If you're snoozing, you're not sneezing
Do we say "achoo!" in our sleep? Probably not, although there's not much research on this hot-button issue. When we go into deeper stages of sleep (Non-REM sleep), we generally become much less reactive to environmental stimuli, including things, like dust, that might give us a tickle in our noses. But that doesn't mean we're entirely impermeable to the outside world. "The beauty of sleep," as one expert explained, "is that it’s almost immediately reversible when there’s a dangerous situation." So, rather than sneeze mid-slumber, we'd most likely wake up in response to, say, smoke, and then sneeze.
We also probably don't sneeze during REM sleep, the vivid-dreaming sleep stage, but for a different reason: When we dream, our muscles become temporarily paralyzed so we don't act out our subconscious adventures. “A sneeze is a big coordinated muscular activity,” explained one sleep scientist, "and some of those muscles are semi-paralyzed.” [Popular Science]
So, about that sex dream...
Time to get Freudian: Dream about banging your boss? Don't worry, it says more about your own relationship with power than your desire to get busy during your next quarterly review. What about your best friend's partner? Eh, you probably have some general guilt to unload or a boundary issue to work through, not a latent desire to poach an SO. What about your best friend? "Because we spend so much time with our close friends," explained a psychologist, "it's not surprising that they might show up in our dreams this way — no matter how bizarre it can be to experience this." [NBC]
Location, location, location
In an ongoing research project, behavior scientists at the RAND corporation and Stonybrook University are taking a look at the relationship between where you live and how you sleep. They're specifically looking the impact of urban renewal efforts (in the form of new housing, public spaces and supermarkets) on sleep quality in two demographically similar Pittsburgh communities. So far, they've found that perceived safety and neighborhood satisfaction are the factors most directly linked to self-reported sleep quality. In other words, sleep has more to do with how you feel about your neighborhood than how it objectively measures up in terms of things like infrastructure, cleanliness and sidewalk condition. [Citylab]
Bleak question of the day: Does sleep apnea hasten descent into poor health?
Researchers in Portugal are trying to figure out the relationship between the common sleep-breathing disorder and age-related health decline. Scientists believe that sleep apnea might accelerate the onset of later-life health issues by aggravating cardiovascular and neurogenerative diseases. But their hypothesis is controversial. And, at this point, they don't really know if the proposed links between sleep apnea, aging and age-related disease are correlative or causal. So, as usual, more research is needed. [Cell Press]
Burnt-out on the bottom bunk
If you need to de-stress and get away, you could go on a regular grown-up vacation. Or you could go to Camp Rahn, a sleep away camp for adults, and take the edge off with archery and color wars. No booze or screens, plenty of star-gazing and campfire togetherness. [Seattle Times]