Believing You Get Enough Sleep Works as Well as Getting Enough Sleep

According to a recent study, getting enough sleep each night may be as easy as believing you got enough. Although the biological effects of believing in having enough sleep were not discussed in the study, the results clearly illustrate a marked improvement in cognitive functioning due solely to a placebo effect.


Sleeping is Believing 

The authors of the study make it clear that the placebo effect can be found working its magic in all aspects of life and health, including getting enough sleep.  This study, however, is the first that shows a clear placebo effect influencing the cognition of participants in a sleep experiment.

The overall study was split into two studies involving 164 participants. The participants were required to report their previous night’s sleep quality. Researchers then secretly and randomly assigned an additional sleep quality to each person. Each participant was told their sleep was of “above average,” or “below average,” quality. Some participants were placed into a control group instead.

Related Article: Man in Coma for 7 Years Given Sleeping Pill and Wakes Up

Those in the “above average” group were told they received more than enough sleep with 28.7% of their sleep time spent in the regenerative state of REM sleep. The “below average” group was told they did not receive enough regenerative sleep with only 16.2% of their time in REM sleep. Interestingly, the assigned sleep quality, rather than the perceived sleep quality, had a major influence on the cognitive functions of participants, even after accounting  for experimental variables and the control group.

According to the researchers,

Assigned sleep quality but not self-reported sleep quality significantly predicted participants’ scores on the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test and Controlled Oral Word Association Task. Assigned sleep quality did not predict participants’ scores on the Digit Span task, as expected, nor did it predict scores on the Symbol Digit Modalities Test, which was unexpected. The control conditions showed that the findings were not due to demand characteristics from the experimental protocol.

This study is a clear example of how incredibly powerful of an effect our mindsets have on our lives. The placebo effect is well documented in humans. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, 1 out of 3 people are greatly affected by placebo. The opposite of the placebo effect is the nocebo effect.  Instead of feeling better, the nocebo effect makes people experience negative symptoms despite no biological or psychological changes taking place within them.

Related Article: Prevent Type 2 Diabetes By What You Love to Do Most: Sleep

News that the placebo effect can be used to impact whether we get enough sleep or not is especially welcome in light of another recent study linking sleep and cancer.  According to the study, a fragmented and/or inadequate amount of sleep accelerates cancer growth.


When Sleeping is Cancerous 

Although the results were seen in mice, the observed effects of fragmented sleep on cancer growth were so strong as to be alarming.

enough sleep health

Sleep your way to better health!

According to the study published in the journal Cancer Research on January 21, 2014, fragmented sleep negatively impacts the immune system, leading to alterations in the way it deal with cancerous tumors. The director of the study David Gozal, MD, chairman of pediatrics at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital explained that,

It’s not the tumor, it’s the immune system. Fragmented sleep changes how the immune system deals with cancer in ways that make the disease more aggressive.

Multiple types of tumors in mice with fragmented sleep were found to be more than twice as large as tumors in mice sleeping without interruption. Not only were the tumors larger, they were also more aggressive.

Related Article: How Sleep Aids the Body in Growth and Regeneration

It’s of the utmost importance that we get enough sleep. I know the first study might sound like a loophole to sleeping, but unless you are a 19 year old athlete, convincing ourselves we’ve had enough sleep the previous night can only work for so long. At some point we need to give our bodies and minds the sleep coma they deserve.


How Much Sleep is Enough Sleep?

The answer to “are we getting enough sleep” varies with age, health, genes, and a whole other assortment of differences. However, a simple answer is provided by the National Sleep Foundation.

enough sleep chart

The key to getting enough sleep is to experiment and figure out how many hours you actually need. So many of us sleep too little, or too much, without being aware of how we feel when we wake up. Keep a sleep diary. Record when you lay down to go to sleep and when you wake up. Try to vary the amounts to get a better idea of what works best for you. Record how you feel as well, including emotions, wakefulness, and mood. After a month, look back at your sleep diary and figure out the magic number that will give you just enough sleep.

Related Article: Engineering the Perfect Morning in 8 Easy Steps

enough sleep rem cycle

This picture pretty much sums up whether you will wake up grumpy or not.

It would also be a good idea to try to time your sleep in 90 minute to 120 minute intervals. The reason for this is that sleep consists of 4 major stages that repeat every 90 -120 minutes. There is a natural rhythm to our sleep, and the key to getting enough sleep while still feeling revitalized is mastering that rhythm. Ever notice how sometimes you wake up feeling like Tyler Durden ready to seize the day, while other mornings you feel like torching existence for forcing you out of your slumber? On the bad days it’s likely you were woken up in the middle of deep sleep (stage 3), and on the good days you likely woke up after REM (stage 4) and at the beginning of stage 1.

I’ve been experimenting with sleep for over a decade. Most of the time my optimal amount of sleep is between 7 hours and 38 minutes and 7 hours and 44 minutes. Any more or any less and I’m at least a bit grumpy. My girlfriend on the other hand needs at least 9 hours to feel refreshed and ready for the day. Keep in mind that everyone is different.

Experiment with yourself, and remember to be always growing.



Rapid Eye Movement Sleep: Regulation and Function

Turmeric & Tumors: How The Spice Can Help

What do head, neck, skin and breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, upset stomachs, Alzheimer’s and melanoma have in common? In scientific studies, turmeric is either proving or showing solid results of kicking all of the above’s ass.

Turmeric is a spice of Asian origins and has a long history of being used as both food flavoring agent and medicine in the Indian subcontinent as well as China. The American Cancer Society confirms that curcumin (an active ingredient in turmeric) demonstrates some anti-cancer effects.

Several types of cancer cells are inhibited by curcumin in the laboratory, and curcumin slows the growth and spread of some cancers in some animal studies. Clinical trials are underway to find out if it can help humans as well.

Curcumin is being studied to find out whether it helps other diseases such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and stomach ulcers. It is also being studied to see whether it can help lower “bad cholesterol” and improve outcome in kidney transplants. A few early studies have been done in humans, but much more human research is still needed to find out if curcumin can be effective in these uses.

From the University of Maryland Medical Center, we learn that this same curcumin in turmeric is a powerful antioxidant.

Antioxidants scavenge molecules in the body known as free radicals, which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Antioxidants can fight free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.

In addition, curcumin lowers the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation. It also stops platelets from clumping together to form blood clots.

They go on to note a string of conditions for which turmeric may be of help, including stomach ulcers, heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis and indigestion.

Related Article: The Power of Hemp Seeds: Behold Powerful Nutrition!

Several UCLA studies focus on turmeric and curcumin. The first was a 2005 study done by Marilene B. Wang, M.D. and showed that curcumin suppressed the growth of head and neck cancer in mice. Another study in 2010, again conducted on cells and then mice, found that

curcumin suppressed head and neck cancer growth by regulating cell cycling.

Drs. Wang and Eri Srivatsan, Ph.D. have both been studying curcumin and its cancer-fighting properties for over seven years.

Turmeric is also known as a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Dr. Randy J. Horwitz, Medical Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine (Tucson), writes in his paper for the American Academy of Pain Management:

Turmeric is one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories available

Referencing a University of Arizona study on rats, Horwitz concludes that

turmeric completely inhibited the onset of rheumatoid arthritis,

in the vermin.

Additionally, curcumin extracts in pill form have been shown to reduce the size of Alzheimer’s-associated brain plaque by 30% in just one week in clinical trials published in the Journal of Neurochemistry.

Related Article: Black Seed: From King Tut to Now

One week! This is just the tip of the iceberg. As more and more research is being done (and turmeric has been a very hot topic as of late), the health benefits of this amazing spice just keep increasing.

ProTip: it’s also great in omelettes.


American Cancer Society: Turmeric
University of Maryland Medical Center: Turmeric
Primary Compound of Turmeric Kicks Off Cancer-Killing Mechanisms in Human Saliva
The Amazing Health Benefits of Turmeric
Efficacy and mechanism of action of turmeric supplements in the treatment of experimental arthritis.
Discovered: Indian spice reduces Alzheimer’s symptoms by 30%