Scientists are sounding the alarm on a new public health crisis on the scale of obesity—sleep deprivation. Don’t hit snooze on these findings, because they suggest sleep loss may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, strokes, and anxiety. Check out this TED Ed video about a kid who didn’t sleep for 11 days if you’re not scared yet. You’re supposed to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night, and according to the CDC over a third of Americans don’t. So yeah, the obesity comparison checks out. We don’t know a lot about sleep yet, even though we spend 33 years of our life in bed, so maybe this will serve as a wake-up call for research funding.
When InsightCity talks about SmartPills, we’re usually being self-referential, but here’s something more like that stuff from Limitless. A study based on the Global Drug Survey found that 14% of respondents had used stimulants at least once to improve their mental performance in 2017, up from 5% in 2015. Those drugs range from the ADHD medications Adderall and Ritalin, to less legal substances like cocaine. US respondents had the highest use rates at 30%, but European numbers are creeping up as well with countries like the UK going from 5% in 2015 to 23% last year. Those who use these substances report increased focus, wakefulness, and other cognitive enhancements, but as with anything, side effects may vary. Not that we’re endorsing it, but if you’re interested in more ‘nootropics,’ here’s a list.
Shout out to The Postal Service. Everyone knows they should probably sleep more, but you know how weeknights are. You’re tired of all the day’s crap so you stay up late just to get some chill time. But by the weekend you’re exhausted from doing that five days in a row, so you sleep in. Turns out, that’s a good thing. Researchers found that a longer snooze on the weekends can counteract the negative effects of sleep loss during the week, reducing mortality risk to the same level of those who sleep enough every night. So if your kids come barraging into your room on the weekends, you can tell them Don’t Wake Daddy… or he’ll die. Sorry, it’s hard to stay away from the melodrama on this one.
Most people feel sleepy, grumpy, or dopey when they haven’t gotten enough hours of sleep. A new study in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry puts forth a theory on why sometimes less sleep can also lead us to be more depression-y and anxious-y. Their research takes aim at a common symptom of those conditions known as repetitive negative thoughts (RNT), which is basically your mind being a jerk and not letting you stop thinking about bad things. Using eye-tracking technology, they showed volunteers positive, negative, and neutral images, and found that volunteers fixated on the negative images longer and more intensely than the neutral and positive ones. They blame a lack of cognitive resources caused by not enough sleep for their inability to filter negative thoughts.
Millions of Americans flocked home this week to pretend they like their families just long enough to get some of Mama’s cookin’ and get in a good nap before sprinting off to engage in the true worldwide holiday of Black Friday. Well it turns out we should throw turkeys another pardon for believing they’re the cause of the excessive sleepiness experienced after the feast. Sure, tryptophan is present in turkey meat, and that does convert into melatonin, but it can’t happen without a little help. The true culprit? All those carbs from the mashed potatoes, cornbread, rolls, and mac & cheese you know you splurged on. These basically put tryptophan in the fast lane for conversion into melatonin. Europeans, sorry if you understood none of the last paragraph.