Here are 5 infamous religious cults that used sleep deprivation to control their followers

In the early 1970s, after suffering a heart attack, a bed-ridden Marshall Applewhite had a revelation. The army vet and mystic decided that he and his nurse, the Pynchonianly named Bonnie Nettles, were “The Two,” a biblically prophesied pair of divine messengers from the book of Revelations.

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How chloroform went from a beloved sedative to a crime-fiction trope

To an outside observer, the gathering of medical professionals in Edinburgh, Scotland in November 1847 looked suspicious. Some physicians were slumped unconscious in their seats. Others staggered around, intoxicated and giggling, taking intermittent sniffs of the pleasant vapor emitting from rags they held close to their faces. One man was hypervigilant, paranoid eyes darting around for any sign of trouble.

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The dark side of lucid dreaming and nocturnal escapism

The home invasion was the worst.

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Here's why you can't dial a phone, read a book or escape a monster in your dreams

Erin Wamsley doesn’t want to hear about you dreams. As a sleep researcher and principal investigator at the Furman University Sleep Lab, she gets enough of that at work — not to mention from strangers at parties.

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Whispering ghosts and 7 other oddities from the history of our national parks

The U.S. boasts 59 National Parks and 117 National Monuments, most of which are overseen by the men and women of the National Park Service. In other words, this governing body makes it possible for Americans to hike, fish, seek solace in nature and sleep by starlight. Next month the NPS celebrates its 100th anniversary. To celebrate, we dug into the history of "America's Best Idea" for sleepy tales and tidbits, and came back with conspiracy theories, whispering ghosts and a contested campfire origin story. Enjoy.

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This is what scientists learned from 50 years of lucid dreaming studies

To lucid dream is to be aware you're traipsing through your subconscious. In some cases, lucid dreamers even report calling the shots in their REM-sleep narratives. And while the practice hasn't gone fully mainstream, it has earned props from scientists as an objectively verifiable altered state of consciousness. But, knowing that people can have lucid dreams doesn't translate to knowing who and how many of us are.

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A new study has found that avid readers appear to live a longer life

When you’re having an I-don’t-care-about-being-healthy day, the type of day when all you want to do is pick up a half-dozen cupcakes from the local bakery “for a party” (they’re all for you) and then proceed to eat them in front of the TV, the last thing you want to see as you’re walking home is some chump in the gym sweating it out on an exercise bike, right? Wrong. The last thing you want to see is that chump on the exercise bike sweating it out whilst reading a book at the same time.

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How the dance marathons of the 1930s paved the way for reality TV

It’s possible that no one was particularly alarmed when Homer Morehouse stumbled off a dance floor and collapsed in North Tonawanda, New York on April 14, 1923. Morehouse, 27, had been dancing with his partner for 87 consecutive hours without a break. Men and women of weaker constitutions had been broken in only a fraction of that time; others were held up by their companions as they slept on their shoulder, their feet continuing to move in an automatic, semiconscious shuffling motion. When they finally fell to their knees, rest and hydration usually restored them.

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5 mysterious sleep-related conditions that researchers are still trying to figure out

The now-deceased PBS icon Bob Ross occupies a prominent if confusing space in the psyche of a small-but-growing chunk of the population. It's not Ross's artistic prowess that has posthumously earned him a following. Rather, it's the entrancing sounds of his brushstrokes and signature style of whisper-narrating his painting process. The calming, visceral effects of watching (or listening to) Ross create banal landscapes is a "condition" (for lack of a better term) that went unnamed until 2010. Then, thanks to online forums, the way Ross makes some people feel became known as ASMR, short for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.
The gist of ASMR is as puzzling as it is simple: For an unknown percentage of us, certain soft, repetitive or "close" sounds trigger physical tingles, as well as feelings of euphoria and relaxation. This might sound deserving of a fetish label, but the ASMR community doesn't consider the sensations erotic. Instead, the experience is often described as similar to a post-meditation calm. (Full disclosure: I unknowingly have had ASMR my whole life, and only stumbled on the term this past year; Bob Ross is my god.)
What's also curious about ASMR is that it's apparently common, and has potentially existed since the dawn of humankind, yet largely evaded formal scientific scrutiny. Since its 2010 "discovery," ASMR been the subject of only one peer-reviewed study, in 2014. And we don't really know what causes ASRM or why some people have it. Of course, ASMR is far from the only neurological whodunit related to sleep. To the contrary, the human nervous system is capable of all sorts of hijinks, some eye-opening, some laughable, some excruciating. Here are a few standouts that continue to challenge researchers.

Kleine-Levin Syndrome

More informally known as "Sleeping Beauty Syndrome," Klein-Levin Syndrome is a condition in which sufferers, typically adolescents, suddenly require extended periods of sleep — up to 23 hours a day for days, weeks or even months at a stretch. They may wake up only to eat or use the toilet, then collapse again due to unrelenting exhaustion. This need for sleep often comes with neurological symptoms, including weird food cravings, altered personality and a sudden lack of sexual inhibition. KLS was first named in 1962 but researchers have traced reports of the condition back to the early 1800s. There are theories about its cause — genetic factors may lie at the root — but still no reliable medical explanation. Luckily, KLS is exceedingly rare — with only one case per million people in the US.

Exploding head syndrome

Quite likely the greatest-named syndrome in the world, Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS) shouldn't be mistaken for the plot of "Scanners," as it's a largely benign sleep disorder. Sufferers describe being jolted awake by some variety of loud noise right as they're falling asleep or, in some cases, waking up. Think: gun shots, cymbal crash, explosions. Understandably, EHS is distressful to sufferers, for whom symptoms typically start around age 50. Researchers have yet to pin down a cause. Some believe EHS incidents are minor seizures. Others believe they're mechanical glitches caused by the inner ear. And many attribute EHS to psychological triggers, such as anxiety or stress.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Ask any parent what they fear most, and they will all say SIDS, the tragic boogeyman that continues to claim newborns while they sleep, for no known reason. People have known about the condition has been know about for centuries — some claim the Bible mentions it — but it only earned its acronym in 1963. Since then researchers have doubled down on studying SIDS. In the US, the number of cases has fallen by two-thirds since 1990, simply from counseling new parents to place sleeping babies on their backs. Despite such successes, researchers have yet to pin down the actual cause of SIDS, and it continues to be among nature's cruelest rituals, with some 3,500 SIDS deaths occurring per year in the U.S. alone.

REM Behavior Disorder

The concept of Random Eye Movement underlies a phenomenon many of us have casually observed while watching other people sleep (yeah, we're all creeps): the quick, darting eyeball movements that happen while we dream. It's less well-known, however, that during REM sleep, your brain doses out chemicals that temporarily paralyze your muscles so you don't act out the light-saber fights and gymnastics of your nocturnal fantasies. For RBD sufferers, this little mechanism doesn't work so well, for unknown reasons, and the results range from the annoying, like sleep-kicking, to the hilarious, like sleepwalking naked down the street, to the dangerous-but-hilarious, like sleepwalking to the local Sleven, then hopping on a bus to visit an uncle the next town over. Researchers have isolated a few of the neurotransmitters responsible for the paralysis, but not the root cause, leaving RBD sufferers as the inevitable punch line of every pub night bullshit session.
This article originally published by Van Winkle’s,, the editorial division of Casper Sleep

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