Monday, February 6, 2017

Sleeping Is Actually Pretty Bonkers

Hello, all!

I hope you've had a good week. I have! Aladdin's MAX line website is up and running, so I'm thrilled! UNDER LOCKER AND KEY is part of this line of books for middle-school boys, so it's great to see the website and the whole gang in one place. Also, the website has excerpts of the books, so if you'd like to see more about the line or read part of my book, follow this link to the Aladdin MAX page!

I finished another bunch of edits on a draft of my work in progress, so that book is finally in a semi-finished, readable state. Semi-finished is an interesting place to be when you have to give your book to your writing group. On the one hand, I want to get feedback before this book is so polished it's hard to incorporate it. On the other, though, people will be reading this book that I KNOW is imperfect and they'll see all the mistakes!


Ahem.

Anyway, the book has been fun to write. It's about a seventeen-year-old boy named Ian Nightshade who can't dream on his own so he goes into other people's dreams, hijacking them so he gets the health benefit. He sees what other people dream, which leads him to a mystery involving a serial killer and, of course, a girl his age.

The book relies a lot on actual science, as Ian tries to figure out his sleep and dreams. So, I've been researching a lot about sleep and dreams. I did before starting the book, but I've been updating my information. Because I find this stuff cool and because you're a captive audience, you get to hear what I've learned!

So here we go. Try not to fall asleep. Unless you need to, in which case, go to.

- Scientists don't know why we need sleep, but they know we do. We will die if we don't sleep.
- There are 5 stages of sleep: Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 4 (deep sleep) and REM (rapid eye movement).
- Sleepers in the REM stage are paralyzed. Only their eyes move. A disorder in REM sleep can lead to people acting out their dreams in real life.
- The longest recorded amount of time going without sleep was 264 hours, or about 11 days. This was done by 17-year-old Randy Gardner. He was unscathed physically but cognitively dysfunctional by end, experiencing blurred vision, involuntary eye movements, and hallucinations.
- Dreams occur in both REM and non-REM sleep.
- Non-REM dreams help us retain memories and learn. People who learn material and sleep remember it better the next morning than those who don't. Subjects woken during non-REM dreams report better self-esteem and more positive emotions.
- REM dreams are 5x longer than non-REM dreams. They're wild and fanciful and have heightened, often negative, emotions. Dreamers woken during REM dreams report more negative emotions.
- People suffering depression have more REM dreams than the average.
- However, if we don't get enough REM sleep and dreams, our brains will "make up" for lost time the next night.

- Some people who have had strokes no longer dream. They wake up and/or experience blackness instead of REM.
- After 1 sleepless night, a person may feel more energetic and positive. The brain starts to shut down the regions of the brain used in planning and decision making, leading to impulsive behavior. Emotions run high. After that, exhaustion sets in, leading to reduced reaction time and cognitive functions. After 2 days, the body loses the ability to properly metabolize glucose and the immune system weakens.
- Complete sleep deprivation, when extended, can lead to paranoia, memory and speech problems, hallucinations, and death. Poor sleeping habits can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.
- A genetic disease called Fatal Familial Insomnia is a progressive insomnia in which a person develops insomnia that worsens until the person gets dementia and then dies. This usually takes about 18 months from first symptoms.
- About 1/3 of dreams are negative.
- Humans use about 10% less energy while sleeping than while awake.
-  The pineal gland creates melatonin when it's dark, which is why we feel tired at night. Bright lights, though, can prevent this and cause insomnia.
- Good foods for people suffering insomnia are dairy products, like milk and cheese, nuts, rice, greens, tuna, lean proteins, whole-grain bread, and cherry juice.
- Coffee and sugary foods and drinks are terrible for sleep. I don't think I need to explain this.

Thanks! I hope this was interesting and informative for you. I bet you can see what I got out of this research the most:

Get a good night's sleep. The benefits are too good and the risks are not worth it.

Here are this week's debuts:

Middle Grade:
Wendy McLeod MacKnight - It's a Mystery, Pig Face! (2/7)

Young Adult:
Rhoda Belleza - Empress of the Thousand Skies (2/7)
S. Jae-Jones - Wintersong (2/7)
Sheryl Scarborough - To Catch a Killer (2/7)
Diana Gallagher - Lessons in Falling (2/7)

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