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The Brain's Secret For Sleeping Like a Log

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the light-exercise-and-a-fifth-of-rum dept.

Medicine 259

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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Tip #1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33199848)

Whoa this slashdot thread has me yaaaw$25tggdfhsdHrht

Sleep (4, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33199850)

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

Re:Sleep (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33199930)

it's still not quiet enough, it's still not dark enough, your bed is still not comfortable enough, and so on and so forth

insomnia's great, isn't it?

(heh, i love how most of the first posts on this article are from people who should probably be in bed already)

Re:Sleep (5, Insightful)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200418)

Rub one out and it'll help you sleep.

Re:Sleep (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200862)

Actually this is true. I remember hearing about a study that basically said that some of the neurotransmitters released during a male orgasm also have the effect of inducing drowsiness. Good excuse for trying to bust a nut. :)

Re:Sleep (4, Interesting)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 (3, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200604)

    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 noise they generated drowned out almost anything else. I think the only thing I heard there was sirens immediately outside (it was a busy street).

    Well, sorry for writing a novel about it. I do get verbose around this time of night. :) I'm still not tired enough to sleep. {sigh}

Re:Sleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200820)

Agreed. I find that I can fall asleep a little quicker if I leave the door slightly ajar and can hear some of the noises from the family room downstairs.

Re:Sleep (1)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200872)

...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.

Re:Sleep (2, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200290)

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 (5, Interesting)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Sleep (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200702)

    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 labor, I may fall asleep at 8pm, but I'll be awake at 11pm, and then be ready to sleep a night at about 3am.

    A couple weeks ago, it was about 95 degrees out ("feels like" 104). I spent a few hours doing yard work, including cutting branches off the roof. I was done well before dark. It was exhausting work. I was tired, but couldn't actually get to sleep. When midnight finally came, I was still wide awake. Sore, but wide awake. Then at 3am, I was out like a baby. My girlfriend tried to wake me up at 10am, 10:30am, 11am, 11:30am, and finally I woke up at noon.

    This morning she said I was somewhat awake and talking at 9am when she woke up, but then I went back to sleep. I don't remember anything about that conversation. The only thing I remember is her finally waking me up at noon. Over the years, girlfriends and other people I've lived with have mentioned that they try to wake me up before noon, and I sometimes babble senseless stuff for a little while and then go back to sleep. They're usually words, but they aren't strung together into any sort of usable pattern. Occasionally I'll remember a little bit of it, but it's mostly the confusion where I think I'm saying something that makes perfect sense, and they're looking at me like I'm speaking a foreign language. I'll even repeat myself slowly, and it still makes no sense to them. So in my mind, it makes perfect sense, even though it means absolutely nothing in the real world.

    I usually tell people unless I'm standing with both eyes open *AND* speaking coherently, I'm not actually awake. It's not sleep walking/talking exactly. I've managed to show up something resembling working hours occasionally. That means I can shower, get dressed, operate a car without damaging myself or anyone else, and show up at the right desk, but mostly my speech is like I'm still asleep, and apparently I look it too. Most people figure it out pretty quick and just leave me alone until I'm awake. Those who don't, it takes me a while to convey what I'm trying to say. Apparently I can type pretty well though, and comprehend what needs to be done. I can do the work they ask for, and do it correctly, but it's all a blur to me.

    And on that note, hello 2am. How I wish I didn't see thee.

Re:Sleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200566)

Stop masturbating - that should help.

Man, I could use some of those (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33199864)

As a long-time insomniac, accustomed to waking up after an hour or two asleep, I would really like to know how to produce these "sleep spindles". Someone let me know when they figure out how to make them, rather than just observe them (don't worry, I'll be up).

Re:Man, I could use some of those (1)

asills (230118) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200106)

I'm a log time sleeping log, accustomed to 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep without any special effort. I've slept through a fire alarm in the dorm in college (completely sober), and the alarm was immediately outside my door (12 feet from me). At least as a light sleeper had it actually been a fire, you'd be alive and I'd be sleeping through burning.

Re:Man, I could use some of those (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200172)

LONG time sleeping log... sheesh.

Re:Man, I could use some of those (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200274)

But maybe he sleeps more soundly as time goes, so that the difference between sleeping one hour or three hours is the same as between three hours and nine for him.

Then I'd say he definitely sleeps in log-time.

Re:Man, I could use some of those (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200200)

Sometimes I manage to sleep like a log. It almost killed me once, too. One time when I was younger, I ended up sleeping rather contentedly for a good long time because a gas main had broken in my neighborhood, and I had a head full of methane. I slept through the fire department banging on my door for a good ten minutes. Fortunately, my dear old mom came home from the store, found the neighborhood cordoned off, and insisted that the firemen come knock on the door some more.

Now that I live on my own, I guess I'm gonna die if there's a gas leak. Ah, well. At least I'll get some rest.

Re:Man, I could use some of those (1)

Derosian (943622) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200374)

When you get an itch, thing about something else, when you feel like tossing and turning think about something you did during the day. Oh and get lots of excercise but not within 2 hours of when you want to sleep, if none of these things work. See a professional.

Maybe these people are good at imagining (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33199904)

being back in a large lecture hall, chin cupped in hand while the distant professor pauses his thickly accented monologue to scrawl something illegible on the blackboard. While a spectacular fall day beckons outside the windows.

Re:Maybe these people are good at imagining (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200898)

being back in a large lecture hall, chin cupped in hand while the distant professor pauses his thickly accented monologue to scrawl something illegible on the blackboard.

It was really quite hypnotic?

Throwback? (4, Interesting)

hedgemage (934558) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Throwback? (0, Redundant)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33199976)

I doubt it's a throwback - after all when in history/prehistory would sleeping like a log have been advantageous?

Only in safe places would sleeping like a log be an advantage.

Re:Throwback? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200580)

Only in safe places would sleeping like a log be an advantage.

I think that was his point.

Re:Throwback? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200756)

He used the term "throwback", which from the context I took to mean "reversion to an ancestral or earlier type or character".

Hence I'm wondering when in past the trait would have been advantageous.

Re:Throwback? (1)

ghmh (73679) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200750)

But if you were really convincing your predator would go: Nothing useful here, just a log - let's try looking over there.

Re:Throwback? (2, Insightful)

grim4593 (947789) | more than 3 years ago | (#33199980)

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? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33199996)

Prior to human development of a societal infrastructure to protect ourselves while sleeping...sure.

How many generations have human beings been altering aspects of nature, and not just for ourselves?

Seriously, the number of people who need to be woken up by external stimuli in the night is minimal compared to the number trying to avoid being awoken by extraneous ones.

Re:Throwback? (5, Interesting)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200012)

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.)

Re:Throwback? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200026)

Sure, but humans haven't had to worry about natural predators for something like 10,000 years or more.

Also, people can be trained through repeated exposure to sleep through distractions (think military) so it's possible that the level of tolerance (or "spindles") a person has is not something they are born with forever.

Re:Throwback? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200158)

"Sure, but humans haven't had to worry about natural predators for something like 10,000 years or more."

Sounds like you've never spent a night in the woods.

Or a night in a highway rest area.

There are plenty of predators still out there. You just
haven't been getting out enough, that's all.

Re:Throwback? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200472)

Amusingly, you probably picked the one /.'er that doesn't apply to. I was raised in going back-woods camping with only tents for cover approx. every other month. I wouldn't call it overly dangerous. In my state, the only things you have to worry about are wild moose; bears and mountain lions are not common, easily scared, don't frequently attack humans, and are prevalent in relatively few regions.

I guess there is always more room for concern of sexual predators & sodomy. But who travels alone anyway?

Re:Throwback? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200582)

Bull. What about that juvenile who comes by at 2 or 3 a.m. with a bump key and tries your locks? Is he a predator or not?

Re:Throwback? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200790)

Not unless he murders you. And it must happen regularly enough to influence natural selection, meaning that "heavy sleepers" are overwhelmingly disadvantaged in practice and killed before reproducing. It would be great if evolution allowed for things like humans popularly mutating to benefit from owl-like nightvision, but unfortunately things don't work that way.

Re:Throwback? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200050)

maybe if you were on your own, but people rolled in tribes back then. watching out for the nocturnal predators was a job for the guys with delayed sleep phase syndrome [wikipedia.org]

i imagine that all the well-rested motherfuckers were better able to go out hunting in the morning

Re:Throwback? (1)

jimmyswimmy (749153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200282)

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. Obviously not too recently or it would not be widespread. And obviously, of course, I am an armchair evolutionary biologist, speaking entirely from my ass. Still fun to think about it though.

Re:Throwback? (2, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200568)

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.

Re:Throwback? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200476)

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 lots of windows in my apartment, and I was going to get hotel-style curtains to cover them because I hated light so much, but after a few months of forcing myself to sleep in that environment, I was eventually able to do it. And now I can sleep through anything. It's so convenient.

The way the article describes it, it seems these spindles are just the brains way of dealing with stimuli when it doesn't want to transfer them to your active awareness. The more there are, the better your brain is at handling them.

Re:Throwback? (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200516)

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.

Re:Throwback? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200570)

Light sleep = better guarding against predators

Deep sleep = better healing from all kinds of injuries, from trivial stuff you're unaware of to serious wounds. Also better laying down of information (=learning)

All Hail ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33199934)

I for one welcome our thalamus blocking overlords !

Might explain cats (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33199964)

A cat can sack out on a Ferrari engine running wide open just because it's warm and not wake up until they are in the next state.

Re:Might explain cats (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200010)

      Really?

      I had a kitten climb up into the engine compartment of a van once. I noticed an unusual sound while I was driving, but nothing that worried me. I drove about 30 miles before I stopped. I took a peak and found a very dirty, but otherwise unharmed, kitten. The sound I heard must have been it meowing during the whole drive. I still have no idea where it managed to perch itself without getting toasted, or more importantly (I guess), how it managed to hold on over some pretty rough roads.

Re:Might explain cats (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200056)

You're lucky, or rather the kitten was, or perhaps I'm just not...

The same sort of thing happened to me except I opened the hood to find the mangled bloody remains of a cat strewn about the engine...

Since then I always bang the hood of my truck a few times before attempting to start it up to scare off any animals that may have used the engine a nice warm shelter for the night.

Sometimes sleeping like a log can get you killed.

Re:Might explain cats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200250)

KITTEN KILLER!

Re:Might explain cats (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200410)

    That happened too when I was a kid, one winter. I wasn't there, but they finally told me later. One of my parents started the car, which was followed by an awful screech and thumping under the hood. Apparently the cat was curled up perfectly happy behind the radiator, where the fan is. The fan threw cat parts all over the place. After that, my parents usually beeped the horn once to scare off any animals that may be hiding in the engine compartment. Once in a while, you'd see a terrified cat run away from it.

    When I was old enough to start driving, I got in the habit of beeping the horn before starting too, at least at home. We were far enough out in rural nowhere, so no one would care (or even notice) a quick beep on the horn, regardless of the hour. In town or at neighbors houses, we didn't do it, so we didn't annoy people. :) That's where I picked up the kitten. Oddly enough, it wasn't winter, but as I remember it, it was summer, so the cat was probably trying to find a nice shady spot to sleep.

I can sleep through anything and so can my kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33199978)

and I know why. My family specifically did this to (for) me, and I did it to (for) my kids.

I made all kinds of noise when they were babies trying to sleep. I basically went on with my life and they learned to sleep with the extra noise. My bet is, that their brains started making this extra static to "cope" with the noise we made around them.

Once, my daughter was 2 was fast asleep in the room opposite the living room where we were playing Top Gun on our home theatre with guests over. The guests were astonished, and we all walked into her room to see her sleeping away, even though glasses and things were vibrating off the coffee table in the other room.

Like everything else, the body adapts.

Re:I can sleep through anything and so can my kids (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200062)

Exactly. That's why I stick my niece with a knife ever so often to make sure she's impervious to sharp metal objects when she grew up.

Re:I can sleep through anything and so can my kids (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200118)

You're not too far off center here. The brain is remarkably adaptable in this sense. It has been my experience that if I go to sleep in a slightly noisy area (nap in my car in the parking lot, for example) then I'm quite hard to wake up. If I fall asleep in total silence, I'm easy to wake up.

Re:I can sleep through anything and so can my kids (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200124)

Hm, thiscould perhaps explain things; considering how, for a long time, I slept essentially in a hallway. Not really that great though - alarm clocks hardly ever work and naps in random places can get nervous.

thanks for posting (0, Offtopic)

marketmpb (1874850) | more than 3 years ago | (#33199984)

I wonder why I cant sleep after an exciting TV show for an exciting marketing blog check out http://marketmpb.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] matt

Re:thanks for posting (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200712)

If I'd invested all my money into various online "marketing" / get-rich-quick schemes, and was constantly worried I was never going to see it again, I don't think I could sleep either.

IIRC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200024)

Hmm... I think I had these (sleep spindles) when I was younger.

Not so awesome as you might think (4, Interesting)

jimmyswimmy (749153) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not so awesome as you might think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200316)

Me, I have problems getting to sleep, and problems waking up. I agree, it's not exactly a good thing when I sleep through the alarm clock that wakes up my roommates down the hall.

Re:Not so awesome as you might think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200318)

Yeah well, pity me - I cannot get to sleep (late onset insomnoia), so I routinely toss and turn till 4am with every little thing keeping me awake. But when I do finally get to sleep (qround dawn) NOTHING can wake me (similar to you with your alarms). This absolute ability to wake me up has cost me jobs (from constantly being late). Sometimes, I actually skip nights sleep if I have a meeting in the morning because I know that if I do fall asleep I'l be waking up at midday with that "uh-oh" feeling. Every weekend I end up sleeping nearly all day because I am so chronically sleep deprived.

Re:Not so awesome as you might think (1)

tool462 (677306) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200690)

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 straight. If it was within arms reach, I would turn the alarm off (not snooze, off), and have no recollection of doing so. Apparently I will also answer the phone and be coherent enough to convince the other person I'm awake. I've signed up for long distance service, credit protection service, and agreed to at least one job interview in my sleep without being conscious of it. I've lost one job because of it. I also missed a lot of class time, but those supposed IQ and memory benefits must have helped, since I did manage to graduate with good grades. I almost slept through my hotel room being broken into, but breaking glass is a novel enough sound that I did wake up then.

This sounds pretty bad, but none of those bad things has had any lasting effect, and I've worked my life around it. My job is flexible about hours, so I tend to come in later and work later than others. My wife is also flexible, so I'd tend to handle the late night baby problems like 2am feedings and what not, while she'd take the mornings.

The pluses have had a much stronger effect, and I take full advantage of them. I can sleep anywhere, any time. I rarely experience jet lag. I slept for 16 hours straight on a flight from LA to Sydney, and woke up at 6am Sydney time well rested and ready to go. I know a good many people who are unable to sleep when they are stressed, uncomfortable, or in a noisy or bright environment. I don't have a problem with any of those. In particular for stressful days, I know that once I fall asleep, I'll wake up stress-free the next morning.

Re:Not so awesome as you might think (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200786)

I just knew this story would get the crazy crackpots to crawl out of their holes, trying to sell god-knows-what bullshit.

Re:Not so awesome as you might think (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200818)

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.

Re:Not so awesome as you might think (1)

yuriks (1089091) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200856)

I'm a similar heavy sleeper on the mornings. No amount of alarm clocks will wake me up, but a good shine on the face will do the job. Sometimes. However I suspect my body has entered this state to deal with my chronic sleep deprivation. I have what I think are signs of extremely week will. I will procrastinate on the PC for hours at end, always putting off sleep. Even if I'm tired, barely able to keep myself awake I'll put off sleeping. It feels like an addiction. My attendance rate last semester was near 50% because I would sleep through the mornings most of the time, no matter what I tried to wake up. And the sleep just kept piling up until one day I'd just skip sleep and sleep in the afternoon the next day, reseting my sleep timings until they drifted again. And here I am at 3am on slashdot. :(

Oblig Beavis & Butt-head (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200074)

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".)

Family Reunion Tool (1)

davegravy (1019182) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200082)

[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.

I used to have trouble falling asleep (5, Interesting)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200122)

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:I used to have trouble falling asleep (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200240)

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.

Re:I used to have trouble falling asleep (2, Insightful)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200438)

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

Sex usually helps more than masturbation. If you can get it... I personally couldn't get laid until after my Osteopathic experience.

About 3.5 years ago I had a rather intuitive insight, and pulled a proverbial needle out of a haystack. That is, the intuition suggested I do something that I hadn't ever done before. I followed the suggestion & met the girl.

Re:I used to have trouble falling asleep (4, Funny)

daveime (1253762) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200728)

And after carefully reading the instructions, and inflating to the correct PSI, they lived happily ever after. The End.

Re:I used to have trouble falling asleep (2, Informative)

simoncpu was here (1601629) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200894)

I know this a troll, but this is very true. Our bodies produce proloactin and oxytocin after sex so we fall asleep afterwards. They're our bodies' natural sleeping pill.

Re:I used to have trouble falling asleep (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200342)

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:I used to have trouble falling asleep (0)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200572)

PMR [Progressive Muscle Relaxation] works like a charm for most people.
Relaxing your body naturally leads to a relaxed mind.

Exactly. I spent hundreds of hours reading all about the benefits of relaxation. I spent dozens of hours "trying" to relax, but nothing worked.

My mother found a woman who did "trigger point therapy" about 2.5 years after my head trauma experience. Trigger points are places on the body with a sharp, distinct pain. The "therapist" held these points - mostly on my back - for a time until they released and the pain disappeared.

About 1/2 way through the second session (saw her 3x over a spring break), my body just shut down and I "melted" into the massage table. Sweet, blissful relaxation! I relaxed completely again during the third session. Ahh, relief at last!

The first week back at teh college had a profound change from my lackluster relaxation/dreaming accomplishments: I started to wake from the most intense dreams I'd ever had.

I had been attempting to remember my dreams for about 2.5 years at that point, but all I could remember were vague hints of my dreams of the night before. After the trigger-point induced relaxation, I woke up feeling good, and I was able to lay in bed to revel in sweet magic dreams.

After a week of waking from blissful dream recollection, I decided to start writing in my dream journal again. That's the only dream I still remember. It was also the last intense dream I had until I figured out the rest of my puzzle...

That night I laid in bed and attempted to progressively relax, as was my usual custom for tricking my body into falling asleep. But this time something different happened, and instead of passing out my body relaxed and I started to experience the fabled "hypnagogic imagery" (I say 'fabled' because this was something I'd read about many times for many years, but had never personally experienced). These were sort of like green ribbons - a plasma light show. As someone who'd never experienced such before, it was a spectacular experience.

So yes, progressive relaxation is great, if you can do it. While the trigger point therapy helped me once for a week, I couldn't get a repeat performance from the same therapist the following summer. I tried other massage therapists, and while some helped me attain states of fleeting relaxation, at-will relaxation was elusive until I started an exercise program to go with the "device" (see the store link on my website).

Re:I used to have trouble falling asleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200458)

This was a very good comment, thank you very much! I'll keep watching this thread :)

Re:I used to have trouble falling asleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200646)

Thanks, I had the exact same problem as you for years now, didn't know what was wrong. Now I do.

Re:I used to have trouble falling asleep (0, Offtopic)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200694)

While knowing is half the battle, I didn't have time to write a full explanation about what to do. I'd refer you to my ebooks, but I'm redoing my website with the Wordpress blogging software and haven't gotten those re-posted for sale. Insomniacs may be interested in my Radial Appliance site, http://radialappliance.teslabox.com/ [teslabox.com] (get the free reports sent via email).

Re:I used to have trouble falling asleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33200810)

Oh man, I had nearly the exact same difficulty sleeping. Like you, I tried a number of different therapies before I found one that worked.

At first I tried ordinary Western allopathic medicine, but the wait at the "doctor's" office was too long, so I left before he saw me. So that therapy didn't work at all.

On the way home I passed by a guy offering free personality tests, and long story short I ended up trying Scientology for a while. I got a touch-assist or two, but that didn't work very well, but as I started to climb the Ladder of Ultimate Knowledge things started to get better and better. Anyway that worked for about eighteen months until I had an unfortunate 'shroom flashback right before I became Clear. Well, it turns out that becoming Clear is usually good, but combining that with the 'shroom flashback did nothing but piss off all my volcanic body Thetans. Then my problem came back with a vengeance, let me tell you. That also gave me chronic gas which didn't go away for six months.

Anyway at this point I figured Scientology was not the solution to my problem, and just as I was beginning to despair I discovered this wonderful guy who is a practitioner of Voodupuncture. His name is Vinz Clortho, I have his card here somewhere and if you hold on until my next post I'll give you his email address. Anyway Voodupuncture is really awesome because after the initial consult, there's no additional appointments or anything. Vinz just pokes a Voodoo doll of you full of acupuncture needles and he sends you an email or a text when he's doing it so you know when you're supposed to feel better. Around this time I was working as a golf caddy out at Highland Springs and let me tell you it was pretty awesome for about two and a half months, and I figured, you know, hey, fuck those Thetans, Voodupuncture is the way to go.

After a night of mescaline and intense Googling, I finally found the ultimate solution to my problem, which is called Realignment Therapy. After I found a good Realignment Therapist, she told me that I had been living for years with a Rotated Lower Intestine (RLI). See, most people don't realize this, but your lower intestine can get rotated - you know, twisted a little bit. Because it's just twisted and not knotted or anything, stupid Western doctors have trouble seeing this on an X-ray. But anyway this is the cause of all kinds of health problems - hair loss, Vitamin D deficiency, psoriasis, ovarian displacement, and erectile dysfunction (in men) are the major ones. One of the minor problems is insomnia, and I guess that's what my problem was. I had a pretty major rotation - five degrees off normal!

So I started seeing my Realignment Therapist twice a week, and it's sort of nice and relaxing. What she does is that I lay down on a table and she puts a stick of incense in my asshole (just enough so it sticks straight up) and then she lights it while playing Warren Zevon music on the sound system at her place. I guess she's done some experiments, and Leftward Intestinal Torsion responds best to Werewolves of London (had it been Clockwise Intestinal Torsion, she would have used vanilla incense and played Three's Company reruns). Anyway ever since I've started seeing her my intestinal rotation is down to three degrees and I sleep like a baby!

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. :)

drugs work best for some people (1)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200886)

some people are best served by the pharmaceutical industry. Good luck with that.

Meditation works, after enough practice (1)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200842)

All my life I've gone to sleep around 2 o'clock at night. As a kid, I'd lie restless in bed for about three hours every night.
Then I worked out a mental... imagery thing. That helped alot. In retrospect, it was a form of meditation.

Later I studied kung-fu, and an important part of that is (Buddhist style) mediation. I've always had a "chattery brain", but for months I practiced as best I could before I got anywhere. I'd force myself to sit at least 20-40 minutes every night before going to bed.
After a couple of years I'd reached the point where I could do a 5-10 minute meditation to make me sleepy (after which I fall asleep within 2-5 minutes),
or a 10-15 minute meditation to increase my enegy levels. (Really handy when going to party and feeling tired. After a short meditation, I could be bouncing and ready to go.)
That was 15 years ago. I still sit down briefly before going to bed (now more a body habit than actual mediation). I'm usually alseep within 5 minutes.

And I always sleep deeper after I've meditated.
If I meditate, I seldom dream.
If I don't meditate... lighter sleep, less restful, with dreams.

Obligatory TNG Quote (1)

HTRednek (793937) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200184)

Sleep... Data...

Re:Obligatory TNG Quote (1)

SoonerSkeene (1257702) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200254)

"Truthfully, Jean-Luc, I've been entirely preoccupied by a most frightening experience of my own. A couple of hours ago, I realized that my body was no longer functioning properly. I felt weak. I could no longer stand. The life was oozing out of me. I lost consciousness."

- "You fell asleep."

Selective? (1)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200230)

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.

Not a good mutation to have... (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200308)

... 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.

Long, movie-ish dreams? (1)

British (51765) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200328)

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?

Re:Long, movie-ish dreams? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200584)

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.

Too bad they didn't take light into account too (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200368)

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.

Re:Too bad they didn't take light into account too (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200590)

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 always hear voices? (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200382)

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 few nights where its been relatively silent and then at 2 or 3 in the morning I'll hear my neighbors talking or listening to their TV. I usually wake up in the middle of the night, so its possible they were also talking for a while and I didn't hear it.

Just a thought for other insomniacs, light sleepers who can't get anything done:
I have a diagnosed sleep disorder and take medication for it. I've always been a light sleeper and for a while I considered myself an insomniac. In the last few weeks of trying different things (after years! of failed attempts), I'm finding that if I force myself to go to sleep 2 hours earlier and wake up 2 hours earlier (effectively instead of waking up for 7 am, I wake up at 5 am, I have a better day. I have more time in the morning to do other tasks or workout and I feel more productive during the day. I find reading something really boring for 15 minutes helps me sleep too.

Cool (1)

800DeadCCs (996359) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200400)

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.

Not Cool (1)

uncholowapo (1666661) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200488)

Being a victim of insomnia, I am really hating on the people that get a good nights rest AND have better IQ's. Basically their telling me that just because I don't sleep, that I'm an idiot. Well, I'll have you know sir, that I made a 3 on my AP Language Arts Test. And that's without falling asleep on the reading portion...

but you have a Cool UID (1)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200626)

> uncholowapo (1666661)

I've seen some good UID #'s, but ... wow. How did you get it?

And doesn't your palindromic UID make up for the insomnia somehow?

Good research, bad conclusion (4, Interesting)

dj_tla (1048764) | more than 3 years ago | (#33200630)

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.

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