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.
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.
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.
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.