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We actively monitor change covering more than 150 key elements of life.

A Mundane Comedy is Dom Kelleher's new book. Extracts will appear on this site and across social media from late 2021. Please get in touch with any questions or thoughts.

The 52:52:52 project, launching both on this site and on Twitter in late 2021 will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

What's Changing? - Sleep

Sleep

 

Please see below recent sleep-related change.

 

See also:

 

July 2021

  • From video calls in pyjamas that characterised the early days of the pandemic to the practice of ‘bedmin’ – catching up on paperwork in the small hours – the combined bedroom/office became an unwelcome reality for millions. While enthusiasts hailed commute-free remote working as the perfect opportunity to relearn good sleep hygiene, it also became clear that lack of face-to-face contact and blurring of boundaries between people’s professional and domestic lives could be unhealthy, particularly for those who worked mostly from their beds. Talking to staff about how much sleep they’re getting is largely as organisational taboo. For some people, it can be an intensely personal matter that relatively few managers want to broach. but sleep deprivation costs the UK economy upwards of £40bn a year in lost productivity and with hybrid working becoming the rule in many industries, this total is only likely to increase.
  • In The Sleeping Beauties, neurologist Suzanne O'Sullivan explored 'psychosomatic illnesses', travelling the world collecting fascinating stories of culture-bound syndromes. Inspired by a poignant encounter with the sleeping refugee children of Sweden, she visited other communities who have also been subject to outbreaks of so-called ‘mystery’ illnesses. From a derelict post-Soviet mining town in Kazakhstan, to the Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua via an oil town in Texas, to the heart of the Maria Mountains in Colombia, O’Sullivan heard remarkable stories from an array of people, and attempted to unravel their complex meaning.
  • Businesses in many countries, including Spain and China, find value in letting workers nap to recharge in the middle of the day. Others, like those in the US, largely frown upon it. The mental, physical, and economic benefits of napping are many; studies show that children who nap daily experience an increase in energy, academic scores, and happiness, while simultaneously experiencing less moodiness and fewer behavioural problems.
  • In Habits for a Good Sleep, Dr Tim Sharp warned that the average person spends 26 years of their life sleeping, but many of us are still tired, all the time. The reality is, sleep is not a priority for most of us and even though we’re getting sleep, it might not be the type of sleep we need. 

 

June 2021

  • For The School of Life, to a surprising extent, some of the gravest problems we face during a day can be traced back to a brutally simple fact: that we have not had enough sleep the night before. We often fail to appreciate the extent to which our ability to confront them with courage and resilience is dependent on a range of distinctly ‘small’ or ‘low’ factors: what our blood sugar level is like, when we last had a proper hug from someone, how much water we’ve drunk – and how many hours we’ve rested.
  • Sleeplessness was already at what the World Health Organization called “epidemic” levels even before Covid-19. The pandemic made those feelings more widespread and intense, which can lead to a condition some health experts have termed “coronasomnia.” Therapy and medication were the gold standards of treatment for sleeplessness, but in recent years, there’s also been an explosion of gadgets and apps promising better sleep through technology. Quartz published tips for sleeping well in a field guide. 
  • Sleep paralysis, which 20 percent of people experience at least once, can be terrifying. Though it is a neurological phenomenon, culture and beliefs can make the experience worse. One potential treatment is to learn to control the content of our dreams.

 

May 2021

  • A number of theories attempting to explain dreaming exist. These include the ideas that dreams are needed to regulate our emotional health and that they help us psychologically practice for encountering real-world phenomena. The leading contemporary theory is that dreams are involved with or even caused by memory processing and storage. A paper published in the journal Patterns proposed a new hypothesis: dreaming is the brain's attempt to generalise our experiences, much like how randomness must be used to teach computers how to recognise real world-data, noted Big Think. 

 

April 2021

 

March 2021

  • Octopuses might dream like humans. But their dreams only last for about a minute during active sleep, according to Quartz.

 

February 2021

  • Lucid dreamers can communicate. If you pose a question to somebody who knows they’re dreaming, they might answer you with eye movement, reported Quartz.
  • Sleep is probably the most effective thing we can do to reset our mind and body each day. However, with one in three of us suffering from poor sleep due to factors such as stress, working late and too much screen time, having a good night’s sleep can be hard to achieve. Sleep expert and author of Why We Sleep Matthew Walker says: “People often tell me they don’t have enough time to sleep because they have so much work to do. Without wanting to be combative in any way whatsoever, I respond by informing them that perhaps the reason they still have so much to do at the end of the day is precisely because they do not get enough sleep at night”, noted EY.

 

December 2020

  • The director of the Centre for Human Sleep Science at UC Berkeley coined this time in history as a “catastrophic sleep loss epidemic.” To make matters worse, recent studies show that there has been a rise in sleep disorders like insomnia and hypersomnia associated with the pandemic. Across the United States alone, the number of prescriptions filled for sleep disorders increased by nearly 15% between in just one month of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. Sleep deprivation not only affects our moods, but also our health and work-life balance, warned the Harvard Business Review.
  • Early humans may have survived harsh winters by hibernating. According to fossil experts, disruptions in bone development show that Neanderthals may have slept through winters like cave bears and bats, reported Quartz.

 

November 2020

 

October 2020

  • Big Think reported on a study from the University of South Florida's School of Ageing Studies,  published in the journal Sleep Health, which uncovers a critical best practice for nurses: sleep. In this study of 61 full-time nurses in U.S. hospitals, an extra 29 minutes of sleep every night helped these frontline workers be more mindful while on the job. Nurses are expert multitaskers- the antithesis of mindfulness, though given their job duties, juggling multiple obligations comes with the territory. It's easy to overlook a blood test or temperature check when the hospital floor is slammed. Mindfulness plays an important role in helping them stay on track without becoming overwhelmed by tasks.

 

September 2020

  • Scientists now use algorithms to analyse records of thousands of dreams. It is only since the publication of Sigmund Freud’s treatise The Interpretation of Dreams, in 1899, that dreams have become a subject of serious scientific scrutiny. Things have moved on since Freud’s day. His emphasis on violent urges and sexual repression as the roots of dreaming now looks old-fashioned. Instead, the premise is that dreams reflect a dreamer’s quotidian experience - either because they are an epiphenomenon of the consolidation of memories or because they are a mental testing ground for ideas the dreamer may have to put into practice when awake. This resemblance between dreams and reality is dubbed the "continuity hypothesis" by psychologists.

 

July 2020

  • There are three different types of sleep patterns: monophasic sleep (one chunk at night for a recommended 6-8 hours), biphasic sleep (two chunks in a 24-hour period), and polyphasic sleep (three or more chunks in a 24-hour period). While sleeping, you cycle through four stages: two light, one deep, and one REM. Switching sleep patterns can disrupt these stages, as can consuming alcohol. So while attempting to maximise your awake time, you may be denying your brain and body the time it needs to recover, which can be dangerous, warned Big Think.

June 2020

 

February 2020

  • Humans should hide away in winter. Taking cues from animals that hibernate, we can use the cold months as a time for restoration, claimed Quartz.

 

January 2020

  • The US$70 billion sleep aid industry is thriving, with high-tech mattresses, sleep trackers, and even cuddly robots promising to solve the world’s sleeplessness. Quartz looked at how sleep startups managed to monetise a basic function of life - and why consumers are buying in.

 

December 2019

 

November 2019

 

September 2019

 

August 2019

 

July 2019

 

May 2019

  • A lot of attention has been given to the negative consequences of social media on the human psyche, noted Big Think. Likewise, specific and long overdue workplace issues are under dissection: gender discrimination and sexual harassment, fair pay, and surviving in the gig economy. One lesser discussed yet pervasive topic is now being looked at: incivility. Given all of the incivility in social media, that it seeps into our workplace is not surprising; it was there long before we could tweet out unthinking nonsense at strangers. In some ways we're becoming, by the day, a less empathetic culture. A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, pinpointed one major issue arising from rudeness at work: sleep problems.

 

April 2019

 

March 2019

 

February 2019

 

January 2019

 

November 2018

  • Work, friendships, exercise, parenting, eating, reading - there just aren’t enough hours in the day, noted Aeon, adding that, to live fully, many carve those extra hours out of their sleep time. Then they pay for it the next day. A thirst for life leads many to pine for a drastic reduction, if not elimination, of the human need for sleep. Little wonder: if there were a widespread disease that similarly deprived people of a third of their conscious lives, the search for a cure would be lavishly funded. It’s the Holy Grail of sleep researchers, and they might be closing in.

 

October 2018

  • Most people who wake up at 4 a.m. do it because they have to - farmers, flight attendants, currency traders and postal workers. Others rise before dawn because they want to. However, a Wall Street Journal article argued that 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. can be the most planned, most organised and most scheduled part of the day.
  • However, Quartz argued that the cult of early rising seems to miss a pretty obvious point: There is an opportunity cost involved. First and foremost, if you’re waking up this early without going to bed early, you’re going to be very tired and sleep-deprived
  • People who wake in the night and feel paralysed with terror aren’t crazy or imagining things, found Quartz. During the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, the muscles relax to the point where they become immobilised, probably to keep us from violently acting out our dreams when we sleep. This is also the stage of the most intense dreams. People who experience sleep paralysis have essentially woken up before they’ve stopped dreaming. An estimated 8% of people experience it regularly, and some estimates have placed the number of people who have at least one experience of it in their lifetimes as high as 40%.
  • Many who experience sleep paralysis also experience hypnagogic hallucinations: vivid images perceived in the transition from wakefulness to sleep, or the other way around. Spiders or insects crawling up the walls is a particularly common such vision, according to Alon Avidan, a professor of neurology at the University of California Los Angeles and director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center. So are human-shaped figures. These episodes are often accompanied by a profound sense of fear and anxiety, and a sense that something is trying to harm the sleeper.

 

August 2018

  • Sleep is often imagined as a sort of non-entity, the opposite of consciousness. It shouldn’t be, according to National Geographic, which showed dreamy photographs balancing a deep dive into the science of sleep’s complex stages and the human forces - artificial light, cultural norms, and sleep aids - that affect them.
  • Thousands of people watch a 66-year-old man sleep. The man has been broadcasting his slumber on Periscope and Twitch since 2017.
  • Further reading: Nap time for grown-ups: will sleeping pods catch on?

 

July 2018

 

June 2018

  • Eight hours of sleep a night isn’t enough. A leading sleep scientist says 8.5 hours is the right amount of time in bed.
  • In its special report, Everything you need to know about sleep, the FT asked why though we can’t survive without it, why is sleep often so elusive - and how can we get more of it?

 

Pre-2018

  • Sleep is necessary for maintaining good health. As part of research into human sleep patterns, attempts have been made to break the world record for sleep deprivation.
  • The sleep industry is the US alone is estimated to be worth $30 billion annually, according to the Financial Times.
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