I just read this fascinating book about a day in the life of your body. Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream by Jennifer Ackerman weaves a host of scientific studies on everything from pain to sleep cycles into a readable narrative, putting each study, blissfully, in layman’s terms. Some handy practical knowledge can be gleaned from this book: your pain threshold is highest in the afternoon, so it’s best to schedule dentist visits then; the time of day you take medication or have chemotherapy can affect the results; having sex before a big presentation can calm the nerves.
The benefits of exercise have never been clearer to me or more well-argued than in this book. We all know exercise is important, but to hear the exhaustive list of why is a compelling reminder. Exercise aids weight loss, of course, but also concentration, sleep, brain function, mood. You might say it’s a wonder drug—one that requires a bit more effort than swallowing a pill, but a wonder drug nonetheless.
The coolest fact? A theory behind that jolt you occasionally experience as you’re drifting off to sleep. Ackerman says that the “spasm . . . is more frequent in adults than in children, and more common in people who are nervous or overtired. Some evolutionary biologists speculate that the hypnic jerk may be a reflex left over from arboreal ancestors—useful in avoiding a slip from a sleeping perch.” Cool.