each stage of sleep.
Sleep is divided into two main types: ‘rapid eye movement‘ or REM sleep, and non-REM sleep. The majority (but not all) dreaming happens in REM sleep.
REM sleep is sometimes called ‘paradoxical sleep’ in the research literature, because the brain is extremely active and far from relaxed.
However, because the brain interrupts the connection between the brain and the spinal cord (probably by inhibiting motor neurons in the pons), we don’t tend to move while all this activity is happening, even if we think we’re moving in our dreams.
Non-REM sleep is divided into stages 1-4. During a night’s sleep, we will go through several cycles of descending through sleep stages 1-4 and experiencing REM sleep.
Each of these stages has a distinctive profile which can be identified by EEG.
The No Demographic t-shirt has one trace from each of these cycles, so you can advertise your unconscious brain function to the world.
The t-shirt reminds me of one of my favourite works of art – a piece called Slumber by Janine Antoni.
Antoni records her own EEG signals while sleeping, weaves them into a blanket, and then sleeps in the blanket, reflecting the wonderful recursive world of sleep and dreams while contrasting modern neuroscience with the ancient art of weaving.