Between the Sheets


Sleep can be mysterious, and trigger questions like: why do we dream? How long should it take to fall asleep? Do we really get taller when we sleep?

Here’s a list of interesting facts about sleep. Number 14 might surprise you.

  1. The typical time to fall asleep is in ideally 10-15 minutes. If it takes you less than five minutes, chances are you’re sleep deprived. If it takes you longer, and you find your mind racing instead of shutting down and letting you sleep, you may have insomnia.
  2. People spend, on average, 1/3 of their life sleeping.
  3. Some people can sleep with their eyes open. This makes it difficult to tell if your partner is asleep or not.
  4. Some people dream in black and white. NCBI Resources, in the article “Do we only dream in color? A comparison of reported dream color in younger and older adults with different experiences of black and white media”, by E. Murzyn of the University of Dundee shows 12% of people dream in black and white. Before color television was invented and brought into the households, only 15% of people dreamt in color. Older people dream in black and white more often than younger people, perhaps because of this fact.
  5. 50% of your dreams are forgotten within five minutes of your awakening. 90% of recollection is gone after an additional five minutes. Sigmund Freud posited this was because dreams represent our repressed thoughts, and so our brain wants to get rid of them quickly. There is the possibility that the brain awakens and focuses on other matters, shunting aside the dream experience. Some people keep a dream journal to record their dreams upon awakening.
  6. The people in your dreams aren’t complete strangers. You might not know them personally, but you’ve seen everyone in your dreams before. The brain can’t create people, so it uses faces that you have seen, even if just in passing.
  7. Contrary to popular belief, fear is not considered to be the main emotion in nightmares. Instead, researchers have found that it’s most often feelings of guilt, sadness, and confusion.
  8. The odd sensation of falling when half asleep and jerking yourself awake is called “hypnic jerks.” 60-70% of the population experiences them, and they are most common in people with insomnia.
  9. How you sleep can have surprising medical benefits. For example, sleeping on your stomach can aid digestion, and lying on your left side can help reduce heartburn.
  10. You can’t sneeze while sleeping. Since you aren’t actively moving to stir up dust particles, the reaction doesn’t occur.
  11. Humans are the only mammal that can delay sleep if they choose to do so. Mammals must go to sleep when their body tells them to. People are able to overcome exhaustion if they want to keep the party going or have a test to study for, but this isn’t healthy.
  12. Those who are born blind experience dreams involving senses such as emotion, sound and smell rather than sight. In a sighted person’s dreams, it’s rare to experience smell.
  13. Just like talking in your sleep, the hearing impaired communicate via sign language while sleeping. There are many recorded instances of people who have reported seeing their deaf partner or child signing while asleep.
  14. Gamers, more than anyone else, can control their dreams.
  15. Sleepwalking, formally known as somnambulism, is a behavior disorder that originates during deep sleep and results in walking or performing complex activities while asleep. It is much more common in children than adults, and is more likely to occur in sleep-deprived people. Because a sleepwalker typically remains in deep sleep throughout the episode, he or she may be difficult to awaken and will probably not remember the sleepwalking incident. Sleepwalking usually involves more than just walking during sleep; it is a series of complex behaviors that are carried out while sleeping, the most obvious of which is walking. Symptoms of sleepwalking disorder range from simply sitting up in bed and looking around, to walking around the room or house, to leaving the house and even driving long distances. It is a common misconception that a sleepwalker should not be awakened. In fact, it can be quite dangerous not to wake a sleepwalker. It is thought that up to 15% of the population are sleepwalkers, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
  16. 11 days is the record for the longest period without sleep. This was set by a Californian student named Randy Gardner in 1964. This is definitely not recommended, however, as Randy experienced extreme sleep deprivation and others have died staying awake for this long. Sleep is necessary to life. While the amount of time needed for sleep varies from person to person, it’s important to ensure that you do take the time for a good night’s sleep.
  17. Dysania is the state of finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning. We’ve all no doubt found it tricky getting out of bed every now and again, but those suffering from Dysania find it particularly difficult. They must drag themselves from bed and find it difficult to keep their balance when standing.
  18. Parasomnia is a term that refers to unnatural movements during your sleep. Some people have even committed crimes due to experiencing parasomnia, including sleep driving and even murder. Another symptom can be sleep eating.
  19. You grow roughly .3 inches while sleeping, but the growth is temporary as you shrink back down to normal after you’re awake for a few hours. When you sit or stand, your cartilage discs are squeezed by gravity, and lose the expansion accorded to them during your sleep.
  20. One in four couples sleep in separate beds. This can be due to snoring, different sleep schedules, and just the simple desire to sleep alone. There are some beds which are adjustable for each partner, which can help with the snoring or movements that interfere with a good night’s sleep.
  21. Sleep deprivation will kill you more quickly than food deprivation. Sleep is more important in the short term. It is sometimes used as a form of torture and intimidation. If you are sleep deprived, you can die in a car crash, be more susceptible to depression and suicide, and die at work – especially if you operate heavy machinery. It can also cause obesity and diabetes if you are not careful.

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