According to The National Sleep Research Project, these bizarre facts are actually true!
1. Some studies suggest women need up to an hour’s extra sleep a night compared to men, and not getting it may be one reason women are much more likely to get depression than men.
2. After five nights of partial sleep deprivation, three drinks will have the same effect on your body as six would when you’ve slept enough.
3. 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.
4. Exposure to noise at night can suppress immune function even if the sleeper doesn’t wake. Noise during the first and last couple of hours of sleep has the greatest disruptive effect on the sleep cycle. Here’s a link to our ear plugs with a free eye mask!
5. British Ministry of Defence researchers have been able to reset soldiers’ body clocks so they can go without sleep for up to 36 hrs. Tiny optical fibres embedded in special spectacles project a ring of bright white light (with a spectrum identical to a sunrise) around the edge of soldiers’ retinas, fooling them into thinking they have just woken up. The system was first used on US pilots during the bombing of Kosovo.
6. 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 memories that would otherwise clog up our brains.
7. Certain types of eye movements during REM sleep correspond to movements in dreams, suggesting at least part of the dreaming process is similar to watching a film.
8. REM dreams are characterised by bizarre plots, but non-REM dreams are repetitive and thought-like, with little imagery - an obsessive suspicion that you left your mobile somewhere, for instance.
9. A new baby typically results in 400-750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year. OMG!
10. Both whales and dolphins literally fall half-asleep. Their brain hemispheres take turns so they can continue surfacing to breathe.
11. 12% of people have black and white dreams. Before colour television, however, the number was 75%.
12. Scientists have determined that counting sheep is ineffective for putting oneself to sleep. It’s found to be too boring, and, in fact, imagining a calming landscape generally works much better.
13. When you die you will have slept about 1/3 of your life, which for the average person is approximately 25 years. Blimey!
14. That moment right before you fall asleep when all of a sudden you jolt wide awake has a name – it’s called a myoclonic jerk. So that moment that always makes us look crazy is actually a thing.