Why Do Dogs Make Such Good Alarm Clocks?

Like most everyone else, I enjoy the occasional brief distraction from whatever serious thing I’m doing by popping up a quick funny video during breaks. A friend recently sent me this little clip of dogs forcing their humans out of slumber and out of their beds in the morning.

As fun as these videos are, there’s something instructive about them:  they reveal some hidden but important messages about sleep.  Here are a couple things you can learn as you enjoy watching them:

1.  Animals have sleep cycles like humans do.  In fact, even the most primitive creatures on the planet demonstrate some form of simple, behavioral rest with measurable regularity, and usually with timing that relates in some way to the earth’s 24-hour day-and-night cycle.  Why does your dog always awaken you at 6 a.m., including on days in which you want to sleep in?  Probably because she regularly awakens shortly prior to 6 a.m. every day, right in keeping with her body clock, and wants to play.  That’s what our Maltese, Molly, does.

IMG_0812

2.  Your dog awakens you in the morning when you want to sleep in probably because you’re sleep-deprived.  There’s likely not a lot of published literature support for what I’m about to write here, but I would venture to guess that most dogs, not having to toil every day at work or staying out late with the guys, are usually “sleep-sated,” meaning that they get as much sleep during a 24-hour period as their bodies and brains require–through nocturnal sleep and/or by napping during the day when the humans are away.  The amount of sleep a dog needs depends on his age, size and breed.  However, the vast majority of human adults require between 7.5 and 8 hours of sleep per night–and on a regular basis–to feel fully rested during the day.  How many people do you know that get that much sleep per night most or every night?  If you routinely get less than 7-8 hours of sleep per night, chances are good that your body and brain will attempt to “make up” the lost sleep by trying to “sleep in” when they get the chance–on weekends and days off, for example.  In other words, your dog is doing what you should be doing–getting proper amounts of sleep–and he is now on your bed, lapping at your ear to remind you that obeying your innate biological needs is the natural thing to do, the best thing to do.

I say dogs make great alarm clocks:  you can’t get too mad at them, there’s no “snooze” button, and they make sure you know you should wake up and get up not only sonically, but also tactilely:  with paws, claws, and slobber.  Have you ever awakened briefly at your usual time in the morning, following a long period of sleep deprivation and though you intend to sleep in, and wondered why you awakened at that time instead of sleeping straight through?  That’s your circadian rhythm telling you it’s your natural time to wake up.  Look at your dog as a big furry biological clock “by proxy:”  she obeys her body clock every day and wonders why you’re not doing the same.  Just another reason to love your dog:  she can teach you to love your sleep and respect your sleep needs!

Finally, certain dogs, like pugs and boxers (dogs with thick necks) are also predisposed to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, but I suppose that is a topic for another day.  Enjoy the remainder of your weekend, this first weekend of 2015!  Cheers!

Advertisements

Sleep Help Desk’s Top 10 Songs of 2014!

Well, Happy New Year to all!  I can’t believe how quickly these years are going now.

DSC_0212

It’s time once again to post my favorite songs from the past year.  The list is very simple this time, comprised simply of songs that I enjoyed the most. Reviewing my choices, several things occur to me regarding what drew me in musically in 2014.  First, I went for simplicity.  There’s nothing particularly elaborate or proggish in the songs I present below.  For me, 2014 was a year of change and complexity, full of new challenges and time-constraining obligations.  My children are growing up quickly; I’m taking business classes while expanding my clinical reach at work; numerous friends and loved ones have undergone tremendous life changes, and several have passed on.  From an emotional perspective, music was clearly more of a soother than a challenger for me in 2014.  Second, my sons’ musical tastes have influenced what I’ve been listening to more than I’ve allowed myself to admit; to be true to the spirit of the list, there is some modern pop here to reflect that evolving piece of my life.  Finally, 2014 was a year of looking back for me.  Returning home for my high school reunion was a particularly poignant highlight of the year.  No matter how hard I continue to push for the future, there is always a part of me that craves the ease and comfort of times and years now passed, so it is no surprise that nostalgia played a large role in my musical choices as well.

I hope you enjoy these selections.  I’m looking forward to see what 2015 brings me musically and otherwise!

10.  Lanterns — Birds of Tokyo.  I love the ambience within this song about youth and purposeful defiance.  No matter how many years I put behind me, I always remember the feeling in which “in darkness I leave for a place I’ve never seen; it’s been calling out to me; that is where I should be.”

9.  Had to Hear — Real Estate.  This is Nostalgia Central for me.  It’s refreshing to hear new music that so sonically derives from many of my own musical influences.  In Real Estate I hear whispers of many of the bands and artists I loved the most as a young man:  Trash Can Sinatras, the Posies, Elliott Smith, the Railway Children.  Close your eyes and let this song transport you to the late 80’s and early 90’s, when music and life were fresh and new.

8.  Make Me Wanna — Thomas Rhett.  Continuing the nostalgia theme, if this little nugget doesn’t embody the recent melding of country with mainstream music, I don’t know what does.  I mean, there’s disco and soul in there!  What??  It grooves, and it’s a blast.  That is all.  Enjoy.

7.  Something New — Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso.  OK, this one is the influence of my boys, who are all into EDM.  I must admit I’ve fallen for this song, another anthem celebrating the new directions of the young.  I think all of us, regardless of age, can learn and relearn a lesson from the idea that we can–and maybe should–belong to something new.  It comforts me that my kids are moved by such proclamations of optimism and exhilaration.

6.  We are Tonight — Billy Currington.  This was my high school reunion celebration song.  Every word is a reflection of my Kansas teenage years–except perhaps for the fact that we spent more time in open fields than on riverbanks.  Even the geekiest of us felt like rock stars on Friday nights, and in our own ways, in our own cars, in our own circles, we ruled the world.

5.  Morning — Beck.  Sea Change was revelational to me when Beck released it in 2002, and I’ve waited a long time for a musical followup that captures the mournful melancholy of that album.  Morning Phase is that followup, and it got a great many listens from me in 2014.  It’s hard not to be moved by this beautiful song.

4.  Prince Johnny — St. Vincent.  Truthfully, I can’t quite put my finger on why I like this song so much.  Maybe it’s the haunting, Radiohead-meets-Buggles synth-organ thing in the background.  Or the strange, uninterpretable lyrics.  Or the stark, hypnotic electronic beat.  I dunno.  But I can tell you that Annie Clark is a force to be reckoned with, and a blast to watch live.

3.  Satellite — Randy Rogers Band.  I love the plaintive imagery of this ballad.  I connect quickly and easily with nocturnal theme, and not just because I practice sleep medicine:  night-time was my favorite time as a child, and I spent many nights outside, looking up at the sky after the sun went home and the shadows faded, thinking, gazing, wondering, dreaming.  Perhaps we all would be a little better off looking up more often, instead of staring down at our smartphones.

2.  Mission Statement — “Weird Al” Yankovic.  I know, right?  I never would have predicted that a Weird Al song would have made one of my year-end lists, but I have to let you in on a secret, which is that I’ve always thought Weird Al is a flippin’ genius, and nowhere is his genius more evident than on this awesome, amazing, and oh-so-true song.  I’m sure that taking M.B.A. classes has influenced my thinking here, but I think anyone in the business world can relate to how goofy and inane some of today’s “biz-speak” can be.  This song captures all of that silliness brilliantly, and somehow without nearly the amount of cynicism that would have been present had I been tasked to write a song about the same topic.  And all built on a platform of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s “Carry On,” no less!  The video is quite something to watch as well.  So go for it and click on this!  All you need to know about business is contained herein.

1.  Talladega — Eric Church.  I love Church, man.  He’s my man.  He tells it as he sees it, audaciously, truthfully, on his own time, from his soul.  This song is particularly rich in truth.  I haven’t yet been to Talladega, but when I hear this song and think back to my own life’s experiences, I suddenly become that college student “before the real world started,” in an old van, driving south with my best friends through Oklahoma and Texas to get to South Padre Island and its brown sand, dinosaur t-shirts, Burger King Whoppers, and fishbowls.  Like a storm, time rolls on, but I’m grateful for all the great memories I’ve built up so far, and I’m hopeful for more great ones to come.  Here’s to 2015.

 

As always, there are a lot of runners up that didn’t quite make the list.  Here are some of them:

All About That Bass — Kate Davis.  Yes, I have to admit, I have a soft spot for this Meghan Trainor song, but I LOVE Kate Davis’ swing version.  Seriously.  Give it a listen.

Yeah — Joe Nichols.

Tidal Wave — Interpol.

Cop Car — Keith Urban.  I know, I know, it’s such a goofy song.  I can’t help it.

I’m in a Hurry — Alabama and Florida Georgia Line.  I’m growing an aversion to bro-country, but this song is the truth.

Burnin’ It Down — Jason Aldean.  How graphically can you describe it without really describing it?