Before everybody started calling everyday tips "Life Hacks," they were often called folk remedies, and they usually rhymed. ("An apple a day keeps the doctor away!") The challenge now, as it was then, is figuring out which ones actually fucking work.
Well, according to recent experiments ...
5 Ice Massage Your Hand Webbing To Reduce Pain
Ancient Oriental medical techniques are either perceived by Westerners as miracle cures or pure bullshit, but the truth is often somewhere in between. For instance, you've probably heard of acupuncture/acupressure, which claims there are hypersensitive pressure points in the human body that can cure pain in some totally different part (this would be the principle upon which the Kill Bill five point palm exploding heart technique was based). Hoku, aka LI4, is one such region, located within the webbing at the junction between index finger and thumb:
They're just highlighting the area; your hand shouldn't actually look like that.
Hoku is supposed to be a powerful, inflammatory pain relief point, the merest pressure being able to knock your pain away like a boxing glove made of Advil. Despite the fact that the previous sentence sounds lifted from a Scientology treatise on anatomy, science totally backs it up ... in a way.
Research shows that a light massage with a piece of ice administered at this juncture is a super-effective painkiller -- effective enough to alleviate pain during the living hell that is giving birth. Women who have been treated with the "honey, let's rub some ice on a very particular spot on your hand" method at the onset of contractions have reported a very noticeable decrease in womb-wrenching pain. Furthermore, this same treatment administered after birth reduced their pain ratings from "distressing" to "discomfort," which might as well be "ecstatic" considering the participants' reproductive parts just basically evacuated a bowling ball.
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"Well, that was a minor inconvenience. I wonder what's on HBO tonight?"
And yes, you need the ice for it to work -- another study focusing on dental pain administered three types of massages to the hoku node: ice massage, regular massage, and regular massage plus the explicit suggestion that it treats toothaches (to see if it was just a psychological thing). Ice massage still reigned supreme, slashing dental pain by 50 percent or more in the majority of participants. So next time your tooth hurts, ditch the Orajel and just hold onto a cold bottle of beer.*
*Please don't do this. Very few courts recognize us as a legitimate medical authority.
One day they'll trust in Cracked too, goddammit.
4 Napping Helps You Cram For A Test
Until our society inevitably collapses into a mess of Mad Max-style anarchy, standardized testing will likely remain a major part of academic life. And until the day the sun is finally consumed by the tentacled things that lie behind all existence, roughly 167 percent of all students will prepare for the tests with the tried-and-true method of last-minute cramming. No one claims an all-nighter with a fleet of highlighters and Red Bull close at hand is the ideal way to study, but few of us have room for negotiation when it's 10 p.m. and you just realized that the test is tomorrow morning.
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And you forgot to put pants on.
But what if we told you it's possible to improve your memorization game during those study binges? And what if we told you it requires you to do even less work than Past You optimistically figured an all-nighter would require? It's easy: You just need to sleep. Not the whole night, obviously -- but research suggests that you're better off with a few quick reviews of the source material and a nap, rather than drilling into the wee hours, chugging caffeine until your blood type is espresso.
It's no surprise that a good night's rest consolidates freshly weaned information, but it appears that even a quick, 45-60 minute nap can vitalize your memory muscles in a way classic cramming and its "I must eat all information now" approach can only dream of. According to a German study published earlier this year, which put the regular cramming-until-dawn technique against the "read 'em and sleep" one, we're talking about a five times better performance in memorization.
It also led to a better performance in the "not being a huge douche in the morning" test.
The magic behind this particular trick appears to lie in the hippocampus -- the brain region responsible for committing hot new data to long-term memory. Researchers found that napping triggers a staccato of electrical impulses they call sleep spindles, which manifest during sleep and play a major part in the whole "being able to remember all that stuff you just hurriedly learned" part of the studying.
In other words, your brain hates studying just as much as you, to the point where it's totally prepared to give you a cheat code for it if you just let it sleep for a little bit longer, Mom. Jeez.
And, if you find your attention drifting on test day, you should know that ...