Tag Archives | Sleep

The End of Sleep

You want the sheeple to wake up?  Jessa Gamble writes at Aeon:

Since stimulants have failed to offer a biological substitute for sleep, the new watchword of sleep innovators is ‘efficiency’, which means in effect reducing the number of hours of sleep needed for full functionality. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – the research arm of the US military – leads the way in squeezing a full night’s sleep into fewer hours, by forcing sleep the moment head meets pillow, and by concentrating that sleep into only the most restorative stages. Soldiers on active duty need to function at their cognitive and physiological best, even when they are getting only a few hours sleep in a 24-hour cycle.

Nancy Wesensten, a psychologist for the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland, has a mission to find ways to sustain soldier operations for longer, fighting the effects of acute or chronic sleep deprivation.

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Pennsylvania Teenager Sleeps For 64 Days Straight

Imagine existing mostly in a dreamworld, with interludes of sleepwalking to eat, drink, and use the bathroom. Is it a burden or a blessing? Daily Mail reports:

A Pennsylvania teenager slept for 64 days from Thanksgiving into January — her longest sleeping episode yet. Nicole Delien, 17, struggles with a rare sleep disorder called Kleine-Levine, or ‘Sleeping Beauty Syndrome’.

During her sleep spells she will wake up in a confused state for small periods of time to eat and go to the bathroom and then fall back to sleep. Nicole’s mother, Vicki, says her daughter will sleep 18 to 19 hours a day, and when she eventually wakes up to eat she is in a ‘sleepwalking state which she doesn’t remember’.

A doctor at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was able to pinpoint the disorder and offer some suggestions on how to manage it, including medication. Affected individuals may go for a period of weeks, months or even years without experiencing any symptoms, and then they reappear with little warning.

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How To Engage In Lucid Dreaming

A series of simple methods (and a few advanced ones) to take control of your dreams:
The risk here is that you'll experience sleep paralysis, a completely normal phenomenon that prevents your body from moving during sleep. Except you'll be awake, which can be somewhat frightening. The extra caveat is that during sleep paralysis the brain can play tricks on you, inducing strong feelings of fear and causing hallucinations of dark and scary figures approaching you.
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Nightmarish Weapon Of The Future: DARPA’s Robot Worm

Created by researchers at MIT and elsewhere with support from the Pentagon's experimental DARPA unit, the meshworm's movment appears eerily organic-- it slithers along by morphing and contracting portions of its body. Its design enables it to travel silently and to withstand physical trauma undamaged.Imagine waking at night to find one crawling across your floor:
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Your Internal Clock Is At War With Society

SleepingAn interesting read for night owls and early birds alike. As Robert T. Gonzalez writes on io9.com:

Just because you sleep later than your early rising friends doesn’t mean you sleep longer than they do; nor does it make you lazier. And yet, the association between the time of day that a person wakes up and how proactive or driven they are is just one example of the many preconceptions that society upholds regarding sleep and productivity.

But here’s the problem: these expectations might actually be working against us.

In his recently published book, Internal time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag and Why You’re So Tired, German chronobiologist Till Roenneberg provides numerous examples of how social expectations surrounding time may be having a detrimental effect on large sections of the human population. Over on Brain Pickings, Maria Popova walks us through one of Roenneberg’s examples, wherein he examines the clash between adolescents’ sleep cycles and the starting times of typical school days…

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Program Dreams With Your iPhone

SigmundIf this app works, how long before others start to “program” your dreams in ways you may not want? From CNN:

Harvard PhD student Daniel Nadler is trying to bring a really rudimentary version of the movie “Inception” to life with a new iPhone app that aims to help you “program your dreams.”

Called Sigmund, the 99-cent app builds off of pre-existing sleep science to help people “program” the content of their dreams from a list of 1,000 keywords. After you select one to five words from the list, a sorta-soothing, sorta-robotic female voice reads the words you select during the deepest moments of your sleep cycle – the REM cycles – when you’re most likely to dream vividly. In a sleep study that was the basis for the app, 34% to 40% of participants’ dreams were memorably altered by the suggestive readings, he said.

“Obviously what goes on in the sleeping brain is not entirely remembered so it could actually be a higher incorporation rate,” he said.

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Why Being Sleepy and Drunk Are Great for Creativity

HSTCreativity can seem like magic ... actually, it's not. Jonah Lehrer writes in the Wired Science:
Here’s a brain teaser: Your task is to move a single line so that the false arithmetic statement below becomes true.

IV = III + III

Did you get it? In this case, the solution is rather obvious – you should move the first “I” to the right side of the “V,” so that the statement now reads: VI = III + III. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of people (92 percent) quickly solve this problem, as it requires a standard problem-solving approach in which only the answer is altered. What’s perhaps a bit more surprising is that nearly 90 percent of patients with brain damage to the prefrontal lobes — this leaves them with severe attentional deficits, unable to control their mental spotlight — are also able to find the answer ...
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After the First Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours a Night

Between SleepStephanie Hegarty reports in BBC News:
We often worry about lying awake in the middle of the night - but it could be good for you. A growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that the eight-hour sleep may be unnatural. 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. Though sleep scientists were impressed by the study, among the general public the idea that we must sleep for eight consecutive hours persists ...
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Oldest Known “Beds” Had Insect Repellent

No MosquitosInsects have bugged human beings for a long time. Via Discover:

In a South African cave, researchers have uncovered traces of the oldest known human bedding, 77,000-year-old mats made of grasses, leaves, and other plant material. While it’s not especially surprising that early humans would have found a way to improve the cold, generally unpleasant experience of sleeping on a cave floor, archaeologists know little about our ancestors’ sleeping habits and habitats.

Using scanning electron microscopy, the researchers identified several species of local rushes and grasses that made up the bulk of the mattress, as well as leaves of the Cryptocarya woodii tree. These leaves contain chemical compounds that repel mosquitoes, lice, and other insects, suggesting that the cave’s ancient residents protected their bedding with natural insecticide.

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Crash Rates May Be Higher for Teen Drivers Who Start School Earlier in the Morning

Are we about to witness the foundation of Mothers Against Early Classes? ScienceDaily reports:

A study in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows increased automobile crash rates among teen drivers who start school earlier in the morning.

Photo: Jeffrey Beall (CC)

Photo: Jeffrey Beall (CC)

Results indicate that in 2008 the weekday crash rate for 16- to 18-year-olds was about 41 percent higher in Virginia Beach, Va., where high school classes began at 7:20 — 7:25 a.m., than in adjacent Chesapeake, Va., where classes started at 8:40 — 8:45 a.m. There were 65.8 automobile crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers in Virginia Beach, and 46.6 crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers in Chesapeake. Similar results were found for 2007, when the weekday crash rate for Virginia Beach teens (71.2) was 28 percent higher than for Chesapeake teens (55.6). In a secondary analysis that evaluated only the traditional school months of September 2007 through June 2008, the weekday crash rate for teen drivers was 25 percent higher in Virginia Beach (80.0) than in Chesapeake (64.0).

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