Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tossin' and Turnin'

Have you ever awakened from one of those crazy dreams in which you find yourself naked at the blackboard in the Algebra classroom, or you're being chased through the woods by a man-eating tiger, or you're stuck in a car with an Enya CD playing over and over and over?

If you thought that nightmare might have been caused by the pizza you gobbled during the late news, right before you hit the sack, you might have been right!

Dr. Charles Bae, M.D. (you wonder if he is someone's bae, don't you?) is a sleep medicine doctor at Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic. He says that it's not only a matter of chowing down on spicy stuff at bedtime that's to blame. According to him, late night snacks turn up your body's metabolism and temperature, and that can lead to more brain activity.

I hereby recommend more brain activity for almost everyone. It's the only way to think!

Anyway, all that extra noodlin' makes us busier during the REM stage of sleep - the Rapid Eye Movement phase of your night. That's when we dream the most, and we only have nightmares during REM!

They really know a lot about sleep out there in Cleveland. They even know about nightmares about attending an REM concert.

Acutally, they don't know all about nightmares, but the studies show that people who have a lot of nightmares (defined as "dreams with negative emotions") tend to have dysfunction of the frontal lobe, which "fails to control the amygdala."  

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's uncontrolled amygdala, which is the part of the noggin that houses memory and emotions. 

Image result for amygdala
Right where I thought it was.
The most sensible thing that I found in my ten minutes of heavy research on this topic comes from Lisa Medalie, PsyD, CBSM, a clinical associate of psychiatry at University of Chicago Hospitals. She says that "If our bodies are working hard to digest heavy or spicy foods, it interferes with sleep continuity."  

Well, yeah. Grinding all that pepperoni makes for a restless night, and now we have clinical evidence from people who actually study these things.

And I will have trouble sleeping tonight, worrying about my poor amygdala.

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