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Medicine Science

The Brain's Secret For Sleeping Like a Log 259

Posted by Soulskill
from the light-exercise-and-a-fifth-of-rum dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Why can some people sleep through anything? According to this article in Wired Science, some lucky people have an extra helping of a certain kind of brain static that essentially blocks out noise and other stimuli. These 'sleep spindles' can be detected via EEG, and show up as brief bursts of high-frequency brain waves; some people naturally produce more than others. The researchers say these spindles are produced by the thalamus, the brain region that acts as a waystation for sensory information. If the thalamus is busy producing sleep spindles, sensory information can't make it through the thalamus to the cortex, the perceptive part of the brain."
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The Brain's Secret For Sleeping Like a Log

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  • Sleep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <.jwsmythe. .at. .jwsmythe.com.> on Monday August 09, 2010 @10:34PM (#33199850) Homepage Journal

        Yet, this doesn't explain why I can't sleep at 11:30pm when the house is dead quiet. {sigh}

    • Re:Sleep (Score:5, Interesting)

      by P0ltergeist333 (1473899) on Monday August 09, 2010 @10:59PM (#33200034)

      The quiet could be the problem, actually. When it's quiet, then every little noise (and thought) is more prevalent. Some people even have tinnitus and are not conscious of it, and that keeps them awake. I would recommend trying white noise, as it performs a similar service as the "brain static" mentioned in the article. I personally use a fan. Or you can pay a fair bit of money for a more precise white noise generator.

      • Re:Sleep (Score:4, Interesting)

        by JWSmythe (446288) <.jwsmythe. .at. .jwsmythe.com.> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @12:34AM (#33200604) Homepage Journal

        Actually, I'm fairly confident that I have "Delayed sleep-phase disorder". [wikipedia.org]

        I usually go to sleep between 02:00 to 04:00. I don't have to be exhausted, I can just lay down and go to sleep like a normal person. If there's nothing scheduled, I'll be awake between 11:00 to 13:00.

        I worked one job where they really didn't care when I slept as long as I got all my work done. That was perfect. I'd send my "end of day" emails sometime around 03:00, and show up to the office bright and shiny at noon.

        Attempting to work "normal" hours has been a problem for me for a long time. I talked to my mom about it, and she confirmed it. I rarely managed to sleep before midnight. I was a complete zombie going to school, and wasn't usually completely coherent until around noon.

        The problem is this. If I work by my schedule (awake 11:00, sleep 03:00), I'm fine. If I force myself to wake up at say 7am, I'm a zombie until noon, and exhausted for the rest of the day. It worked fine when I was a kid. Someone was always around to make sure I woke up. Being an adult on my own for many years, if I'm living with someone I have a chance of actually getting out of bed. If I don't, it doesn't matter how many alarm clocks there are, or how loud they are. Somehow I manage to turn off some alarm clocks sometimes. I've woken up with my cell phone in my hand (I set the alarm on the phone too). When I've been with someone, they've told me that I fumble with things until they shut up. If I can't make it shut up I just roll back over and go back to sleep.

        If I'm on my normal schedule, I can wake up normally to an alarm clock at odd hours. So, if there's something unusual going on at 6am, I can be awake and not groggy.

        Sometimes, if there's something going on, like I have work that must be completed, I can work through a whole night, and still be perfectly coherent the next day. I won't be tired until about 3am the next morning. Something like this:

        Wake Sunday at 12:00
        Do early work Sunday night from 23:00 Sunday to 03:00 Monday.
        Sleep 03:00 Monday
        Wake 11:00 Monday (Beginning of the "normal" day)
        Work through 03:00 Tuesday
        Sleep 03:00 Wednesday
        Wake 11:00 Thursday
        Sleep 03:00 Friday
        Wake 11:00 Friday
        Sleep 03:00 Saturday

        Some employers consider it a problem. If you have an employee who can work fine from Monday at noon (allowing showering and driving to work), and they don't feel the need to stop until early Wednesday morning, why complain? That gives 38 hours of work before normal employees even come in on Wednesday morning. It was pretty easy to comfortably work about 70 hours a week, but I only did it as needed.

        I've tried all kinds of different sleep environments. I like the dead silent rooms best. No white noise, no outside noise.

        I've slept in all kinds of places, including airliners. The time has to be right though. If I take an early morning flight (departing at 7am), I can stay awake the night before, get to the airport, take a nap in the terminal until I hear commotion around me which is my hint to wake up. No problem at all. Once I get to my seat on the plane, I can go right back to sleep, and not wake up for anything until the plane lands. Then I am wide awake and perfectly normal, even though the whole night was interrupted sleep.

        At once house I lived in, I had two window air conditioners at the head of the bed. The house had terrible insulation, and one simply wouldn't cool it down. During the summer, they ran pretty much constantly, and they were anything but quiet. I didn't notice noises from outside though, because the white

        • I liked your novel. I have a similar problem (or condition). I've always have trouble being awake and fully aware in the mornings. At the university, the 8AM and 10AM class hours were awful for me. If the class was slightly boring or tedious, I'd fall asleep. If left to my own devices, I usually go to bed around 2-3 AM and I wake up at noon totally refreshed. Right now I don't have a job, so it doesn't interfere with anything, but I do want to get one and I'm fully aware that I might have to work the usual
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          Ah, the life of a night owl.

          I know it sounds weird, but you might try keeping a sleep journal. It could help you collect data and maybe see what's going on. I just started using a program called SleepChart [supermemo.com]. Seems like it will take a long time to gather enough data, but maybe it will be helpful.

          IANAD or anything, though. Just someone else who isn't a morning person.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Compaqt (1758360)

          Looks like nobody's mentioned polyphasic sleep [google.com] so far, so I guess I'll do it:

          Polyphasic sleep is sleeping in multiple phases in a day. So you don't sleep for 8 hours, and stay awake for 16. Instead, you spread your sleep out over the day.

          Although spreading 8 hours over multiple stretches might be beneficial for some, reducing your total sleep time is where it gets interesting.

          A article in Time Magazine from 1943 [time.com] describes how Buckminster Fuller devised a system (called Dymaxion sleep) where he slept a half-

        • by g253 (855070)
          Me too. Finding out about it has helped, as it's easy to feel guilty about these things.
        • I've always had the same problem and only when I got really serious about running (between 35 and 45 miles a week, about 9 miles every other day) have I have something approximating a normal sleep schedule. It may have been exhaustion and exercise addiction, but my body would wake up promptly at 4 or 5 am without an alarm clock. YMMV.

          I'm also going to try the white noise thing, but I thought I'd throw out another option for you.

        • by Ash Vince (602485)

          The problem is this. If I work by my schedule (awake 11:00, sleep 03:00), I'm fine. If I force myself to wake up at say 7am, I'm a zombie until noon, and exhausted for the rest of the day. It worked fine when I was a kid.

          Nothing has changed since you were a kid, you just have settled into a different rhythm. All you need to do to get onto the same 9-5 pattern as everyone else is force yourself onto it. That means getting up at 7am everyday until your body is used to it. It might take a month, it might take 6 months but eventually your body will realise this is what you have to deal with and deal with it.

          I used to be in a very similar situation to you, I think everyone who has had a period of being to set their own hours nat

          • by GaryOlson (737642)
            Let me respectfully say....horseshit. Different people have different physiology which impacts their cycles. I spent over 20 years working 2nd shifts by choice for this same reason. As my body has aged and certain chemical levels change, my daily cycle is rotating closer to 0600 - 2100. Previously, no amount of mental "force", routine, or healthy chemicals could cause me to be alert and active before 1100; or fall asleep before 0200. The working hours society has standardized on are a legacy of an agrarian
        • I'm a lot like you. I'll be up at all hours just looking for something to keep me occupied until i can sleep, but since my job is not flexible like yours, I end up groggily getting up at 6am. And i can sleep anywhere. I fell asleep in a lawn chair in front of a speaker at a rock concert in 110F heat once. (i didn't like the band that was playing that set, and there was no one to talk to) Wish i had a flexible job like yours!
      • by Per Wigren (5315)
        ...or you could just leave your computer on 24/7. It also makes you a better seeder. :)
        When I turn my computers off it gets so silent that I hear my (minor) tinnitus and I find it harder to sleep.
      • by mrjb (547783)

        Or you can pay a fair bit of money for a more precise white noise generator.

        Or you can write the output of /dev/random to a wav file and burn it on an audio CD. Or just cat /dev/random >/dev/dsp.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Gerzel (240421)

      Sorry, I'll try to be quieter.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tubal-Cain (1289912)

      Yet, this doesn't explain why I can't sleep at 11:30pm when the house is dead quiet. {sigh}

      Let me know when 1:00 becomes a problem and we'll talk.

    • Re:Sleep (Score:5, Interesting)

      by blahplusplus (757119) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @12:22AM (#33200542)

      "Yet, this doesn't explain why I can't sleep at 11:30pm when the house is dead quiet. {sigh}"

      You haven't expended enough energy. I find that many people that can't sleep also don't exercise or have sedentary lifestyles. If you add exercise to your life you can bet you'll get tired eventually. You should really only go to sleep when you're tired, when you feel sleepy. I used to have trouble falling asleep until I added walking/exercising an hour or two a day.

      Expending energy goes a long way to solving sleep problems.

      • by JWSmythe (446288)

        You'd think it would work like that, huh? :)

        I used to do a heavy workout every morning. It was about 90 minutes of weight lifting. Then I'd shower and go to work. It was fun doing it, so I looked forward to it. Well, until my last car accident, where the doctor told me not to lift anything heavy for quite a while. So much for morning exercises. That didn't help get to sleep early though.

        If I completely exhaust myself during the day, say doing heavy physical

        • I'm not saying there aren't people with genuine sleep problems but it's a lot easier to to fall asleep and get sleepy when you've actually exerted yourself to some extent.

      • by racerx509 (204322)

        I find the endorphine rush that accompanies a good workout only serves to delay the sleep even worse. Much like the OP, I find it difficult to sleep before 2:00 or 3:00. I can sleep fine from this point until 12:00 the following day, but if I force myself to conform to a "regular" schedule, sleeping at 2300, and waking at 6:00, I am typically groggy and incoherent until well after 11am. On mornings when I can gather the mental energy and focus on a good workout, I'll awake at 6:00 and run a few miles or

      • I exercise regularly and I get tired, but it doesn't help me sleep, I would need to be totally exhausted and still I would wake up again rather quickly.
        I'm usually running 2H (on top of regular exercising, which is 1H with break every 2 days) when I'm not sleepy which I believe is rather long. Rest of the day I'm work at a desk in a office which is not a lot of exercise of course...

  • Wait... What? People sleep? Solidly? Damn, I need some of that.
  • Throwback? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hedgemage (934558) on Monday August 09, 2010 @10:43PM (#33199920)
    Wouldn't being a sound sleeper be a liability in the Darwin game? I would think that waking up when there's unusual stimuli would be something helpful to keep from being lunch for a nocturnal predator.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by grim4593 (947789)
      Not in a social environment where other people/animals are switching off being alert and acting as guards. It would make sleep more efficient.
    • Re:Throwback? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by theheadlessrabbit (1022587) on Monday August 09, 2010 @10:55PM (#33200012) Homepage Journal

      Wouldn't being a sound sleeper be a liability in the Darwin game? I would think that waking up when there's unusual stimuli would be something helpful to keep from being lunch for a nocturnal predator.

      Possibly, yes, but not everyone has this deep sleep ability, and humans are social animals. it is possible that a balance between deep sleepers and light sleepers offered other advantages. maybe the light sleepers would hear something, then wake the deep sleepers and they could all run away, while if it was a false alarm that woke the light sleepers in the tribe, the more rested heavy sleepers would still be up for a long days hunting...

      (thats probably not even close to being right, but its just an example of what could have been the case - where variety benefits both sides.)

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Alternately, we recognize that our primitive ancestors weren't stupid, and came up with concepts like taking turns staying awake and looking out for trouble while everyone else slept.

    • I wondered the same thing. Perhaps the benefits of greater memory consolidation (ability to remember dangerous situations/locations, places where food might be found) and higher IQ (potentially improved ability to obtain food, plan attacks and defenses) can outweigh the disadvantage of sleeping heavily (reduced ability to defend oneself when asleep).

      Alternatively, perhaps this capability has evolved more recently, since we moved away from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle and into fixed civilizations. Obvious

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by hedwards (940851)
        Deep sleep is regenerative sleep. AFAIK it isn't related to memory at all, REM sleep is. I'm not sure scientifically, but it does seem that the less REM you get the better in terms of memory. My memory was definitely a lot better before I started with all the damned dreaming.
    • The article doesn't say it's a genetic thing, nor that it can't change within a person over time. I suspect it can; at least, a person can become a deep sleeper (and manipulate his sleeping style in other ways).

      I used to not sleep through anything. A loud noise, any light at all, and I couldn't sleep. Then I moved to my current apartment, and two times a week at 5AM the garbage man rolls a trash can by my window. If you've never heard it, trust me, it's loud. Sometimes he sings. In Spanish.

      I also have l
      • by nospam007 (722110) *

        'I was going to get hotel-style curtains to cover them because I hated light so much,...'

        Get a sleeping mask, it needs much less material.
        Also, order a tryout bag of ear plugs, so that you can try different models until you find one that fits. I tried 2 dozen until I found one that works for me.
        All ear plugs hurt in the beginning if you wear them for 8 hours or so, it needs at least 2 weeks until your ears are used to it.

        With mask and plugs I sleep through everything, anywhere in the world, airplanes and tr

        • by karnal (22275)

          I actually do earplugs when going on trips with my wife - it seems that we both snore pretty good, but when I'm out of my environment I get pulled from sleep much easier. Earplugs rock. But I have still to find some that don't make my ears feel like crap in the morning; mainly feels like wax buildup etc.

    • When you're in a crowded place, like a small winter hut with lots of other warm bodies, it's a serious benefit: more sleep means you need less food in winter, and you're better rested for t he day's needs.

      People can also lean what sounds are "safe" and what requires "waking up right now": ask anyone who's babysat children for extended periods, or whose partner snores.

      • by cduffy (652)

        People can also lean what sounds are "safe" and what requires "waking up right now"

        ...and some sounds are just hardwired into the latter category.

        The fastest I've ever been awakened, and one of the larger adrenaline jolts I've had, was hearing a child's fear-of-death scream in the middle of the night while camping. Not at all like typical tantrum-style screaming (which, if it wakes me, leaves me in a groggy/annoyed state) -- this was like something grabbed my hindbrain and pulled me out of bed, fight-or-fl

    • Because we were tribal people. There only needed to be 1 watchdog to wake the others. I happen to be one of the sad saps with such wiring. If someone even so much as walks by the front of my house at 3am, I'm up patrolling the halls making sure everything is the way it should be. Those that were like me, suffered poor sleep so the rest of the village could be safe. Now I just suffer for no apparent reason. Come on superscience, fix me!
    • by Xtifr (1323)

      It depends. We're social animals, after all, and tend to gather in groups (tribes, packs, what have you). I remember hearing a study years ago of birds that line up on a branch (or wire)--the ones in the middle of the line all fall fully asleep, but the two birds at either end of the line will only fall half-asleep--literally. One half of their brain (and body) remains semi-alert, while the other half--the half adjacent to other birds--sleeps normally.

      Basically, if you're part of a group, you don't need

    • by knarf (34928)

      to keep from being lunch for a nocturnal predator.

      <p class="concept_nazi"> That would be supper then as nocturnal predators are unlikely to be out for a meal around noon... </p>

  • by jimmyswimmy (749153) on Monday August 09, 2010 @11:01PM (#33200048)
    I'm one of those log-sleepers.  In college I slept through fire alarms regularly despite the fact that one of the sounders was located in front of my door.  I have never been able to use an alarm clock to wake up reliably, despite locating the clockS across the room so I would have to get up to turn them off - if they bothered me enough to turn them off, I would actually get out of bed, actually switch them off, and go back to sleep - all without remembering.  The second night the baby was home, sleeping in a bassinet next to my bed (six feet away), my wife was pissed at me the whole next day until I finally asked her what was wrong; apparently the baby started screaming, I sat up in bed, pointed at the baby, asked my wife "Why don't you do something about that kid screaming?", laid back down and went back to sleep - I remember none of this.  I can sleep with the lights on or off, although the only thing that actually does wake me is bright light when I've been conditioned to have none.

    On the face of it it is far more of a curse than a blessing.  Sleep is a black hole out of my life from which nothing wakes me (I have woken in the morning on the floor after my wife tried to push me out of bed to get me to take care of the baby back before she realized it wasn't going to happen).  I generally don't even remember my dreams although I know I have them.  As a result I so dislike sleep that I put it off as long as possible and have a light shining in my eye to wake me up in the morning.

    On the upside, as the article says, people with this deep sleeping capability (perhaps such as I have) tend to have good memories and above average IQ.  So maybe there's a good part to this.  But I wish there were room for balance.
    • by Emonair (469172) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @12:10AM (#33200474)

      Two words for your wife... cattle prod

    • by tool462 (677306)

      Your description matches my experience almost exactly, though the negative effects haven't been as pronounced for me. I've found having a fairly consistent wake-up schedule helps. Once I get into a routine and am in the habit of waking up at a certain time, I'll keep doing so regardless of when I go to sleep.

      It was worst in college, when I had absolutely no set schedule. I would do just what you do, sleep through my alarm even though it was on buzzer or staticy country music at full volume for 2 hours st

    • My wife also complains sometimes that I sleep like a log. I doubt I'm comparable to you.
      But anyway, if I was you, I would first try to have regular sleeping hours (don't put it off), and then talk to a psychologist or something. You should be able to condition yourself to wake up with a particular stimulus.
      Anyway, glad to hear your wife understands. Good luck.

    • by ledow (319597)

      You need to buy an alarm clock that has a light. Problem solved.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jarik C-Bol (894741)
        or do what i did, buy a heat lamp shade from the hardware store (polished metal cone with a light socket in it) put a 100 watt bulb in it and hook it to a cheep wall wart timer synced with my alarm clock, and aimed the whole apparatus at my bed.. it clicks on just before my alarm clock and is about like suddenly being flung out of a cave into noonday sunlight, but it does the trick.
    • Not remembering dreams well indicates a deficiency in vitamin B6 and or Zinc. Try taking 40 or 50 milligrams of each every morning or at lunch. It takes zinc about 3-4 days to build up a serum level, so give it a good week before deciding if it helps. REM sleep (dreaming) is a more awake state than deep theta. At least more dreaming can make sleep more fun.
    • by MetricT (128876)

      I'm a log-sleeper too, with the added disadvantage of being hard of hearing too. My bedroom has two alarm clocks, a radio on top volume attached to a timer, and two 200-watt lights over my head, and even if I get a full 8 hours of sleep it still regularly takes 15-20 minutes of all that for me to wake up.

      I have nothing to add, other than it's nice to know that it's not just me, I'm not broken or anything, there are other people out there who experience the same thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Dude, I totally agree. After a good nights rest,
    I always wake up with a "sleep spindle".

    (He-he... he-he... he said "sleep spindle".)

  • [quote]
    some lucky people have an extra helping of a certain kind of brain static that essentially blocks out noise and other stimuli
    [/quote]

    Time now to invent an implanted device which generates such static... perfect for when the mother-in-law is visiting.

  • by nido (102070) <nido56&yahoo,com> on Monday August 09, 2010 @11:10PM (#33200122) Homepage

    My memories of going to sleep as a child are of tossing and turning every night in bed.

    My parents bought my brother a waterbed when he outgrew his twin bed. I thought I'd fall asleep quicker in a waterbed than my old mattress, so I pestered my parents endlessly until they relented and bought me a waterbed too. It didn't help.

    I learned about self-hypnosis, lucid dreaming, and "mental imagery" when I was 17 years old. One style of self-hypnosis calls for relaxing the physical body, then relaxing the mind. I was fascinated by the prospects of "internal senses".

    I tried to relax in chairs and on the bed (such as for a "nap") as best I could, but the only relaxation I experienced was fleeting. I'd feel good for a half a second, then I'd notice feeling good and I'd pop out of the relaxation and be stuck in my overly tense body once again.

    Some of the web pages on dreaming (1999 or so) and books that I read talked about a "drifty-dreamy" hypnagogic state between sleep and wakefulness. I tried to relax as best I could in bed. I always passed out before I noticed anything.

    I left for college the next year, and developed something like lupus (lots of inflammation). I thought I had an RSI, but the P.A. and M.D. at the campus health center said there was nothing wrong with me that a little exercise wouldn't fix. I didn't believe them, so I started my own search for answers.

    Many years passed, and I eventually I ended up in the hands of a capable Osteopath who specialized in hands-on therapy. I told him my story: head trauma when I was 17 y.o., swelling and pain in forearms, etc. He did his thing, and over a course of about a year he gradually helped my body's structures move back into their proper place.

    Other disciplines look at a bone that's out of place as if it's a problem. One maxim from early Osteopathy was that "muscles move bones, and nerves control muscles". So rather than directly popping a bone back into place, a skilled osteopath will evaluate a patient to see what causes a structure to be malpositioned.

    The good doctor likened a case such as mine to peeling an onion: stored trauma comes off a layer at a time.

    One night after a few months of regular treatments, I opened my mouth to brush my teeth and noticed that the constant clicking noise in my jaw (TMJ) was no longer present. I opened and closed my mouth a few times in disbelief. The clicking had been with me for about four years at that point...

    I also noticed that I no longer had to "try" to relax in bed before I passed out - most nights I quickly fell asleep.

    Good sleep comes from having a balanced body, and hands-on therapies are one way to restore balance. There are others that I've found useful, but that's a much longer post.

    Attention Insomniacs: Watch for my replies in this thread & story - I'll try to get some more information online shortly. I just want to get this comment posted while the story is still fresh. :)

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Good sleep comes from having a balanced body, and hands-on therapies are one way to restore balance.

      Yeah, I find masturbation can help me sleep sometimes too.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      One style of self-hypnosis calls for relaxing the physical body, then relaxing the mind.

      My grade school science teacher used to be a psychologist and worked in a locked down mental ward.
      I think it was in 5th grade that he had us all lie down and walked us through progressive muscle relaxation. [wikipedia.org]
      A few kids fell asleep, and a few kids were hypnotized. He had them cluck like chickens, then woke everyone up and continued with the lesson.

      PMR works like a charm for most people.
      Relaxing your body naturally leads to a relaxed mind.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by EdIII (1114411)

      and books that I read talked about a "drifty-dreamy" hypnagogic state between sleep and wakefulness.

      I suffered from hypnagogic hallucinations for about a year. That and narcolepsy. All of this was brought on by extreme sleep deprivation due to a rather severe case of multi-symptom insomnia.

      The interesting thing about them, the hypnagogic hallucinations, is that you really feel like you are two places at one time. For me it was like a split consciousness. I would be coding at my computer in the morning,

  • Hm. I have something like this: If I am persistently disturbed while I am trying to sleep (for example, by construction noise or loud music nearby), I will often fall into a super-deep sleep that lasts a minimum of 3 or 4 hours.

    So the noise will wake me up a few times, but then my brain seems to switch off outside stimuli and go into hibernation.

    This plus snooze-alarm is a very bad combination.

  • ... if you find yourself, say, in a post-Apocalyptic predicament and need to return to hunting and gathering and living less protected. Being able to wake up when something goes bump in the night could be the difference between seeing another sunrise or not.

  • Every 7-8 months or so, I experience a dream that seems to last 3 or 4 hours, and seems like it was written like a well-made movie. I wake up out of it, thinking a long time has passed, and it's only 3-4 hours elapsed. Other, ordinary dreams seem dull in comparison and run me through the whole night.

    Is there a name for said type of dream?

    • by hedwards (940851)
      It's doubtful that any dream lasts 3 or 4 hours, given that the average sleep cycle is only 2-4 hours and REM is only a small portion of that. Dreams exist in a realm that doesn't obey the normal laws of time and space.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by danhm (762237)
      Inception.
  • I can sleep through almost any sound, but the slightest bit of light wakes me right up(which is why I usually end up getting up at sunrise). I wonder if the parts of the brain that wake people up when they hear sounds are responsible for waking them up in response to increases in light.
    • by hedwards (940851)
      That would be your circadian rhythm acting up, or a part of it. I've used it to my advantage in the past with a daybreak simulator, which gently ups the light intensity to mimic the natural sunrise. I think it was roughly a sign wave IIRC.
  • I live in a big city apartment in the downtown core. I can generally sleep through anything. The thing I notice though is that human voices will always wake me up.

    I don't live far away from the fire department, so I'm quite sure that sirens are going off at all hours of the night but I never hear them while I'm sleeping. I find that even though its much quieter, people talking, screaming or even faint whispering (like my alarm radio starting to turn on) is enough to wake me up.

    I noticed this after the last

  • So there's a real, scientific reason why I sleep through things like...

    Hurricanes; tornadoes; multiple 747's, 777's, and other misc. big aircraft coming in to land right over me; gunfire; noon sun shining on my face...
    Now if only they could find why I'm almost hyper at 3am, and that I like it.

  • Can't sleep (Score:5, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Monday August 09, 2010 @11:59PM (#33200426)
    Clown will eat me.
  • by dj_tla (1048764) * <trbekolay&shaw,ca> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @12:42AM (#33200630) Homepage Journal

    This is an interesting study, but the conclusion it appears to draw is erroneous at best.

    Take this quote, from one of the study's investigators: "During sleep, our neurons are busy doing very complicated processing, including, this study shows, generating sleep spindles to protect us from being awoken from noises in the environment."

    EEG is such a broad average that it tells us very little about what the brain is doing, just like looking at the NASDAQ doesn't tell you very much about how one company or a group of companies are doing. To suggest that our brain is "generating sleep spindles" is myopic; sleep spindles are a symptom of what the brain is doing during sleep: replaying memories temporarily held in the hippocampus and consolidating then into cortex.

    The correlation between producing lots of "sleep spindles" and having relatively good memory makes sense in this light, as does being hard to wake up during sleep, as a brain that's attending to memory consolidation won't be as sensitive to external stimuli (just like when you're concentrating while conscious). But to suggest that sleep spindles function to protect us from noises in the environment makes no sense at all. Evolutionarily, it's more advantageous to wake up when you are being attacked, or are otherwise in peril. If anything, this research would suggest some kind of limiting factor to the overall intelligence of a society that deals with the environment in that way.

    • As you say, it may be beneficial to wake up "during an attack", but by the same token it's not very adaptive to wake up every time some random animal a mile away makes a loud mating call. Then you end up tired and unfocused when you go out hunting the next day and a tired hunter may end up being a hungry hunter. There's a balance in there, somewhere. Too deep is bad, but too light is just as maladaptive.

  • I don't know if you can call this lucky. I came to the office late because of my brain's high spindle rate. :)
  • My dad has harnessed this power and uses it consciously when somebody tries to talk to him.

    It's sort of spam filter.

    Now semiseriously this might help you sleep but wouldn't it also make you more vulnerable and exposed when sleeping. Noise can be an indicator of danger. Evolutionary wouldn't the early human actually benefit from light sleep? Or to put it into modern context wouldn't you like to be woken up if someone is breaking into your house? What I am saying is that I am not sure I would call these peopl

  • by pongo000 (97357) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @02:52AM (#33201172)

    I've been playing around with an F/OSS binaural beat generator called Gnuaural [sourceforge.net]. Interestingly, some of the "schedules" (frequency vs time) for meditative purposes include periodic bursts of higher-frequency beats (about once every 8-10 minutes) to keep from falling into a sound sleep. I noticed in the article that these "spindles" occur on the order of seconds rather than minutes. It would be interesting to modify a Gnuaural schedule to make the high-frequency bursts occur more often in order to achieve a "deeper" sleep for light sleepers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Robert Zenz (1680268)
      I'm not sure if it would work that way. As far as I know, Binaural beats are effecting the whole brain, while those spindles are very localized. So I think that binaural beats could help if they're going really low and also altering the whole brain activity that way, maybe removing those spikes would yield such an effect.
  • Did anyone else notice that the EEG machine used to measure the ability to ignore noises was muted?

  • Effected by baby (Score:2, Interesting)

    by metalmonkey (1083851)

    I found that when my baby < 1 year old is in the same bed I wake at the slightest movement/sound, otherwise I sleep very soundly.
    I'm either worried I'd smother him, or some other protective instinct overrides this function.

  • by jav1231 (539129)
    Can this happen while you're awake? It might explain why teens don't pay attention in class or why wives won't fetch beer.

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