Monday, August 30, 2010

Sleep Patterns

Sometimes – and only sometimes – I follow a chain of thoughts in my mind that connect to a fairly interesting topic.

Follow me through the 6-degrees of Matt’s mind to the point of my world according to today.

I was lying on my couch yesterday afternoon, drifting into my much-deserved dreamland, when I was startled by the fire alarm in the hallway.

I noticed it had only been about 15-20 since I saw the clock last and didn’t feel all that refreshed.

But my first thought was to go through the rolodex of Seinfeld episodes in my brain to find the one where Kramer goes on the DiVinci sleep pattern – sleeping 20 minutes every 3 hours.

I found it, through a little online research, on The Friars Club episode - #128 of the series.

So after my nap I had to throw it in and have a few laughs as Kramer explains how he’ll get an extra 2.5 days a week by using this sleep pattern.

It ends with Kramer being tossed into the Hudson River after falling asleep on top of a woman, who of course thought he was dead.

At the conclusion of the episode, I dug a little deeper on that DiVinci sleep pattern, and was quite intrigued.

Polyphasic (poly-fey-sic) sleep refers to the practice of sleeping multiple times in a 24-hour period—usually more than two, in contrast to biphasic sleep.

An example of polyphasic sleep is found in patients with irregular sleep-wake pattern, a circadian rhythm sleep disorder which usually is caused by head injury or dementia.

There was a guy by the name of Dr. Claudio Stampi who tested systematic sleep as a result of his boat racing hobby.

He ended up writing a book in 1992 called Why We Nap: Evolution, Chronobiology, and Functions of Polyphasic and Ultrashort Sleep about his findings, concluding that polyphasic sleep can actually ”improve prolonged performance” in some situations.

The US Military has studied sleep patterns and in their Air Force reports it says “Each individual nap should be long enough to provide at least 45 continuous minutes of sleep, although longer naps (2 hours) are better. In general, the shorter each individual nap is, the more frequent the naps should be.

On the other side of things, biphasic sleep is sleeping through the night, getting up, napping mid-day and then repeating.

Before the advent of electric lighting in Europe, sleepers awoke from their "first" sleep for an hour or more during the night, before returning to their "second" sleep.

I found this topic fascinating, but I gotta tell you…all this talk about napping is making me a little…*yawn*…tired.

These are words??

What has happened to the English language.

I’ve always been a bit of a word and grammar geek, even to the point that I signed up for the “Word of the Day” feature.

I read a fair amount, in a number of different genres, I’ve flipped through vocabulary books and thesauruses and even write in my spare time – some for local magazines and some just side projects.

And I cringe every time I see stories like this.

Every year, the Oxford English Dictionary adds new words that have entered pop culture and are supposed to pass as legitimate English phrases.

Over 2,000 new words were added this year, and there are a few that are prime examples of how the human race is getting DUMBER and DUMBER.

Here are a couple of the words, and their definitions, that have been added to the Dictionary.

--VUVUZELA. "Long horn blown by fans at soccer matches."

--BROMANCE. "A close but non-sexual relationship between two men."

--CHILLAX. "Calm down and relax."

--BUZZKILL. "A person or thing that has a depressing or dispiriting effect."

--CHILL PILL. "A notional pill taken to make someone calm down." (???)

--CHEESEBALL. "Lacking taste, style or originality."

--WARDROBE MALFUNCTION. "An instance of a person accidentally exposing an intimate part of their body as a result of an article of clothing slipping out of position."

--HATER. "Negative person."

--DEFRIEND. "Another term for unfriend (remove someone from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking site)."