The Science of Sleep
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
This OZY original series goes way beyond counting sheep.
It might be the most important determinant of whether you have a good day or not. Sleep affects your mood, your productivity, your decision-making … and yet we still know very little about it. With this series, OZY reporters go backward, forward and sideways on unexplored aspects of sleep, from weird technological innovations of the past to the future of making yourself go to sleep when your brain just will not be quiet.
The name of this obscure sleep condition is a doozy: Exploding head syndrome. But it might not be obscure for long: Research has found it affects a lot more people than previously thought. Those who have the condition say they abruptly wake up to a loud bang or a flash of light, symptoms that are both totally harmless but in the moment, totally terrifying. Now researchers are theorizing about what part of the brain controls this, and what could possibly cause it.
Dive into the eerie world of the Psycho-Phone, a device patented in the 1930s that promised to play self-improving messages to users while they slept. The gadget’s inventor promised that by embedding positive thoughts during the night, people could change their personalities and become better people … not unlike the promises many self-improvement apps make today.
If you’re coupled up, it’s expected that you sleep in the same bed. But what if you get better sleep alone? In the U.S., 46 percent of people in one survey said they’d rather sleep apart from their partner at least some of the time. And they could be on to something. Research suggests we get better sleep when we’re solo because there are fewer disturbances. Will sleeping in twin beds, 1950s sitcom style, be the future of sleep?
What do you do when you can’t sleep? Read for a while? Take a warm bath? Many of us inevitably resort to the pharmacy. Sleep-aids have become increasingly popular since they first hit the market in the 1960s. But these drugs can have some serious side effects – that’s why a growing number of companies want to solve the problem of insomnia, once and for all, with high-tech devices like electromagnetic pulses. They say it could change the way we sleep … but some say it’s pseudoscience.
Waking up grumpy because you didn’t get a good night’s sleep is beyond frustrating. There are plenty of reasons why sleep gets interrupted, but unfortunately for many, a loudly snoring partner is a major culprit. Ear plugs, noise machines and rolling him or her over just don’t do the job. But these new devices somehow magically do the trick. They’re designed not to disturb the user and subsequently, the user’s partner is undisturbed as well. Here’s to better sleep and more productive days!