The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'sleep'
Spain is looking at changing its time zone. While its longitude is close to Britain's, Spain shares with the rest of western and central Europe the condition of being one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. This state of affairs originated during World War 2, when the dictator Franco unilaterally changed Spain's timezone to match that of Germany, in solidarity with the Nazi regime; what the iron fist of fascism put in place, inertia kept in place, leading to a national case of jetlag:
"Because of a great historical error, in Spain we eat at 2pm, and we don't have dinner until 9pm, but according to the position of the sun, we eat at the same time as the rest of Europe: 1pm and 8pm," explained Professor Nuria Chinchilla, director of the International Centre for Work and Family at the IESE Business School. "We are living with 71 years of jet-lag, and it's unsustainable.
Another thing that needs to change is late-night prime-time TV, said Buqueras. "In England, the largest TV audience is at 7 or 8pm, but in Spain, it's 10pm. Because at 8pm in Spain, barely 50% of the population is at home, and you have to wait until 10pm to find that number of people at home, thus guaranteeing the viewing figures needed for prime time. Sometimes football matches don't kick off until 11pm!" he said.
All of this means people go to bed far later than they should and get less sleep than they need. Studies suggest Spaniards sleep an hour less than the rest of Europe, which means more accidents at work, less efficiency, and more children missing school. Additionally they work longer hours than their German and British counterparts, but are much less efficient.Any change to Spain's time zone is likely to also result in an end (or at least a great reduction) to the traditional siesta, the midday break for a long lunch and a nap.
Sleep Talkin' Man: a log of the bizarre, surreal and often obscenity-filled utterances of a man afflicted with the condition of sleep talking, as transcribed (and sometimes recorded and posted online) by his wife:
"Don't move a muscle. Bushbabies are everywhere... everywhere... Shoot the fucking big-eyed wanky shite fucks! Kick 'em. Stamp them. Poke 'em in their big eyes! Take that for scaring the crap out of me."
"My badger's gonna unleash hell on your ass. Badgertastic!"
"It's a good thing your breath smells of shit. It colors your words beautifully. Gives it an edge."
"Tea bags, see? Better be careful with the tea bags. They're delicate creatures. Handle them with care."
(via Boing Boing)
New Scientist has an article on a new generation of sleep-control drugs, which promise to radically change the need for sleep, eroding this primal biological obstacle to an always-on society:
Modafinil is just the first of a wave of new lifestyle drugs that promise to do for sleep what the contraceptive pill did for sex - unshackle it from nature. Since time immemorial, humans have structured their lives around sleep. In the near future, we will, for the first time, be able to significantly structure the way we sleep to suit our lifestyles.
All the indications are that modafinil is extremely safe. The drug can have side effects, most commonly headaches, but up to now there have been no severe reactions, says Vaught. In fact, it is hard to find anyone with a bad word to say about modafinil, except that there may be unseen problems down the line as the drug becomes more widely used. "I think it's unlikely that there can be an arousal drug with no consequences," says Foster. In the long run, it is possible that casual users might have to keep upping their dose to get the same effect. Stanley has similar worries. "Is it a potential drug of abuse?" he asks. "Will it get street value? We'll see."And modafinil isn't the latest; new drugs under development for the US military promise days of alertness with no degradation or side-effects, while other efforts are aimed at finding drugs to change the architecture of sleep; allowing one to get a dose of refreshing slow-wave sleep (normally only reached through hours of the less profitable fast-wave variety) in a short session:
Deadwyler kept 11 rhesus monkeys awake for 36 hours, throughout which they performed short-term memory and general alertness tests (Public Library of Sciences Biology, vol 3, p 299). At that level of sleep deprivation, a monkey's performance would normally drop to the point where it could barely function at all, but Deadwyler found that CX717 had remarkable restorative powers. Monkeys on the drug were doing better after 36 hours of continual wakefulness than undrugged monkeys after normal sleep.
"It is possible that pharmaceuticals will allow you a condensed dose of sleep," he says, "and we are not that far away from having drugs that put you to sleep for a certain length of time." He predicts you could soon have tablet combining a hypnotic with an antidote or wakefulness promoter designed to give you a precise number of hours' sleep. "A 4, 5 or 6-hour pill."The article finishes with the warning that, as soon as these drugs become available, many people may eliminate most of their sleep. Which makes sense, though the question arises of long-term side-effects; might the lack of downtime during which the brain performs various housekeeping tasks not increase the likelihood of neurological problems? And if you're competing (as we all are, at least in the Anglosphere) against people who sleep 30 minutes a day, can you afford to worry about coming down with Alzheimer's or schizophrenia 20 years down the track? Then again, perhaps sleep will become an artefact of conspicuous consumption, with the crassly wealthy bragging about how much they can afford to sleep, in the way that today's celebrity aristocracy show off their Hummers and diamond-studded BlackBerries?
A survey by Yahoo claims that, thanks to the wonders of multitasking, people are cramming 43 hours of activity into a single day:
"While using the Internet, people are also doing two or three other things, often watching TV or talking on the phone," said Mike Hess, global director of research at OMD, part of Omnicom Group.As the amount of distractions, from an always-on BlackBerry-driven work ethic to a myriad types of media and communication, increases, one legacy activity incompatible with multitasking—sleep—is getting squeezed. Not surprisingly, this has spawned a US$20 billion sleep industry helping those racing on the treadmill of competitive consumerism trade some of their disposable income for a few of the winks they've been missing out on. This can take the form of luxury sleeping pods in busy cities (where US$14 will buy you a lunchtime nap) to US$20,000 luxury beds guaranteed to give the best sleep experience possible.
(via Techdirt, The Age)
It turns out that habitual and pathological liars' brains have more white matter than those of normal people. It could be that the extra white matter gives them the ability to keep track of different versions of stories or the mental states of those being lied to, or, indeed, that telling a lie a day will help to bulk up one's brain. In contrast, people suffering from autism, a condition which impairs the ability to lie (and, indeed, awareness of others' mental states), have less white matter.
Also in neurological news, a new study looks at how the brain sleeps:
When we're awake, different parts of the brain use chemicals and nerve cells to communicate constantly across the entire network, similar to the perpetual flow of data between all the different computers, routers and servers that make up the Internet.
In the deepest part of sleep, however, the various nodes of your cranial Internet all lose their connections.
"The brain breaks down into little islands that can't talk to one another," said study leader Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
An article on how to reprogram your body clock, changing from being a night- to a morning-person or vice versa, for career purposes, romantic compatibility, or just to join a different time-zone tribe:
The body tells time with a master clock in the brain, a pinhead-sized cluster of neurons in the hypothalamus that takes cues from optic nerves that signal sunlight. By sticking people in isolation chambers, scientists discovered that most people's internal clocks run a bit longer about a half-hour on average than the sun's 24-hour cycle. That's why, for most people, it's easier to stay up later and compensate by sleeping in than to force yourself to sleep early and wake early, explains Dr. Eliza Sutton, an acting assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington. Morning larks are those rarer birds whose body clock is shorter than 24 hours, so they wake up raring to go.
If you're a night owl with sunrise envy, sleep doctors say you can reset your body clock by following these steps:
- Find out how much sleep you really need
- As soon as you wake up, get sunlight exposure for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
- Go to bed earlier (or later) each night
- Stick to your schedule
Scientists believe that the position you sleep in says a lot about your personality type.
A long and very interesting article on the class of sleep disorders known as parasomnias; a set of bizarre conditions which range from night terrors to sleepwalking, sleep-eating, sleep-sex and more (one man even almost strangled his wife in his sleep, thinking she was a deer).
She had been eating in her sleep since her late teens, finding clues like chocolate frosting on her pillow or cherry pits and porkchop bones in the sheets. ''I thought I was the only person in the world doing this. I would wake up in the morning wondering, What did you do last night?''
Fifty-three minutes after falling asleep, the teenager gets out of bed and begins crawling on the floor, growling, his hands folded into paws. He seizes a corner of the mattress with his teeth and shakes it. After six and a half minutes, perspiring heavily, he collapses and becomes ''clinically unresponsive.'' When technicians ask him, he reports that he has been dreaming what he always dreams -- he is a large cat following a female zookeeper with a bucket of raw meat. Here's the strangest thing of all: this parasomnia is not technically a sleep disorder. Throughout the episode Cat Boy's EEG reports that his brain is ''awake.''
A man with REM behavior disorder appeared on the monitor fighting phantoms over his bed. A case of a person acting out a dream? ''Either he's acting out a dream, or possibly dreaming out an act. It could be that the brain makes up something to explain the movement created by motor-pattern generators in the brain stem.''
Sleep researchers in Toronto turn brainwaves into "music", which, when listens to by the person whose brainwaves were used, induces sleep. They believe that they can use similar techniques to induce other states. It sounds like it works on a similar principle to "brainwave machines", only customised to the individual brainwaves of the user.
"Even the diseased brain has such enormous reserves that we can use the brain activity, even from a diseased brain, to heal it," he says. An anti-anxiety response, for example, can be produced even in someone who is seriously impaired by reproducing sounds that stimulate relaxation.
Researchers in Wales have found that the types of books you read affect your dreams. Adults who read fiction have stranger dreams than those who don't, and are more likely to remember them; meanwhile, fantasy readers have more nightmares and lucid dreams, while those who prefer fantasy novels have more emotionally intense dreams.
A drug that eliminates sleep, without the side-effects of stimulants such as caffeine, Marketed as Provigil, it is currently prescribed only to patients with certain medical disorders; but we all know that the street finds its own uses for things, right?
But would executives pressure their employees to take a pill for the team? Possibly, says Serwer, if they heard that workers at other firms were pulling Provigil-fueled all-nighters. "You would be at a competitive disadvantage if you didn't," he says.
Beyond caffeine: A drug developed for treating narcolepsy can be used to help the sleep-deprived stay alert. Wonder how long until it's advertised in banners on Slashdot... (via rebeccablood.net)