February 28 is National Public Sleeping Day

Today is National Public Sleeping Day, not to be confused with Festival of Sleep Day on January 3rd.

Cats are known for taking short naps and waking quickly to flee a predator or pounce on prey. Those who have cats can attest to the fact that cats sleep a lot, an average of 15 hours per day, according to petMD. They are most active at night so, when the bipedal world is getting up, they’re settling in for a snooze.

We can approximate a catnap with the “power nap.” According to sleep expert Sara C. Mednick, Ph.D., author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life“You can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping. You reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance. That’s what most people really need to stave off sleepiness and get an energy boost.”

Longer naps have benefits, too, but don’t lend themselves to public situations. For instance, you might miss your stop on the train or bus, sleep through getting fired for sleeping at work or come to on a park bench having unwittingly donated your watch, wallet and shoes while you slumbered.

Sleep architecture researchers define the power nap as stage 2 sleep. Most of us are familiar with Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep; this very short sleep cycle is classified as Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM). According to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study:

An individual in stage 2 sleep requires more intense stimuli than in stage 1 to awaken. Brain activity on an EEG shows relatively low-voltage, mixed-frequency activity characterized by the presence of sleep spindles and K-complexes. It is hypothesized that sleep spindles are important for memory consolidation.

K-complexes appear to prevent interruption of sleep due to touch, sound and other stimuli judged by the sleeping brain to present no threat. They also aid in information processing, help to synchronize NREM activity in the thalamus and promote a slow-wave sleep state. (More science here.)

While the effects of caffeine are researched, debated and studied some more—the NIH lists 72 open clinical trials involving caffeine—everyone agrees that a little shut-eye will do you a lot of good. Keep in mind that our circadian biological clock rhythms tend to make us most sleepy between 1 pm to 3 pm.

Naps longer than 30 minutes can paradoxically make you feel groggy. This effect is called “sleep inertia” and happens when you awaken quickly from deep sleep. Psychological and motor skills are impaired for minutes or longer, especially if you’ve had insufficient sleep the night before.

Dark surroundings will help you fall asleep more quickly and get more out of your downtime. If there’s nowhere at work to turn off the lights and close the door or it’s too cold, hot, rainy or snowy to go outside and lounge with a TPS report over your face, check out the Ostrich Pillow.

national public sleeping dayThere’s no better way to let your cubicle mates know they should come back later, get everyone to come look at you, post a photo companywide, worldwide, to the International Space Station, start a therapy fund…or all of the above!

A nap can’t replace a good night’s sleep, but it can sharpen your senses and keep you going until quitting time. Unless you’re a cat. Then it’s always quitting time.

Happy National Public Sleeping Day!

Copyright © 2019 Worldwide Weird Holidays

Single Tasking Day

Today is Single Tasking Day. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to do just one thing at a time, without participating in the sham called multitasking.

single tasking day

Unlike computers, humans are not wired to work on many complex problems at once. Switching focus quickly from one thing to another can make us perceive that we’re managing multiple streams of information simultaneously, but each shift requires energy.

Our overall processing power becomes less efficient, even when dealing with things we do habitually—like scanning our phones, texting and going through emails—that don’t seem to require much attention but are, in fact, tying up the executive functions of our brains.

A study at Gresham College in London found that multitasking caused subjects’ problem-solving performance to drop by the equivalent of 10 IQ points. MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller says our brains aren’t wired to multitask. “When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.”

Per McGill University professor Daniel Levitin, “Asking the brain to shift attention from one activity to another causes the prefrontal cortex and striatum to burn up oxygenated glucose, the same fuel they need to stay on task. And the kind of rapid, continual shifting we do with multitasking causes the brain to burn through fuel so quickly that we feel exhausted and disoriented after even a short time. We’ve literally depleted the nutrients in our brain.”

So feed your brain; just do it slowly so you don’t get a cramp. And have a happy Single Tasking Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

October 20 is Information Overload Day

information overloadToday is Information Overload Day. Why? Here’s a hint. In April 2016, Statista published a study regarding media usage. In it, the company reported that U.S. adults spent an average of just over twelve hours per day consuming media on their televisions, mobile phones, tablets and computer screens, among other sources—sometimes simultaneously.

In it, the statistics company reported that U.S. adults spent an average of just over twelve hours per day consuming media on televisions, mobile phones, tablets, computer screens and other sources—sometimes simultaneously. If reading that just raised your blood pressure, Information Overload Day may be the holiday for you.

The Information Overload Research Group (IORG) created Information Overload Day in 2007 to call attention to the constant fire hose of data that threatens to swamp individuals and organizations. In 2015, the IORG challenged the corporate world to “lower the overload” by sending twenty percent fewer messages each day.  It issued four helpful suggestions to help accomplish that:

1) Send only those Emails, IMs, and texts that have to be sent. This includes replies.
2) Only use reply-to-all when absolutely necessary.
3) Cut back on the number of recipients in the “to” and “cc” fields.
4) Resist the urge to forward Email messages if not critical.

Has your head exploded yet? How can anyone lower their emails by that much? Your boss expects you to copy him on everything but your bowel movements, and even that may be imminent. What about all those jokes you swap with friends and coworkers? Oh, yeah, there’s twenty percent right there.

The IORG may have given up on its own holiday; we see no sign of its observance since 2015. Maybe it’s taking its own advice by sparing us the extra data. In that spirit, we will bring this piece to a close—right after we wish you a happy Information Overload Day, that is!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

May 13 is National Blame Someone Else Day

national blame someone else dayToday is National Blame Someone Else Day, celebrated on the first Friday the 13th of the year. According to almost every source we checked, the holiday was invented by Anne Moeller of Clio, Michigan in 1982.

That fateful day, her alarm didn’t go off, so she was late for work. More bad luck ensued. When Anne realized it was Friday the 13th, she decided she should create a new holiday.

Did that happen? The tale has made the rounds of sites and news outlets; none of them cite a verifiable source. When a story is repeated a (shockingly low) number of times, it reaches a tipping point and attains the status of fact. This is often due to expediency and laziness passed off as the need to churn copy and the rationalization that no one cares if it’s true.

We assume that if you’ve taken the time to seek out information about a holiday, you would prefer the details to be true whenever possible. We do our best to plumb every wacky holiday for its funniest facts. If you’re out there, Anne Moeller, and that’s not how it all went down, we apologize and thank you for creating a day when we can blame someone else!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays