I dream of alien abductions
There he goes! It’s lunchtime and your colleague Tom is going on and on again about that time he was abducted by aliens. It sounds ridiculous, but he does make some convincing arguments. Tom thinks it was real, but could it have all just been in his head?
Lucid dreaming may help explain alleged alien abductions. During a lucid dream, people know that they’re dreaming, and can also have some control over how the dreams play out. During some dream states, a person can feel intense sensations, such as terror and paralysis, so it’s no wonder these dreams feel so real.
In a recent study, scientists encouraged 152 participants who had self-identified as lucid dreamers to dream about aliens. Many (75%) of the participants were able to dream about alien encounters, and 15% “achieved relatively realistic experiences,” the investigators reported.
So cut Tom some slack. He’s not crazy, he might just have lucid dreaming privileges. Tell him he should dream about something more fun, like a vacation in the Bahamas.
Follow your heart: Drink more coffee
It seems like the world is divided into coffee drinkers and non–coffee drinkers. Then there’s decaf and regular drinkers. Whichever camp you fall into, know this: The widespread belief that caffeine consumption has an effect on your heart is all beans.
In what is the largest investigation of its kind, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, looked into whether drinking caffeinated coffee was linked to a risk for heart arrhythmia. They also researched whether patients with genetic variants that affect their metabolism could change that association. Almost 400,000 people with a mean age of 56 years participated in the study. More than half of the participants were women.
The investigators analyzed the participants’ self-reported coffee consumption using a technique called Mendelian randomization to leverage genetic data with the participants’ relationship with caffeine, making it an even field and not relying on the participant consumption self-reporting for outcomes as in previous studies.
What they found, after the 4-year follow up, was nothing short of myth busting.
“We found no evidence that caffeine consumption leads to a greater risk of arrhythmias,” said senior and corresponding author Gregory Marcus, MD. “Our population-based study provides reassurance that common prohibitions against caffeine to reduce arrhythmia risk are likely unwarranted.”
There was no evidence of a heightened risk of arrhythmias in participants who were genetically predisposed to metabolize caffeine differently from those who were not. And, there was a 3% reduction of arrhythmias in patients who consumed higher amounts of coffee.
We are not lobbying for Big Caffeine, but this study adds to the reported health benefits linked to coffee, which already include reduced risk for cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease, with an added bonus of anti-inflammatory benefits. So, the next time you’re hesitant to pour that second cup of Joe, just go for it. Your heart can take it.