10 Fun and interesting sleep facts that many people don’t know
Are you curious about the weird and wonderful sleep facts out there?
The world of sleep is fascinating, with research made in the last 30 years shining a spotlight on what happens in the 8 hours of shut-eye each person typically needs.
From sleep cycles to night terrors, more information is becoming available about sleep. What scientists know for sure is you need the z’s to recharge your body, consolidate memories and repair body cells.
While there are still many questions around slumber, we set out to find out the most fun and interesting sleep facts.
1. Babies steal 1,055 hours of sleep from their parents
Research from Medical Daily shows new parents lose 44 days of sleep after the arrival of their newborn in the first year. Babies have irregular sleep cycles of 8-9 hours in the day and 8 hours at night. Their sleep is broken up in intervals of 1-2 hours at a time. Infants will start to sleep through the night at 3 months old.
2. Guinness World Records no longer tracks the longest period without sleep
Maureen Weston of Cambridgeshire holds the record for the longest period without sleep. She accomplished this unbelievable feat in April 1977 in a rocking chair marathon. Weston spent 449 hours (18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes) without sleep.
The Guinness World Records no longer keeps a record of other attempts as it is considered too dangerous for participants’ health. Some of the effects of sleep deprivation include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure, stroke, a lowered immune system and depression.
3. You grow taller while sleeping
Did you know that you add a few extra inches to your height while asleep? That’s all because of the gravity pulling you down and compressing the cartilage in your bones. Astronauts grow up to 2 inches taller while floating in space because of the zero gravity. The added height is temporary, though, and you will return to your normal height when you wake up.
4. Daylight savings is a killer, literally
When daylight savings returns, scientists have discovered it brings a higher risk of having a fatal heart attack. This boils down to the extra hour of sleep, which has profound metabolic effects on the body and your circadian rhythm.
5. You’re losing sleep if you have a snoring partner
The effects of snoring are well documented; people who snore experience interrupted sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness and morning headaches. Research by Mayo Clinic has found that partners to people who snore are also seriously affected. They lose out on a combined average of 1 hour of sleep per night and get woken up 20 times. That’s 365 hours of disrupted sleep in a year – just over 15 days!
6. Police officers fall asleep the most on the job
We can all relate to feeling sleepy at work. This usually happens if you didn’t sleep well the night before. Also, long term sleep deprivation can result in feeling fatigued at work. Luckily there are ways to avoid falling asleep at your desk. Maybe you’ve stolen a quick nap in your office or your car. But for police officers, it is a regular occurrence with 85% dozing off during the workday. Regional pilots come in at a close second at 80% and air-traffic controllers clock in at 48%.
7. Your brain forgets your dreams immediately upon waking up
The brain doesn’t store dreams as long-term memories. Instead, 5 minutes after you wake up from a dream, you’ve forgotten 50% of what you dreamt. And no this isn’t a dream disorder because, within another 5 minutes, 90% of your dream would have been history.
8. 41% of the British population sleep in the foetal position
In the United Kingdom, a survey by Professor Chris Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service found that 41% of Britons prefer the foetal position. This curled up position has also been linked to a personality type. People who curl up in the foetus position are said to be tough on the outside but sensitive at heart. They may be shy when they first meet somebody but soon relax.
9. Some people dream in black and white
The brain may be affected by the visuals it sees and stores. Before colour television was introduced in the UK in 1967, 15% of people dreamed in colour while the rest in black and white. Now, 12% of people dream in black and white.
10. You sleep better during a new moon and worse during a full moon
The Basel University in Switzerland has been conducting studies on how the moon affects sleep quality, and results are inconclusive. However, astrologers have a clear explanation. They believe that the moon controls the oceans and bodies of waters on the Earth. Seeing that humans are made up of 70% water, the lunar phases would affect our sleep cycles.
As sleep specialists keep unearthing more exciting facts about sleep, you can learn how to perfect your sleep routine, practise better sleep hygiene and improve your sleep quality naturally.
Sleep is an essential part of staying healthy and functioning at your best, so make sure to clock in those z’s so you can show up as your best self!