The Week in Sleep News: August 12, 2022

While they may give you the heebie jeebies, spiders can dream.

Two people sitting in bed, holding up newspapers. Text at the top says: Sleep News. week of August 12, 2022.

Here’s the sleep news for this week:

8-legged dream?

A new study from Harvard researchers published in PNAS shares that spiders may experience dreams. The scientists studied footage of 34 juvenile jumping spiders and found that they displayed a rapid-eye movement (REM) dream-like state, which they could directly observe because juvenile spiders have translucent exoskeletons. They also observed limb movements associated with dreaming such as leg twitching and curling. The study is believed to be the first time REM sleep-like behavior has been documented in a terrestrial invertebrate.

Sleep medication usage down

The use of medication to treat sleep disturbances fell dramatically in the United States from 2013 to 2018 after several decades of climbing steeply according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Researchers looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is conducted every two years. Participants were asked to bring drugs they had used in the previous month or a pharmacy printout to their visits with researchers. Researchers found that there was a 55% decrease in FDA-approved sleep medications. While this decrease is an encouraging indication, researchers are still waiting to see data on how COVID-19 impacted sleep medication use.

Think Hard, Sleep Hard

Thinking doesn’t just feel exhausting — it could actually be exhausting. A new study published Thursday in Current Biology found that people who spent more than six hours working on a mentally taxing assignment had higher levels of glutamate — an important signaling molecule in the brain. Too much glutamate can cause nerve cells to become overexcited. At the end of the participants' workday, they were more likely to choose a short-term, easily won reward of lesser value than larger rewards that come after a longer wait or involve more effort than those who had performed easier tasks. While researchers say the study is important in its effort to link cognitive fatigue with the brain metabolism, more research is needed to establish if there’s a direct link.

In sleep-centric social media...

Artist Navied Mahdavian depicted the modern day Sleeping Beauty in The New Yorker who instead of struggling to wake up, struggles to stop doomscrolling.

Sleeping beauty laying in bed with her laptop on her chest. He hair is messy and the moon in shining through the window.
Navied Mahdavian / @naviedm / Twitter

New York City Parks shared a tweet letting us know to not worry if we see squirrels resting in a spread out position, they're only trying to cool down by splooting.

A squirrel lies belly down on a shaded nature path in the park. Text Reads: If you see a squirrel lying down like this, don't worry; it's just fine. On hot days, squirrels keep cool by splooting (stretching out) on cool surfaces to reduce body heat. It is sometimes referred to as heat dumping.
@NYCParks / Twitter