We each have an inner clock that influences when we feel like sleeping and waking and how tired we are. This clock in the brain tends to run slower than the 24-hour clock tied to the solar day — in fact, depending on genetics, it could be off by an hour or more. The inner, or circadian, clock controls the production of the hormone melatonin, which promotes sleepiness. When melatonin is delayed, you may suffer from insomnia. It also means the hormone may still be in your system when you want to start your day. This can cause fatigue and poor concentration, and leave you at risk for depression.
FAVORITE CHILD: We all know which kid Mom and Dad liked best, and odds are you’re thinking it’s not you. But does that really make a difference?
Many if not most parents do have a favorite child. And though parents usually strive to hide that, it’s not always successful. That differential treatment has been linked to problems with family relationships and risky behavior in teens.
But what matters is not how the parents actually treat the children, but how the kids perceive it.
In families that weren’t particularly close, the child who felt less favored was more likely to be a substance abuser. The more dramatic the difference they perceived in preferential treatment, the more likely they were to be using.
But when family members were more engaged with each other, the perceived favoritism had less impact, at least when it came to substance abuse.
After people learned to sort words while awake, their brains were able to do the same task while asleep. (Current Biology, Kouider et al.)
THINGS YOU DO IN YOUR SLEEP: For those who find themselves sleeping through work — you may one day find yourself working through sleep. People who are fast asleep can correctly respond to simple verbal instructions. This may explain why you might wake if someone calls your name or why your alarm clock is more likely to rouse you than any other noise.
MAPS OF DAY-TO-DAY AMERICA: Alabama and Mississippi are the nation’s sleep capitals, averaging 9+ hours each. New York and New Jersey spend the most time commuting.
North Dakota employees work the longest days. The average employed North Dakotan reports spending 8 hours and 16 minutes at work each day. This is probably related to that state’s Bakken Shale boom and the influx of petroleum industry jobs, where armies of mostly male workers spend long hours on the job site.
Maine’s low reported working time — 6 hours and 54 minutes — may be related to a preponderance of seasonal and temporary jobs in the tourism industry in that state. They don’t call it “Vacationland” for nothing.
Alabama and Mississippi are the nation’s sleep capitals, averaging 9+ hours each (WAPO)
AMERICANS WORK 7 DAYS A WEEK: On Tuesdays we work the hardest, and have the hardest time falling asleep. We really don’t like running errands on Wednesday. We devote our weekends to our friends and our pets. We watch a ton of TV every day, but especially on Sunday. The 10 charts below reveal these trends and more.
Everybody really is working for the weekend. (WAPO)
You Had Me at Hello: trustworthiness, aggressiveness, confidence, dominance and warmth. In less than a second, the time it takes to say “hello,” we make a snap judgment about someone’s personality.
The pitch of the untrustworthy voice was much lower than the male deemed most trustworthy. McAleer says this is probably because a higher pitched male voice is closer to the natural pitch of a female, making the men sound less aggressive and friendlier than the lower male voices.
All seem to perceive that one voice is the most trustworthy and another voice is the least trustworthy
Humans make split-second judgments about others based on the way they talk. (Katherine Streeter, NPR)
SLEEP CULTURE: This obsession with eight hours of continuous sleep is largely a creation of the electrified age. Back when night fell for, on average, half of each 24 hours, people slept in phases.
People fell asleep not long after dark for the “first sleep.” Then they awoke, somnolent but not asleep, often around midnight, when for a few hours they talked, read, prayed, had sex, brewed beer or burgled. Then they went back to sleep for a shorter period.
There is every reason to believe that segmented sleep, such as many wild animals exhibit, had long been the natural pattern of our slumber before the modern age, with a provenance as old as humankind.
HANGRY AT YOUR SPOUSE: Hangry, which is a combination of the words hungry and angry, may be due to low blood sugar as the underlying cause of hunger-induced crankiness. A study assessed the quality of couples’ relationships by sending each volunteer with a voodoo doll of their spouse, 51 pins, and taught them how to measure their blood sugar. Every night before they went to bed they should stab the doll with pins depending on how angry they were with their spouse. So the more pins they put in the doll, the angrier they were with their spouse.
Volunteers who had low levels of blood glucose stuck more pins in the voodoo dolls than those who had high levels of blood glucose. People with the lowest blood sugar levels stuck more than twice as many pins in the voodoo dolls, compared to people with the highest levels.
The take-home message would be to make sure you’re not hungry when you talk about important issues with your spouse.
Voodoo Doll of Spouse (Credits: Brad Bushman)
SLEEP: We want to sleep more now not because we value sleep more on its own terms, but because we are so fixated on productivity.