The science of sleep: Melatonin to neural pathways

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Thursday 18 February

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • clock and a face

    Body clock

    Credit: Public domain


Standard £14

Concession £10

Discounts for Ri Members

Event description

Why do we need sleep and what are the physiological processes driving our circadian rhythm? When is our circadian clock disrupted and how does this affect our health?

The science behind sleeplessness can help us understand our rhythms so we can live better and healthier lives. While hormones, such a melatonin, play a role in driving our circadian clock, the amount of sleep we get and our sleep cycles also affect our hormonal release patterns, with far-reaching implications on our health.

Cognitive neuroscientist Vincent Walsh will chair a discussion with a panel of experts who specialise in circadian rhythms. Join them to explore how light detection plays a role in our sleep-wake cycles, how hormone release is regulated and the implications of changes to our circadian clock and sleeplessness over time.

Supported by British Psychological Society and Society for Endocrinology.


Russell Foster is Professor of Circadian Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. The research interests of his group range across visual neuroscience, circadian rhythms and sleep.

Debra Skene is Professor of Neuroendocrinology at the University of Surrey. She leads the research group 'Sleep, Chronobiology and Addiction' and her research focusses on links between human circadian clocks, sleep and metabolism in health, circadian disorders and metabolic diseases.

Stafford Lightman is Professor of Medicine at Bristol University. Researching the mechanisms of stress-related disease, his research has particularly looked at how neuroendocrine rhythms signal to other tissues in the body.


Vincent Walsh runs the Applied Cognitive Neuroscience research group at University College London and is Professor of Human Brain Research. On area of his group's research focusses on sleep and learning.


This event will be filmed and on the Ri Channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.

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