+
upworthy

wellness

Counting sleep is a thing of the past.

If you’re having trouble catching those elusive zzz’s, you are not alone. Roughly 1 in 3 adults worldwide have insomnia, which we know can lead to a whole slew of things that negatively impact our health. Which is probably why social media is full of various hacks the promise a better night’s sleep.

Recently Denver-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Scott Walter made a video touting the efficacy and benefits of “cognitive shuffling,” which he said was an “absolute game changer” for his own sleep schedule.

In the clip, Dr. Walter described cognitive shuffling as “a way to rearrange or reorganize your thoughts similar to shuffling a deck of cards — basically, distracting your mind from conscious thought patterns that may keep you awake.”

The “simple mental exercise” can be done in a number of ways.


“One is just thinking of random words or objects that have nothing to do with each other,” Walter said. “For example, cow, leaf, sandwich, butter, liver, things like that — just random words that make no sense.” Apparently there’s even an app out there called MySleepButton that will feed you random words to form a picture in your mind.

Alternatively, if you “don’t like random,” you could also pick a letter of the alphabet, and start counting your heartbeat. After every eight beats, you’ll think of a word that begins with that letter.

@denverskindoc Stitch w/ @sidneyraz say goodbye to the Sunday Scaries and fall asleep quickly with this doctor approved sleep hack! #sleephack #todayilearned #wishiknew #howtofallasleepfaster #cognitiveshuffling #cognitiveshuffle #sleephelp #doctor #medicine #sleep #sundayscaries #doctorhack #fallingasleep #anxiety ♬ original sound - Dr. Scott Walter | Derm

Walter went on to explain that cognitive shuffling is so effective because in addition to distracting your brain, it ““mimics what are called microdreams, which occur during the transition to sleep, [letting] your brain know, hey, it’s safe to fall asleep.”

Pasha Marlowe, MFT, who also improved her sleep routine with cognitive shuffling, posted her own TikTok claiming that it “interrupts the processes of memory, scheduling and problem solving.

She also explained a slightly different process, saying you could take a word and think of as many words as you can that also begin with the same letters in your chosen word. Her example was the word “PUMPKIN,” and beings listing out “prince, pie, peanut butter, product,” and so on. Then she might go onto the letter “U” and start naming things that start with that letter…you get the idea. Multiple resources recommend following this particular strategy.

Luc Beaudoin, cognitive scientists and creator of MySleepButton, told The Guardian that the hack is superior to the traditional insomnia-busting tactics like counting sleep because the former are so “boring” that virtually any other thought, including worries, will be perceived by the brain as “more compelling.”

But with cognitive shuffling, there’s enough gameplay and “nonsense” involved to distract our hypervigilant cortex from perceiving potential threats just long enough for us to drift off.

Cognitive shuffling isn’t without its limitations. The MySleepButton site says that this method is not effective under the follow conditions:

  • You are too tired to conjure up words, but not drowsy enough to fall asleep. (For example, when you wake up in the middle of the night.)
  • You don’t like to think deliberately when you are trying to fall asleep.
  • You find it difficult to come up with words that start with a given letter, despite practice.
  • You find spelling tedious.

For these instances, the site says you can lay back while MySleepButton does the work for you. Or, you could try a few other proven hacks, found here and here.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Going outside and facing the sun every morning can be life-changing.

Most of us have a desire to improve our health, sleep more soundly, have more energy and just generally feel better in our daily lives. And yet those things feel elusive to many of us, so we're always on the hunt for hacks that can help us—and if those hacks don't require a huge change in lifestyle or herculean feats of willpower, all the better.

Thankfully, there's one small change you can make to your morning routine that can make a big difference in how you feel, think and sleep, and it's refreshingly simple.

In a nutshell: Go outside and face the sun. More specifically, go outside as soon as possible after waking, but definitely within the hour, and look toward the sun for 2 to 10 minutes if it's a bright, sunny day and a little longer on a cloudy one.

Most of us know we get vitamin D from sun exposure on our skin, but that's really not what getting morning sunlight is about. It's about the sun's light energy hitting our eyes.


As Dr. Andrew Huberman, Stanford University neuroscience professor and opthamologist, explains, "This is not some 'woo' biological thing. This is grounded in the core of our physiology. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of quality peer-reviewed papers showing that light viewing early in the day is the most powerful stimulus for wakefulness throughout the day and it has a powerful positive impact on your ability to fall and stay asleep at night."

Huberman calls it a "power tool" for getting a great night's sleep and lists it as one of the six pillars people should invest in every day—morning sunlight, daily movement, quality nutrition, stress control, healthy relationships and deep sleep.

While the advice to look toward the sun flies in the face of all the times we've been warned not to look at the sun, in the early morning, the sun is less intense and you don't need to look directly at it to get the benefits of its light rays. The photons still enter your eyes through indirect light, triggering the cortisol spike that sets your circadian rhythm in order.

"Getting sunlight in your eyes first thing in the morning is absolutely vital to mental and physical health," Huberman says. "It is perhaps the most important thing that any and all of us can and should do in order to promote metabolic well-being, promote the positive functioning of your hormone system, get your mental health steering in the right direction."

He explains that artificial lights aren't the same and won't have the same impact. Conversely, artificial light can mess up your circadian rhythm if you look at them too late at night or when you should be sleeping.

"There's this asymmetry in our retinal, in our eye biology and our brain's biology, whereby early in the day, right around waking, you need a lot of light, a lot of photons, a lot of light energy," he says on his podcast. "And artificial lights generally won't accomplish what you need them to accomplish. But at night, even a little bit of artificial light can really mess up your so-called circadian, your 24-hour clocks, and all these mechanisms we're talking about."

The good news is that stepping out your front door and standing in the sun doesn't require a whole lot of willpower—at least not like exercise or resisting screens in the evening does. Simply go outside and stand there (though walking is even better). Give it a try and see if it makes a difference for you.

And you can also see Dr. Huberman go a lot more in depth about the benefits of sunlight and light therapies of all kinds here.


This article originally appeared on 1.13.24

Health

Doctor explains why he checks a dead patient's Facebook before notifying their parents

Louis M. Profeta MD explains why he looks at the social media accounts of dead patients before talking their parents.

Photo from Tedx Talk on YouTube.

He checks on your Facebook page.

Losing a loved one is easily the worst moment you'll face in your life. But it can also affect the doctors who have to break it to a patient's friends and family. Louis M. Profeta MD, an Emergency Physician at St. Vincent Emergency Physicians in Indianapolis, Indiana, recently took to LinkedIn to share the reason he looks at a patient's Facebook page before telling their parents they've passed.

The post, titled "I'll Look at Your Facebook Profile Before I Tell Your Mother You're Dead," has attracted thousands of likes and comments.


"It kind of keeps me human," Profeta starts. "You see, I'm about to change their lives — your mom and dad, that is. In about five minutes, they will never be the same, they will never be happy again."

"Right now, to be honest, you're just a nameless dead body that feels like a wet bag of newspapers that we have been pounding on, sticking IV lines and tubes and needles in, trying desperately to save you. There's no motion, no life, nothing to tell me you once had dreams or aspirations. I owe it to them to learn just a bit about you before I go in."

"Because right now... all I am is mad at you, for what you did to yourself and what you are about to do to them. I know nothing about you. I owe it to your mom to peek inside of your once-living world.”

Dr. Louis Profeta, health, death, doctors

Dr. Profeta talks his experience with the death of a patient.

Photo from Tedx Talk on YouTube.

Profeta explains that the death of a patient makes him angry:

"Maybe you were texting instead of watching the road, or you were drunk when you should have Ubered. Perhaps you snorted heroin or Xanax for the first time or a line of coke, tried meth or popped a Vicodin at the campus party and did a couple shots.”

"Maybe you just rode your bike without a helmet or didn't heed your parents' warning when they asked you not to hang out with that 'friend,' or to be more cautious when coming to a four-way stop. Maybe you just gave up."

"Maybe it was just your time, but chances are... it wasn't."

personalization, trauma, mental health, social media

The facebook app.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Profeta goes on to explain why he checks a patient's Facebook page:

"So I pick up your faded picture of your driver's license and click on my iPhone, flip to Facebook and search your name. Chances are we'll have one mutual friend somewhere. I know a lot of people.”

"I see you wearing the same necklace and earrings that now sit in a specimen cup on the counter, the same ball cap or jacket that has been split open with trauma scissors and pulled under the backboard, the lining stained with blood. Looks like you were wearing it to the U2 concert. I heard it was great."

"I see your smile, how it should be, the color of eyes when they are filled with life, your time on the beach, blowing out candles, Christmas at Grandma's; oh you have a Maltese, too. I see that. I see you standing with your mom and dad in front of the sign to your college. Good, I'll know exactly who they are when I walk into the room. It makes it that much easier for me, one less question I need to ask.”

"You're kind of lucky that you don't have to see it. Dad screaming your name over and over, mom pulling her hair out, curled up on the floor with her hand over her head as if she's trying to protect herself from unseen blows.”

"I check your Facebook page before I tell them you're dead because it reminds me that I am talking about a person, someone they love — it quiets the voice in my head that is screaming at you right now shouting: 'You mother f--ker, how could you do this to them, to people you are supposed to love!'"

— Updated June 5, 2019.

This article originally appeared on June 5, 2019

Representative Image from Canva

Wondering where she got that rested glow? She hurkle-durkled.

Hurkle-durkle might be the silliest word ever, but it could be the missing step in your self-care.

Hurkle-durkling simply means to linger in bed long past the time when you “should” already be up. It’s a Scottish term dating back to the 1800s—-originally having more to do with sitting in a crouching position either for warmth or secrecy, but eventually taking on a more relaxed and positive connotation.

It’s a word that only the biggest etymology enthusiast would know, had it not been plucked from obscurity thanks to TikTok.

The viral trend seems to have started with actress Kira Kosarin sharing it as her “word of the day,” joking that “I do be hurkling, and I do be durkling and once I’ve hurkled my last durkle in a given morning I will get up, but I’m a big fan of a hurkle-durkle.”

@kirakosarin

hurkle-durkle, u deserve it <3

♬ original sound - Kira Kosarin

Kosarin’s clip prompted others to share videos of themselves enjoying a good hurkle-durkling, blissfully wrapped in their sheets, basking in the sunlight, leisurely reading, etc.

One woman hailing from Scotland even joked, “[The Scottish] knew it was so critical to well-being they made a whole term about it. So no I’m not being lazy or wasting my life. I’m practicing an ancestral right of passage. I’m connecting with my culture and heritage.”

At this point you might be thinking, wait, isn’t this just bed-rotting?

Bed-rotting, another TikTok trend about lying in bed, and hurkle-durkling are similar, but have very different contexts. Bed-rotting has more to do with symptoms of burnout and fatigue, whereas hurkle-durkling is a bit more hygge, if you will. It’s seen as a pleasurable activity meant to promote rest for overall well being. Plus a hurkle-durkle has an end in sight, whereas bedrotting can take up an entire weekend, or longer.

And now matter how silly hurkle-durkle sounds, it could be seriously good for us. Research has shown that sleeping in, even a couple days a week, reduce the chances of a heart attack or stroke by 63%, especially for folks who get less than 6 hours of sleep through the rest of the week. (So, everyone, basically). Not only that, but getting those few extra minutes of shut-eye from hitting the snooze can help increase alertness and boost our mood.

Really, as with any self care practice, balance is key. Experts warn against staying in bed as an everyday practice or to avoid responsibilities an uncomfortable feelings, especially as too much inactivity can worsen feelings of depression. But when done mindfully and moderately, it can be the rejuvenation we long for, that so many of us don’t grant ourselves.

In fact, Kristin Wilson, a licensed professional counselor and chief experience officer, told Yahoo Life that perhaps so many people are leaning into silly, catchy terms like hurkle-durkle because they make rest and self-care, activities many Americans "are hesitant to celebrate and fully embrace,” more accessible.

"Sometimes our bodies just need a break, and we don’t want to feel guilty about taking time to rest," she explained. "Giving this behavior a clever social media name can make it feel more socially acceptable and when it trends and becomes popular, it normalizes the need for relaxation within the community of followers."

So with that, show yourself some love with a little hurkle-durkle. It’s fun to say, and oh so important to do.