20 Things you wanted to know about sleep but were too afraid to ask

sleep

Sleeping is in fact somewhat of a mistery to us because we don’t quite fully understand the complex mechanisms which happen to us when we are sleeping. Sure we know most of them or at least we think we know most of them yet some still are a mistery to us. Here is a list of things which you may find more or less useful but the facts are pretty interesting.

  • The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon. The record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses.
  • – Anything less than five minutes to fall asleep at night means you’re sleep deprived. The ideal is between 10 and 15 minutes, meaning you’re still tired enough to sleep deeply, but not so exhausted you feel sleepy by day.
  • A new baby typically results in 400-750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year.
  • The continuous brain recordings that led to the discovery of REM (rapid eye-movement) sleep were not done until 1953, partly because the scientists involved were concerned about wasting paper.
  • REM dreams are characterised by bizarre plots, but non-REM dreams are repetitive and thought-like, with little imagery – obsessively returning to a suspicion you left your mobile phone somewhere, for example.
  • No-one knows for sure if other species dream but some do have sleep cycles similar to humans.
  • Elephants sleep standing up during non-REM sleep, but lie down for REM sleep.
  • Some scientists believe we dream to fix experiences in long-term memory, that is, we dream about things worth remembering. Others reckon we dream about things worth forgetting – to eliminate overlapping memories that would otherwise clog up our brains.
  • Dreams may not serve any purpose at all but be merely a meaningless byproduct of two evolutionary adaptations – sleep and consciousness.
  • REM sleep may help developing brains mature. Premature babies have 75 per cent REM sleep, 10 per cent more than full-term bubs. Similarly, a newborn kitten puppy rat or hampster experiences only REM sleep, while a newborn guinea pig (which is much more developed at birth) has almost no REM sleep at all.
  • Scientists have not been able to explain a 1998 study showing a bright light shone on the backs of human knees can reset the brain’s sleep-wake clock.
  • Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%.
  • The NRMA estimates fatigue is involved in one in 6 fatal road accidents.
  • The “natural alarm clock” which enables some people to wake up more or less when they want to is caused by a burst of the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin. Researchers say this reflects an unconscious anticipation of the stress of waking up.
  • Some sleeping tablets, such as barbiturates suppress REM sleep, which can be harmful over a long period.
  • A night on the grog will help you get to sleep but it will be a light slumber and you won’t dream much.
  • Ten per cent of snorers have sleep apnoea, a disorder which causes sufferers to stop breathing up to 300 times a night and significantly increases the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
  • Snoring occurs only in non-REM sleep
  • Teenagers need as much sleep as small children (about 10 hrs) while those over 65 need the least of all (about six hours). For the average adult aged 25-55, eight hours is considered optimal
  • Experts say one of the most alluring sleep distractions is the 24-hour accessibility of the internet.
  • Well hopefully we’ve been of some use to you. Read the last thing. Twice 🙂

    8 thoughts on “20 Things you wanted to know about sleep but were too afraid to ask

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