TEDxCambridge presents: Vanessa German’s shooting star hands
Life in Alaska: nature, poetry & indigenous perspectives
It’s the season for slumber — as the days get darker and shorter, you might wake up feeling fatigued and craving more shuteye.
In fact, people snooze more in October — about 2.7 hours more per day — than any other month of the year, according to a Harvard Medical School study reported by Shape magazine. Commuting to work in the dark this fall and winter might leave you fatigued for another reason — a lack of sunlight, particularly in the morning, has been associated with less efficient sleep, Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., environmental scholar with the National Sleep Foundation.
Although extra hours of sleep just because it’s fall sounds like nothing but a fantasy to most adults, there are reasons beyond just your energy level to prioritize getting those 40 winks. After all, sleep massively affects your brain. Here’s how.
One of the most interesting and important findings on sleep is that it strengthens and consolidates memories, Clifford B. Saper, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neuroscience and sleep researcher at Harvard Medical School.
"One of the interesting discoveries is if you took somebody and taught them a new task and came back later in the same day, they would be not quite as good as they were initially," he said.
But the next day, after a full night’s rest, study participants demonstrated they were as good — or better — at the task at hand. When you sleep, your “memory actually improves,” he explained.
Improves Motor Skills
Like your memory of facts and experiences, your muscle memory improves while you sleep. So the best time to master that new dance move? After you’ve practiced it once, and then had a solid night of shuteye.
"If you teach somebody to do a motor sequence, say to tap out a tune on a keyboard, if you test them later in the day, it will usually be about the same or a little worse. The next morning, they will often be a little better than when they finished their training," Dr. Saper said. "Sleep is an important component of learning that extends into many things that you do."
Cleans Away Toxins
Sleep clears your mind — literally.
One relatively recent finding from the National Institutes of Health suggests that one function of sleep is to allow the brain to flush out the toxins that build up during waking hours.
"Sleep basically restores your vitality and your ability to do things," Dr. Saper said. When your nerve cells are active for a long period (such as while you’re awake), there’s a build up of the chemical adenosine, which can reduce the ability of your nerve cells to fire when they get a new piece of information. When you go to sleep, you convert adenosine back into forms that help your brain work better, Dr. Saper explained.
There’s good reason why you should sleep on it — your brain helps regulate decision-making. “I think the broad way to think about it is that when we don’t get sufficient sleep quality or quantity, our ability to self-regulate decreases,” Dautovich said. “So we end up making decisions that we perhaps know might not be the best decisions.”
Late-night snacking, arguments and traffic accidents could all be sleep-related, for example. “Our ability to control the decisions that we’re going to make, whether it’s our food choices, the amount of food we’re going to eat, what we’re going to say or not say in a relationship or in a discussion with another person … we become a lot less able to regulate those decisions,” she explained.
Forms Creative Connections
Rumor has it Paul McCartney composed the song “Yesterday” in a dream. Although that particular story might not be true, we do make creative connections while we’re asleep.
Research has found that new neuroconnections, which are essentially replays of what occurred during the day, are formed during the deepest sleep. “The important function that sleep serves in promoting these connections could lead to new insights, understandings or creative efforts after being able to have sufficient sleep,” Dautovich said.
You might think you’re out of it, but your brain is still very much awake while you sleep. According to a new study from researchers in France, people who are asleep can still correctly respond to verbal instructions.
First, researchers asked awake participants to push a different button, depending on whether words they heard were animals or objects until the task became automated, while observing their brain waves, NPR reported. The experiment was repeated while participants slept: Although they no longer pushed buttons, their brain waves still acted the same.
A word of caution before you try to study in your sleep: These results so far only apply to automated tasks. Still, “it points to this idea that our brain is still very active in performing important functions while we are asleep,” Dautovich said.
#sitka #sitkaalaska #borninalaska #southeastalaska #sitkapoet #pacificocean #pacificnorthwest #northwest #northwestcoast #alaska #alaskan #alaskanwriter #writer #writinglife
It’s Alaska Book Week! And here’s my poetry collection, The Hide of My Tongue. Available at Plain View Press or INDI bookstores or the biggies.
#alaska #poet #poetry #writer #sitka #sitkapoet #sitkaalaska #pacificnorthwest #borninalaska #multicultural #tlingitlanguage #culture #traditions #island #indigenous #saami #writer #language
We’re seeking submissions of Young Adult stories with genderqueer main characters! We’re looking for main characters ages 14-18 who experience positive character growth though the story.
Please see the information in the poster above or check our our submission guidelines.
See a more complete list of what we’re looking for at the original post. And please, give us feedback if there’s something you’d like to see that we’ve left out.
I’m so interested in this 😍
I hope you write something and let us consider it. :D
AHHHH I’ve got a story that fits in there perfectly but it’s at 20K right now and nowhere near being finished. How long do we have time to submit?
This is part of our general call for submissions. We have no intention of closing it ever.