Intensive Advanced 2

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Advanced 1. How To Sleep Better?

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51 sheep, 52 sheep, 53 sheep. Oh. Why am I still awake? Oh, well, listen to me. 3 am. We’ve all been there. Getting quality sleep is easier said than done. So today we’re gonna show you how sleep is tied to your physical and mental health. We’re also gonna show you easy ways to get that refreshing sleep that you need.
We all know that we feel groggy and slow and when we don’t get enough sleep. But that’s not the only effect lack of sleep has on our bodies. In our episode on sleeping creativity we told you that not getting enough sleep over an extended period of time can lead to high blood pressure, which can also lead to heart attacks and aneurysms, but it’s not always easy to try to get that good quality sleep. Some nights you stay awake worrying about that presentation you have to give first thing in the morning and some nights you just can’t get comfortable, and then other nights you fall asleep just fine. But then you wake up every 15 minutes worrying that you’re gonna miss the bus. All right. There’s no one way to guarantee that you’re gonna get awesome slee,p but we do have 5 easy tips and tricks to help you on the path towards good sleep hygiene.
Step 1: Develop a relaxing bedtime ritual. When you think about it, we all learned to sleep by routine. When we were all really little, our parents gave us baths, read us books, tucked us in, got us that extra glass of water… all in the name of good sleep.
Now that you’re older, you’re gonna have to develp a routine of your own, whether it’s a cup of decaf tea and a chapter from a book or a bath in 15 minutes and then yoga. Of course, there are some activities that should be kept out of a bedtime ritual: Don’t drink alcohol before bed. It might help you fall asleep but chances are you’ll wake up in the middle of the night. Don’t exercise two hours before bedtime. Sure, it gets your blood flowing but it’ll end you up mentally.
Step 3: Maintain a regular sleep and wake schedule. Now, you don’t have to wake up at exactly 7.02 and go to bed at 10.53 every night. That’s a bit on the neurotic side but do try to wake up and go to bed at generally the same time 6 days a week. According to doctors at Harvard University, this will help set your internal clock so that even on those rare days when your schedule is thrown off, you’ll be able to get right back on track and avoid what doctors call a sleep hangover.
Step 3: Stop watching your clock. Studies show that people who constantly look at their clock are less likely to fall asleep easily. Why? Well, when you’re thinking “oh, it’s 11.03. I have to be up in 6 hours and 57 minutes”, stresses you out, so try to keep some distance between you and the alarm clock. That way those blinking numbers will quit mocking you and you’ll sleep easier.
Step 4: Create an optimal sleep environment. A major clinic study found that people sleep best in dark quiet cool environments with all the benefits of sleep. It’s worth investing in black out blinds, comfortable earplugs and a fair air-conditioning. The more comfortable you are physically, the better you sleep.
Step 5: Unplug. Make your bedroom a tech free zone. I know. But research shows that electronics interfere sleep because it’s easy to get distracted by them. Checking your email right before bed could add more stress, watching TV or movies makes it hard to sleep and getting sucked into, say, Pintrest, before bed? That’ll keep you up for hours. Oh, I like that, I like that too, oh that’s pretty.

Let’s recap. Today we learnt a few more reasons why you need good sleep. We also taught you five simple ways to help you improve your sleep health. Next time you start tossing and turning, try to develop a ritual. Maintain a schedule, stop clock watching, trick your bedroom out or unplug. It could help. From all of us here at Wellcast, sweet dreams!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Advanced 1. Early Birds vs Night Owls.

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You may have heard the saying “the early bird gets the worm”, but when it comes to humans, do morning people really have an advantage over night owls? Does one come out on top as more intelligent or successful than the other in this battle over bedtime?
The somewhat surprising truth is that we have little say in sleep preference as it’s almost entirely genetically predetermined. Chances are if you’re a night owl it was slightly passed down from an ancestor who was also a night owl, and from an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense. Having individuals with varying sleeping patterns would allow for better protection of a group throughout the day and night. Instead of everybody sleeping at one time, some people naturally stay up later and some wake up earlier aware of threats or predators while others sleep.
But considering most modern societal activities happen between 9 am and 5 pm, it may seem clear that night owls are put at a disadvantage. And researchers have actually coined the term “social jet lag” to describe the sleep deprivation many experience to accommodate social norms. For night owls, this social jet lag feels like living in a different time zone every single day. Considering chronic sleep deprivation has a direct effect on brain functioning, it’s no surprise that studies report night owl university students have lower overall grades. Not to mention early birds tend to display more positive social traits such as being proactive and optimistic, and are less prone to depression or addictions to nicotine, alcohol and food. And we can see these traits represented physically in the brain, particularly the white matter which helps neurons communicate. Night owls exhibit significantly less white matter and, as a result, there are fewer pathways for feel-good hormones such as serotonin or dopamine to travel through.
But it’s not all bad for the late nighters. In fact, they tend to be much more creative, have been found to have higher cognitive abilities, and are known to be risk takers. What they lack in white matter, they make up in cortisol levels. This stress hormone gets your body ready to face an immediate threat, contributing to their risk-taking behavior, which studies show can translate into opportunities and potentially much more financial gain. Furthermore, even though morning people can be very energetic right after waking, they tend to lose steam faster that night owls throughout the day. Both sides perform equally well in reaction-time tests an hour after waking, but after 10 hours of being awake, night owls perform significantly better.
Your inner clock is regulated by many proteins which are created from various genes in your DNA. Studies have even shown that a single change of the genetic code, near a gene called Period 1, can result in an hour difference in your waking time.
As crazy as it seems, scientists also found a correlation between these same genes and your time of death. The early risers were more likely to die around 11am, while the night owls were more likely to die before 6pm.
What about teenagers, you say? It’s true, most tend to be night owls due to the hormonal changes during puberty, but this tends to wane out into your genetic default as you enter adulthood.

So while there may be some truth to early birds getting the worm, night owls aren’t exactly lagging behind in life… they’re just lagging behind in time!

Advanced 1. The Scientific Power of Music.

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Whether it’s Mozart, Joni Mitchell, Adele or newcomers like Frank Ocean, music is powerful and has existed in all cultures throughout history. But why do humans find music so addictive and pleasurable? At its core, music is the combination of audio frequencies and intricate patterns floating through the air and clashing together in your ear. Much like our eyes process light, your ears process waves of sound and trigger a state of excitement and sometimes pleasure in your brain.
Humans experience pleasure from many stimulants such as food, sex and drugs. But because many of these stimulants are necessary for human survival, the body has created a system in which it rewards you for achieving them. What’s really happening is the release of a neurotransmitter in the brain called dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical responsible for making you feel good. When dopamine is released following a reward such as a delicious meal or winning the lottery, the neurotransmitter causes a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction.
Drugs such as cocaine, take advantage of this pathway by increasing the amount of dopamine, or rather, preventing its removal, causing continual stimulation of your neurons, which creates intense moments of pleasure.
Music has the ability to create a state of arousal causing pupils to dilate, blood pressure to rise, and the brain to fire in auditory, movement and emotional regions. And even though music does not have a direct survival benefit, this emotional reaction causes a release of the feel good chemical dopamine.
Though the exact evolutionary reasoning is unclear, the amazing fact remains: music chemically alters our body and makes us feel great. And in the same way that a drug induced dopamine surge leaves you craving more, music becomes addictive. The dopamine tells your body it was rewarded and creates the desire to seek out more. Even though music enjoyment is entirely subjective and intertwined with cultural and personal experience, the chemical effects remain consistent amongst the human race, a perfectly natural drug of happiness.

Got a burning question you want answered? Ask it in the comments or on facebook and twitter. And subscribe for more weekly science videos.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas. Online Advent Calendars.

Would you like to know more things about how Xmas is celebrated all over the world? Well, you can use this interactive advent calendar and find out more about other people's traditions. Click here and enjoy!
You can also try to answer the questions you can find here