Sleep is amazing—we spend a good chunk of our lives asleep, and even sleep differently than many other animals. Perhaps the most surprising of all is how little we know about sleep. And thanks to the strangeness of dreams, sleep in general has a mysterious cachet.
We’ve pulled together a lengthy list of surprising facts about sleep. Some may entertain, while some might clue you in on getting a better night’s sleep.
1. Good news–that “fact” about how people swallow 8 spiders a year in their sleep is actually just a myth.
In fact, spiders don’t want anything to do with your bed (or you). Read more about the debunked myth at Scientific American.
2. It should ideally take 10-15 minutes for you to fall asleep.
If you fall asleep faster, it’s not a good thing–you’re probably sleep deprived. Find out how to get a better night’s sleep with our tips.
3. Symptoms of sleep deprivation can begin after only 17 hours of being awake.
You might want to rethink pulling an all-nighter to get an important project done.
4. Sleep deprivation can also make you hungrier.
This is because levels of leptin, an appetite-regulating hormone, can plummet when you’re sleep deprived.
5. Getting up in the middle of the night to perform various tasks (like reading or praying) was commonplace in the 17th century.
6. Some car rental contracts require you get more than 6 hours of sleep before getting behind the wheel.
Read the fine print!
7. Before colour TV, the majority of people dreamed in black and white.
These days, most dream in colour. Read about the change brought upon by technology here.
8. Only half a dolphin’s or whales’ brain is ever asleep at a time.
Apparently, a lot of animals are capable of keeping half their brain awake. Check them out here.
9. One third of your life is spent asleep.
We often wish we could sleep more, but adding up all the time makes it seem like quite a lot.
10. Blind people without light perception often have sleep trouble.
This is because out circadian rhythm is tied to perceiving daylight.
11. There’s no perfect amount of sleep per night that works for everyone, but those who sleep 6.5 to 7.5 hours per night live longer.
12. Some people have committed crimes in their sleep.
We all know about sleepwalking, but parasomnia–unnatural movements in sleep–has led to murder.
13. Hypnic jerks–that feeling you’re falling that causes you to jerk yourself awake–decreases with age.
14. One in four couples sleep in separate beds.
Remember those old I Love Lucy episodes where Lucy and Ricardo had their own beds? Lots of couples are doing the same. Here’s why.
15. You’ll forget half your dream just 5 minutes after waking.
If you want to recall your dreams, keep a dream journal by your nightstand–and write in it fast!
16. Gamers are more likely to be able to control their dreams.
The ability to control your dreams is called lucid dreaming.
17. New parents lose an average of about 1055 hours of sleep in the first year of their child’s life.
Next Mother’s Day, consider giving your mom the gift of sleep. It won’t totally make up for that lost sleep years ago, but she’ll appreciate it. Check our recommendations here.
18. All-nighters are actually really bad for studying.
It’s a staple strategy for teen dramas and sitcoms, but all-nighters reduce your ability to study or remember new facts.
19. We sleep less per night during a full moon.
But only by a few minutes.
20. The record for the longest anyone has gone without sleep is over 264 hours.
That’s 11 days!
21. Sleeping on your stomach might aid digestion. Sleeping on the side can reduce heartburn.
22. Your sleep position reflects your personality.
Learn what your position of choice says about you here.
23. We typically feel most tired at 2 AM and 2 PM.
This is why you’re always hungry after lunch.
24. Snoring is the biggest cause of sleep disruption.
25. We’re the only animal to willingly put off sleep.
Now that you’ve read these facts, though, you might appreciate sleep a little more!