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Sleepwalk a Mile in Their Shoes

The plight of the nocturnal ambulator. Plus, six other deadly sins from the week's news.
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Watch the movie Sleepwalk With Me, and you may understand the severity of unregulated adult sleepwalking, which occurs when the brain is partially awake, with no conscious awareness of actions. A new study in the journal American Academy of Sleep Medicine examines this condition. Yves Dauvilliers, the director of the study, found a higher frequency of daytime sleepiness, fatigue, insomnia, depressive and anxiety systems and altered quality of life in patients who sleepwalked. Of the 100 adult sleepwalkers studied, one in four had nightly episodes and double that sleepwalked at least once a week. Additionally, 58 percent reported a positive history of violent sleep, including 17 percent who “experienced at least one episode involving injuries to the sleepwalker or bed partner that required medical care.” One study subject, for example, sustained fractures and head trauma after unknowingly jumping out of a third-floor window.


Listen up, Seth Rogens of the world: a recent study finds wittier people are an attractive choice for a short-term fling. Researchers Mary Cowan and Anthony Little recorded 40 subjects as they explained to a video camera which two items they’d take to a desert island and why. While participants were not told the study was about humor, 19 of them were oh-so-hilarious in their responses. When other people watched the videos later, the funnier folks were judged to be more attractive for both long- and (especially) short-term relationships. Researchers believe male wit “nurtures an impression of not being serious or willing to invest in a mate” while female wit is seen by men as an impression that they will be “receptive to his advances.” This may come as a relief to those on the prowl who’ve spent more time watching Saturday Night Live than going to the gym.


If you think Budweiser tastes watery, just switch to another beer (or how about Maker’s Mark?) and leave the courts out of it. After plaintiffs filed a class-action lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch claiming that the big-time beer company intentionally mislabeled Bud’s alcohol content after adding extra water to increase output, NPR paid for lab tests to see if the suds (Budweiser, Bud Light Lime and Michelob Ultra) were full strength. The results? The alcohol percentages inside the cans matched what was stated on the can. Still, the plaintiffs’ lawyer dismissed the data and has plans to continue his quest against the "King of Beers."


Feeling left out? Maybe some cash will make you feel better. Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands show that compensating individuals for being socially excluded (in this case from a series of games and tests) reduced distress and neural activity in their dorsal anterior cingulate cortex—the region of your brain active during physical and social pain. Although this may explain how Donald Trump and Ebenezer Scrooge keep their heads high, the researchers note that prior studies have reported exclusion remains painful even if the situation may be beneficial in the long-run.


Aggressive ads = aggressive men. So claims a paper in the academic journal Sex Roles. Researchers led by Megan Vokey examined magazine advertisements specifically aimed at men that reinforced the views of “hyper-masculinity.” The authors found that these depictions of toughness, violence, dangerousness and callous attitudes toward women and sex are common in U.S. magazine advertisements, and can account for up to 56 to 90 percent of the advertisements in some magazines aimed at younger, less-affluent and less-educated men. This is particularly troublesome as men “with lower social and economic power are already more likely to use a facade of toughness and physical violence as methods of gaining power and respect,” and such ads—from Dr. Pepper’s “Not For Women” commercials to Dolce & Gabbana’s fashion spreads—may reinforce that gender ideology.


If you find yourself envious of bagel-eaters and their gluten-loving ways, maybe you need to revisit your doctor. In Slate, journalist Darshak Sanghavi examines the positive and negative sides of a gluten-free lifestyle. Despite the growing popularity of gluten-free food, only one in 100 people has celiac disease, the autoimmune disorder worsened by bread and its glutenous friends. While those 3 million or so people certainly need a life without cereal and Cheez-its, Sanghavi writes, most of the anti-gluten crowd in fact claims gluten-intolerance—“someone’s subjective feelings of bloating, bowel changes, or mental fogginess after eating gluten.”


Pride in air quality is a far-off dream for Beijing. On the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index, designed to go up to 500, Beijing has hit 755. Smithsonian Magazine puts that into context: Salt Lake City, considered to have poor air quality because its geographic features and weather systems trap population, weighs in at 69.