22 Intriguing Sleep Facts

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Sleep is one of the most complex activities that humans are routinely required to do. The fact that we do it everyday seems to be one of the reasons why a lot of people know so little about sleep. If you’re a bit curious, though, here are some interesting facts about sleep:

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1. “Research shows you’ll sleep better during a new moon and worse during a full moon, although the reasons are unclear.”

As most of us know, various moon phases have different effects on the planet. This is why a  few studies have been conducted to understand whether these phases also have certain effects on the human body. A team of researchers from the Switzerland Centre for Sleep Medicine with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University of Basel released a research paper stating that the full moon can cause less sleep than normal. A later study has been conducted by Sweden’s University of Gothenburg researchers further stressing on the connection of the lunar phases to our sleep. Despite the researches, though, there’s still no definitive study on the matter that can say for sure how the moon affects our sleep.

2. “If it takes you less than 5 minutes to fall asleep, you’re probably sleep deprived. Ideally, falling asleep should take 10-15 minutes.”

This actually explains itself perfectly. Normally, it takes 10-15 minutes to fall asleep, so nodding off within just the first five minutes that your head hit the pillow can mean sleep deprivation or other issues like narcolepsy.

3. “Sea otters hold hands when they sleep so they don’t drift away from each other.”

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Not only is this adorable, but it also makes perfect sense as holding hands can be an easy safety precaution for sea otters.

4. “Tiredness peaks twice a day, at 2 a.m. and 2 p.m. That’s why you’re less alert after lunch.”

Of course, this also depends on your body clock, but if you have a normal routine, this is more likely. Especially if you don’t get enough sleep the night before, getting tired after lunch is more likely, as it is your body’s way to tell you that you need to take that afternoon nap.

5. “Have trouble waking up on Monday mornings? Blame “social jet lag” from your altered weekend schedule.”

We’ve said it over and over again, if you want to wake up easier in the morning, stick to a routine. This will fine tune your body clock, making waking up naturally easy. However, for some, this routine gets disrupted during the weekends, due to all the parties and social gatherings people are likely to get involved in during their days off.

How does all of these social activities affect your sleep? It’s pretty simple, really. As you’re more likely to sleep later or sleep in during the weekends, aside from the fact that you don’t really have to get up on the usual hour you do during the weekdays, your Circadian rhythm gets a jolt from the change. This is commonly called social jet lag as by Monday, you’d need to fall back into step and wake up at a certain hour once again.

6. “We are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep.”

As there are just so much to do and so many distractions that can keep us awake, it has been known that humans are the only mammals who actually delay sleep on their own volition. Other mammals just go to sleep whenever they want to. Pretty understandable, really, as most have responsibilities, recreation, and hobbies to miss sleep over.

7. “Stress, physical or mental illness, living or sleeping arrangements, family history, shift work, diet and exercise habits can all cause insomnia.”

There are tons of things that can cause insomnia, making everyone at risk of this condition.

8. “Finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning is a real condition called dysania. It may signal nutritional deficiency, depression or other problems.”

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If you don’t consider yourself a morning person, it may be a daily struggle for you to stay away from the snooze button of your alarm clock. During the colder months, it’s also more appealing to stay under the covers than get out of bed and subject yourself to a cold shower. This is pretty normal, as most people like to stay comfortable and dread the workday ahead.

However, there are also those who really find it impossible to get out of bed in the morning. It can get so bad that it is already considered as an anxiety disorder known as dysania. This psychological condition is also commonly linked to depression and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which can be treated through professional help.

9. “Insomnia is not defined by the sleep you lose each night, but by the drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, headaches, irritability and other problems it causes each day.”

Insomnia is so much more than just not being able to sleep. Get to know more about it here.

10. “English Bulldogs are the only canines known to suffer from sleep apnea, a breathing disorder. Their unusual airway anatomy (short snouts and under-bites) is likely the reason.”

It might be funny to hear a puppy snore, but it is actually not a good thing for your pet. Snoring may seem harmful, but sleep apnea is actually a serious matter as it can cause chronic sleep deprivation that can lead to a wide variety of health problems later on.

11. “Being awake for 16 hours straight decreases your performance as much as if your blood alcohol level were .05%. (The legal limit is .08%.)

We know that sometimes, certain responsibilities and tasks will force you to lose a night’s sleep as having more time can make accomplish more, in theory. However, productivity and performance actually decreases by the time you hit the 16th hour of wakefulness (or sleeplessness), making it actually counterproductive to stay awake than get some sleep and resume your work upon waking up. Studies even show that losing as much sleep will actually make you as good as drunk.

12. “In the 17th century, getting up in the middle of the night was normal. People slept in two segments divided by an hour or two of alertness (time for reading, praying, intimacy or socializing with others).”

Biphasic and polyphasic sleep is the practice wherein individuals sleep for more than just once during the day. Also known as segmented sleep, it has been a natural practice back in the day when there were less distractions and opportunities for people to stay up until late night. There are still lots of practitioners of this type of sleep, although some experts do not necessarily agree with it.

13. “Doing without sleep is likely to make you hungry as levels of leptin, an appetite-regulating hormone, fall.”

It’s pretty common to crave for comfort food when you’re tired and sleep deprived, mostly because of your low levels of leptin.

14. “You’re less likely to have a traffic accident when daylight saving time ends. Statistics show that the extra hour of sleep reduces accidents.”

In most western countries, summer brings in the Daylight Saving Time, wherein they adjust their clocks to one hour back to be more in tune with the duration of their day time. When this period ends, people will enjoy an extra hour of sleep. However, daylight saving means less sleep for more people, and this equates to more accidents.

15. “One job in early English mill and factory towns was to knock on people’s windows to wake them up for work.”

Called the knocker-up, people who knocked on people’s windows to wake clients up were commonly hired during the Industrial period in Britain and Ireland. They were deemed a more reliable way of getting up for work before alarm clocks became prevalent.

16. “Sleeping on the job is less of a problem in Japan. Companies may accept it as a sign of exhaustion from overwork.”

While the rest of the world sees sleeping on the job as a way of slacking off, in Japan, it is okay if you happen to doze off while on duty. Called the “inemuri” (directly translated as sleeping while present), it can even be viewed by companies as a sign from working too hard. Employees even fake inemuri in some cases, especially if they want to be seen as a hard worker by their bosses.

17. “Some car rental contracts make you promise not to drive on fewer than 6 hours of sleep.”

As a safety precaution, some car rental companies have included clauses on the amount of the driver’s sleep on their contracts. It is actually pretty understandable, as sleeplessness is also a common cause for traffic accidents.

18. “Insomnia is often a normal part of grieving. Taking sleeping pills can disrupt this natural process.”

Sleeplessness is typically experienced by grieving individuals, as all the stress and emotions can really affect your sleeping pattern. However, as time goes by, the insomnia goes away as the sufferer progresses through the different stages of grief. Some people turn to sleeping pills, though, to deal with the sleeplessness, which is actually harmful to their health.

19. “Regular exercise usually improves your sleep patterns. Exercising sporadically or right before bed may keep you up.”

Studies have shown that regular exercise do have great effects on your sleep. Just be careful in timing your workouts, though, as doing it right before you hit the hay may actually prevent you from dozing off.

20. “Today, 75 percent of us dream in color. Before color television, just 15 percent of us did.”

In a study conducted by Eva Murzyn for University of Dundee, there’s a correlation between the type of TV you had as a child and your dreams. It says that most people under 25 nowadays dream in color, while those who were exposed to black and white TV (people who are most likely above 55 years of age) also dream in black and white, even until today. However, this doesn’t mean that everyone who is not nearing their senior years dream in color and vice versa, it just suggest that our childhood TV sets may have a say in how we dream.

21. “Whales and dolphins literally fall half asleep. Each side of their brain takes turns so they can come up for air.”

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Dolphins have to be conscious to breath [sic]. This means that they cannot go into a full deep sleep, because then they would suffocate. Dolphins have “solved” that by letting one half of their brain sleep at a time. This has been determined by doing EEG studies on dolphins.

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22. “One of our biggest sleep distractions is 24-hour Internet access.”

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Who needs sleep when they can go online? You. You need sleep.

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