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Sleep Meme Review

We Rate Sleep Memes, Pt.3

We’re back! If you’re just now tuning in (check out part one here), the title pretty much says it all. We take sleep-related memes we find online, we use them as an excuse to talk about sleep and circadian science, and we rate ’em.

Meme #7

Good news: If this is you, it might not be you forever. A study of more than 40,000 people across a wide range of ages found that the number of people saying they don’t feel rested when they wake up goes down as people get older—from almost 30% of teens, to less than 10% of folks over 60.  

This could be because people’s internal rhythms tend to shift to be earlier as they age. So older people might be waking up at a time when their body is more ready to be awake, while younger people—especially teens with early school start times—are getting woken up while their body’s still sending the signal for night. 

One way to test and see if this is you: Go camping. If you feel a lot better when you wake up in the woods, it might be a sign that your grogginess is coming from the light in your home at night tricking your body’s clock into slowing down and making it run late the next morning. That could be a sign you need to dim the lights at home a lot as you get ready for bed. 

You might also just feel this way because of sleep inertia, the general grogginess you get after waking up that can last for a few minutes to a couple hours. You’ll probably feel sleep inertia to some extent even if you go camping, but at least you’ll be camping. 

Originality: 1.5/5. This meme topic has been around since the dawn of time.  

Overall quality: 5/5 Love this potato. 


Meme #8

Alright, so, here’s what could be going on:

  • There’s a thing called the “wake maintenance zone.” 
  • It’s a period of a few hours during the day where you feel more alert. 
  • For somebody whose body clock is really well adjusted to their home time zone, the wake maintenance zone happens in the evening—like, a few hours before bed.
  • You can think of it as a surge of energy to get stuff done before the sun goes down. 
  • For somebody whose body clock is adjusted to the wrong time zone, or just generally out-of-whack, this surge of energy can happen any time, regardless of what the sun is up to. 
  • Your body clock gets shifted by the light exposure you get, as well as when you sleep, workout, and take melatonin
  • So if you’ve had a really irregular sleep pattern, or you’ve gotten light and dark at weird times, it’s totally possible that you could have moved this surge of energy to 3am

One thing to try: Stop thinking about only sleep duration, and start thinking about sleep regularity. Pick a bedtime that works for your schedule and stick to it as much as you possibly can. If you can’t keep a regular bedtime, try your best to keep a regular light/dark pattern. You might be awake at 3am, Walter White, but you might not need to have the overhead lights on. 

Originality: 1.5/5. Ye olde meme topic.  

Overall quality: ⅘. I can just hear him saying this.


Meme #9

If your brain does weird things when you’re up late at night, you’re not alone. There’s been a lot of research and a lot of interesting results on how the brain changes as you stay up. Generally speaking, people tend to be more impulsive and less able to keep their thoughts and actions in check. 

Losing sleep is part of it, for sure. Staying up can affect the chemicals in your brain, as well as the ways different parts of your brain talk to each other. 

But your body’s clock also has a lot to do with it as well. A number of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, follow circadian rhythms, meaning that they’re going to go up or down at night regardless of whether or not you go to sleep. 

In this way, being awake at night while your brain is experiencing a circadian rhythms-driven change in chemicals is a bit like being on an ice rink when a Zamboni is cleaning it. You’re not supposed to be there, and normal rules don’t apply. It’s slippery. You can fall on your face (ice rink version) or fall into a long rumination on an embarrassing thing from 2012 (staying up late version). 

If you’re interested in reading more on this, check out the Mind After Midnight Hypothesis published earlier this year. 

Originality: 2.5/5. I saw memes like this before 2017 even existed.

Overall quality: ⅘ Now I’m thinking about my own argument in 2017.

Categories
Circadian science Sleep Meme Review Sleeping troubles

We Rate Sleep Memes, Pt. 2

Back by popular demand, here is part two of the “We Rate Sleep Memes” blog series. If you’re just now tuning in (check out part one here), the title pretty much says it all. We take sleep-related memes we find online, we use them as an excuse to talk about sleep and circadian science, and we rate ’em. Let’s kick it off with:

Meme #4

Here’s the annoying thing: Resting is good. I’m not about to be out here telling you not to rest. In fact, a study that looked at people who regularly sleep less than five hours a night during the work week found that weekend catch-up sleep might help compensate for the bad effects of not sleeping during the week.

What’s annoying is that sleeping in on the weekend can cause its own problems. Basically, you end up jet lagging yourself without actually going anywhere. This “social jet lag” can mess with your mood, grades, metabolism, and lots of other important things.

So the real answer is probably to do everything you can to get to the point where you don’t need to recover sleep on the weekend. Keep to the same schedule, every day. Yeah, yeah, I know—easier said than done, especially with work and life commitments. But if you can make your sleep life more regular, expect it to make a lot of other things in your life better too.

Originality: ⅘ Nice callout to the weekend

Overall quality: ⅘ Dog very cute


Meme #5

Heads up: If you’re doing this, and doing it a lot, you miiight be building up an association between “being in bed” and “not going to sleep.”

Don’t get me wrong, creating imaginary situations that will probably never happen before bed is a time-honored tradition. As far as I know, pretty much everyone does it. Boromir, son of Denethor, isn’t incorrect here.

But it’s a problem if your brain’s whirring so much on your pillow that you start to think of bed more as “the place where I am stressed out about imaginary scenarios” than “the place where I sleep.” That association can make it harder and harder to actually fall asleep when you want to.

If this sounds like you: Get out of bed. Have your imaginary scenario thoughts in a nice chair in the living room somewhere. Keep the lights dim or off altogether as you do it. Wait to get into bed until you’re just about falling over yourself with sleepiness.

Then, when you look like this:

…land right on into bed.

Originality: 2/5 Yes, yes. We all know about Night Thoughts.

Overall quality: ⅘ Boromir very tragic and noble.


Meme #6

Facts o’clock: Your body’s internal clock sends different signals for sleep at different times of the day. These different signals mean you’ll sleep for different lengths of time depending on when you fall asleep.

And since your body’s clock is always updating and adjusting itself, it probably won’t send the same signal at the exact same time every day. This can make it hard to pick up a pattern in why you’re sleeping four hours one nap, and 20 minutes the next.

Another thing that can make it hard to find a pattern? How long you sleep also depends on how much you’ve been awake and asleep recently, on top of the signal from your body’s internal clock. So there are a lot of moving pieces, which can make it seem like you’re playing “nap roulette”, when it’s really “nap you could do a better job of predicting the duration of if you were keeping close tabs on when you’ve been sleeping and the time your body’s clock currently thinks it is.”

*green goblin voice* Listen here, Spiderman: biology is complicated and can seem random, but it might not be as random as you think

Originality: 3.5/5. Definitely been done before as a topic, but “nap roulette” has strong brand energies.

Overall quality: ⅘. Nice meme. Now if you’ll please excuse me, I have a picture I need to sell to J. Jonah Jameson.

Categories
Circadian science Sleep Meme Review

We Rate Sleep Memes

Meme #1

Here we see Squidward staying up and reading instead of going to sleep. Squidward himself might smugly point out that he’s reading a book, not looking at a light-emitting screen, and use that as an excuse to feel superior. If so, he would be tragically mistaken. There are clearly lights on in the room that he’s using to read while staying up late, and that light will have an effect on his clock much in the same way light from a screen would. After all, most homes are bright enough in the evening to significantly mess up sleep-related processes, like melatonin production. Though Squidward would never accept it, his efforts to prevent circadian disruption pale in comparison to those of his neighbor Patrick, who blocks light by being a starfish who lives under a rock.

Originality: 3 out of 5. Not being able to put your phone down is a classic meme topic.

Quality: 4 out of 5. Slight cognitive dissonance caused by the “scrolling through social media” text coupled with the image of him reading a book, but it gave us a chance to talk about how room light exposure matters for circadian rhythms, which is what we’re all here for.


Meme #2

Let us start by noting that Homer’s perception of his sleep here may be skewed: many people with insomnia overestimate how long it takes them to fall asleep, and underestimate how much sleep they actually get. It may be that a more accurate version of this meme would be “me all night vs me four hours before my alarm goes off”– which is still, to be perfectly clear, a miserable experience. It’s miserable even if you’re objectively getting more than 6.5 hours of sleep per night but perceiving that you’re not sleeping much at all (also known as “paradoxical insomnia”). We love targeting sleep improvements through light exposure over here, but if you’re relating hard to this meme, you’ll probably want to get yourself some cognitive behavioral therapy.

Originality: 3/5. This, too, is a pretty typical sleep meme topic.

Quality: ⅘. He looks very cozy at the end there.


Meme #3

Oh, Leo. Leo, no. This is a terrible idea.

For starters, we know what happens to people who get four hours of sleep a night. First, they have more and more “vigilance lapses” with every passing day (4 hours of sleep a night = circles in the below, black squares = no sleep, white squares = 6 hours, diamonds = 8 hours).

A vigilance lapse means that something popped up on a screen in front of you for half a second and you didn’t even register it. This is bad if you are, for instance, driving a car.

People on four hours of sleep a night also fail to get better at subtraction and addition tasks, despite days of practice (see: circles staying flat in the below):

And yes, caffeine can counteract “getting worse and worse at things” to an extent, but so can naps. As the authors of a recent review on fatigue and caffeine write, “It is important for caffeine consumers to understand that caffeine at any dose is not a chemical substitute for adequate healthy sleep.”

Originality: 4.5/5. Nice shout out to shift workers.

Quality: 2.5/5. Inscrutable indenting decisions. Objectively bad sleep practice.