Why do we sleep? It might sound like a silly question, but the truth is that even scientists don’t know all the reasons we sleep. While we tackle a lot of serious sleep issues on our Sleep Blog, this post is a little taste of sleep trivia – quirky and somewhat weird facts about sleep that will entertain you but not necessarily help you understand sleep any better.
1. Whales and dolphins never fully fall asleep. Half their brain always stays awake so they can continue to surface breathe.
2. Tony Wright claims to hold the world record for sleep deprivation, staying awake for 266 hours in 2007. The Guinness Book of World Records rejected his claim (and all claims on sleep deprivation after 1990) due to possible health risks (including death).
3. Our minds incorporate sounds and smells around us when we’re dreaming. If you’re napping while someone’s cooking lasagna, you might start dreaming you’re dining at an Italian restaurant.
4. According to a 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), 4 % of Americans use prescription sleep aids, with the drug being more commonly used among women and older adults. Visit LiveScience.com to learn more.
5. Everyone dreams 4 to 7 times each and every night. Everyone. If you can’t remember them, you’re not alone. Most people forget 90% of their dreams.
6. Do blind people dream? “When you’re asleep, your brain processes the experiences you’ve had while awake and builds dreams out of them. If you can see, your dreams contain a number of images and visual memories; if you can’t see, your dreams contain more sounds and tactile experiences. For example, a sighted person dreaming about the beach probably sees the sand and the ocean, and a blind person dreams about the breaking of the waves, the smell of the ocean and the feeling of sand between his or her toes,” according to Discovery.com.
7. Somniphobia is the fear of sleep.
8. Waking up multiple times during the night is normal. Some studies suggest we wake up as many as 8 times throughout the night as we cycle between light and deep sleep.
9. Our dreams don’t create faces – we dream about what we’ve already seen (if only for a second).
10 More than 80% of people under 30 dream in color. If you want to hold onto your Technicolor dreams as you age, watching color TV can help, according to Gizmodo.
11. Falling asleep takes an average of 10-20 minutes. Falling asleep too quickly may be a sign of sleep deprivation.
12. Dreams are can be an emotional rollercoaster, cycling through your feelings of the past day. The most common emotion is anxiety, which begs the question – why are we all so stressed.
13. Pulling an all-nighter to finish a report or study for an exam? Not sleeping for 16 hours can make you behave as if you have a blood alcohol level of .05%.
14. Throughout an average night, you’ll cycle into deep REM sleep approximately every 90 minutes. At each point, a burst of electrical activity streams through your brain, which is also the time you’re most likely to dream.
15. If you live to be 75 years old, you’ll have spent approximately 25 years sleep – 6 of those years will be jam-packed with dreams.
16. Ever fall asleep and wake up with a sudden jolt seconds later. That action is called a myoclonic jerk.
17. Blind people often struggle with sleep because they have no perception of light. Their circadian rhythm (internal clock) lacks the ability to match up a night and day cycle.
18. Full moon? Some studies suggest that the full moon robs us of a good night’s sleep. Even if your sleep restricted to windowless rooms free of environmental and time-based cues, such as those found in a sleep lab, your sleep is likely to be shorter and interrupted more, according to ScientificAmerican.com.
19. How much sleep do you need? Studies show that people who sleep between 6.5 hr. and 7.5 hr. a night, live the longest. People who sleep more than 8 hr. or less than 6.5 hr. don’t live quite as long. Read more at Time.com.
20. Napping on the weekend feels good. Start planning your napping strategy now so you don’t miss out!