Dr. Giulio Tononi, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, has discovered how to stimulate brain waves that characterize the deepest stage of sleep. The discovery could open a new window into the role of sleep in keeping humans healthy, happy, and able to learn. Theoretically, creating slow brain waves on demand could lead to magnetically stimulated "power naps," which might confer the benefit of eight hours of sleep in just a few hours.

A transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) device sends a harmless magnetic signal through the scalp and skull into the brain, where it activates electrical impulses. In response to each burst of magnetism, the subject's brain immediately produces slow waves typical of deep sleep.

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