Vietnamese gentleman Thái Ngọc claims that ever since he suffered a terrible fever in 1973, he hasn't slept a wink. There's also Ines Fernandez who says she's been awake for decades. Of course, these curious individuals and others with similar stories may actually be suffering from a very strange sleep disorder called sleep state misperception (SSM) in which the individuals think they were up all night but actually slept just fine. At Mysterious Universe, Martin J. Clemens looks at SSM and the very scary rare disease called Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI), presented as total insomnia that can last the rest of the person's life, which is usually only 18 months or so after the onset of symptoms. From Mysterious Universe:
FFI is a neurological condition caused by a misfolded protein in the DNA of the afflicted, of which there have been only about 100 cases. That protein, called a prion protein, is known as PrPSc (PrPC in non-FFI subjects). Essentially, the prion form of the protein causes a change in certain amino acids – due to the protein strand folding incorrectly – which, when combined with other genetic markers, then affects the brain’s sleep centers. FFI is genetic, and therefore hereditary, but there is an even rarer form known as Sporadic Fatal Insomnia (sFI) that occurs spontaneously, the cause of which is not understood. You may wish to know that PrPSc is the same protein that’s responsible for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as Mad Cow Disease.
"The Woman Who Stayed Awake for 30 Years…Or Did She? Read the rest
Chris from Sense About Science writes, "Had trouble sleeping recently? This week Ask for Evidence is turning its attention to the multitude of claims about sleep -- how you should be doing it, what you should be wearing for it, what you should be doing it on. First up is Ben, who got the NHS to change the advice on its website after asking them for evidence about claims that not getting enough sleep could make you obese. (It turns out it's a little more nuanced than they first suggested)."
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Apple today unveiled a teaser of what's in store in the latest iOS release, 9.3. Among the “numerous innovations” promised: a blue light dimmer to “help you get a good night’s sleep.”
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Walruses sleep in a big pile. Hippos bob to the surface to take a breath and then sink back underwater. Read the rest
I have a hard time sleeping on a plane. As soon as I nod off, my head drops and I startle myself awake. I've tried those horseshoe pillows but they don't work very well for me. The JetComfy is a travel pillow that looks like it might allow me to sleep comfortably on a plane. It's cushion on a pole that clamps to the arm rest. You rest your head on it and fall into a deep slumber. I hope that's what happens, at least. It also contains a USB battery to charge your devices and a compartment that holds a combination pen/stylus/light. Pre-sale cost is $65 on Kickstarter.
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It must have found the bone of its dreams!
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When you see someone yawn and then feel the urge to yawn yourself, it's a sign of social traits like empathy. According to new research from Baylor University, people who scored higher on the Psychopathic Personality Inventory test were less likely to "catch" a yawn. From Baylor University:
Based on the psychological test results, the frequency of yawns and the amount of physiological response of muscle, nerve and skin, the study showed that the less empathy a person had, the less likely he or she was to "catch" a yawn.
"The take-home lesson is not that if you yawn and someone else doesn't, the other person is a psychopath," (lead researcher Brian) Rundle cautions. "A lot of people didn't yawn, and we know that we're not very likely to yawn in response to a stranger we don't have empathetic connections with.
"But what we found tells us there is a neurological connection -- some overlap -- between psychopathy and contagious yawning. This is a good starting point to ask more questions."
And if you'd like to learn more about what makes a psychopath, I highly recommend Jon Ronson's excellent book "The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry."
photo: Daisuke Tashiro - Flickr
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It seems that kids, college students living in dorms, and anyone else who shares a room would appreciate the Privacy Pop Bed Tent. Read the rest
The bottoms of your feet contain blood vessels right below the skin surface. When exposed to cool air, this will lower your body temperature, making you sleepy. So stick a foot (or both) out of the covers and sleep better.
But, as one YouTuber points out, "what if the monster eats my foot away?
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In children, symptoms of sleep deprivation include hyperactivity and impaired interpretation of social cues.
Polyphasic sleep is a method of training your body to requiring much less sleep by taking multiple short naps throughout the day instead of one long sleeping time at night. Over at Quartz, science-trained journalist Akshat Rathi reports on his year-long experiment attempting to "cheat sleep." Read the rest
In my friend Ronni Thomas's latest short documentary, meet parapsychologist Dr. Stanley Krippner, who in the 1960s ran the sleep lab at Brooklyn's Maimonides Hospital where he tested whether sleeping subjects could experience a form of dream telepathy.
Krippner is loved by paranormal researchers, believers, and skeptics alike. He's been honored with lifetime achievement awards from the mainstream American Psychological Association yet ESP researcher Charles Tart says "Stan belongs on the Mount Rushmore of parapsychology. Krippner famously conducted experiments with Timothy Leary and the Grateful Dead. In fact, in 1971, he enlisted the help of the Dead's audience in trying to mentally transmit an image to a sleeping psychic 45 miles away. Irvin Child, the late former chair of Yale's psychology department, wrote in the American Psychologist journal that he believed "many psychologists would, like myself, consider the ESP hypothesis to merit serious consideration and continued research if they read the Maimonides reports for themselves." Krippner's career is mind-bendingly weird and amazing.
"Transmitting Thought: The Maimonides Dream Lab: A New Film by Ronni Thomas for Morbid Anatomy Museum Presents!"
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I've been using f.lux on my computers for years. Now I've come up with a way to make my iPhone and Kindle have orange displays, too.
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David K Randall's Dreamland
is a review of the best scientific thinking that illuminates and important subject: namely, why do we spend a third of our lives paralyzed, eyes closed, having vivid hallucinations?
I already can (and do) nap anywhere, but the Nap Anywhere looks like it would make it more comfortable to do so. Here's a video demo. (Thanks, Tanya Schevitz!) Read the rest
Do you have experience with sleep paralysis? Many scientists believe that sleep paralysis is the biological answer to such mysteries as spirit visitations, alien abductions, incubi/succubi, and out-of-body experiences. My old friend Rodney Ascher, director of the excellent film Room 237 and other movies, is making a documentary about the phenomenon and would love to hear from you. Rodney writes:
I'm working on on a new film - it's about Sleep Paralysis, a surprisingly common phenomenon where people wake-up totally frozen from the eyeballs down, unable even to make a noise, and they frequently see sinister intruders and other disturbing visions. I've been obsessed with it ever since it used to happen with me (in my case, I saw sort of a living, 3D shadow looming over in me in judgement).
The film is going to be largely built on interviews with people who've had vivid, first-person experiences with it (and have given some serious thought to what's really happening to them) - if anyone wants to share their stories, the easiest way is to contact us via the film's Facebook page.
The Nightmare: A Nonfiction Film About An Unreal Experience Read the rest
After eight years of development and a successful Kickstarter, BB pal Mitch Altman's Neurodreamer sleep mask is ready for shipping! You might recall that Mitch is the inspiring maker behind the TV-B-Gone, Trip Glasses, and a bunch of other delightful gadgets. The Neurodreamer is an open source light/sound machine integrated into a memory foam mask. Mitch says:
The NeuroDreamer sleep mask is an advancement over prior entrainment* devices which attempt to entrain the brain with only a single brainwave frequency at a time. The NeuroDreamer sleep mask uses up to four brainwave frequencies simultaneously (mixed at different amplitudes), to more closely replicate the full spectrum of frequencies present in a person who is falling asleep.
* "Entrainment" is the the process of externally presenting brainwave frequencies to the brain, allowing it to synchronize to those frequencies.
It's available for $69.95 in three different versions designed for Sleep, Lucid Dreaming, or Meditation. Mitch is having a sale right now: Entering the coupon code THANKS gets you 10% off everything in Mitch's Cornfield Electronics shop, including the Neurodreamer. I want one! Read the rest