Sleep is a serious problem for many people, but most of us do not really understand why we suffer. In recent years, however, the science of sleep has made great strides, and the National Sleep Foundation has taken many initiatives to broaden understanding.

The Foundation’s latest effort may be the most accessible yet.

With a click of your mouse, you can visit the Doze family – a virtual family that may be similar to your own. Joe works days while his wife, Jane, a nurse, works nights. Their daughter, Minnie, is an active teenager. Grandpa is retired and naps during the day. Each member of the family encounters different kinds of problems with their sleep.

While watching the Doze family, viewers see a control panel on the right of the screen that displays several factors associated with sleep. A click on any of the control panel items brings an explanation of the factor and how it works. The show also examines how different variables – shift work, caffeine, alcohol, stress and the “Monday morning blues” – can affect sleep. Viewers can click around and then return to the Doze family story without losing a beat.

The animations are great and the presentation is comprehensive. You won’t get any feedback specific to your exact situation, but you’ll begin to learn what science now knows about sleep, and you’ll be introduced to the key issues and concerns. This short animation is an excellent learning device. If you have problems sleeping, check out The Cycles of Sleeping and Waking with the Doze Family.

[Steve Clark]