Have Problem? Sleep on it

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When confronting a problem, or looking for creative inspiration, people get told “to sleep on it”. This turns out to be useful advice not just because it’s based on years of smart people saying that, but also because modern neuroscience research is proving it to be true. We can benefit a lot from sleeping more (on average people don’t get enough sleep) and dealing with complex issues is one more thing that sleep is good for.

Sleep, Walker suggests, is crucial to problem solving. When my students are stuck on a math problem, sleep on it is often the only wisdom I have to offer. This adage has served me well in the past and now, thanks to Walker’s research, it enjoys a strong neurological basis. Walker demonstrates that problem solving can seamlessly occur in the REM phase of sleep. It is in this critical stage of unconsciousness that we form novel connections between individual chunks of knowledge. In a REM sleep is where our ideas crystalize and recombine into new, creative thoughts. The link between sleep and inspiration is so pervasive that the phrase sleep on it exists in most languages.

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Start School Later so Students can Sleep in

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Sleep and teenagers go together better than slicing and bread. Every teenager already knows that school starts early and it’s rather cruel to make them learn before they brains are ready to do so. Yet, former teenagers force teens out of bed and kick them out the door too early. Finally, schools are starting to learn that teenagers should sleep in and school should start later in the day.

Whenever schools have managed the transition to a later start time, students get more sleep, attendance goes up, grades improve and there is a significant reduction in car accidents. The RAND Corporation estimated that opening school doors after 8:30 a.m. would contribute at least $83 billion to the national economy within a decade through improved educational outcomes and reduced car crash rates. The Brookings Institution calculates that later school start times would lead to an average increase in lifetime earnings of $17,500.
Since 2014, several states have passed legislation related to school start times. In August, California lawmakers passed a bill that would have gone further. By 2021, most middle and high schools across the state would have had to start at 8:30 a.m. or later.

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A Heavy Blanket Helps People with Anxiety and Insomnia

A good nights sleep can make a world of difference to one’s health, getting that sleep can be hard though. A simple solution can help those who need more slumber: a heavy blanket. Sleeping under a weighted blanket kind of acts like a hug for your whole body – and everybody likes a good hug. This is a nice and simple way to help people who have trouble sleeping from insomnia, anxiety, or even PTSD.

A weighted blanket molds to your body like a warm hug. The pressure also helps relax the nervous system. It’s a totally safe and effective non-drug therapy for sleep and relaxation naturally. Psychiatric, trauma, geriatric, and pediatric hospital units use weighted blankets to calm a patient’s anxiety and promote deep, restful sleep. In a similar way to swaddling comforting an infant, the weight and pressure on an adult provides comfort and relief.

When pressure is gently applied to the body, it encourages serotonin production, which lifts your mood. When serotonin naturally converts to melatonin, your body takes the cue to rest.

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Mindfulness Meditation Effective in Improving Sleep

Mindfulness meditation is already pretty great, and it keeps getting better! Not only can it help you go amongst your day in a more thoughtful, productive, focussed manner, it can even help you sleep!

A six week trial of getting people who had trouble sleeping to mediate proved to help them get better rest.

Importance
Sleep disturbances are most prevalent among older adults and often go untreated. Treatment options for sleep disturbances remain limited, and there is a need for community-accessible programs that can improve sleep.

Objective
To determine the efficacy of a mind-body medicine intervention, called mindfulness meditation, to promote sleep quality in older adults with moderate sleep disturbances.

Conclusions and Relevance
The use of a community-accessible MAPs intervention resulted in improvements in sleep quality at immediate postintervention, which was superior to a highly structured SHE intervention. Formalized mindfulness-based interventions have clinical importance by possibly serving to remediate sleep problems among older adults in the short term, and this effect appears to carry over into reducing sleep-related daytime impairment that has implications for quality of life.

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Lucid Dreamers Demonstrate Better Awareness When Awake

People who can lucid dream are able to transfer skills acquired for lucid dreaming into the waking world. In fact, this skill makes lucid dreamers more aware and cognizant than non-lucid dreamers.

Lucid dreaming is essentially the ability to be aware of and in some cases manipulate dreams as they happen. Like the movie Inception.

The study examined 68 participants aged between 18 and 25 who had experienced different levels of lucid dreaming, from never to several times a month. They were asked to solve 30 problems designed to test insight. Each problem consisted of three words and a solution word.

Each of the three words could be combined with the solution word to create a new compound word.

For example with the words ‘sand’, ‘mile’ and ‘age’, the linking word would be ‘stone’.

Results showed that frequent lucid dreamers solved 25 per cent more of the insight problems than the non-lucid dreamers.

Miss Shaw, who conducted the research as part of her undergraduate dissertation, said the ability to experience lucid dreams is something that can be learned. “We aren’t entirely sure why some people are naturally better at lucid dreaming than others, although it is a skill which can be taught,” said Hannah.

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