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Posts Tagged ‘sleep’

Looney Lu

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I was passing the wetlands in Blackstone Park this morning when I stopped for a while to get a better look at a water bird. Was it a heron? What heron is brown? Maybe it was a bittern.

When the bird flew into a tree, I returned to the walking path. That’s when I noticed a young man with a fancy camera parked along the river. I asked him if he was looking for birds.

“No,” he said, “but I can show you what I’m doing if you are interested.”

He told me that he makes videos to encourage young people to get up early and not waste their lives sleeping. He said he wants them to enjoy this beautiful world. He calls himself Looney Lu. He showed me his most recent video, which states that old people sleep all he time but young people shouldn’t. 🙂

Looney Lu’s been taking videos every day since his birthday, but by the time he edits them, he says, they get posted more like every other day.

I was quite taken with his enthusiasm and his early-bird philosophy. I checked out his site and decided to share his first YouTube video. Personally, I’m not offended by the colorful language, but that’s a kind of warning to folks who might be.

I hope you think Looney Lu’s high-energy talk about setting goals is as much fun as I do.

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Photo: Joe Suarez for NPR
Las Cruces High School has one napping pod, which students use for 20 minutes when they are tired, stressed or angry.

In my family, we are big believers in naps. Long naps, short naps, any kind of nap. I don’t take a nap every day, but when I’m feeling exhausted for any reason, I find that 15 or 20 minutes of sleep really refreshes me.

Interestingly, 20 minutes is what teachers prescribe for students at Las Cruces High School in New Mexico.

Patti Neighmond reports at National Public Radio, “Studies have shown teenagers actually need between nine and 10 hours of sleep a night. But the vast majority (69 percent) aren’t getting it.

“Enter ‘napping pods.’ They’re essentially egg-shaped lounge chairs that recline, with a circular lid that can be pulled over the chest to shield against light.

“It just sort of envelops you in a really nice darkness, with soft lighting behind you,” says [18-year-old Hannah] Vanderkooy, a frequent user of the pods. She says she typically gets only four to five hours of sleep a night.” She’s a senior and working hard to get good grades and maybe college scholarships.

“There’s soft music playing in the pod and ‘you just feel extremely relaxed,’ she says. …

“A nap can’t substitute for a good night’s sleep, but it certainly can help, says Dr. Nitun Verma, a sleep specialist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

“A short nap for a teenager ‘can give a boost to memory and attention during the day, and it can increase school performance,’ he says, adding that in a perfect world, schools would roll back their start times. …

“Several public schools in New Mexico are trying to tackle the problem by providing napping pods for their students.

” ‘We know lack of sleep changes mood and makes you more anxious,’ says family nurse practitioner Linda Summers, who is an associate professor at New Mexico State University’s school of nursing in Las Cruces.

“Summers also works with the nearby Las Cruces High School health center, and has seen firsthand the effects of sleep deprivation on students there. So she decided to apply for a federal health grant to buy the pods, which, at the time, cost $14,000 each. They were installed in four high schools.

“And while the Las Cruces school napping pods were bought to remedy sleep deprivation, Summers says, ‘it also turns out to be good for anger and stress.’

“Even if kids don’t fall asleep, but simply ‘zone out,’ she says, they emerge saying they feel ‘refreshed and calm.’ ” More here.

Summers has conducted a study that has been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal, so expect to hear more on this topic anon.

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Two women in San Francisco felt compassion for homeless people who have nowhere to go during the day. So they arranged with a local Catholic church to welcome them.

Patricia Leigh Brown wrote the story for the Christian Science Monitor series called “People Making a Difference: Ordinary People Taking Action for Extraordinary Change.”

“Tina Christopher’s day begins at 5:45 a.m. as she cleans the sidewalk in front of St. Boniface Catholic Church in the Tenderloin, the once-colorful vice district in San Francisco now better known as a province of the poor, the desperate, the addicted, and the down and out. …

” ‘All right my beautiful brothers and sisters!’ Ms. Christopher says in her always-chipper voice. ‘Good morning! Time to get up! Wakey wakey!’ Then she unlocks the church’s heavy iron gate.

“Soon, St. Boniface’s 74 backmost pews will cradle some 150 homeless people seeking ‘sacred sleep,’ the sound of snoring permeating the incense-filled room. Beneath the saints painted on the church’s glittering dome, they stretch out for nine hours of vital slumber, resting their heads on ad hoc sweatshirt and T-shirt pillows or sometimes their folded hands. For a brief moment, their faces, beatific and babylike in sleep, do not betray the nights of fearful wandering and the way concrete seeps into a person’s bones and stays there.

“Christopher is the program director of The Gubbio Project, a pioneering effort, believed to be the country’s first. … Cofounded in 2004 by the Rev. Louis Vitale, a well-known peace and human rights advocate, the program provides a place for homeless people to sleep during the daylight hours, when most shelters are closed.

The project is named after Gubbio, the Italian town where, the story goes, residents befriended a wolf after realizing the animal wasn’t dangerous, just hungry.

“The project’s guiding lights are two women who are devoted to the dignity of the people they call ‘guests.’ Laura Slattery, Gubbio’s executive director and public voice, is a West Point graduate-turned-social justice activist who wears jeans and hiking boots and exudes a sense of calm resolve, even in a crisis. Christopher is the exuberant all-hands-on-deck ground commander who knows the name of every guest and whose finely tuned antennae swiftly intuit their needs and issues. …

“At St. Boniface, Christopher writes daily notices on the whiteboard:

“Shower bus 8:30-2
“We have Blankets!
“Tomorrow – some socks.

“She is in constant motion, eyeglasses perched atop her head, dispensing cough drops, rubber bands, tampons, shaving cream, and other necessities from a converted confessional. She makes it a point to ask guests whether they’d prefer a pink toothbrush or a blue one, a black blanket or a brown one. ‘Even the simplest things are important to people who don’t have choices,’ she explains.

“Socks and other staples come from volunteers like Roberta Snyder, who has established relationships with housekeepers at nearby hotels and provides soaps, shampoos, and other items …

“[Slattery] thinks of The Gubbio Project as ‘the ministry of presence,’ one that dispels some popular myths about homeless people along the way. Quite a number of donations to Gubbio’s $350,000 annual budget, for instance, are made by guests. ‘Last week it was $42,’ Slattery says. ‘The week before it was 24. Flips the idea of panhandling on its head, right?’ ”

Click here to read about the women’s routes to their unusual calling — one through addiction, one through West Point.

Photo: Melanie Stetson Freeman/Christian Science Monitor
Tina Christopher (l.) and Laura Slattery run The Gubbio Project, which gives people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco a place to go during the day.

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What? Another story on naps?

This time, no less a personage than Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post is weighing in on the importance of catching 40 winks if you need them. She has written a book called The Sleep Revolution, in which she predicts that most offices will have nap rooms in the not-too-distant future.

“Huffington’s mission: to eliminate the stigma long associated with sleeping at work. … In the HuffPost newsroom, ‘having a nap in the middle of the afternoon is actually a performance-enhancing tool,’ she said. …

“Experts like Sara Mednick, a researcher at the University of California, recommend a short nap in the middle of the day because you won’t feel groggy when waking up.

“Other companies like Google, Zappos and Ben & Jerry’s are getting on board with the napping trend. All now have built nap rooms in their offices. …

“Sleep is ‘the gateway through which a life of well-being must travel,’ Huffington recently wrote. It allows people to be more productive, lead healthier lives and connect more deeply to themselves, she added.

“Huffington will soon embark on a college tour, where she plans to visit 50 schools with leading sleep experts.” More here.

Hmmm. Time for a nap.

Photo: cdnimg

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Sy Montgomery had a lovely story in the Boston Globe about studies investigating  animals’ dreams. I zeroed in on the beautiful little zebra finch.

“What do birds dream about?” Montgomery asks.

“Singing.

“University of Chicago professor Daniel Margoliash conducted experiments on zebra finches. Like all birds, zebra finches aren’t born knowing their songs; they learn them, and young birds spend much of their days learning and rehearsing the song of their species. …

“The researcher was able to determine the individual notes based on the firing pattern of the neurons. While the birds were asleep, their neurons fired in the same order — as if they were singing in their dreams.”

At American Scientist, Michael Szpir titles a related article “To Sleep, Perchance to Sing.”

“It turns out that single neurons in the forebrain song system of the sleeping birds display a pattern of activity that’s only seen in the waking bird when it sings. [Amish S.] Dave and Margoliash think that this neuronal activity is part of the learning process — the birds are rehearsing in their sleep by dreaming about singing.

“Since the awake male zebra finch will sing when a female is presented, it seems natural to ask whether the male finch has an image in mind when he sings in his sleep. Margoliash won’t speculate, but if human males are any indication we might imagine they dream of fetching female finches. It’s either that or bird seed.

“You can hear the song of the awake zebra finch at: http://www.williams.edu:803/Biology/ZFinch/zfsong.html.” More.

Read what other critters dream about at the Globe, here.

Photo: Nigel Mann

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The Globe travel section had some fun recently with unusual sleeping structures offered to travelers. This goes beyond accommodations on stilts in the South Seas.

Diane Bair and Pamela Wright report, “Cradled in a ‘human nest’ made of twigs and branches, on a hillside above the Pacific Ocean, we drifted off to dreamland to the sounds of barking sea lions and crashing waves, a relaxation mix tape made by Mother Nature herself.

“This is camping? Nope. It’s a kind of ‘glamping,’ a.k.a. glamorous camping. While the human nest isn’t wildly luxurious, it’s certainly unique, one of the hallmarks of the glamping experience. ‘Yurts, treehouses, domes, eco-pods, barns, bell tents, cabins, and safari tents — whatever you choose, it’s going to be original,’ says Katie Stearns of Glamping Hub, an online site with 1,200 listings. In addition, ‘you have an incredibly unique access to nature,’ Stearns says.”

Click here to see photos of an Oregon tree-house for grownups, glass igloos in Finland, and lots of other imaginative places to bed down around the world.

Photo: Boston Globe
“Dreamcatcher” bubble, part of a colony of five bubbles set in a Provencal pine forest near Marseille

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