Sunday, April 6, 2014

About Creativity and Sleep Deprivation


When you work in a profession that relies heavily on your creative abilities like writing, cooking or sales, you often get dry patches where your mind goes blank.  You bills can’t wait for your ideas to come back, so you get stressed out.  This makes your mind go into even more of a blank state than you originally thought it could.  This is why some people turn to mind-altering substances in order to get their creativity going again. 

One of the most inexpensive is sleep deprivation.  The theory is that when you can’t sleep a while, your inhibitions go down and you are more willing to take creative risks.  In the long run, insomnia is as harmful for you as taking drugs.  Your best way to get the creative juices flowing again is to keep on working...

Please read the rest of may article at Bubblews. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Don't Argue with Your Mother in Your Dreams

You may think that after learning how to dream lucidly (basically, control your dreams while you are dreaming) you may think that your dreams will go all your own way.

You are thinking wrong.

Case in point -- you cannot win an argument with your mother, even in your dreams. Trust me on this one.

Don't get me wrong -- I love my mother (hi, Mom!) but there are times I'd rather pierce my eardrums with an ice pick rather than argue with her, even if I am clearly in the right.

For example, I had a nightmare the other night where I became lucid. My Mom had taken in two lodgers, who conned her to give our house away to ShopRite. (Now, I have nothing against ShopRite (I don't even shop there) but for some reason ShopRite was pissing off my subconscious that night.) During the dream, after I made the terrible discovery, I suddenly realized that I was dreaming.

I began laughing. Some guy in a black suit and sunglasses tried to shoot me. Somehow I disabled him and got hold of his sub-machine gun. I began shooting everyone because in the dream it made real good sense at the time. Besides, since I knew it was a dream, I knew no one could get hurt. The dream people even played along. They were not flung back from getting "shot" (which only put a small blob of red paint on them) and took their time laying down to mimic being dead.

Subconscious Mom didn't get this. She clutched the side of her head, screaming, "I DIDN'T RAISE YOU TO BE A HOMICIDAL MANIAC! WHAT WILL EVERYONE SAY ABOUT ME?"

Me: "Mom, seriously, it's okay. It's just a dream. I am not actually shooting anyone."

Mom: "YOU'VE JUST SHOT TEN PEOPLE!"

Shot Guy: "Chill out, lady. We're okay. It's just a dream."

Mom: "WHAT DO YOU KNOW? YOU'VE BEEN SHOT! DON'T YOU KNOW WHAT THAT DOES TO YOUR THINKING ABILITIES???"

Me: "Mom, please. It's like a video game held inside my head. It's okay."

Mom: "AND I BET YOU DIDN'T PUT ENOUGH BATTARIES IN YOUR GUN!"

ME: "Batteries?  What are you talking about? Guns don't need batteries ---" And I look and lo and behold I see about ten AA Duracell batteries in my gun. Suddenly, no more bullets come out of the gun. Apparently the batteries controlled the trigger. "Aw, Mom --"

It's a good thing I woke up or my head may have exploded all over my pillow. You can't get the stains out of that.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Is Dying in Your Sleep Painliess?

If you ask anyone how they want to die, most people will say that they want to die in their sleep.  (Of course, you have to be really careful before you ask anyone that question, but anyway ...) The reason is that dying in your sleep is thought to be painless.

But is it?

The big problem is that we can't anyone who died in their sleep if it was a painful experience or not.  I mean really died -- not one of those freakin' OBE things. 

It is hoped that by dying in your sleep, you can get through the whole messy death thing while unconscious.  It may not work that way.  You may wake up before falling asleep.  What do you die of when you die in your sleep?  Either suffocation or total sudden heart failure.

Best-selling fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett did a documentary for the BBC, Choosing to Die on assisted suicides where you apparently die in your sleep.  The death of Peter Smedley was filmed for the documentary.  It certainly didn't seem painless.  Smedley wanted to die (and did) complained of a terrible thirst before he finally expired.

Anyone who has had a pet euthanized is not sure that the pet suffered before dying. Although it is a very swift death and really the only humane option for pets suffering from incurable ailments, just try to tell a pet owner that one minute after they have witnessed their pet being put to sleep. The pet sometimes seems very upset (although that could be fear of the vets office rather than pain.) Again -- we do not know if the pet felt any pain during the process.

Journalist Elizabeth Simpson interviewed many in the medical profession about whether dying in your sleep is painless. The general conclusion was that out of all the known ways a person could die, it was "a great way to go."

Image of L'Inconnue de la Seine death mask from Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Are You a Bad Candidate for a Sleep Study?

Please do not use this blog post in the place of a medical professional's diagnosis.

Since sleep studies have become a normal diagnostic tool in the last 20 years, doctors are quick to prescribe a sleep study for many medial conditions, most commonly sleep apnea, bruxism (grinding your jaws in your sleep), narcolepsy and restless legs syndrome.  However, sleep studies can be brutal to go through.  Think carefully before you agree to a sleep study.

Bad candidates for a sleep study include:

  • People who work 7 days a week.  You will not get a good night's sleep after a sleep study.  Many people need to take the next day off of work or try to schedule their sleep studies for when they are off work.  However, if you work seven days a week, you're going to be screwed.
  • If you cannot sleep with air blowing on you.  Many people get used to air blowing on their faces, which happens when you get a CPAP machine. If you and your doctor already know that you have sleep apnea not caused by a anatomical problem, a CPAP machine is the usual treatment.  However, if you are like me, you cannot sleep if air is blowing on your skin.  Granted, this happens to very few people, but I'm one, so I'm mentioning it here.  I'm 44 and have never been able to sleep with air blowing on any part of my skin, even air blown from fans.
  • People who cannot sleep in new places.  If you're like me, you have tremendous trouble sleeping in new places like hotels, airports, camping trips or while going on an overnight visit to family members.  I think it's a survival instinct.  Your subconscious is not sure if where you are sleeping is entirely safe.  Sleep study centers vary in quiet, comfort and security.  The good news is that you only need to sleep a few minutes during the night in order for doctors to see if you have sleep apnea or whatever.  The bad news is that you will only get a few minutes of sleep.  Keep in mind that you may have to get more than one sleep study in order to get a diagnosis.  You may sleep better the second time around.
  • People who work swing shifts or nights. The vast majority of sleep studies are done at night.  Unless you can somehow arrange a day study, you will not be able to sleep during your normal work hours. 
In Conclusion

Whether or not you get a sleep study is up to you and the doctor who recommends that you get one.  Keep in mind that sleep studies are a big deal and may be a huge pain in the butt for you if you are a bad candidate for a sleep study.  My Mom's first sleep study screwed her up her circadian rhythms for a week.  Her second went much smoother.  However, my Mom was retired and was free to sleep whenever she felt like it.  Many people do not have this freedom.

Image of soldier getting hooked up for a sleep study by Staff Sgt. Christopher Klutts for Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Checklist for a Sleep Study

Going for an overnight sleep study?  It's not exactly a walk in the park.  My Mom has had a couple in the course of the past year and we've learned the hard way what they are like and what you need to remember to take with you.

If you're going for a sleep study, go through this checklist before going to the clinic or hospital.  Once you arrive and are hooked up to a machine, you will not be able to go back and (in some instances) you will not be able to leave until you are scheduled to.

Unless you have no problem falling asleep in strange places with a million wires taped to your body, it's best to have someone else drive you to and from the sleep study.  Odds are you will be too exhausted to drive the next morning.  Consider taking the day off of work or see if you can come in a few hours later so you can get a nap.

Bring:

  1. A fully charged mobile phone (you many not be allowed to make calls on the hospital phones)
  2. Pajamas or other loose-fitting clothes easy to get on and off
  3. Snacks
  4. Water or other beverages (you will not be able to get anything to eat or drink once the study begins)
  5. Medications you need to take at night or when you wake up the next day.  The workers at the sleep clinic will not be allowed to give you any medication, even if the sleep clinic is located in a hospital.
  6. A book (many sleep clinics have televisions in their rooms but not everyone can live on TV alone.)
  7. Knowledge of what entrances and exits will be open in the hospital when you arrive and when you leave the next morning.  Many hospitals lock most of their doors after the sun goes down. Some may only keep the emergency room door open.  If there is an emergency and you have to be picked up before your originally scheduled time, let the person picking you up know where these entrances are located. 
  8. Your ID (a driver's license usually will do.)
  9. Your health insurance card (some places will want to see it -- some won't.)
  10. Your prescription for the sleep study from the doctor who ordered it. (If it was faxed over, make sure the sleep clinic got it BEFORE you show up.)
Good luck!  You will need it.

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Imaginary Boyfriends are Fighting

Since my last real boyfriend tried to kill me, I've stuck with imaginary boyfriends.  I meet them mostly in my dreams.  My most constant imaginary boyfriend is Peter Gabriel (hence this blog's title) but in the last year he's had stiff competition (pun intended) from Jeremy Brett and Sherlock Holmes.  I didn't think this would be a problem since it's all imaginary -- right?

Well, the other night I dreamt of Peter.  He was as annoying as usual.  I dreamt I was living in my old apartment (which I left in 2000) and Peter was visiting me there.  I was telling him that I had to move out and back with my Mom.  He seemed fascinated by the news and wanted me to explain my reasons for moving.  Of course, now that I'm awake I know that Peter must've been amazed at my stupidity (I moved back with my Mom when I got back from the UK in 2005).  He then wanted to go shopping (?) but didn't have any money with him (just like real life boyfriends.)  Unfortunately, I didn't have any money, either.  I told him I'd go home, get some cash and be right back.  Of course, I got lost on the way because of new construction in the apartment complex.

Peter eventually found me and bitched at me for leaving him stranded and looking like an idiot in the shop. However, since he was Peter Gabriel, he got the stuff he wanted anyway although he didn't have to pay for it.  I tried to explain that I'd gotten lost and wasn't it odd that the landlord didn't let his tenants know that he was making major renovations today?

Peter then blinked as if I'd sprouted another head (it being a dream that could have been possible) and then he lead me into a small closet-like room.  He then said, "Talk  to me like I was Jeremy Brett."

That was when I  knew I was dreaming.  More for hearing the "talk to me part" than  for the "like Jeremy Brett" part. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Strange Trend of Running Marathons and Not Sleeping

"How long can you go without sleep?"
"Two weeks.  But you have to keep dancing."  -- M*A*S*H

A Kiwi made headlines around the world this December when she ran 311 miles (486 K) in just over 86 hours -- continuously.  Which means she didn't sleep for more than 3 days.  Kim Allen did the major marathon in order to raise money for New Zealand Spinal Trust.  She raised over $7000 (although her goal was $8000 -- that and completing the marathon.)  Although this seems to be a world record, the run was not officially observed by Guinness World Records, so it will probably never be an "official" world record.

Decades ago, the trend was for marathon dancing contests, which you would have to do without sleep.  Why did they do it?  To win chunks of cash.  And because the contests were there.  Fortunately, they have since lost favor.

However, there is a trend in  extreme sports called ultramarathons.  These are like Kim Allen's run, where you run an incredibly daunting stretch of road for multiple days.  These runs are usually for charity.  Another runner who recently completed an ultramarathon is Adam Scully-Power, who ran 163 miles to raise money for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing tragedy.  He not only lost two days of sleep, but also 50 pounds.

The most famous ultra marathon runner is Californian Dean Karnazes, who apparently can run for days without sleep in all kinds of weather.  he says lack of sleep is the biggest problem he faces.  He has even "sleep ran" and hallucinated while running.

This is the big danger of going without sleep for days.  You will hallucinate.  You also mess up your health.  Lack of regular sleep not only makes you hallucinate, you also:

  • will be more prone to accidents
  • impairs your judgment
  • increases your risk of contracting disease
  • can interfere with your body's normal metabolism, so you might wind up gaining weight 
  • can make you temporarily impotent.
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