Tag Archives | Sleep

Sleepwalkers feel no pain, remain asleep despite suffering injuries


American Academy of Sleep Medicine via ScienceDaily:

A new study of sleepwalkers found an intriguing paradox: Although sleepwalkers have an increased risk for headaches and migraines while awake, during sleepwalking episodes they are unlikely to feel pain even while suffering an injury.

Results show that sleepwalkers were nearly 4 times more likely than controls to report a history of headaches (odds ratio = 3.80) and 10 times more likely to report experiencing migraines (OR = 10.04), after adjusting for potential confounders such as insomnia and depression. Among sleepwalkers with at least one previous sleepwalking episode that involved an injury, 79 percent perceived no pain during the episode, allowing them to remain asleep despite hurting themselves.

“Our most surprising result was the lack of pain perception during the sleepwalking episodes,” said principal investigator Dr. Regis Lopez, psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist at Hospital Gui-de-Chauliac in Montpellier, France. “We report here, for the first time, an analgesia phenomenon associated with sleepwalking.”

Study results are published in the Nov.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Why everyone should embrace their inner sloth

Carol Schaffer (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr.

Carol Schaffer (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr.

Each year there’s an autumn weekend which is anticipated with particular glee: the one in which the clocks go back. The prospect of an extra hour in bed is certainly enticing, and the Sunday has duly been labelled “National Sleep In Day”. But the fact that sleeping in is designated to this one particular day betrays something else – that idleness is seen as wasteful, self-indulgent. A lie-in is only encouraged when time itself moves to accommodate it.

For some perspective on how the idea of laziness has changed over time, we could do a lot worse than consider the natural world’s undisputed champion of indolence – the sloth. Because the one thing everyone knows about sloths is that they are slothful. The clue’s in the name.

But it’s a name with a long and curious history. Sloth entered the English language in the early 12th century as a term for mental and physical sluggishness.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

How the brain controls sleep

MIT neuroscientists have discovered a brain circuit that can trigger small regions of the brain to fall asleep or become less alert, while the rest of the brain remains awake. Credit: Illustration: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT

MIT neuroscientists have discovered a brain circuit that can trigger small regions of the brain to fall asleep or become less alert, while the rest of the brain remains awake.
Credit: Illustration: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via Science Daily:

Sleep is usually considered an all-or-nothing state: The brain is either entirely awake or entirely asleep. However, MIT neuroscientists have discovered a brain circuit that can trigger small regions of the brain to fall asleep or become less alert, while the rest of the brain remains awake.

This circuit originates in a brain structure known as the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN), which relays signals to the thalamus and then the brain’s cortex, inducing pockets of the slow, oscillating brain waves characteristic of deep sleep. Slow oscillations also occur during coma and general anesthesia, and are associated with decreased arousal. With enough TRN activity, these waves can take over the entire brain.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Scientists Asked the Stoners: What Type of Pot Helps You Sleep Better?

marijuana 2

Agata Blaszczak Boxe via Braindecoder:

People use various tricks to deal with sleep problems — some like to have a cup of chamomile tea before bed, while others count sheep or rewatch Planet Earth.

And then there are those who claim the best way to get quality Zzz’s is to smoke some pot.

Managing sleep issues is indeed one if the most commonly cited reasons for the use of medical marijuana, research has shown. But while pot may help promote sleep in some insomniacs, the extent of this potential benefit and the exact mechanisms involved are not clear.

What’s more, various types of marijuana may have different effects on sleep. To understand this better, in a new study, researchers look at the types of medical marijuana that people prefer to use for sleep problems like insomnia and nightmares. After recruiting 163 adults who purchased medical marijuana at a California dispensary, the researchers looked specifically at whether the people were using sativa, indica, or hybrid strains of pot.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

I tried Polyphasic sleep for a week and it felt like LSD

Theophilos Papadopoulos (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Theophilos Papadopoulos (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Hopes&Fears challenged a friend to adopt a Polyphasic sleep schedule for a week. This is her story. 

Luvina Jean-Charles via Hopes&Fears:

Cue the scene: Oakland, California. Early 90’s. Streaks of afternoon sun.

A preschool-aged me lies staring at the ceiling, back flush against a blue gym mat, in a quiet classroom.  Around me, classmates do the same, some of them fidgeting nervously with their hands.

It’s Nap Time   

I’m still awake, as usual, but instead of spending the next half hour mentally cataloguing everything in the room, I decide to inquire further about this elusive nap thing. I turn to my friend, who is spooning a stuffed Tasmanian Devil on the mat across from mine.

“How do you go to sleep? Can you show me how?” I ask. She nods, slowly. “It’s easy.” Lip smack. Yawn. Lip smack. “You just go like this.” Her single open eye falls back closed, and in seconds, she is snoring.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Forget Freud, research on dream imagery may help us understand consciousness

Rapid eye movements (REMs) during sleep may contribute to the visual part of our dreams by acting as a switch from image to image, researchers have found. The study, which measured the activity of individual cells in the brain in both awake and sleeping participants, is important because it is the first of its kind and provides a great starting point for uncovering the deeper secrets of human consciousness.

Consciousness can roughly be summed up as our awareness of the environment and our ability to respond to it. However, Sigmund Freud and his followers have described dreams as deep-seated, unconscious psychic desires. Today, many instead see them as an interpretation of images of the environment stored in certain parts of the brain. These images are thought to be projected onto the visual cortex so we can “see them” in our dreams.

Physiologists and experimental psychologists refer to mental images of 3D scenes as “visuospatial imagery”, which is similar to what we see when we dream.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Can we unlearn social biases while we sleep?

Betsssssy (CC BY 2.0)

Betsssssy (CC BY 2.0)

Xiaoqing Hu, University of Texas at Austin

Your brain does a lot when you are asleep. It’s when you consolidate memories and integrate the things you’ve learned during the day into your existing knowledge structure. We now have lots of evidence that while you are sleeping, specific memories can be reactivated and thus strengthened.

We wondered whether sleep could play a role in undoing implicit social biases. These are the learned negative associations we make through repeat exposure – things like stereotypes about women not being good at science or biases against black people. Research has shown that training can help people learn to counter biases, lessening our knee-jerk prejudices, many of which can operate without our notice. We know from earlier studies that sound can cue the process of memory consolidation. Can this sleep-based memory trick strengthen newly learned information and in turn help reduce or reverse biases?… Read the rest

Continue Reading

A dark night is good for your health

Joe Goldberg (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Joe Goldberg (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Richard Stevens, University of Connecticut

Today most people do not get enough sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has called insufficient sleep an epidemic. While we are finally paying attention to the importance of sleep, the need for dark is still mostly ignored.

That’s right. Dark. Your body needs it too.

Being exposed to regular patterns of light and dark regulates our circadian rhythm. Disruption of this rhythm may increase the risk of developing some health conditions including obesity, diabetes and breast cancer

Light regulates our sleep and wake patterns

The physiological processes that control the daily cycle of sleep and wake, hunger, activity levels, body temperature, melatonin level in the blood, and many other physiological traits are called the endogenous circadian rhythm.

On its own, the endogenous circadian rhythm is nearly, but not exactly, 24 hours. Our bodies rely on the Sun to reset this cycle and keep it at precisely 24 hours, the length of our days.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Night Terrors In Adults: When Sleeping Turns To Terror After Dark

Jeffrey (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Jeffrey (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Lizette Borreli via Medical Daily:

Like clockwork, every night at 2 a.m. the house would ring out with gasps for air, cries for help, and screams. My parents, all too familiar with these frightening sounds, would brace themselves for what would be one of many sleepless nights. Those nights filled with terrifying images and haunting sounds never went away for me.

Fourteen years later, I found myself within the confines of the Sleep Disorder Institute in New York, looking for answers to why I still wake myself up screaming in terror.

1. Night Terrors Exposed

The rare sleep disorder goes by many names: night terrors, sleep terrors, pavor nocturnus, or AXIS I: 307.46 (The DSM’s code). It remains a medical mystery. What medical researchers do know is that night terrors are caused by an over-arousal of the central nervous system (CNS) during sleep. In children, this may be the result of the CNS still maturing — it has long been believed that the CNS’s maturation process ends in early childhood (although several recent studies suggest it may continue to develop through around age 25).

Read the rest
Continue Reading