10 Facts about Sleep: the important, the interesting, the truths

Dedicated to the perpetually tired.

1. We spend about a third of our lives asleep.

giphy.gifInfants sleep for around 16 hours, teens (should) sleep for around 8-9 hours whilst adults usually have around 7-8 hours of sleep. Sleep is vital for bodily functions such as muscle repair, memory consolidation and the release of hormones controlling growth and appetite. According to a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, only 15% of teens get 8.5 hours of sleep on school nights. Students in higher grades often get the least amount of sleep, despite their best intentions. We might need to think about changing the length of our school days.

2. Sleep deprivation and…

csm_Fotolia_48848523_Subscription_Monthly_M_02_ae101a9637.jpgStudies show that a lack of sleep can lead to obesity, cardiovascular problems and possibly diabetes. Ever wondered why you feel hungrier after a sleep-deprived night? Hormones. Our bodies produce the hormone leptin, which creates the feeling of fullness. On the other hand, the hormone ghrelin creates the feeling of hunger. Lack of sleep leads to the decrease of leptin and the increase of ghrelin in blood, which stimulates the appetite. Everything adds up, meaning that many sleep-deprived nights could lead to weight gains and a greater appetite.

3. Snoring can be lethal.

giphy-1.gifAlthough snoring is harmless for most people (and mildly annoying for others sleeping in the same room), it can be a symptom of sleep apnea, a life-threatening sleep disorder. Sleep apnea is characterised by pauses in breathing during the night, which prevents air from flowing in and out of a sleeping person’s airways. People with this disorder are often left breathless in the middle of the night; waking up frequently, gasping for air. Pauses in breathing also reduces oxygen levels in blood, which could lead to cardiovascular diseases and higher blood pressure. However, it can be treated with mouthpieces and breathing devices.

4. There is a link between sleeping positions and personalities.

howwe_6064f5a787ce8868ef0824e297c4bcc4_1453617550.jpgAccording to sleep expert Professor Chris Idzikowski, sleeping positions are directly linked to personality traits. For example, those who sleep in a fetal position tend to be sensitive and shy beneath their tough façade, whilst those who sleep on their side tend to be more relaxed and sociable…etc.

You can read the full article here.

5. Our sleeping time can be divided into two main segments.

d5557496-6227-4bc6-9afc-a56255adc2b0.gifThe NREM (non-rapid eye movement) stage takes up around 75% of your sleeping time. It eases your body from a light sleep into a deep sleep. During this time, you are gradually disengaged from your surroundings; your muscles become more relaxed and your breathing becomes slower; blood pressure and body temperatures drop, energy is restored and tissue repair occurs. The REM (rapid eye movement) stage occurs every 90 minutes and takes up around 25% of your sleeping time. During this time, your body becomes immobile whilst your brain remains active; dreams occur, energy is supplied to the brain and the rest of your body.

6. “Sleep debt” exists.

burden-of-sleep-debt-cartoon.jpgLack of sleep leads to sleepiness- a no-brainer. Missing 30 minutes of sleep can make you drowsy, unproductive and even moody. Sleep debt, in a nutshell, is the accumulation of lost sleep time. This is related to the hormone adenosine, which is involved in sleep regulation and creating the feeling of tiredness. It is produced when you’re awake and broken down when you’re asleep. Adenosine builds up when you don’t get enough sleep, which explains the slow reaction times and the increased levels of drowsiness after a series of sleep-deprived nights.

7. Repaying the debt

1198548031.jpgThere’s a reason why we call it “sleep debt”: the “debt” must be paid. Some people try to repay it by sleeping in on the weekends, but it only works when you have less sleep time to regain (e.g. 1-2 hours). Sleeping in on the weekends can also wreak havoc on your sleep schedule, which makes it harder to go to sleep on Sunday night. The things your parents have told you are true: sleep 15 minutes earlier each night, establish a sleep schedule (sleeping and waking up at the same times each day); avoid caffeine and electronics before you go to bed…etc. Naps could help, but it’s a luxury that most of us can’t afford.

8. 2:00

dreamstime_l_26338541.jpgEver felt especially tired after lunch? It’s normal. Studies show that humans are the most tired at 2:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. During these times, we are less alert. So if you’re ever caught falling asleep in class, blame it on human nature.

9. The ‘I really don’t want to get out of bed’ feeling has a name.

I just want to lay in my bed.gifIt’s called dysania, aka clinomania. People who suffer from this psychological disorder struggle to get out of bed each morning, and they feel compelled to stay in bed regardless of the consequences. Dysania is classified as an anxiety disorder, along with OCD and PTSD. It is commonly linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Depression. Treatment of this disorder can range from exercising to seeing a psychologist or using the chemical serotonin.

10. Everyone dreams.

tumblr_mekx66FcEs1qhic1oo1_500.gifOn average, we spend around 6 years of our lives dreaming. However, we forget 95% of our dreams shortly after waking up. Today, 75% of the world’s population dream in colour, compared to the 15% before colour television was invented. Some dreams are universal, meaning that most people have had the same dreams at some point in their lives. The list includes falling, arriving late, school events and flying. So dream on!