Ah, the Mayans: an ancient people that somehow predicted the end of the world centuries after the fall of their civilization. Never mind the thousands of other apocalyptic predictions that have been made throughout history, met with nothing more than a few hundred devout doomsday believers in a desert somewhere. It’s true, I will admit, the hype surrounding this particular apocalyptic prediction is pretty impressive. It’s all over the news. Real, non-crazy people are feeling frightened by the whole thing. Rest assured, America. We might be bringing on the apocalypse with our irresponsible use of fossil fuels, deforestation, habitat destruction, and wanton disregard for the balance of nature, but that apocalypse will probably take at least another few decades. But, for fun, let’s assume the Mayans were right and we’re all doomed (sounds super fun, right?) On the up side, you don’t have to worry about the fiscal cliff, recession, or various other manifestations of your economic discontent. If the world has to end, at least we can forget about congress. On the down side, the apocalypse is noisy and disruptive and can really sabotage a good night’s sleep. Here are some tips for getting rest when the end is nigh.
When I was a kid, Christmas Eve was always a sleepless night. I’d lie there imagining my presents, trying to get inside Santa’s head: Was I good enough for a bicycle? Could Santa afford that this year? Maybe I’ll get a Nintendo because I put it on my list three times! Or, oh no, maybe that annoyed Santa! I knew the sooner I fell asleep, the sooner Christmas would come. But hard as I tried, squeezing my eyes shut, burying my head in my pillow, it just never happened. Then, of course, I’d spend Christmas Day in a torpor, opening my gifts with bleary eyes and, eventually, falling asleep amidst a forest of wrapping paper. If only I’d had some tricks for falling asleep! Here are some ideas for your over-excited Christmas tot.
Ever since I was a kid I loved the idea of sleep learning: that you could put on headphones when you went to sleep and have conversational French when you woke up. I even tried it in college when, depressed by my mounting student loan debt, I decided I was going to go for a 4.0. All I got for my trouble was a few restless nights and a headache. Today, science can’t promise you passive language learning, but there may be some hope for the lazy learners among us. A new study published in Nature demonstrates a fascinating phenomenon: sleep conditioning, a la Pavlov. Here’s how it works.
Kids these days! I never thought I’d say those words, but here I am worried about how much time kids spend on the computer and watching television. Screens have infiltrated our homes and they’re not going anywhere soon. They’ve become a ubiquitous part of our work lives, social lives, and home lives. And kids are not immune. An increasing number of children have televisions, computers, cell phones, and tablets in their bedrooms. I’ve written before about how light from phones, computers, and televisions can affect sleep. The blue light from theses devices simulates daylight, confusing the brain into thinking its time to wake up. This is bad news if it’s time to go to bed. New research shows this type of light has an even more deleterious effect on children.
Ah, naps. There’s nothing more enjoyable than a mid-afternoon slumber when you’re feeling tired and run-down. I used to hate naps. They left me feeling groggy and out-of-touch, sapping my energy for the rest of the day. I was really suffering with mid-afternoon fatigue but I thought a nap would make it worse. I tried to wake up with coffee but it turns out pumping myself full of caffeine does more harm than good. I’d end up feeling jittery, sick to my stomach, and anxious. My mood suffered too. As 3 o’clock rolled around, I’d be snapping at co-workers and tearing up with irate customers. It was an unsustainable cycle. I decided to revisit napping one afternoon in the dead of winter. It was getting dark around 4 and I just couldn’t keep my eyes open for another second. So, I snuck out to my car, reclined the seat, and slept for about 25 minutes. I woke up feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to tackle the evening’s tasks. It was a real eye-opener. Literally. It turns out napping is really good for you. It helps with mood, alertness, memory, and overall health! Who knew? This is especially good news for retirees and new moms, two major napping demographics.
My husband snores. It isn’t a cute little snuffle here and there or an occasional bad night. He snores like a buzz saw and it’s constant. It starts about five minutes after he falls asleep and, since he always falls asleep before I do, I’m left to lay there awake silently hating him. I stuff earplugs in my ears and crank up the white noise on my headphones but nothing works. I can still hear the roaring snores through noise cancellers and decibel deadeners, and it keeps me awake all night long. So, as a consequence, my husband and I sleep in separate rooms. In our case, it’s been fine. We’re still intimate and we still spend a lot of time together. It’s sad to say goodnight to him and know I won’t get to snuggle up. It’s lonely always sleeping by myself. But the snoring is just too intense for anything else to work.