kottke.org posts about sleep
Your body clock alarm is just as accurate as the one on your phone: your body naturally takes note of what time you want to wake up and wakes you up.
There's evidence you can will yourself to wake on time, too. Sleep scientists at Germany's University of Lubeck asked 15 volunteers to sleep in their lab for three nights. One night, the group was told they'd be woken at 6 a.m., while on other nights the group was told they'd be woken at 9 a.m..
But the researchers lied-they woke the volunteers at 6 a.m anyway. And the results were startling. The days when sleepers were told they'd wake up early, their stress hormones increased at 4:30 a.m., as if they were anticipating an early morning. When the sleepers were told they'd wake up at 9 a.m., their stress hormones didn't increase -- and they woke up groggier. "Our bodies, in other words, note the time we hope to begin our day and gradually prepare us for consciousness," writes Jeff Howe at Psychology Today.
Great personal storytelling/reportage by Doree Shafrir about her night terrors.
I am now completely panicked, and I jump back onto my bed and lean over the half-wall that my bed is up against, overlooking the hallway. There, I see what's causing all the problems, and I push it downward and off the wall with all my might. It shatters loudly, glass flying everywhere.
Then, finally, I wake up. My two dogs are cowering in the corner, and I put on shoes to sweep up the glass. I am confused and embarrassed, though there is no one besides the dogs there to see that I just pushed a framed poster off a wall and broke it. I clean up the glass and go back to sleep, and it is not until the morning, when I see my shoes scattered everywhere, that I look into the closet and realize that I have also ripped the TV cable completely out of the back wall of my closet.
I hadn't heard that Tobias Wong's suicide might have been carried out while Wong was asleep:
The prevailing theory about Tobias Wong's death was that he hanged himself while experiencing a night terror. I imagine that something in his mind told him that hanging himself was the only way to escape whoever, or whatever, was chasing him, in the same way that I have thought that the only way to save myself was to jump out of a window or smash a pane of glass.
Artist and designer Tobias Wong killed himself last month. Or did he? Sleep can be a dangerous thing.
D.T. Max on the Secrets of Sleep for National Geographic.
An animal must lie still for a great stretch of time, during which it is easy prey for predators. What can possibly be the payback for such risk? "If sleep doesn't serve an absolutely vital function," the renowned sleep researcher Allan Rechtschaffen once said, "it is the greatest mistake evolution ever made." [...]
At Stanford University I visited William Dement, the retired dean of sleep studies, a co-discoverer of REM sleep, and co-founder of the Stanford Sleep Medicine Center. I asked him to tell me what he knew, after 50 years of research, about the reason we sleep. "As far as I know," he answered, "the only reason we need to sleep that is really, really solid is because we get sleepy."
And this fatal familial insomnia sounds like a horrible disease:
The main symptom of FFI, as the disease is often called, is the inability to sleep. First the ability to nap disappears, then the ability to get a full night's sleep, until the patient cannot sleep at all. The syndrome usually strikes when the sufferer is in his or her 50s, ordinarily lasts about a year, and, as the name indicates, always ends in death.
Tony Wright, horticulturalist, broke the unofficial world record by going without sleep for more than 11 days. His trick was, when the left side of his brain tired, to switch to the right side. And then back again after the left had recovered and so on.
For her final project in a Media Lab class, Anita Lillie fastened three accelerometers to her body and tracked her movements while asleep. The data recorded allowed her to determine her sleeping positions and orientations (on her left side, on her back, etc.) and how they changed through the night.
Jamie reviews some online wake-up services. "when you select the secureawake feature, snoozester will attempt to call you every 3 minutes for 20 minutes until you answer the call and indicate that you are awake."
Photos of people sleeping. Each series of photos depcits a full night's sleep. (via cyn-c)
"A six-year Greek study found that those who took a 30-minute siesta at least three times a week had a 37% lower risk of heart-related death." Among working men, the risk was reduced by 64%. Naps all around!
Five reasons why Americans might be getting fatter that you haven't thought of. "Sleep-deprived animals eat excessively, and humans subject to sleep deprivation show increased appetite and an increased Body Mass Index, the standard measure of excessive weight."
German researchers are studying the mysterious phenomenon of people waking up shortly before their alarm goes off. I've been getting better and better at doing this. A friend of mine (can't recall who exactly) doesn't use an alarm clock but gets up on time by setting his/her internal alarm clock. Also, this sounds like something Feynman would have been into.
How to become an early riser. "The solution was to go to bed when I'm sleepy (and only when I'm sleepy) and get up with an alarm clock at a fixed time (7 days per week)."