This week’s curiosity box has
- Why is lockdown affecting sleep patterns?
- Do you burn more calories when you exercise in a hotter climate?
- How far do the roots of Voodoo go?
Sleep patterns during the lockdown
In just this week, four of my friends told me that their sleep pattern is “completely screwed”. Coincidence? I was not sure, so I conducted a short survey through Instagram.
From 87 responses, 57% agree that their sleep cycles are affected, and 66% of them are sleeping more. I am not surprised because these results are an indication of a world-wide phenomenon. Fitbit conducted a sleep-pattern study, and the results clearly show that people are sleeping more. Once you drill down the data by geography and age, the results get intriguing.
People are sleeping more and are more stressed – and why is this the case?
The first culprit is cortisol – the stress-causing hormone. Cortisol is not all bad because it regulates the activeness of our system. A primary driver for keeping the system active is the sun, i.e. light. Naturally, our bodies are meant to sync with the sun and term used for this is Circadian Drive. However, due to the lockdown, we have lesser exposure to the sun because we don’t go out frequently. Subsequently, we have increased our exposure to artificial light that comes from the many digital screens that surround us.
On a simultaneous track, we are releasing lesser Adenosine, a molecule that strengthens our sleep drive. We wouldn’t have a stable sleep drive because we are not as physically active as we would typically be.
Nevertheless, our efforts should be focused on setting our sleep patterns right because an irregular sleep cycle has a direct impediment to our immune system. And such times, we all need a healthier immune system. https://www.wired.co.uk/article/coronavirus-sleep.
Does exercising in a hotter climate burn more calories?
A calorie is the amount of energy it would take to raise the temperature of 1 kg of water by 1 degree Celsius.
We use calories as a measure to calculate the amount of energy our body needs and expends to function daily. And in a fitness routine, everyone strives for a perfect balance between calories consumed and calories burnt. The struggle is hard because food labels only help us in making a rough estimate of how many calories we consume. The unanswerable question is how many calories do we burn?
To answer that question, there are so many schools of thought and debate strewn across the internet. One particular discussion that piqued my brain is – Do we burn more calories when we exercise in a hotter climate? I continued my research on that question, and it was hard to find a consensus. But in my view, we burn more calories when we exercise in a hotter climate.
Long story short, an exercise in a hotter climate makes your heart work more and circulate more blood to cool your body down. Workouts in colder weather ease the workload of our body, i.e. to maintain body temperature. A study was done to test an athlete’s performance, doing the same exercise at different temperatures. The results concluded that in an environment where the temperature is moderate to high, the athlete burnt more calories.
There are many other factors such as duration of exercise, appetite, and workout type, that we need to keep in mind for this debate. If you would like more, please comment below with your questions, and I will be more than happy to expand my explanation.
The roots of Voodoo
Scooby-Doo introduced me to the concept of Voodoo. The culprit in that episode had dolls of the gang and was able to control them using pins that were pricked into them.
Unfortunately, I am a victim of misrepresentation of Voodoo by pop-culture and Hollywood.
The term Voodoo means spirit and the roots go all the way to Benin in Africa (https://theculturetrip.com/africa/ghana/articles/11-fascinating-facts-you-didnt-know-about-voodoo/). Like Benin, Voodoo is recognised as a religion in many parts in Africa. Voodoo has lots of music, dance, and spirits representing the different elements like rain, fire and so on.
The one thing that fascinated me about the Voodoo culture is the Zangbeto. Zangbetos are the spirits that protect the land. Dressed like haystacks, they move around during the night to drive away criminals, and they are highly revered during festivals.
According to Ogu legend, there are no humans inside the haystack when it moves. It is believed that they are controlled by the spirit of the night. I watched a few videos and after inspection, and I was not able to spot anyone entering the haystack. Do such spirits exist and control the Zangbetos? I don’t know.
Thank you @noodle_god for the suggestion to look into the Voodoo culture in Benin.