Humans are obsessed with sleep. We've not getting enough of it, and the tech world is flooded with wearables that confirm this fact. Now, scientists hope using activity monitors to study how and why animals sleep will help us get a better night's rest. Professor Paul Manger from Wits University and his colleagues are using a tracker called an Actiwatch to study elephant sleep patterns in Botswana. They removed the watches' bands, insulated them with electrical tape and biologically inert wax, then attached them to the elephants' trunks.
Being rocked to sleep does not just work for babies. Adults trying to sleep better may want to consider investing in a hammock to benefit from the same effect. Scientists have found people who are gently rocked from side to side at bedtime fall asleep faster and get more restful deep sleep. So good is their slumber that their memories are even better the next day. Researchers led by the University of Geneva asked 18 adults to spend a night in both a normal bed and one which rocked from side to side.
Everyone wants to get a better night's rest. For typical adult humans, numerous studies show that eight hours is the amount of slumber needed for the human body to function optimally. Why? Sleep plays a key role in nearly every system in the body: helping things like our immune systems, brains, and guts recover and thrive. So it's a no wonder that we would want to be able to track the amount of sleep we get in order to be our freshest selves the next day. But aside from keeping count of the number of hours we get each night, sleep researchers say sleep monitors are cool to look at, but don't provide any valuable data to enable you to get a better night's rest.
Why is it so hard for us to get a good night's sleep? And is there anything new being done about a health issue that the American Sleep Association (ASA) contends affects up to 70 million American adults? Everyone agrees there's a problem. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says insomnia is the most common sleep problem in adults age 60 and older. The ASA says deep sleep is important for memory consolidation, yet as human beings enter into middle age, the quantity of deep (or slow wave) sleep they achieve is known to decrease significantly.
When we get poor sleep, our bodies go into survival mode. This is likely wrought by evolution: Little sleep, in prehistoric days, was probably associated with danger or scarcity. Scientists now know that sleep deprivation sets off a chain of metabolic responses to ensure our survival: Namely, it makes us hungrier (so we have more energy to face the threat). In ancient times, this would have helped us stay alive. But in these times of abundant calories, it seems to just propel us to overeat.