Do you know that the way you sleep affects your body and mind?
Read these little known sleep facts to learn more about how sleep – including a lack of it – affects you both physically and mentally.
Sleep Facts about the Body
1. It should take from ten to fifteen minutes to fall asleep at night. If it takes you less than five, it usually means that you are not sleeping enough.
2. Not sleeping enough usually makes people feel hungry because it causes a decrease in the levels of leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite. This therefore also causes weight gain because they will obviously tend to eat more when what they really need is sleep.
3. Insomnia is more likely to happen as people get older, and this is considered one of the more well-known sleep facts, The truth of the matter, however, is that it is less a function of age than it is an attribute of some medical condition that happens to be related to aging.
4. Seasonal affective disorder is believed to happen because our bodies cannot adjust to the reduced presence of sunlight during the winter months.
5. Your alertness level after being awake for 16 hours straight is as much decreased as if you had a blood alcohol level of .05 where .08 is considered legally impaired.
6. People generally sleep better around the time of a new moon and worse around a full moon regardless of whether they sleep in a darkened room or not. This is because our circadian systems have adapted to this cycle, along with the solar cycle, over thousands of years. Our suprachiasmatic nuclei, a tiny part of the brain involved in melatonin production, along with some neurotransmitters and chemicals that keep internal time follow a rhythm that is consistent with the rhythms of both the moon and sun.
7. When you don’t get enough sleep, your pain tolerance goes down. Doctors don’t know why, but researchers conducted a sleep laboratory test that shows that sleep deprivation can cause hyperalgesia, or pain sensitivity in people who sleep less than they normally would.
8. Probably that saddest sleep facts is that sleep deprivation is primarily self-imposed, causing excessive sleepiness, underperformance and health issues.
9. Sleep deprivation is considered a type of torture. One of the least known sleep facts is that being deprived of sleep will kill you faster than being deprived of food. Even sleeping a couple of hours less than your body wants to can lead to a variety of health problems.
10. Living at high altitudes – above 4,000 metres – can mean not sleeping well. The lower levels of oxygen at high altitudes cause changes is the way a person breathes, and scientists think that this is what disturbs sleep. So, the higher you go, the worse you sleep. Most people are able to adjust to higher altitudes within two or three weeks, but not everybody can be healthy that high up.
11. People who work at night and sleep during the day usually say that they have adjusted to this strange schedule. One very little known sleep fact is that even after years of living this way, the body never really adjusts. As a result, people who do this type of shift work are more likely to develop chronic diseases like metabolic imbalances, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases, and possibly diabetes as well as certain cancers, because of the circadian disruption.
12. Snoring is one main cause of sleep disruption for about a quarter of the population. And more than 10% regularly experience poor sleep because of snoring – whether because their own snoring disrupts their sleep, or hearing the sound wakes them up.
13. The Sleep Council says that people who earn between £65,000 – £75,000 sleep better. This level of earnings seems to strike a good balance between the security of earning enough to live well and the anxiety of either having too much or feeling like it’s never enough.
14. Most healthy adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Only about 2.5% of people can be fully rested after less than seven hours of sleep. A few people may be able to function without sleepiness after as little as six hours, but this is not sustainable over the long term. Yet a few others are not at their best with fewer than ten hours of sleep.
15. People tend to feel drowsy or tired at around 2:00 AM and 2:00 PM, which is part of our natural rhythms. The post-lunch dip is therefore not actually the result of having a heavy lunch. Some workplaces allow employees to nap when they feel this dip, presumably because they understand the body’s need for sleep and its relationship to productivity.
16. Some people – whether children or adults – need to nap while others do not. Studies on teenagers have shown, however, that most nap because they do not sleep enough at night.
17. Taking melatonin supplements can help people fall asleep faster and reduce the number of times that they wake up in the middle of the night. However, it is a little known sleep fact that melatonin levels do not necessarily impact total sleep time. Other studies show radically different results, with no change in sleep patterns at all.
18. Sleeping on the belly with hands resting above the head can aid digestion. Laying on the left side can help reduce heartburn.
Sleep Facts about Emotion and Psyche
- Your sleep position can reveal your personality. A study by Professor Chris Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service, found that most people sleep in the same basic position every night. Professor Idzikowski also found other interesting correlations:
- 41% of the British population sleep in the foetal position, which indicates that they are shy and rough on the outside, but truly sensitive on the inside.
- People who sleep in the log position is social and likable, probably because they are carefree and easy-going. They trust others easily, and can be gullible.
- The yearner sleepers can be cynical and suspicious. They are generally open-minded and slow to decide, but once set on a course, are difficult to dissuade.
- People who sleep in the soldier position tend to be reserved although they are good listeners. They also hold themselves and others to high standards.
- Feefalling, the most defensive sleeping position, indicates an outspoken, narrow-minded, thin-skinned dominant, arrogant, and bold personality. He or she makes others adjust to his or her views and does not take criticism well.
- People who prefer the starfish position are liberal, free-thinking, relaxed, and peaceful individuals. They need their personal space and do not like being the center of attention.
Another sleeping position not studied by Professor Idzikowski shows a more mysterious personality. Those who sleep with the blanket pulled over their heads and hands still clutching its edge are shy, weak, deceptive, secretive, and scheming. They hold all their problems inside and are not likely to open up to anyone.
2. Divorced, widowed and separated people report experiencing insomnia more than people who are in relationships.
3. More than causing their own sleep deprivation, humans are the only mammals known to willingly delay sleep. Whether it’s because we want to finish up some work to avoid punishment or finish an interesting film, we tend to prefer both stressful and relaxing activities to sleep, unlike any of our close relatives.