TIME Gadgets

5 Gadgets That Will Help You Sleep Better

If you wish you could get a better night’s sleep, you’re not alone. Sleep experts say adults should try to get seven to eight hours per night.

Of course, not all of us do – according to Gallup, 26% of us get six hours of sleep a night and another 14% get five hours or less. And it affects how well we can concentrate during the day, how well we can remember things and puts us at greater risk for automobile accidents. Is it any wonder that the U.S. Center for Disease Control has called insufficient sleep a public health epidemic?

Serious sleep problems still require the services of a trained doctor. But for smaller issues – off-sync sleep schedules, difficulty waking up and challenges falling asleep – modern technology may be able to help. Here are five of Techlicious’s picks for the best sleep gadgets available.

Misfit Beddit

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Misfit

The Misfit Beddit is one of the easiest ways to turn your existing bed into a “smart” bed. It’s a thin sensor pad that lays flat under your sheets to measure your movement throughout the night. It tracks the stages of sleep, sleep duration, wake times, heartrate and snoring (by monitoring ambient sound), sending this data to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The included app can play soothing sounds to help you sleep at night, and can be programmed to wake you up when you’re in your lightest stage of sleep in the morning. This helps make sure you’re refreshed when you get out of bed, not groggy.

The Misfit Beddit is available in your choice of black and white color. The accompanying app is currently Apple iOS only, though Misfit promises Android support is coming soon. You can currently pick one up through Amazon.com for $149.99.

Withings Aura

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Withings

Like the Misfit Beddit, the Withings Aura includes a small in-bed sensor pad that tracks sleep stages, duration, number of wake ups and more, and can be programmed to wake you up during a cycle of light sleep. But the Aura also includes a bedside device that’s designed to give off a gentle glow of light that helps you wake up and get to sleep by promoting healthy levels of the sleep hormone melatonin. It also measures sound and light pollution in your room so you can see how these factors are impacting your sleep. And because it’s likely to take up a lot of space on your bedside table, the light also doubles as a clock with speakers and a USB port for charging your phone.

These added features don’t come cheap, however. The Withings Aura will set you back $299.95 on Amazon, more than twice the price of the Beddit. The accompanying app is currently only for Apple iOS; an Android version is “coming soon.”

LifeTrak Brite R450

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LifeTrak

Between the Fitbit, Misfit Flash, Jawbone UP and Basis, there’s no shortage of wearables out there that can track sleep. But the new LifeTrak Brite R450 stands out in the crowd. It includes the expected sleep tracking features (including smart wake-up based on real-time data) and adds a light sensor. That way, you can know whether your body needs more (or less) natural light to promote sound sleep. You get a ton of exercise monitoring features too, including step counting, calories burned, heart rate and distance. The Brite R450 can even get incoming SMS and call notifications from your phone via a Bluetooth connection.

The LifeTrak Brite is currently available for pre-order for $129.99 through lifetrakusa.com and is expected to ship in two to three weeks. The device is available in your choice of three color schemes including white/orchid, black/freesia (yellow) and black/platinum. The included tracking app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.

ResMed S+

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ResMed

The ResMed S+ is a contactless sleep sensor. Rather than slipping under your sheets, it instead measures in-bed movement at your bedside. The S+ also keeps tabs on your breathing, ambient light and noise, and temperature to make recommendations that might improve your sleep (e.g., “sleep on your left side”). Data about sleep cycles, duration and wake-ups are synced to your iOS or Android device by Bluetooth; the included app will then score your sleep on a 0 to 100 scale so you can see how you compare to others. Another cool feature: The ResMed S+ can also play soothing sounds that are synchronized to your breathing to help you get to sleep quicker.

The S+ by ResMed is currently available for sale through the company’s mysplus.com website. It’s currently being sold for “3 monthly payments of $49.95” ($149.85 in total) with a 30-day money back guarantee. The S+ app is compatible with any Apple device running iOS 8 and with the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4.

SleepRate

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SleepRate

SleepRate itself isn’t a gadget: It’s billed as a sleep improvement kit. The system requires you to wear a chest-mounted Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor (uncomfortable, but included), as it uses heart-rate data to track sleep stages, duration, wake times and quality. This information is then used to create a custom-tailored four- to eight-week treatment plan licensed from Stanford University to adjust your sleep times, calibrate your biological clock and find the right conditions for the perfect night’s sleep.

The SleepRate Sleep Improvement Kit is currently available on Amazon.com for $99.95. The included app is currently iOS only.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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MONEY psychology of money

Why You Almost Never Dream About Money

woman sleeping at night
You're more likely to be dreaming about cats than checkbooks. rubberball—Getty Images

If your sleeping hours are filled with visions of your financial life, you're in the minority. Here's what that means.

In your sleep, do you dream about money? Surprisingly, most people do not—at least not literally. And if you believe the thoughts that enter your head while you sleep actually mean something, this may suggest we’re shockingly content.

Dream analysts say that winning the lotto or a boat, or getting a bonus aren’t even among the top 50 most common thoughts in slumber. Money is nowhere to be found on a state-by-state chart of popular dream symbols. The dream map is dominated by things like “family” in Texas, “cats” in New York, “pigs” in Nebraska, and “sex” in perhaps the most honest states Missouri and New Hampshire.

We each have three to nine dreams per night, and most of us think about money everyday. Yet up and down the list of most common nighttime visions are things like dancing, school, guns, drugs, movies, and food. Nothing about greenbacks. Zilch. “This shows that people place more importance on the quality of their real happiness,” says dream expert Anna-Karin Bjorklund, author of Dream Guidance. “If you never dream about money, chances are your happiness is not related to feeling powerful or having the means to acquire material possessions.”

That’s good, right? Our subconscious is telling us that our pets and friends and experiences are what we really care about—even if we’re carrying a credit card balance and haven’t earned a decent raise in five years. To a degree this confirms much of what polls have shown since the Great Recession: a broad rediscovery of basic values and things that money can’t buy.

But before we congratulate ourselves on being phenomenally high-minded, we need to dig a little deeper. For one thing, materialism creeps onto the dream list in the form of “beach house” in Alabama; in the fourth richest state in America, Connecticut, “shopping” and “malls” make the top-five list. “Cruise ship” sneaks onto the list in Florida.

Besides, dreams are rarely literal—and thankfully so because on the list of popular dream subjects we find cheating, adultery, cemetery, and murder. If you dream about doors opening or being given the keys to an important room—that may be dreaming about a cash windfall, says dream expert Kelly Sullivan Walden, author of It’s All in Your Dreams. And, she says, “If you’re stressed about money in your waking life, you might find yourself dreaming of a leaky faucet, animals fighting over food, or your teeth falling out.”

Got that? How you view whatever you are dreaming is far more important than the dream itself. “If you have a dream where someone is stealing your vegetables, this could indicate that you feel what you’ve been planting has been taken away,” says Bjorklund. According to dream expert Lauri Loewenberg, author of Dream On It, financial stress also shows up in dreams as:

  • Drowning (debt)
  • Bleeding (savings disappearing)
  • Falling (diminishing financial security)
  • Getting lost (directionless career)
  • Calling 911 but no one answers (poor financial advise)

“Dreams are symbolic and speak to us in metaphors,” says Loewenberg. “If you want to look for your dreams to help you with your financial situation, they will, but they may not use money to get the message across.” So maybe a good deal of our subconscious nighttime adventures are about money after all. We just don’t know it.

TIME

How Letting Your Kids Stay Up Late Could Wreck Your Life

Father and daughters watching movie in home theater
Getty Images

I plan on putting my kids to bed early until they are older and no longer want to hang out with me

I never, ever, want my children to stay up past 8pm.

Ever.

I don’t want them to have a later bedtime until they are older and no longer want to hang out with me. I love my children, but I also love my sanity, and that sanity comes from bad TV and sweet, sweet silence.

I have six-year-old twins, and right now they go to bed at around 7:30 p.m. I hear other parents talk about their first graders staying up and hanging out with them until 10:00 p.m. at night and it horrifies me. That isn’t because their kids are staying up too late, but because, my God, when do those parents get to have their evening fun time? When do they watch The Bachelorette and eat the cookies they hide from their children?

By 8:00 p.m. at night, I am done. That’s when Mommy clocks out. At that point, I am unable to even pretend to parent anymore. All conversations my children try to have with me between the hours of 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. are met with one word: No.

“Can you fix my sheets?”

“No.”

“Can you get me more water?”

“No.”

“Can you –”

“No. And before you ask your next question, the answer is also no.”

The more I talked to other parents about bedtimes, however, the more concerned I got that 7:30 p.m. might be too early. I have a tendency to get lulled into complacency by the habits of day-to-day life, and sometimes forget that my children keep getting older and occasionally the rules need to change. So when I learned that my kids had the earliest bedtime of all of their first-grade friends, it made me a little nervous. Was I putting my kids to bed way too early? Was I about to lose the only time of the day when I am able to fully and completely relax? When they’re at school I’m still on alert because my phone could ring at any minute — the school nurse could call asking me to pick up a sick kid, or the principal might ring, telling me that my shy child tried to run off of school property to avoid picture day. Night-time is the only time when I know that my children can’t possibly ask me for anything because they are unconscious.

To address my concerns, I decided to ask an expert for guidance. I called Rebecca Michi, a trained Children’s Sleep Consultant in Seattle who has a British accent and a great attitude. Did she think that 7:30 p.m. was too early a bedtime for a couple of first graders?

“Wake up time has to dictate the bedtime,” she said. “Children can go to bed late if they wake up late. First graders need ten to twelve hours of sleep a night. Otherwise they are sleep deprived, and we all act like two-year-olds when we are sleep deprived.”

My kids wake up at 6:30 a.m. every morning on their own. I can put them to bed at 5 p.m. or I can put them to bed at midnight, and they will still wake up at 6:30 a.m. It’s something my husband and I have had to accept, and by accept I mean we’ve had to murder the part of our souls that has hope. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when Michi didn’t tell me that my kids should stay up later. In fact, based on Michi’s recommendations, 7:30 was a perfect bedtime for them. I couldn’t believe it – I was doing something right…completely by accident, of course, but I’ll take it however I can get it.

Before I ride my high horse off into the sunset, though, it’s important to point out that in addition to my accidentally appropriate bedtime, it’s likely that many inappropriate bedtimes aren’t chosen thoughtlessly. I don’t think there are a lot of parents who are watching The Tonight Show with their kindergartener and saying, “Eh. He’ll go to bed when he feels like it. Now Timmy, go get Momma another martini.” I think there are a lot more parents who keep their kids up due to external factors they can’t control.

For example, there’s Michi’s recommendation that wake-up time dictate bedtime. My kids don’t start school till 9:30 a.m., and with their 6:30 a.m. natural wake-up time that means I never have to force them out of bed in the morning. If I had older kids who were doing homework and then going to bed at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., who then had to be at school and in class at 7:30 a.m. the next morning, I’d be dealing with some overly tired kids and I would be seriously aggravated. I understand the recent push by some parents to move school start times back, because I’m not sure how anyone can expect kids to succeed when they can’t get the rest they need.

I’m also a work-at-home mom. I take my kids to and from school every day. I have three hours with them before school and three hours after. I am not hurting for time with my kids. If I had a job where I had to be at work by 8:00 a.m. and I didn’t get home until 7:00 p.m., and I put my kids to bed at 7:30 p.m., that would mean spending less than an hour a day with my kids during the week, if that. Of course I understand why some parents would want to push that bedtime back by an extra hour or so in order to get some time with their children. You know, for bonding. Or for algebra, which is the opposite of bonding.

Thankfully, I no longer feel any pressure to let my kids stay up past 8:00 p.m. I can turn off their lights, say my final no’s, and ease myself onto my sofa, where frozen yogurt and The Voice await me. Even the experts understand my need for “night time means no children time.” As Michi told me, “Some parents love having their kids up late. I can’t think of anything worse. I want to watch inappropriate TV with my husband and have a glass of wine.” Preach it, British priestess of sleep.

Here’s how I look at it: this is a parenting rule that is not only good for the kids, but also brings me joy. There aren’t a whole lot of those. I’m going to take advantage of it while I can.

Meredith Bland is an award-winning humor and parenting writer from Seattle. She works as a staff writer at Mommyish, and has a humor blog called Pile of Babies. You can follow her on Twitter at @pileofbabies.

TIME Cancer

Why Cancer Drugs May Work Better While You Sleep

The body doesn't process drugs in the same way throughout the day, so it's possible to time your doses to make anti-cancer meds more effective

It’s news to no one that your body works differently when you’re awake and when you’re sleeping. But could the different states also affect how your body processes certain life-saving drugs? Researchers, reporting Friday in the journal Nature Communications, found that when it comes to cancer drugs, the answer may be yes.

Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science discovered—by happy accident—that some of the body’s molecular functions during the day may interfere with the effectiveness of certain cancer medication. Specifically, they found that the normal day-time production of some steroid hormones in the body actually inhibited the work of epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptors—which are the proteins targeted by a class of anti-cancer drugs. Tumor cells plant these receptors on their surfaces to attract nutrients that help them survive and grow. Drugs, including the breast cancer agent lapatinib, can block these receptors on tumors, and such medications are a popular way to treat breast cancers expressing epidermal growth factor.

But Yosef Yarden, a professor in the department of biological regulation, and his team found that when the tumor cells simultaneously bind to something else—such as steroid hormones—the EGF receptors are less active, making drugs like lapatinib less potent.

The findings are still preliminary, but there is other evidence that the day-night cycle may be a potentially important factor in determining cancer treatment dosing in coming years. Some studies showed, for example, that when the 24-hour rest and activity cycle is broken metabolically, and the EGF receptors aren’t given enough time to be active, certain tumors in animals grow two to three times faster.

“The study developed out of a mistake. We accidentally omitted a synthetic steroid…from the medium in which we routinely grow mammary gland cells,” Yarden wrote in an email response to TIME. “And we noticed that the cells acquired a faster rate of migration when we followed them under a microscope.”

Intrigued, they turned to mice to answer some more questions. Knowing that steroid levels peak during the day and drop off during sleep, Yarden and his colleagues wondered whether the timing of anti-tumor drugs would affect tumor growth. So they gave a group of mice with breast cancer tumors lapatinib at different times over a 24-hour period and tracked any differences in the size and growth of the tumors.

Indeed, the mice given the drug while they slept showed significantly smaller tumors after seven days than those who received the drug during the day. Yarden suspects that the lower levels of steroid hormones circulating at night allows more of the EGF-targeting drug to hone in on its receptors on the tumor cells and inhibit their growth. Not only that, but the tumors in the mice taking the drug at night looked different; they showed less blood vessel infiltration which meant they were less robust.

Does that mean it’s better to get cancer therapy at night? So far, the results only apply to animal models, and to cancers driven by EGF. More work needs to be done, but if it’s validated, shifting therapies to just before bed “seems logical,” says Yarden. Especially since drugs like lapatinib come in pill form, so it would be relatively easy to take medications before turning in rather than in the morning.

TIME sleep

The Perfect Amount of Sleep, According to Science

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Brand New Images—Getty Images

This post originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

Wondering how much your sleep-in Saturdays or that one all-nighter will set you back? New research might help us gauge how to adjust our sleep schedules by shedding light on how many ZZZs we really need.

The study, published in the journal Sleep, used the data of 1,885 men and 1,875 women collected from the Finnish “Health 2000″ survey. The sleep data included information about participants’ nightly quantity and quality of sleep, whether they had any sleep disorders, and how tired they were during the day. Additionally, the researchers used the Social Insurance Institution to gather information about how often those participants took sick days from work.

(MORE: 7 Sleep Gadgets That Actually Work)

Results showed that those who took the fewest sick days slept, on average, 7.6 hours (for women) and 7.8 hours (for men) per night. In fact, those who got more or less than the “perfect” average of hours per night had an increased risk for sickness absence: up to eight more sick days per year. But, men reporting the optimal amount of sleep only took 5.93 days of sick leave each year on average; optimal female sleepers took 7.64 days. The researchers also found a few more interesting patterns: The male participants reported using sleeping pills more often and experiencing shorter durations of sleep than their female counterparts, while the women reported experiencing a greater effect of the seasons on their sleep duration.

(MORE: Are You ‘Sleep Drunk’ Right Now?)

This study supports previous research, which suggests the magic sleep number is somewhere between five and nine hours per night. It’s not just sleep quantity that matters; poor sleep quality has been shown to cause confusional arousal, or “sleep drunkenness.” Regardless, we know that sleep needs change with age and by individual, so it’s unclear how applicable this recent study’s results are to the population at large. And, although this research shows correlation between non-optimal sleep duration and increased number of sick days, that doesn’t mean one is caused by the other. Besides, nobody has ever taken a sick day when they weren’t actually sick, right? Right…

(MORE: A Scientific Excuse to Sleep In)

 

TIME Research

You Asked: Is It Good or Bad to Take a Nap?

Illustration by Peter Oumanski for TIME

Snooze, or skip it?

You’re right to be confused. Even as a recent study linked napping to higher mortality, companies and colleges across the U.S. are installing nap rooms to boost productivity. Truly, it would be a dream to get some napping consensus.

But whether or not napping is right for you depends. “First of all, it’s important to ask yourself why you’re taking the nap,” says Dr. Sara Mednick, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life. If you’re spending a big chunk of your day feeling sleepy and out of sorts, then your desire to snooze may be driven by stress, insomnia, sleep apnea or a hundred other slumber-disrupting health conditions, Mednick says.

“Daytime napping is an early indicator of underlying ill health,” adds Yue Leng, a University of Cambridge sleep researcher and coauthor of the study linking naps to higher mortality rates. Like Mednick, Leng suggests daytime drowsiness is likely a symptom of other health issues, not their cause.

Put simply, blaming naps for higher mortality rates is like blaming your doctor for heart disease; you’re more likely to see a doc if you have heart issues, but that doesn’t mean she’s to blame.

MORE: The Power of Sleep

Actually, naps are good for most people, Mednick says. Her research shows a nap—defined as daytime sleeping that lasts between 15 and 90 minutes—can improve brain functions ranging from memory to focus and creativity. “For some people, naps are as restorative as a whole night of sleep,” she adds. More research shows a quick nap can lower stress and recharge your willpower. And napping has also been linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease and inflammation.

But all of these benefits depend on you getting a good night of sleep to begin with, Mednick stresses. Also, not everyone is a good napper. “Some people wake up from naps feeling like crap,” she says.

Genetics could explain why some people are nappers and some aren’t. But regardless of the explanation, there’s clearly a difference between the two groups. “People who aren’t habitual nappers tend to fall into very deep sleep during naps, and waking up from that leaves them feeling groggy,” Mednick explains. On the other hand, natural nappers—you know who you are—don’t plunge into deep slumber during their daytime snoozes, Mednick says. This allows them to wake up from naps feeling energized and alert, not discombobulated.

MORE: Pass The Pillow: “Google Naps” Is Google Maps for Places to Nap

For natural nappers, she says it’s “incredibly important” that you do catch your daytime ZZZs. “These people—and they probably account for about 40% of the population—tend to do really poorly if they don’t nap,” she explains. Without their much needed daytime shuteye, habitual nappers often reach for energy drinks, caffeine or other stimulants that perk them up but don’t recharge their cognitive batteries the way a short, healthy snooze would.

“For these people, skipping their nap is a huge productivity killer,” Mednick says, and that’s a compelling reason for employers and universities to provide nap spaces for employees and students.

While the length of an ideal siesta varies from person to person, 20 to 30 minutes is plenty for most. But up to 90 minutes—about the length of one full sleep cycle—could also be beneficial, Mednick says. She recommends trying different nap lengths to find the one that leaves you feeling the most refreshed.

If you’ve never been a napper but want to cash in on napping’s brain and health benefits, Mednick says you may be able to teach yourself to nap. The trick is to keep your daytime shuteye very short—no more than 15 minutes at first. This will prevent your brain and body from slipping into the deeper levels of slumber that leave you feeling foggy upon waking, she adds.

But if you’re just not a born napper, don’t sweat it. “Everyone’s different,” Mednick says. “If you feel good, whatever you’re doing is fine.”

TIME Books

Go the F-ck to Sleep Has a Sequel

You Have to F--king Eat Adam Mansbach
Akashic Books

It's called 'You Have to F-cking Eat'

The author of the bestselling humorous children’s book Go the F-ck to Sleep is back, and this time he’s tackling the treacherous minefield of kids’ insane eating habits.

Adam Mansbach’s new book, You Have to F-cking Eat is a “long-awaited sequel about the other great parental frustration: getting your little angel to eat something that even vaguely resembles a normal meal,” according to the publisher, Akashic books.

Go the F-ck to Sleep was marketed at frustrated parents trying to get their kids to sleep, and despite the profanities—or perhaps because of them—it debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list and sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide.

You Have to F-cking Eat, which is illustrated by Owen Brozman, will be available to purchase Nov. 12.

TIME Paycheck Friday

5 Unique Sleep Gadgets for Under $60

Come on, you're making some decent money now. Live a little! Consider blowing your paycheck on these worthy splurges.

Cool or Hot Pillow Pad ($32.75)

GelO_Cool_Pillow_Mat
Human Creations

Your blind date was going well until you embarrassed yourself by passing gas more loudly than a tanker truck replenishing the pumps at 7-11. Back home – alone, natch – your face gets red hot every time you replay the unfortunate incident in your head.

The Gel’O Cool Pillow Mat can cool your face down as you’re trying to fall asleep. Just pop it in the fridge or freezer before bedtime, place it on top of your pillow and then lay your shameful head down. During the winter months, you can shove it in the microwave to heat it up instead.

[Human Creations]

White Noise Machine ($54.95)

LectroFan
LectroSound

You live in a studio apartment with paper-thin walls above a rowdy bar and below a 24-hour daycare center full of teething babies with colic. Next door is a 24-hour doggy day care heralded for its innovative use of outdoor-only barking zones. Across the street is a gun range. That’s 24 hours, too.

This highly-rated white noise/fan-sounds machine is small enough to travel with,

but gets loud enough to drown out even the most egregious hoopla. Not that you’d want to take a vacation: Your place sounds nice!

[Amazon]

Blue-Glow Sleep Mask ($39.99)

sleep mask
Sharper Image

You bring your work home with you. It’s not easy collecting soil samples for a living. All the second-guessing! Did I use the correct trowel? Should I be rotating my wrist to the left or to the right? And how many degrees?!

Thoughts like this normally keep you up at night, but this fancy sleep mask can help you relax your mind by bathing your eyeballs in a soft blue light meant to shift your brain from its beta phase to its alpha phase. Even without the blue-glow feature, the wraparound mask blocks out light while leaving room for your eyes to breathe.

[Sharper Image]

NASA Light Bulb ($59.95)

NASA bulb
Hammacher Schlemmer

At first blush, a $60 light bulb sounds expensive. But you know what’s marginally more expensive? Going to space. That’s what you’d otherwise have to do in order to use this thing. So if you think about it, this NASA light bulb pretty much pays for itself after all the trips you won’t take to space.

You’re supposed to use it in a bedside lamp for a half hour before you go to sleep so it can ramp up your melatonin levels. You can optionally use it at your next dinner party to see if you can get your guests to pass out in their soup.

[Hammacher Schlemmer]

Sonic Boom Alarm Clock ($39.10)

sonic boom
Sonic Bomb

“Enough with trying to get me to fall asleep!” you bellow, slamming your hammy fists on your particle-board workspace as anger-spit forms in the corners of your mouth. “I can’t wake up!”

For you, there’s this ridiculously loud alarm clock.

I sleep and wake like a normal person, so this thing sounds awful. A 113-decibel alarm? Pass. A vibration doodad so powerful it can shake your entire bed? No, thank you. Flashing red lights? I’m good, thanks. There’s nothing quite like being terrified first thing in the morning.

[Amazon]

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

Your Dreams Get More Bizarre as the Night Goes On

As the night wears on, your dreams escalate in weirdness, finds a small new study published in the journal Dreaming.

For two nights, the researchers outfitted 16 people with a sleep-monitoring eyelid sensor and head sensor, then proceeded to wake each person up at four different times in the night. Sleepers were asked to say what they’d been dreaming, and in the morning, they listened to their dreams and answered questions about them, like how related the dreams were to their waking life.

“We found that dreams were increasing in bizarreness from the early to late night,” says study author Dr. Josie Malinowski, a lecturer in cognitive psychology at the University of Bedfordshire in the U.K. The later dreams were more fantastical, impossible, and completely unlikely to ever happen in real life, “like a wild animal tearing up your back garden,” she says. Dreams also tend to become more emotional—in equal ways positive and negative—as the night progresses.

In the early stages of sleep, people dream more about media they’d consumed during the day, like a movie they’d watched or book they’d read. Dreams about events that happened during waking life, however, were more robust later in the night.

Some dream researchers, including Dr. Malinowski, believe you can prime the brain to dream about a particular topic through “dream incubation,” and that dreams might be able to help us problem-solve. Exploring these dreams can help people understand their own behavior, thoughts and feelings, Dr. Malinowski says.

And through her research, she’s trying to get people to take dream therapy more seriously. “People really enjoy it,” she told TIME. “Dreams are like a safe space. People feel like they haven’t generated them because they’re often so bizarre. [But] they’re a safe way to explore the self.”

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

Less Than 5 Hours of Sleep Leads to False Memories

Skimping on sleep wears down your body in so many ways: it worsens cognitive function, slows reaction time, and makes learning more difficult. (The list goes on and on: after reading our new feature about the power of sleep, you might just scare yourself sleepy.)

That’s quite enough consequences without piling on the results of a recent study in Psychological Science, which found that sleep deprivation is linked to false memories. Among the 193 people tested, those who got 5 or fewer hours of sleep for just one night were significantly more likely to say they’d seen a news video when they actually hadn’t.

There’s more than just fantastical daydreaming at stake. False memories in the form of eyewitness misidentifications are thought to be the number-one cause of wrongful convictions in the U.S., the study authors write, so sleep deprivation could have consequences beyond the scope of your own health.

The study also discovered that students were more prone to researchers’ false suggestions when they hadn’t slept more than five hours. They wove those suggestions into their responses 38% of the time, while the group that got plenty of sleep did so 28% of the time. That’s probably because sleep deprivation leads to problems encoding new information, the authors write.

“Our results also suggest that total sleep deprivation may not be necessary to increase false memory,” they write in the study. Losing just a few hours could be enough to lead you to dream up facts during waking life.

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