12 Things Few Know About Sleep
We spend up to a quarter, sometimes a third, of our lives sleeping. But there’s still so little we know about the mechanism that takes up such a huge part of our lives. Here are a few facts to get you better acquainted with your nightly visitor, the sandman.
1. Sleep deprivation affects the young more than the old.
According to studies, the energy of youth requires a lot of sleep too, and people of ages 18-24 are more strongly affected by a lack of sleep than older people are.
2. Even one hour more of sleep can help prevent traffic accidents.
We’re all familiar with that time of year when we set our clocks to one hour earlier and get to sleep one more hour. Statistics show that the day after this happens, there is a marked decrease in traffic accidents. The lesson seems to be – sleep well and be rested before driving, because it matters.
3. Victorians were lazier.
During the Victorian era there was no artificial lighting like today, and so people used to sleep about 10 hours a night, every night.
4. Women need an hour more.
Research shows that women need on average at least one hour more of sleep than men do. So next time she complains about her sleep guys, remember she needs more than you.
5. Teens need even more sleep
Teens actually need about 10 hours of sleep a night, compared to only 6-7 hours for adults.
6. Sleep apnea is VERY common
About 10% of people suffer from sleep apnea, which means they stop breathing for a very short time (a few seconds). This may happen hundreds of times in one night and is one of the major causes of snoring. It’s also bad for the heart so if you have it, you should have it checked out.
7. Half-brained animals
Some animals, such as ducks and dolphins, need to stay awake all the time. They’ve found a way around going to sleep by turning half their brains off and entering a half-asleep, half-awake state.
8. Heat and insomnia are closely linked
You may have noticed it’s hard to fall asleep when you’re hot. That is because the body temperature is closely linked to the sleep-wake cycle, and may interfere with it if it’s too high.
9. Any amount of light may wake you
Light triggers ‘wake’ chemicals in your brain that try to wake you up for a ‘new day’, for some people, this mechanism is very sensitive and so even a little light could wake them up without them knowing why.
10. Sleep deprivation is a lot like being drunk
Research shows that going 17 hours without sleeping leads to your performance as a driver equivalent to that of a driver with a 0.05% blood alcohol level.
11. Your brain grows during REM sleep
REM sleep causes more neurons to bind in your brain and thus increases its mass.
12. Insomnia can have some scary results.
The longest period without sleep that has been recorded is 18 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes. The record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech, as well as memory and concentration lapses.