The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, included 159,255 women from racially diverse backgrounds, per EurekAlert. The researchers found that higher levels of optimism, which they defined as “the generalized expectation of positive future outcomes,” correlated with longer lives and a higher likelihood of living past 90 years of age. Women who were more optimistic had a 5.4% longer lifespan on average, which translates to a couple of years of extra life.
This study is significant not only because of the results but also because it was among the first of its kind to significantly include racial minorities; whereas most previous studies like it focused primarily on white women. The survey found that Black, Hispanic, and Asian women also benefited from being more optimistic, even after controlling for mental health factors like depression.
Admittedly, sometimes I feel like optimism is a capitalistic scam to make us complacent, and there are definitely issues with toxic positivity — but when I think about it, being angsty all the time is pretty damn tiring, too. So what does this study mean for people like me, whose main source of serotonin is existential memes about anxiety? It turns out there are actually some scientifically-backed ways to make yourself more optimistic in your everyday life, including making sure you surround yourself with people who are positive, taking time to acknowledge the things in your life that are out of your control, and consuming less news. I guess we can try some of those and see what happens.
This past winter has been a rough one for our mental health — there’s already a subgenre on TikTok about the great depressive episode many of us experienced from January to February of 2022. Part of that was because of Omicron but there’s no denying that the sun disappearing at 5 pm or earlier, depending on where you live, seriously fucks with our minds.
That’s why so many of us were excited earlier this week when the Senate unanimously voted to make daylight saving time, which is when they move the clock forward one hour, permanent by November 2023, effectively giving us more sunlight each winter. Finally, all sides of the political spectrum could agree on the fact that short days aren’t working for any of us and now the legislation just has to go through the House and President Biden to become law, per the Washington Post.
But sleep experts are claiming that we got it all wrong. Shortly after the Senate’s decision, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine warned against making daylight saving permanent and pointed out that it should actually be standard time that should be applied year-round. That’s because standard time aligns more closely with our natural circadian rhythm, which is our body’s internal clock that affects our physical, mental, and behavioral health.
The Academy of Sleep Medicine noted that the switch from standard time to daylight saving each year lead to “increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events, mood disorders, and motor vehicle crashes,” per the statement that was endorsed by several sleep-related organizations. So basically, the keepers of sound sleep are trying to save us from restless nights and chaos — even if it means sacrificing a little more sunlight.
Although it’s not what any of us want to hear, I do think that it’s important to consider the science and weigh our options more carefully. Although I’ll be the first in line for more hours of sun, experts are simply calling for more debate before this legislation becomes law. Although I’m not necessarily rooting for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s success since I desperately need more serotonin during the winter, it’s only fair we hear them out.
Whenever I dream about being stuck in a corn maze with Kamala Harris (yes, this is a recurring one), I always try to find deeper meaning. Maybe I’m meant to run for office, or maybe my body is trying to tell me I’m allergic to corn. But even if our strange dreams don’t signify anything, new research suggests that they could still be stimulating our creativity and sharpening our learning skills.
In a peer reviewed study published on the Human Brain Project, researchers used a simulation of the brain to figure out how different phases of sleep affect learning, per EurekAlert. The brain simulation was put through the three different states: wakefulness, non-REM sleep, and REM sleep. For those who don’t know, REM (which stands for rapid eye movement) sleep is a deep stage of sleep that leaves you feeling rested and that studies have found reduces depression and anxiety.
During each state of consciousness, the research notes, the brain model researchers used was presented with images of everyday objects. They found that the brain model was still able to reconstruct images very vividly during the REM phase of sleep, but combined and distorted them in ways that didn’t always make sense. This would explain why some of our weirdest dreams also feel the most realistic and why they often take two totally unrelated things — in my case, the Vice President of the United States and corn mazes — to combine them in incredibly imaginative ways.
So why does this matter? For one, it’s going to stop people like me from spending hours overanalyzing dreams that don’t make sense and just accept that our brains are just weird. But beyond that, it suggests that each state of wakefulness and sleep serves a unique role in the process of learning.
When we are awake, we are taking in a stimulus; during non-REM sleep, we are solidifying an experience; during REM sleep, it’s believed that we ascribe new (and sometimes unusual) meanings to them that help us think about things in different ways, per EurekAlert. It’s important to keep in mind that Oneirology, or dream science, is relatively new and this study is not making any solid conclusions. Still, it’s cool to think about how our minds are always building and imagining new possibilities, even in a state of unconsciousness.
“It shouldn’t be surprising that dreams are bizarre: this bizarreness serves a purpose. The next time you’re having crazy dreams, maybe don’t try to find a deeper meaning – your brain may be simply organizing your experiences,” said Nicolas Deperrois, lead author of the study.
You can read The original article at https://www.mic.com/life/your-weird-dreams-might-make-you-better-learner