25 Cool Facts About Sleep You Probably Didn’t Know

Posted by , Updated on December 16, 2015

Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain functioning and maintain your physical health. The damage from sleep deprivation might not hurt you instantly but it’s a safe bet it will harm you over time if it continues for a long time. For example, ongoing sleep deprivation can raise your risk for chronic health problems such as depression, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and various heart problems. The ancient Greeks were the first people to realize the importance of sleep in people’s lives and for that reason they worshiped Morpheus (god of sleep and dreams), to whom they prayed for a good night’s sleep and peaceful dreams. Today, however, since the rhythms of modern life are more demanding and stressful than ever before, many people tend to suffer from insomnia (mainly due to stress and anxiety) or intentional sleep deprivation in an attempt to achieve more than a normal human being should in a day. In case you’re one of those people who don’t fully realize the importance of sleep, take a look at these 25 Cool Facts About Sleep You Probably Didn’t Know and we can promise you that you will make a few changes in your life starting today.

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A new baby typically results in 400–750 hours of lost sleep for parents in the first year.

25 commons.wikimedia.orgSource: abc.net.au, Image: commons.wikimedia.org

In the REM (rapid-eye movement) stage of sleep (it’s when we are dreaming) your body is normally paralyzed. In rare cases, however, people act out their dreams. This has led to broken arms and legs, broken furniture, and in at least one reported case, a house burning down.

24 commons.wikimedia.orgSource: lifehack.org, Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Dreams are responsible for many of the greatest inventions of mankind. A few examples include the idea for Google, the alternating current generator, DNA’s double-helix form, and the sewing machine, among others.

23 commonsSource: lifehack.org, Image: commons.wikimedia.org

It might sound like something out of Inception, but it’s true. Falling backward while in a dream is a popular technique for waking from an unpleasant dream, or changing the scenery of your unpleasant dream. And keep in mind that, just as in Inception, falling backward in a dream can sometimes cause a “false awakening,” where you think you’re awake but still dreaming.

Source: sleepfoundation.org, Image: flickr.com, Photo by DiraenSource: sleepfoundation.org, Image: flickr.com, Photo by Diraen

Regardless of whether men spend more of their waking hours thinking about sex, a 2007 study found that they are no more likely to dream about sex than women. However, the type of sex dreams that participants had varied by gender. Women are more likely to dream about sex with celebrities, exes, and current partners. Men are more likely to dream about having multiple partners, and ninety percent of men’s sex dreams involve women initiating sex.

21 wSource: world-of-lucid-dreaming.com, Image: Wikipedia

In rare cases, people can die from insomnia. To be more specific, fatal familial insomnia is a rare genetic disease that prevents a person from falling asleep, eventually leading to death. The average survival span for patients diagnosed with FFI after the onset of symptoms is eighteen months. This very rare disease has been found in just twenty-nine families worldwide, affecting a total of seventy-eight people, and the first recorded case was an Italian man, who died in Venice in 1765.

20 commonsSource: Wikipedia, Image: Wikipedia

Women are two times more likely to have insomnia than men, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Experts speculate that the reason may have to do with female hormones. Sleepless nights and daytime sleepiness have been linked to hormonal changes in a woman’s life, including pregnancy, menopause, and the menstrual cycle.

19 flickr Alyssa L. MillerSource: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, Image: flickr.com, Photo by Alyssa L. Miller

People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites due to the fact that their leptin levels (leptin is an appetite-regulating hormone) fall, promoting appetite increase. This explains why people who suffer from insomnia usually gain weight.

18 commons.wikimedia.orgSource: sleepfoundation.org, Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Scientists still don’t know—and probably never will—if animals dream during REM sleep, as humans do.

17 pixabaySource: sleepfoundation.org, Image: pixabay.com

According to the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, shift workers are at increased risk for a variety of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases. In other words, and despite what your boss might tell you, the body never adjusts to shift work.

16 commons.wikimedia.orgSource: sleepfoundation.org, Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Cats sleep away over seventy percent of their lives. No wonder they supposedly have nine lives.

15 commons.wikimedia.orgSource: cats.about.com, Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Michael Jackson had gone sixty days without REM sleep, which inevitably led to his death. He was being treated for his insomnia with the anesthetic propofol, which put him into a coma-like sleep, but deprived him of REM sleep. An overdose of the drug killed the singer. Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School testified that Jackson’s lack of REM sleep would have killed him soon if the drug hadn’t.

14Source: cnn.com, Image: flickr.com, Photo by Ana y María Quintana

It’s scientifically impossible to sneeze while sleeping. Why? As we fall asleep, the body relaxes parts of our brain that are responsible for reacting to certain stimuli. One of these is the part that triggers the reflex for sneezing.

13 wSource: livescience.com, Image: Wikipedia

Randy Gardner is the holder of the scientifically documented record for the longest period a human has intentionally gone without sleep without using stimulants of any kind. In 1964, Gardner, a sixteen-year-old high school student in San Diego, California, stayed awake for 264.4 hours (eleven days, twenty-four minutes). After fourteen hours of sleep he claimed he had fully recovered.

12 wSource: Wikipedia, Image: Wikipedia

It takes only five minutes for you to forget half the dreams you had after you wake up. About ten minutes later over ninety percent of them are already forgotten.

Source: sleepfoundation.org, Image: commons.wikimedia.org Source: sleepfoundation.org, Image: commons.wikimedia.org

You might get the impression of dreaming about people you never met or know but in reality we can dream only of faces we have seen before even if we can’t remember them while awake.

10 wSource: sleepfoundation.org, Image: Wikipedia

Some car rental contracts in the US make you sign a document where you promise not to drive their car with less than six hours of sleep.

9 wSource: sleepfoundation.org, Image: Wikipedia

Sleeping while at work might be a reason for you to lose your job in the US and Europe, but in Japan most companies consider it a sign of dedication if their workers fall asleep due to exhaustion while on the job.

8 wSource: theguardian.com, Image: Wikipedia

Contrary to popular belief insomnia is not defined by the sleep you lose during the night but by the tiredness, headaches, drowsiness, and irritability it causes the sufferer the next day.

Source: sleepfoundation.org, Image: flickr.com, Photo by D. Sinclair TerrasidiusSource: sleepfoundation.org, Image: flickr.com, Photo by D. Sinclair Terrasidius

Tiredness peaks twice a day according to the experts: at 2 a.m. and 2 p.m. That explains why you usually feel sleepy after lunch.

Source: elitedaily.com, Image: flickr.com, Photo by Alberto ....Source: elitedaily.com, Image: flickr.com, Photo by Alberto ....

According to the Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center if you fall asleep in less than five minutes it means that you are probably sleep-deprived. The ideal period of time for someone to fall asleep is about fifteen minutes, without necessarily meaning that you have a problem if it takes you a little longer to fall asleep.

5 wSource: sleepfoundation.org, Image: Wikipedia

Believe it or not, since the era of color television began, over seventy-five percent of people in the developed world dream in color. Studies have shown that before color TV only fifteen percent could dream in color.

4 wSource: sleepfoundation.org, Image: Wikipedia

Being awake for sixteen to eighteen hours straight causes the same impairment as alcohol. Various studies have shown that a sleep-deprived person performs as though their blood alcohol level is .05%. The legal limit is .08%.

3 commons.wikimedia.orgSource: sleepfoundation.org, Image: commons.wikimedia.org

We are all aware of insomnia, but how many of you have heard of “dysania”? Clinomania, or dysania as it is more commonly known, is the state of finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Depression and other anxiety disorders are usually the causes of dysania.

2Source: sleepfoundation.org, Image: flickr.com, Photo by bark

Humans are the only mammals on earth that can intentionally delay sleep or become sleep-deprived (usually due to obligations or work). Yet more proof that humans are some of the most anxious organisms on the planet.

1 pixabaySource: sleepfoundation.org, Image: pixabay.com

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