Sleep is a great topic for science fair projects. It is a dynamic process that scientists still do not know a lot about. If you are looking for a topic that has the potential to really blow the minds of your peers and teachers, then take a look at how discoveries related to alpha waves produced by the brain are revealing new insights into the process of sleep.
Alpha Waves – What We Thought We Knew
Alpha waves are a type a brain activity that was once thought to only be associated with a person being awake. It was thought that these brain waves were signs of active thinking and stimulus processing. This presumption was made based upon observations made about the apparent disappearance of alpha waves when a person was asleep; however, recent studies have demonstrated that alpha waves do not disappear when a person goes to sleep, they just relocate to a different part of the brain.
Alpha Waves – New Insights
Recently a new study was published in PLoS One that revealed that alpha waves could be a normal part of sleep as well as a normal part of being awake. The movement of the alpha waves during the sleep process is suspected to be related to the deepness of the sleep that is experiences. These fascinating findings support the notion that sleep is a highly complex process that is still a mystery to scientists despite years of research and study.
Sleep Science Fair Project Idea 1
The first sleep science fair project works well for younger students. It is going to explore the relationship between noise and the restfulness of the sleep. For this project the student will need between four and six volunteers. Half of the volunteers will be sleeping with no noise and half will be sleeping with music playing in the background. The hypothesis is that sleeping with music will negatively impact the restfulness of the sleep that is experienced. Each test subject will keep a sleep journal for one week which details how they felt upon rising each morning. The student will use this information to determine if noise during sleep impacts restfulness.
Sleep Science Fair Project Idea 2
The next sleep science fair project is a great intermediate project. It will explore the relationship between pre-sleep activities and sleep time movement.
For this project the student will need four to six volunteers who do not mind being videotaped during their sleep.
The hypothesis is that the type of activity that an individual engages in during the one hour period before they go to sleep will impact how much movement, e.g. tossing and turning, they will experience while asleep.
To test this hypothesis the test subjects will keep a journal for one week. Each day they will make an entry that describes what they did during the hour before they went to bed, e.g. played video games, exercised, read a book or watched television. When they are ready to go to sleep they will press the record button on a night vision camera that will monitor their sleep.
The student will use the video to determine how much tossing and turning the individual engaged in and they will compare these movement frequencies to the activity type listed in their journal.
Sleep Science Fair Project Idea 3
The final sleep science fair project is advanced / high school students. It will test the hypothesis that dreams can be influenced by external factors. To test this hypothesis the student will need four to six volunteers. Test subjects will be broken up in to groups of two people. Each group will be assigned an external factor that will be manipulated to test its results. The factors will include noise, temperature and light. The tests will run for five nights. Each night the external factor will be manipulated. Upon waking up the test subject will document if they dreamt, what they dreamt about and how rested they feel.