Counting Sheep Doesn’t Actually Work, and Other Misconceptions About Sleep

A trick I’ve used to fall asleep is to pick a category, bands, birds, animals, sea creatures, flowers which is fairly broad and try to go through the alphabet thinking of an example from each one. I find that the reason that this works is that frequently worry and anxiety can keep us awake so giving the brain something to do is helpful.

The reason to avoid waking a sleep walker is that they have no idea where they are. They are in a different world.

How Melatonin Helps You Sleep

If you’re having trouble sleeping, melatonin is a popular and easy remedy. It’s effective for many people, doesn’t have any serious safety issues, and is available as pills or gummies for pennies a dose. It’s also misunderstood, though: melatonin is not a traditional sleeping pill.

Source: How Melatonin Helps You Sleep

If you’re able to get to sleep, but have trouble staying there?  Melatonin is unlikely to help.

Also worth mentioning that, thanks to the regulatory structure around ‘supplements’ – much of the melatonin you buy contains either no melatonin or way, way too much. In fact, even the smallest Over The Counter (OTC) doses are wildly higher than the doses used in clinical tests, so it might actually be kind of good that the odds are good there are no active ingredients in OTC melatonin.

Top 10 Myths and Misconceptions About Sleep

You’d think the human race would have sleep down to a science by now, but many of us are still sleeping poorly. Part of the problem is we have outdated information and beliefs about this all-important health need. Let’s set the facts straight. Here are 10 things you might have been told about sleep but aren’t completely true.

Source: Top 10 Myths and Misconceptions About Sleep

on’t even try to sleep hungry. Yeah, it’s dark and we shouldn’t be eating, but a rumbling tummy is worse. A simple, small midnight snack is not going to destroy your diet nearly as much as starvation the following morning. Carbs + dairy is always a good bet.

Therapy Works as Well as Medication for Insomnia–and May Last Longer

Lots of people say they have trouble sleeping. And 1 in 10 Americans has chronic insomnia.

Most often, sleep disorders are treated with medication. Between 6 and 10 percent of adults in the U.S. use sleeping pills.  But a review of the medical evidence has found that therapy might help people with chronic sleep troubles just as much — or even more — than pills.

Source: To Beat Insomnia, Try Therapy for the Underlying Cause Instead of Pills

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is effective for primary insomnia. That is, insomnia without medical cause. With primary insomnia, there is often some event that caused the individual to begin having trouble sleeping (e.g., a newborn). However, over time the brain starts to associate bed with a stressful place where no sleeping happens. The objective of CBT-I, then, is to reset this negative association and create a positive one.

Use the Rule of Threes to Find Out If You Have a Sleep Problem

It is a common story. You haven’t slept well for three days now. The alarm is set for 7 a.m. You get into bed early, hoping that tonight you’ll fall asleep early and stay asleep. Instead, you wake up at 2 a.m., staring at the ceiling, wide awake, frustrated and worrying about how you’ll function at work the next day. It takes more than two hours to fall back asleep and, before you know it, the alarm is blasting and a new day begins.

Source: What To Do If You Suffer From Middle-of-the-Night Insomnia

Couldn’t chair less

Are Energy Drinks Bad for You?

Red Bull may give you wings, but at what cost? To some, energy drinks are dangerous elixirs, while others consider them magic potions of vitality? The truth about how they affect your body is not so black and white.

Source: Are Energy Drinks Bad for You?

I’ve never had an energy drink.  Closest thing would be a Gu gel…

The specific mention about long term ginseng use is interesting with the mention about impact to blood thinners.  Ginger is a low dose of vitamin K, ginseng is entirely different.

Sleepwalkers Have Painful Lives by Day, Painless Misadventures by Night

Many sleepwalkers suffer an enigmatic existence. Their waking hours are plagued by pain that can dull their physical activity levels. Yet their lively nocturnal adventures can cause pain-free injury.

That’s the conclusion of a new study published in the journal Sleep by a group of French researchers. The team studied 100 patients who sleepwalk at least once a year but have no other sleep disorders. Compared to 100 non-sleepwalking participants, the sleepwalkers were more likely to suffer headaches, migraines, and chronic pain, as well as symptoms of depression and insomnia. But, of the 47 participants that reported being injured at one point during a sleep-like stupor, nearly 80 percent said the trauma was painless.

Source: Sleepwalkers have painful lives by day, painless misadventures by night

These results make me wonder if the partial arousal state associated with sleepwalking can be picked up by any wearable sleep monitors, or even any of the fitness trackers with sleep tracking functionality. If so, it would be then be theoretically possible to trigger a mitigation response of some sort, whether that be by waking up the person or some other mechanism that could protect the person from harmful actions.

Fatal Familial Insomnia: The Brain Disease That Stops You Sleeping

Sometimes the worst nightmares are the ones you don’t have. There are numerous conditions, disorders, and illnesses that either limit or prevents the amount of sleep an individual is able to get. Many of them are quite dangerous, but none of them are as frightening or rare as fatal familial insomnia.

Source: The People Who Can’t Sleep

I think a significant correction needs to be made to this article. The disease is not caused by the PRNP gene by itself, and the PRNP gene is not what accumulates in the brain. It is the product of the PRNP gene, the protein that it produces, that causes the problem, and only when it produces a variant form of the protein.

Prion diseases, at their heart, are caused by misfolded forms of normal proteins in the nervous system. These messed up proteins accumulate, causing a variety of injuries to neurons and we do not know all the mechanisms by which this happens.

The thing that makes prion diseases nasty is that the misfolded proteins can interact with normally formed proteins, and convert them into the bad kind. This is how the diseases can be transmissible. Think about it: if you just had a genetic disease that gave you this screwed up protein that eats holes in your brain, that’s terrible, but you can’t pass it on to anyone except your kids. However, some prion diseases are transmissible because another animal (or person) can get the bad proteins into their system (through eating them), and that can set off a chain reaction that starts the disease in their brain, even if they don’t have a mutation. What’s more, we don’t know for sure how much this can spread between species.

Mad Cow Disease spreads in herds because some of the various protein additives that went into cows’ feed were made of other dead cows, some of which probably died of the disease. Those cows’ nervous tissues end up in the food supply, and there you have it. The human example is Kuru, which spread through natives in Papua New Guinea who had a ritual of cannibalizing their dead. They also called it “laughing disease” because the involuntary shaking it caused looked like fits of laughter.