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Want to Lucid Dream? Hit the Snooze Button

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Training yourself to do something while you’re asleep is a lot easier said than done. For instance, lucid dreaming—in which you know you’re dreaming and can on some level control how the dream proceeds—is more difficult than just willing yourself to remember that you’re asleep. Many lucid dreaming techniques recommend waking up during various parts of the night, and according to a new study, that’s not a bad idea.

In a study in the journal Dreaming, a pair of psychological researchers from the Sleep Laboratory at Swansea University in the UK report that people who hit their alarm clock’s snooze button more often tend to have more lucid dreams. A total of 84 participants between the ages of 18 and 75 filled out an online survey about their alarm clock usage and the frequency of their lucid dreams, if they had any. The participants were recruited through online forums on dreaming, although some reported never having succeeded in having a lucid dream.

The researchers found a significant relationship between how often people snoozed and how often they remembered dreams and experienced lucid dreams. While it could be that people who snooze a lot and people who lucid dream a lot have some unknown quality in common, there’s also a possibility that being briefly awoken by an alarm before going back to sleep might put your brain in the right mode to lucid dream, such as by producing rapid eye movement sleep (REM), a sleep stage that has been linked to lucid dreaming.

[h/t: BPS Research Digest]

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Food
Learn to Spot the Sneaky Psychological Tricks Restaurants Use
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While dining out, you may have noticed (but perhaps didn’t question) some unusual features—like prices missing dollar signs, or burgers served on plates that could accommodate a baby cow.

These aren’t just arbitrary culinary decisions, as the SciShow’s Hank Green explains in the video below. Restaurants use all kinds of psychological tricks to make you spend more money, ranging from eliminating currency symbols (this makes you think less about how much things cost) to plating meals on oversize dinnerware (it makes you eat more). As for the mouthwatering language used to describe food—that burger listed as a "delectable chargrilled extravagance," for example—studies show that these types of write-ups can increase sales by up to 27 percent.

Learn more psychological tricks used by restaurants (and how to avoid falling for them) by watching the video below. (Or, read our additional coverage on the subject.)

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Animals
Owning a Dog May Add Years to Your Life, Study Shows
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We've said that having a furry friend can reduce depression, promote better sleep, and encourage more exercise. Now, research has indicated that caring for a canine might actually extend your lifespan.

Previous studies have shown that dog owners have an innate sense of comfort and increased well-being. A new paper published in Scientific Reports and conducted by Uppsala University in Sweden looked at the health records of 3.4 million of the country's residents. These records typically include personal data like marital status and whether the individual owns a pet. Researchers got additional insight from a national dog registry providing ownership information. According to the study, those with a dog for a housemate were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease or any other cause during the study's 12-year duration.

The study included adults 40 to 80 years old, with a mean age of 57. Researchers found that dogs were a positive predictor in health, particularly among singles. Those who had one were 33 percent less likely to die early than those who did not. Authors didn't conclude the exact reason behind the correlation: It could be active people are more likely to own dogs, that dogs promoted more activity, or that psychological factors like lowered incidences of depression might bolster overall well-being. Either way, having a pooch in your life could mean living a longer one.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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