from the world's big
Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
Stories from scientists, dream clubs and even people who have committed crimes while sleepwalking.
Sometime later today, I’ll get tired. Coffee induced inspiration will guide me through the morning and into the afternoon, but eventually my muse will leave me for another lowly writer. Doubting basic cable will keep my attention, I’ll collapse onto my bed, close my eyes and slip into dreamland.
For something as universal and consequential as sleep it’s remarkable how little attention it receives. We all do it; we’re all bound by it. Yet we never stop to think about how we spend nearly a third of our lives. That’s where journalist David K. Randall comes in.
Randall is the author of Dreamland, an insightful new book with a fresh perspective on the strange science of sleep. An unfortunate case of sleepwalking drove Randall to write Dreamland. After finding himself collapsed in a hallway, hurt and confused and not knowing how he managed to stray thirty feet from his bedroom, Randall visited the doctor to curb a history of midnight adventures. The diagnosis revealed an unsatisfying reality: there’s a lot we don’t know about sleep.
Armed with intrinsic curiosity, Randall set out to bring to life what is known. Consider the research of Roger Ekirch. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Ekirch pored through ancient and medieval texts and discovered that for most of human history people engaged in “first sleep” and “second sleep.” The “first sleep” was spent after sundown until around midnight. Then people woke up and spent an hour or two “praying, reading, contemplating [their] dreams, urinating, or having sex.” “Second sleep” followed until the morning.
A researcher in Bethesda, Maryland, named Thomas Wehr came across Ekirch’s research and saw a connection. Wehr had been studying how artificial light affected sleep and found that when he deprived subjects of artificial light they reverted back to “segmented sleep.” In fact, according to Randall, “In places of the world where there isn’t artificial light – and all the things that go with it, like computers, movies, and bad reality TV shows – people still sleep this way.” It appears that Edison’s illuminating invention screwed up our natural sleep patterns.
Another stimulating anecdote in Dreamland is a chapter about sleep and creativity. Randall reports on a study I mentioned previously on this blog. It comes from Ulrich Wagner and Jan Born. In it, they tasked participants with transforming a long list of number strings. It was deliberately tedious, but Wagner and Born integrated an elegant yet difficult to spot shortcut that made the task easier. Would the participants detect it?
Only 20 percent of them found the shortcut even after wrestling the task for several hours. The key part of the experiment was that Wagner and Born let some of the participants sleep between experimental trials. They discovered that dreamland was a good problem solver: 59 percent in the sleep condition found the shortcut.
The takeaway is plain to see: sleep is necessary for a sharp mind. Yet, Randall also found a surprising amount of cases where consequential mistakes boiled down to a lack of sleep: friendly fire during the Gulf war was attributed to soldiers only getting a few hours of sleep a night; jet lag was causing East Coast NFL teams to regularly lose to West Coast teams; and early start times at school and in the office made it difficult for kids and professionals to work effectively. But thanks to sleep research the US Army gives soldiers more time to sleep, trainers are implementing sleep schedules and schools and businesses are making key adjustments to their schedules.
The progress is limited, however. Randall reminds us that we live in a work hard play hard society where being tired is a sign of weakness and not a biological reality. After reading Dreamland and speaking with Randall I realized that many of our problems are fixable with a good night’s sleep. It might sound obvious, but it’s worth repeating: sleep is important.
Of course, there’s much more to Randall’s book than this reminder and the research I’ve mentioned. Stories from scientists, dream clubs and even people who have committed crimes while sleepwalking fill the rest of the pages. And in contrast to many popular science books Randall’s tone is humble. He’s an outsider looking in, welcoming anyone willing to join him. I recommend doing just that.
Follow David on Twitter.
And here's a link to Dreamland on Amazon.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.