'Sleep Inertia' is Real, and Scientists Can Measure It in Your Brain


Naps can be a great way to catch up on sleep—if you do them right. Wake up at the wrong stage of sleep, and you’ll feel groggy and terrible, not refreshed and perky. When your brain isn’t allowed to get through a full sleep cycle, you’re likely to experience what scientists call “sleep inertia,” or what regular folks might just call grogginess. Researchers are now able to tell us why our cognitive performance is so poor right when we wake up. In a new study that scanned the brains of volunteer nappers, PsyPost reports, scientists found that waking up from a nap disrupts the functional connectivity between brain networks, among other neurophysical changes.

The recent study published in the journal NeuroImage looked at the brains of 34 volunteers before and after they took a 45-minute nap. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center in France measured the subjects’ brain activity five minutes and 25 minutes after waking up using EEG, fMRI, and behavioral observation (having them do mental subtraction) to see exactly how sleep inertia affects the body. The participants were asked to stay awake from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. the night before to ensure they would fall asleep during the test. Some were woken up during relatively light sleep (stage 2 sleep) while others were woken up during deep sleep (stage 3 sleep).

They found that both groups showed decreased performance on the subtraction task. Right after they woke up, the participants’ EEG readings showed more delta brainwave activity (associated with deep sleep), and the fMRI scans showed decreased functional connectivity between brain networks. The brain connectivity disruption was worse for those awoken during the deep sleep stage.

By the 25-minute period, though, most of the effects on the brain had worn off, with participants’ brains returning to states similar to pre-test measurements. However, the light-sleep group seemed to recover better, while the sleep inertia didn’t dissipate as quickly for the deep-sleep group.

So yes, the dangers of waking up at the wrong sleep stage are real. The researchers tell PsyPost that people should limit their naps to 25 minutes or less—ensuring they don’t reach the deep sleep phase at all—or spend 90 minutes sleeping through an entire cycle.

[h/t PsyPost]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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The Psychological Tricks Disney Parks Use to Make Long Wait Times More Bearable

© Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
© Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

No one goes to Disneyland or Disney World to spend the day waiting in line, but when a queue is well-designed, waiting can be part of the experience. Disney knows this better than anyone, and the parks' Imagineers have developed several tricks over the years to make long wait times as painless as possible.

According to Popular Science, hacking the layout of the line itself is a simple way to influence the rider's perspective. When a queue consists of 200 people zig-zagging around ropes in a large, open room, it's easy for waiting guests to feel overwhelmed. This design allows riders to see exactly how many people are in line in front of them—which isn't necessarily a good thing when the line is long.

Imagineers prevent this by keeping riders in the dark when they enter the queue. In Space Mountain, for example, walls are built around the twisting path, so riders have no idea how much farther they have to go until they're deeper into the building. This stops people from giving up when they first get in line.

Another example of deception ride designers use is the "Machiavellian twist." If you've ever been pleasantly surprised by a line that moved faster than you expected, that was intentional. The signs listing wait times at the beginning of ride queues purposefully inflate the numbers. That way, when a wait that was supposed to be 120 minutes goes by in 90, you feel like you have more time than you did before.

The final trick is something Disney parks are famous for: By incorporating the same level of production design found on the ride into the queue, Imagineers make waiting in line an engaging experience that has entertainment value of its own. The Tower of Terror queue in Disney World, which is modeled after a decrepit 1930s hotel lobby down to the cobwebs and the abandoned coffee cups, feels like it could be a movie set. Some ride lines even use special effects. While waiting to ride Star Wars: Ride of the Resistance in Galaxy's Edge, guests get to watch holograms and animatronics that set up the story of the ride. This strategy exploits the so-called dual-task paradigm, which makes the line feel as if it's going by faster by giving riders mental stimulation as they wait.

Tricky ride design is just one of Disney's secrets. Here are more behind-the-scenes facts about the beloved theme parks.

[h/t Popular Science]