The Craziest Facts You Never Knew About Sleeping

How much do you really know about sleep and sleeping? We’re living in a time with Siri, that Amazon Echo thing, and whatever Vine is, yet we’re still studying the science of sleep. Sleep incredibly mysterious and important to your health and well-being – so much so that we’re still studying it like it’s an ancient and powerful magic. It’s something we all do every day and is more vital to our mental and physical well-being than eating – but what should you know about sleep? How much should you sleep? What other sleep facts should all humans keep in mind when head hits the pillow? You’d think something we spend years doing would be pretty well-established by now, but it’s not. Every year we discover new facts about sleep, why we do it, and how it affects us. We’ve made more advances in our knowledge of sleep in the last 25 years than in all prior years, but there’s still much more digging to do.   

We’re still, to this day, not 100% sure why we sleep. But let’s dive into the facts we do know. All of the crazy sleeping facts that the every day person probably doesn’t realize. It’s time for learning – you can nap later.


Lack of Sleep Could Shorten Your Life and Make You Fat

Consistently getting less than six hours of sleep a night can dramatically shorten one’s lifespan. Even just a week of sleep deprivation can cause you to gain two pounds of fat in one week! Lack of sleep also causes food cravings, especially for sugary or salty foods, and for larger portions.
Source:  Fact Slides

You’ll Never Dream About Someone You Haven’t Already Seen

We can only dream about faces we’ve already seen (anywhere – in a photo, on television, in a crowd), whether we actively remember them or not. Every face you’ve ever dreamed about you have seen at some point in your life.
Source:  Lifehack

If You Feel Drowsy, You’re Most Likely Sleep Deprived

Sleep experts say that if someone feels drowsy during the day, even during boring activities, they haven’t had enough sleep. Additionally, if a person falls asleep in less than five minutes after lying down, they are suffering from severe sleep deprivation. It should take you anywhere from 10-15 minutes to fall asleep – if you’re crashing as soon as you hit the pillow then you need to be getting more shut eye.
Source:  Random History

Sleep Is a Wonderful Memory Aid

It’s been proven time and time again that sleeping right after you learn something can drastically improve your ability to retain the new information.
Source:  Business Insider

Falling Half-Asleep Is a Real Thing

For humans, it’s merely an expression, but for whales and dolphins it’s a survival skill. Both whales and dolphins literally fall half-asleep. Their brain hemispheres take turns sleeping so they can continue surfacing to breathe.
Source: List 25

The Precursor to the Alarm Clock Was Very Silly

Before the alarm clock was invented, people were hired as personal alarm clocks. They were called “knocker-ups” because they knocked on your window with a long stick when you needed to get up.
Source:  Fact Slides

The Record for Staying Awake Is Almost 19 Days

The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes and was set during a rocking chair marathon.
The record holder experienced blurred vision, slurred speech, hallucinations, and paranoia, as well as memory and concentration lapses.
Source:  The National Sleep Research Project

Cats Spend 70% of Their Lives Asleep

While a human spends roughly one third of their lives sleeping (if they get the recommended 8 hours a night, which equates to about 25 years in a lifetime), cats spend a whopping 70% of their lives asleep!
Source:  Fact Slides

Different Food Affects Sleep in Different Ways

It’s not just caffeine or ginseng… it’s also everyday food components. For example: carbs (generally) make you sleepy, while protein makes you more alert.

Dreams Fade Insanely Fast

Within five minutes of waking, 50% of a dream is forgotten. Within 10 minutes, 90% of it is forgotten. If you want to remember an especially fun dream, write it down as soon as you wake up!
Source: Scientific American

Nightmares May Be a Symptom of Other Health Issues

The occurrence of nightmares could be a result of heart conditions, migraines, or sleep deprivation.
Source:  Fact Slides

Humans Can Consciously Delay Sleeping

Humans are the only mammals known to willingly and consciously delay sleep, an ability that is probably just as handy as it is detrimental.
Source:  The Chive

Getting More Sleep Will Help Your Sex Life

Sleep deprivation has been consistently linked with lower libido and less interest in sex in both men and women.
Source:  Business Insider

The Back of Your Knee Holds the Cure for Jetlag

An experiment in 1998 found that shining a bright light on the back of one’s knee can reset the brain’s sleep rhythm.
Source:  Fact Slides

Parts of the Dreaming Process Are Like Watching a Film

Certain types of eye movements during REM sleep correspond to specific movements in dreams. This suggests at least part of the dreaming process is much like watching a film.
Source: The National Sleep Research Project

Elephants Can Sleep Both Standing Up and Lying Down

Elephants sleep standing up during non-REM sleep, but lie down for their REM sleep. Can you imagine if humans did that?
Source:  Achoo Allergy

Light and Noise = Enemies of Sleep

Any light, even the tiny rays from a digital alarm clock, can be enough to disrupt the sleep cycle, even if you do not fully wake. The light turns off a “neural switch” in the brain, causing levels of a key sleep chemical to decline within minutes.
And sound is just as disruptive. Exposure to noise at night can suppress immune function, even if the sleeper doesn’t wake or stir. Any unfamiliar noise, and especially noise during the first and last two hours of sleep, has the greatest disruptive effect on the sleep cycle.
Source: Achoo Allergy

Babies Seriously Affect Parents’ Sleep Schedules

A newborn baby results in 400-750 hours (on average) of lost sleep for his or her parents in the first year alone. New parents will miss out on roughly six months of sleep in the first two years of their child’s life.
Source: The National Sleep Research Project

Some of the Biggest Catastrophes Were Caused by Sleep Deprivation

The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska, the Challenger space shuttle disaster, and the Chernobyl nuclear accident have all been attributed to human errors in which sleep-deprivation played a key role.
Source:  Business Insider

REM vs. Non-REM Has a Direct Affect on Your Dreams

We used to think we only dreamt during REM sleep, but this is not the case. We also dream (albeit to a lesser extent) in non-REM phases. It’s possible there may not be a single moment of our sleep when we are completely dreamless.
The dreams are different however: REM dreams are characterized by bizarre plots, but non-REM dreams are repetitive and thought-like, with little imagery – (such as obsessively thinking you left the door unlocked).
Source: The National Sleep Research Project

Thinking You Slept Well, Even If You Didn’t, Might Help

Just believing you’ve slept well, even when you haven’t, has been shown to dramatically improve performance. Like a self-induced sleep placebo effect.
Source:  Fact Slides

Sleep Deprivation Is the Ultimate Torture

When applied slowly and systematically, sleep deprivation is said to be the single most effective form of coercion and torture.
A 19th century Chinese merchant was sentenced to death for murdering his wife. They chose sleep deprivation as the method of execution as that would cause the maximum amount of suffering and would serve as the greatest deterrent to other potential murderers. He didn’t die until the 19th day, having suffered terribly.
Source:  Random History

Different Mammals’ Sleep Length Varies Incredibly

Some mammals sleep nearly the entire day: koalas, 22 hours; brown bat, 19.9 hours; and pangolins, 18 hours. Other mammals barely sleep at all: giraffes, 1.9 hours (in five to 10 minute mini naps); roe deer, 3.09 hours; Asian elephant, 3.1 hours.
Source:  Lifehack

Exercise Is One of Sleep’s Best Friends

In addition to using your energy/making you tired, scientists theorize that exercise sets a person’s biological clock into a consistent wake/sleep pattern and that it may also boost the brain’s production of serotonin, a neurochemical that encourages sleep.
Source:  Random History

The Word “Sleep” Comes from a Word for Weakness

The word “sleep” is derived from the Proto-European base “sleb,” meaning “to be weak,” and is related to “slack.”
“To sleep around” wasn’t recorded until 1928.
Source:  Random History

Sleep Deprivation Is Actually Dangerous

It takes two weeks to starve but only 10 days to die from lack of sleep… which means you’ll die from sleep deprivation before you starve to death.
Source:  Lifehack

Transportation Industry Employees Are Chronically Sleep Deprived

One in five commercial pilots admit to having made a serious error while flying. One in six train operators and 14% of truck drivers say they have had a “near miss” due to sleepiness.
Source:  Business Insider

Sleep and Death… Twins or Cousins?

Throughout history, there have been some varied opinions about sleep’s relationship to death. Nas said, “I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death.” But in Greek mythology, Hypnos (Somnus in Roman mythology) was the god of sleep and Thanatos, or death, was his twin. Poppies and other sleep-inducing plants grew at the entrance of Hypnos’s cave.
Source:  Random History