sleep

‘Then they plunged a great needle into my butt and BAM! out I went for two whole days. When I woke up, wow! Rats all over the floor, wailing and screaming. We ate potatoes with spoons.’ –Edie Sedgwick

6.jpg

Why do we dream? It’s still a scientific mystery. The “Threat Simulation Theory” proposes that we dream as a way to simulate real-life threats and prepare ourselves for dealing with them. “This simulation in an almost-real experiential world would train the brain to perceive dangers and rapidly face them within the safe condition of sleeping,” write the authors of a new paper that’s put the theory to the test. […]

The researchers contacted thousands of first-year students at the end of the day that they sat a very important exam. […] over 700 of the students agreed to participate and they completed a questionnaire about their dreams and sleep quality the previous evening, and any dreams they’d had about the exam over the course of the university term. […] The more exam dreams a student reported having during the term, the higher their grade tended to be.

{ BPS | Continue reading }

collage { Eugenia Loli }

‘The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.’ —Richard Feynman

26.jpg

Damage to certain parts of the brain can lead to a bizarre syndrome called hemispatial neglect, in which one loses awareness of one side of their body and the space around it. In extreme cases, a patient with hemispatial neglect might eat food from only one side of their plate, dress on only one side of their body, or shave or apply make-up to half of their face, apparently because they cannot pay attention to anything on that the other side.

Research published last week now suggests that something like this happens to all of us when we drift off to sleep each night.

{ Neurophilosophy/Guardian | Continue reading }

art { Andy Warhol, Mrs. McCarthy and Mrs. Brown (Tunafish Disaster), (1963) }

Yes, some spinach. Crucial moment.

44.jpg

Almost half of all disturbing dreams contain primary emotions other than fear, study finds […]

The research also found that men and women tend to have different dreams. Men were “significantly” more likely to report themes involving disaster or calamity as well as insects while women’s dreams were more likely to feature interpersonal conflicts.

{ Telegraph | Continue reading }

related { Use what hotels know about sleeping to build your own dreamland }

Charlie Delisle sittin’ at the top of an avocado tree

24.jpg

Recent research on circadian rhythms has suggested a reliable method to reduce or even completely prevent jet lag. […]

Circadian rhythms are the roughly 24-hour biological rhythms that drive changes within humans and most other organisms. […] Usually these rhythms align with the environment’s natural light and dark cycle. […]

Whether circadian rhythms align with the environment is determined by factors such as exercise, melatonin, and light. Bright light exposure is the most powerful way to cause a phase shift — an advance or delay in circadian rhythms. Light in the early morning makes you wake up earlier (“phase advance”); light around bed time makes you wake up later (“phase delay”).

This simple insight can be used to minimise jet lag. For example, Helen Burgess and colleagues from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago studied whether jet lag could be prevented by phase shifting before departing. After three days of light exposure in the morning, the participants’ circadian rhythms shifted by an average of 2.1 hours. This means they would feel less jet lagged, and would be fully adjusted to the new time zone around two days earlier. Several field studies have reached similar conclusions.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

Narcolepsy is a disorder of the immune system where it inappropriately attacks parts of the brain involved in sleep regulation. The result is that affected people are not able to properly regulate sleep cycles meaning they can fall asleep unexpectedly, sometimes multiple times, during the day.

One effect of this is that the boundary between dreaming and everyday life can become a little bit blurred and a new study by sleep psychologist Erin Wamsley aimed to see how often this occurs and what happens when it does.

{ Mind Hacks | Continue reading }

related { The U.S. is addicted to advice. Americans honestly believe that someone out there knows how to fix all our problems. }

art { Nathan James }

Most of what goes wrong, or at least does not go well, is likely to be merely a temporary malfunctioning of one sort or another

318.jpg

The placebo effect is known far and wide. Give somebody a sugar pill, tell them it’s aspirin, and they’ll feel better. What’s less well-known is that there’s evidence of the placebo effect in domains that go beyond the commonly known medical scenarios.

One study found that hotel maids who were told their work was good exercise later scored higher than a control group on a range of health indicators. Another study found that when participants were told athletes had excellent vision, they demonstrated better vision when doing a more-athletic activity relative to a less-athletic activity. Many studies have also shown that placebo caffeine can have an impact. In one experiment caffeine placebos improved cognitive performance among participants who were in the midst of 28 hours of sleep deprivation.

Given that caffeine placebos can mitigate the effects of sleep deprivation, Christina Draganich and Kristi Erdal of Colorado College decided to take the logical next step and investigate whether the effects of sleep deprivation could be influenced by perceptions about sleep quality. In other words, could making people think their sleep quality was better or worse influence the cognitive effects of sleep?

{ Peer-reviewed by my neurons | Continue reading }

images { 1. David Cutter | 2 }

In ageless sleep, she finds repose. The years roll by.

320.jpg

In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in which a group of people were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month.

It took some time for their sleep to regulate but by the fourth week the subjects had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep. […]

In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks. […]

Much like the experience of Wehr’s subjects, these references describe a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep. […] During this waking period people were quite active. They often got up, went to the toilet or smoked tobacco and some even visited neighbours. Most people stayed in bed, read, wrote and often prayed. Countless prayer manuals from the late 15th Century offered special prayers for the hours in between sleeps.

And these hours weren’t entirely solitary - people often chatted to bed-fellows or had sex.

A doctor’s manual from 16th Century France even advised couples that the best time to conceive was not at the end of a long day’s labour but “after the first sleep”, when “they have more enjoyment” and “do it better”.

Ekirch found that references to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th Century.

{ BBC | Continue reading }

He kissed me… but only in my dreams

84.jpg

The risk of waking from a general anaesthetic while under the surgeon’s knife is extremely small - about one in 15,000 - research reveals.

Out of nearly 3 million operations in 2011 there were 153 reported cases. […] A third - 46 in total - were conscious throughout the operation.

{ BBC | Continue reading }

The incidence of accidental awareness during general anaesthesia (AAGA) is reported by several studies to be surprisingly high, in the range of 1–2 per 1000 general anaesthetics administered. These studies employ a direct patient questionnaire (usually repeated three times over a period of up to 30 days postoperatively) known as the ‘Brice protocol.’ It is also reported that a high proportion of patients experiencing AAGA suffer psychological problems including posttraumatic stress disorder. There are in fact very few studies reporting an incidence of AAGA much lower than this, an exception being that of Pollard et al., who found an incidence of 1:14 500. However, their methods might be criticised as they administered the questionnaire only twice over a 48-h period, which might only detect two thirds of cases . Anecdotally, anaesthetists do not perceive the incidence of AAGA to be so high. A small Japanese study found that only 21 of 172 practitioners had known of an incident of AAGA under their care, with an overall incidence of just 1:3500. In a larger UK survey of over 2000 consultants, Lau et al. reported that anaesthetists estimated the incidence to be approximately 1:5000, similar to the estimated incidence reported previously by 220 Australian anaesthetists of between 1:5000 and 1:10 000.

{ Anaesthesia/Wiley | Continue reading }

Dr. No: I’m a member of SPECTRE. James Bond: SPECTRE?

315.jpg

Fall asleep in the wrong position, and acid slips into the esophagus, a recipe for agita and insomnia.

Doctors recommend sleeping on an incline, which allows gravity to keep the stomach’s contents where they belong. But sleeping on your side can also make a difference — so long as you choose the correct side. Several studies have found that sleeping on the right side aggravates heartburn; sleeping on the left tends to calm it.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

related { Those who have a tendency to migrate to the left of a double bed are apparently happier than their ‘right’ counterparts }

photos { Wally McNamee | Mitch Epstein }

Clap on the back for Zoe

222.jpg

Jon M at Sociological Speculation reports: 

…new drugs such as Modafinil appear to vastly reduce the need for sleep without significant side effects (at least so far). Based on reports from users, it seems that people could realistically cut their sleep requirements to as few as 2.5 hours a night without a decrease in mental acuity.

He notes that people would probably work more, and wonders whether…

…these pills would amount to an increase in the labour supply and cause a fall in hourly wages or unemployment.

Normal microeconomics makes the right answer obvious: A rise in supply pushes down the price of work, so wages will fall.  But normal microeconomics only takes you so far: to get at dynamics and interdependence you need some kind of macroeconomics, a tool for seeing the big picture. 

So here’s what probably happens when drugs make it easier to work more hours: All those extra work hours make capital more valuable, since your assembly line, your delivery truck, your call center can now all produce more output per machine.  

What happens when something gets more valuable? People try to accumulate more of it. And what happens when the economy accumulates more capital? All those extra machines probably make workers more productive, boosting labor demand and therefore raising wages.

{ Garett Jones/EconLog | Continue reading }

And sing them loud even in the dead of night

542.jpg

For a small group of people—perhaps just 1% to 3% of the population—sleep is a waste of time.

Natural “short sleepers,” as they’re officially known, are night owls and early birds simultaneously. They typically turn in well after midnight, then get up just a few hours later and barrel through the day without needing to take naps or load up on caffeine.

They are also energetic, outgoing, optimistic and ambitious, according to the few researchers who have studied them. The pattern sometimes starts in childhood and often runs in families. […]

Out of every 100 people who believe they only need five or six hours of sleep a night, only about five people really do, Dr. Buysse says. The rest end up chronically sleep deprived, part of the one-third of U.S. adults who get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. […]

Dr. Fu was part of a research team that discovered a gene variation, hDEC2, in a pair of short sleepers in 2009. They were studying extreme early birds when they noticed that two of their subjects, a mother and daughter, got up naturally about 4 a.m. but also went to bed past midnight.

Genetic analyses spotted one gene variation common to them both. The scientists were able to replicate the gene variation in a strain of mice and found that the mice needed less sleep than usual, too.

{ WSJ | Continue reading }

photo { Diane Arbus }

Even though you prove that a bed in those days was as rare as a motor car is now

410.jpg

Large-scale surveys indicate that on average people spend more time sleeping than working. […]

Negative effects of sleep deprivation are especially problematic in contemporary organizations, given recent research indicating that sleep has decreased at a rate of about 5 minutes per decade for the past three decades.

A large-scale study indicates that 29.9% of Americans get less than 6 hours per day; for those in management and enterprises, 40.5% get less than 6 hours. Large- scale studies from Korea, Finland, Sweden, and England also indicate high proportions of people functioning on low quantities of sleep or poor sleep quality. Probably as a result of insufficient sleep, 29% of Americans report extreme sleepiness or falling asleep at work in the past month. Thus, across many countries, there is an abundance of employees who work after a short night of sleep or poor quality sleep. […]

Organizational psychology researchers have recently begun to investigate this topic, highlighting effects of low sleep quantity and poor sleep quality on job satisfaction, unethical behavior, workplace deviance, lack of innovative thinking, and high risk of work injuries.

{ SAGE | PDF }

art { Titian, Venus of Urbino, 1538 }

What events might nullify these calculations?

565.jpg

Networks of muscles, of brain cells, of airways and lungs, of heart and vessels operate largely independently. Every couple of hours, though, in as little as 30 seconds, the barriers break down. Suddenly, there’s synchrony. All the disjointed activity of deep sleep starts to connect with its surroundings. Each network joins the larger team. This change, marking the transition from deep to light sleep, has only recently been understood in detail. […]

Similar syncing happens all the time in everyday life. Systems of all sorts constantly connect. Bus stops pop up near train stations, allowing commuters to hop from one transit network to another. New friends join your social circle, linking your network of friends to theirs. Telephones, banks, power plants all come online — and connect online.

A rich area of research has long been devoted to understanding how players — whether bodily organs, people, bus stops, companies or countries — connect and interact to create webs called networks. An advance in the late 1990s led to a boom in network science, enabling sophisticated analyses of how networks function and sometimes fail. But more recently investigators have awakened to the idea that it’s not enough to know how isolated networks work; studying how networks interact with one another is just as important. Today, the frontier field is not network science, but the science of networks of networks. […]

Findings so far suggest that networks of networks pose risks of catastrophic danger that can exceed the risks in isolated systems. A seemingly benign disruption can generate rippling negative effects. Those effects can cost millions of dollars, or even billions, when stock markets crash, half of India loses power or an Icelandic volcano spews ash into the sky, shutting down air travel and overwhelming hotels and rental car companies. In other cases, failure within a network of networks can mean the difference between a minor disease outbreak or a pandemic, a foiled terrorist attack or one that kills thousands of people.

{ ScienceNews | Continue reading }