Take a Nap For Better Physical and Emotional Health

For many of us, more hours of shut-eye at night just doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Is there anything we can do? Yes. Naps. Wonderful, glorious naps. They’re not a full-on substitute for lack of sleep but they can do much more than you think and in less time than you’d guess. Without them, you’re going to be a mess. Here’s why.

Lack of sleep not only makes you ugly and sick, it also makes you dumb: missing shut-eye makes sixth graders as smart as fourth graders.

And if that’s not enough, lack of sleep contributes to an early death.

Starting in the mid-1980s, researchers from University College London spent twenty years examining the relationship between sleep patterns and life expectancy in more than 10,000 British civil servants. The results, published in 2007, revealed that participants who obtained two hours less sleep a night than they required nearly doubled their risk of death.

Maybe you think you don’t need all that much sleep. You’re wrong.

Less than 3 percent of people are actually 100 percent on less than eight hours a night. But you feel fine, you say? That’s the fascinating thing about chronic sleep debt. Research shows you don’t notice it — even as you keep messing things up.

Now here’s the part you’ve probably never heard:
Eight hours might not even be enough. Give people 10 hours and they perform even better.

Timothy Roehrs and Thomas Roth at the Sleep Disorders Research Center of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, have demonstrated that alertness significantly increases when eight-hour sleepers who claim to be well rested get an additional two hours of sleep. Energy, vigilance, and the ability to effectively process information are all enhanced, as are critical thinking skills and creativity.

I know what you’re thinking: 10 hours a night? I don’t have time for that. I barely have time to read this post. Is there a compromise? Naps. Can closing your eyes for a few minutes really make that much of a difference? Keep reading.

Research shows naps increase performance. NASA found pilots who take a 25 minute nap are 35 percent more alert and twice as focused.

Research by NASA revealed that pilots who take a 25-minute nap in the cockpit — hopefully with a co-pilot taking over the controls — are subsequently 35 percent more alert, and twice as focused, than their non-napping colleagues.

Little siestas helped people across a whole host of measures. Improved reaction time, fewer errors…

NASA found that naps made you smarter — even in the absence of a good night’s sleep.

If you can’t get in a full night’s sleep, you can still improve the ability of your brain to synthesize new information by taking a nap. In a study funded by NASA, David Dinges, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and a team of researchers found that letting astronauts sleep for as little as 15 minutes markedly improved their cognitive performance, even when the nap didn’t lead to an increase in alertness or the ability to pay more attention to a boring task.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that napping for ninety minutes improved memory scores by 10 percent, while skipping a nap made them decline by 10 percent.

Studies show we can process negative thoughts quite well when we’re exhausted — just not the happy ones.

Negative stimuli get processed by the amygdala; positive or neutral memories get processed by the hippocampus. Sleep deprivation hits the hippocampus harder than the amygdala. The result is that sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories, yet recall gloomy memories just fine.

What’s not to love? I know. You’re busy. You’ll just have another cup of coffee. Sorry, research shows naps beat caffeine.

So how do you nap the right way? How do you get the results you want with minimal effort? Here’s what science says.

Whatever your limitations and desires, there’s a nap for you. Looking at research from Richard Wiseman and the WSJ, here’s a breakdown.

Which one describes what you need?

1) “I just need to be more alert and focused”:
Take a 10-20 minute nap. You’ll get a boost in alertness and focus for two hours or more, pay off a little sleep debt, and even reduce blood pressure.

2) “Brain no working. Need smartz”:
Consider a 60 minute nap. You’ll get all the benefits of the 10-20 minute nap while also improving memory and learning.
But be warned: 60 minute naps cause grogginess.

3) “I want it all, baby”:
Take a 90 minute nap. This allows your brain to experience a complete sleep cycle.

You’ll get the full whack: increased alertness, memory, learning, creativity, and performance — with no post-nap grogginess.

4) “I don’t know what I want but you’ve scared me into napping and I don’t have much time”:

Go with 10 minutes. It beat five, 20, or 30 minute naps in a comparative research study.

5) “I don’t have enough time to tell you how little time I have”:
No nap is too short: “A 2008 study showed that even a nap of a few minutes provided benefits. Just anticipating a nap lowers blood pressure.”

When is the best time to nap? Salk Institute researcher Sara Mednick generally recommends you nap approximately six to seven hours after waking.

Trouble falling asleep? Write down any worries and think positive (but not exciting) thoughts. Trying too hard to sleep is counterproductive.

Worried you won’t wake up in time? Richard Wiseman recommends a cup of coffee immediately before napping. The caffeine will kick in 25 minutes after you lay down.

We’d all be better off with 10 hours of sleep a night — but that’s not going to happen for most of us.

Naps can boost performance and help make up for some of the problems sleep deprivation can cause.

Ted Nugent Self-Destructs

In a week when two casinos operated by different Native American tribes canceled three separate Nugent shows set for next month and dozens protested a concert in New Jersey, concert touring experts say the National Rifle Association board member and conservative commentator is doing real damage to his money-earning potential.

“If you’re going to say something political, you’re going to have some backlash, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you say,” said Larry Magid, a Philadelphia-based promoter who has handled Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, and Bette Midler. “Nugent seems to have taken it to extremes. I don’t know that you can blame anyone for not wanting to play him for all of the baggage that he brings.”

Magid, who also organized the famed 1985 Live Aid benefit show in Philadelphia, said Nugent was never a huge concert draw, but his declaration earlier this year that President Barack Obama is a “subhuman mongrel” may mark a turning point.

“I don’t know if that is frustration at not being a viable act, but it is stupid,” Magid said of Nugent. “If you are a musician, you are trying to bring your music, your art to a broad group of people. It is one thing to take a stance, it is another thing when you are talking about the president of the United States.

“For all of the people enamored with him, there are 20 or 30 or 40 times that who are not enamored with him. To me, it’s not bright. If I’m a promoter I have to think two or three or four times before I take a shot with this performer.”

“No one should be surprised by any of this,” said Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of Pollstar USA, which tracks concert touring receipts. “It’s a free country and Nugent has always had a big mouth. But if he keeps making incendiary statements his future tours may be limited to NRA conventions and Fox News events.”

Damn! That was both brutal and clearly extremely accurate.

Nugent was never that popular of a musician anyway, and now with his racism and misogyny on full display it is amazing that ANYBODY attends his concerts.

Well besides Right Wing nuts, paint chip eaters, and fellow pedophiles that is.

Most Expensive Meat

Jamón Ibérico de bellota refers to the cured leg of a pata negra pig that has been raised free-range in the old-growth oak forests of western Spain. The pigs eat a diet rich in acorns, wild mushrooms, herbs, and grasses, yielding meat that’s richly flavored and low in saturated fat. Each ham is cured for a minimum of two years before reaching the market.

A 15-pound bone-in leg of jamón Ibérico de bellota retails for around $1,300, or $87 per pound.

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The acorn-rich forests of western Spain make up an ecosystem that exists nowhere else in the world, and each pig requires at least 2 acres of land for ample foraging. That, in turn, strictly limits the amount of jamón Ibérico de Bellota available each year.

George Edward Pickett, a Confederate Army General, Was In Fact a Woman

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Newly disclosed information found in the last will of George Pickett’s father, Colonel Robert Pickett, proves without a doubt the confederate war general was a woman.

The discovery was made at an auction in Austin, Texas, this week as american historian Graham Brown got his hands on the precious document. The will proves without a doubt the famous general who participated in the Battle of Gettysburg was in fact Mary Sue Pickett, his older sister. It also appears clearly evident that George Edward Pickett was never part of any military enterprise, but instead, that his sister was in fact the real ‘man’ behind the legend.

Official documents of the Pickett family released at the auction included documents confirming the death by tuberculosis of George Pickett at the tender age of 16. The death of the only boy of the family of eight possibly devastated his father, Colonel Robert Pickett, who dreamed of leaving a family military legacy behind him. “It was not uncommon at the time to fake documents or steal someone’s identity. What is truly interesting in this case, is that the former Colonel decided to send his daughter at the United States Military Academy in the place of his son and that she eventually showed to possess extraordinary military leadership” claims the Austin based historian.

Mary Sue Pickett, who was George Pickett’s senior by one year, was also known to suffer from a rare genetic disorder known as hypertrichosis, a condition where an excess of androgen creates an hormonal unbalance that results in female beard growth. “This particular condition played a great part in hiding her true identity to others throughout her adult life” admits John Adams White, an american Civil War historian and expert, who was the first to point out discrepancies in George Pickett’s biography. “The discovery of the will of Colonel Robert Pickett finally explains important anachronistic elements of the man’s life” he concedes.

A Fargo Death

Have you ever seen the movie Fargo? If the answer isn’t “Yah, you betcha,” then you should probably check it out. Widely hailed as one of the best films of the ’90s, Fargo won multiple awards and was inducted into the US National Film Registry. It also inspired one of the weirdest legends in cinema history . . . a story that’s almost completely untrue.

In November 2001, citizens of Bismarck, North Dakota noticed a stranger in their city. After all, she was hard to miss. She was Japanese, couldn’t really speak English, and was wearing a miniskirt, boots, and a black leather backpack. As one police officer later pointed out, “Girls in North Dakota don’t dress like that. Probably ’cause of the weather.” In other words, she stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb.

A worried truck driver dropped the young woman off at the local police station, hoping the officers could help her out. Instead, they were completely baffled. They learned that the girl’s name was Takako Konishi and that she was from Tokyo. Other than that, they were at a loss, especially when she pulled out her homemade map. She obviously wanted to go someplace but where and why? That’s when Takako started saying the word “Fargo.”

Suddenly, one of the more film-savvy officers remembered the plot to the Coen Brother’s classic crime drama. In the film, a bumbling car salesman desperately needs some cash, so he concocts a crazy scheme to kidnap his wife for ransom. Unfortunately, he hires two idiotic crooks to carry out the plot, and as you might guess, it doesn’t go according to plan. After a whole lot of bloodshed, one of the kidnappers ends up with a suitcase full of money. Wanting to hide the dough from his partner, he buries it in a snow bank and marks the spot with a red ice scraper.

Of course, he never makes it back to pick up the cash, and the suitcase is lost in a Midwestern blizzard. So what did this have to do with Takako’s map? Well, at the beginning of Fargo, there’s a title card that reads, “This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987.” Naturally, the officers assumed Takako was looking for the lost treasure . . . only it didn’t exist. The “true story” bit was just a joke on the part of directors Joel and Ethan Coen. The movie Fargo was completely fictional.

But the cops couldn’t explain this to Takako. They couldn’t speak Japanese, and her English dictionary wasn’t helping any. They even tried phoning several Chinese restaurants in search of a translator, but by the end of the day, they still hadn’t gotten through to her. She eventually wandered away, and the next morning, they received a phone call from a Minnesota detective. Takako had been found dead in the woods near the town of Detroit Lakes. She’d died looking for the ransom money.

At least that’s what the media said. Newspapers across the nation ran the story of a confused Japanese girl looking for a suitcase that wasn’t even real. Eventually, the tale became part of movie lore, but just like Fargo, the legend of Takako Konishi is a work of fiction. True, she really died in the woods, but she wasn’t looking for any money. Three weeks after her death, Takako’s parents received a suicide note in the mail. As it turns out, Takako had fallen in love with a married American businessman. The couple had even visited Minnesota on several occasions, but now the guy wanted to end the relationship.

Lonely and depressed, Takako flew to North Dakota, searching for her lover. Sadly, no one understood what she was talking about or who she was looking for and couldn’t give her directions. They thought she was just a big Coen brother fan hunting for buried loot. And when she couldn’t find her old admirer, she decided to kill herself. On her last night alive, Takako managed to ask a hotel clerk for a good place to look at the stars, and that’s how a heartbroken girl from Tokyo ended up dead in the Minnesota woods.

Six Things You Didn’t Know About Bonnie and Clyde

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1. Although Barrow and Parker claimed to be married, Parker remained legally married to her first husband, Roy Thornton. On the day she died, she still wore his wedding ring and bore a tattoo on her knee with intertwined hearts and their names, Bonnie and Roy.

2. Bonnie and Clyde were both short. Parker was only 4’11″ and Barrow 5’4″ at a time when average heights for women and men were about 5’3″ and 5’8″. (Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, who played Bonnie and Clyde in the famous 1967 film stood 5’7″ and 6’2″ respectively.)

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3. Parker was an honor student and a poet, and life as one of America’s most wanted didn’t stifle those interests. Shortly before her death, Parker wrote a poem called “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde,” which was published in several newspapers and immortalized their tale.

4. Parker and Barrow remained close to their families, even on the run. In fact, it was their predictable pattern of stopping to visit family that aided the team of Texas Rangers and deputies who ambushed and killed them.

5. The pair attained such notoriety that hordes of people flocked to the scene of their death and later to the coroner’s to retrieve “souvenirs.” Some attempted to cut off Barrow’s ear or finger; others took snippets of Parker’s blood-soaked dress or shattered window glass. One man offered Barrow’s father over $30,000 for Barrow’s body—the equivalent of over $600,000 today.

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6. Eight decades later, the morbidly curious can see Bonnie and Clyde’s bullet-ridden death car on display at Whiskey Pete’s Casino in Primm, Nevada, outside of Las Vegas.