You are all settled in for the night, cozy and warm in your bed. You start to drift off to dreamland, and all of a sudden you are falling or something hits you in the face. Whatever it is, you are suddenly startled awake with a jolt.
This strange sensation actually occurs on a regular basis to many people, and scientists have finally figured out what it means.
This process of being startled awake is referred to as the “hypnic jerk.” Although everyone has their own unique experiences with the hypnic jerk and describe the feeling a little differently, it is often explained as the feeling of falling.
The hypnic jerk is most often seen when a person falls asleep rapidly during or after an exhaustive state. When the body is exhausted, the brain can process the stages of sleep too quickly. This confuses the brain into thinking that the body and its major systems are failing. The brain then responds by jolting you awake with a burst of chemicals and then builds a dream designed to wake you up.
Check out this video from Discovery News to better understand the hypnic jerk and why we twitch.
We have all heard of many geniuses staying up through the night working manically and creating masterpieces, writing prize-winning novels, and inventing amazing technologies. Or maybe you have heard the myth that you are most creative when you are tired. But are these bizarre sleeping habits really effective in creating brilliance?
In the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, by Mason Currey, Currey explores how brilliance has often been the product of a well-rested mind and not artistic all-nighters.
This New York Magazine infographic shows the typical sleeping habits of some of the world’s greatest minds
Unfortunately, the infographic doesn’t give us any sleep-related tricks for releasing our own latent genius, other than following the traditional eight-hours-a-night rule.
So rest up and give your inner creative genius a chance to be brilliant!
Have you ever had trouble sleeping when you are in a new place? Do you toss and turn or easily wake when you travel or sleep somewhere other than your own bedroom? If so, you are not alone. According to a new study published in the journal “Current Biology,” it is a very normal occurrence for your first night’s sleep in new surroundings to be less than satisfactory.
Researchers at Brown University found that, similar to some animals, only half of the human brain “sleeps” the first night a person sleeps in a new environment. Research showed that the left hemisphere of the brain, the more logical and analytical side, was still actively “awake” throughout the night. The researchers believe that it is our brain’s way of “keeping watch” in unfamiliar territory. Though humans no longer worry about predators lurking in the darkness, our brains evolved during a time when that threat was very real.
So next time you are traveling or house sitting, plan accordingly, because your first night of sleep away from home will most likely not be as good as usual.
For more information, check out NPR’s article, “Half Your Brain Stands Guard When Sleeping In A New Place.”
It is 8:00 am, pre-coffee (if that’s your thing), and you’re getting ready to walk out the door after a night of staying up with your sick spouse, child, or roommate. You’re starting to feel super-human, juggling all your pre-work morning responsibilities with a heavy head and groggy eyes, when your spouse/child/roommate walks up to you and asks an innocent question: “I’m hungry. What are we having for breakfast?” You look at their cheerful face and take instant offense. You think, “What do you mean, what’s for breakfast? Can’t you see I’m simultaneously feeding the dog, prepping the beans for tonight’s slow-cooker dinner, and reading Junior’s school newsletter?
According to a new U.C. Berkeley study published in the Journal of Neuroscience earlier this week, there is a strong link between a lack of quality sleep and decreased ability to distinguish between positive and negative emotional facial expressions in others. Researchers viewed brain scans and monitored the heart rates of 18 adult participants while they randomly viewed 70 images of faces with random expressions: positive, neutral, and negative emotions. Each individual viewed the facial images twice, once when they were fully rested and once after they had been awake for 24 consecutive hours. The study noted a neural link between the quality and amount of sleep a person gets and his or her ability to correctly process others’ facial expressions. The results of the study inferred that there is “a role for REM sleep in affective brain recalibration” and “the next-day success of emotional discrimination…” All the more reason to get a good night’s sleep! For more information on the study, you can refer to the following articles: http://news.berkeley.edu/2015/07/14/brain-facialexpressions/ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/15/sleep-brain-emotions_n_7801726.html
You may think your body just shuts down when you sleep. However, your body goes through an amazing and complex process. As you go through the four stages of sleep each night, your body triggers processes that help you achieve that rested and healthy feeling the next morning.
Here’s a graphic from the Huffington Post that shows each stage of the sleep cycle and the effects that being in that stage have on your body.
For more information on the the cycles and their effects, check out the full article, Your Body Does Incredible Things When You Aren’t Awake.
So be sure to rest up and get your ZZZs!
We have said it once and we will say it again, sleep is important! But many people are still not getting enough good sleep every night and are, in fact, sleep deprived. Here are some simple ways to improve your nights sleep.
Length of Sleep
It can be easy to convince yourself that the length of time you sleep is not that important. However, it is essential to your health, performance, and recovery. It is important to get a full night of sleep each night to perform your best during the day.
Importance of the Sleep Phases
There are different phases of sleep, two of which are very important in determining the quality of your sleep: slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) and REM sleep. The human body is pretty amazing, as it will manage the length of time you stay in each cycle. The time you spend in each cycle will adjust automatically based on what your body needs and the total length of time you are sleeping.
A way to ensure you are getting enough zzz’s and enough time in those sleep phases is to go to bed at a decent time. Give yourself extra time to relax and fall asleep by making your bedtime a little earlier, if needed. Consistency is great too if you go to bed at the same time every night it’s easier for your body to develop good sleep habits.
Keep distractions out of the bedroom. Make your bed about sleeping, not watching TV or playing on your phone, tablet, or computer. Creating a restful environment will help your body relax and make falling asleep a little easier.
Take these tips and enjoy a restful night’s sleep.
Our brains account for only 2% of our body’s mass, yet they use approximately a quarter of our entire energy supply. How does the brain receive and then expel the vital nutrients needed for all that energy? New research suggests that sleep has some amazing impacts on the brain. This Ted Talks video features Jeff Iliff, a neuroscientist, who explores the unique functions of the brain during sleep.