11 Crazy Sleep Facts You Never Knew
For something we do every single night (not counting the occasional college all-nighter), there’s a lot we don’t know about sleep. Since we’re fascinated by all things rest-related, we set out to uncover the craziest, most jaw-dropping sleep facts you’ve never heard before. Keep scrolling to thoroughly have your mind blown.
Man is the only mammal that willingly delays sleep. Fascinating, right? Your dog, cows, sheep (oh, the irony), they all just go to bed when their bodies tell them to. They don’t delay sleep with the internal argument that there’s one more bone to chew or pasture to graze, unlike us humans who put off sleep for a variety of reasons, not least of which includes one more Netflix episode we have to watch.
The average person wakes up around six times per night. The next time you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep, try this trick.
The higher up you are, the more disrupted your sleep cycle gets. Generally, sleep disturbance becomes greater at altitudes of 13,200 feet or more. The disruption is thought to be caused by changes in breathing resulting from lower levels of oxygen. Most people will adjust to new altitudes in approximately two to three weeks.
You can unconsciously wake yourself. You know those times when you have an important meeting or interview, and you wake up exactly when you needed to, right before your alarm goes off? That’s because the unconscious anticipation of the stress of waking up causes a burst of the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin.
Being awake for 17 hours straight leads to decreased productivity that’s equivalent to having a .05 percent blood alcohol level. At a blood alcohol level of .05 percent, judgment, attention, and motor skills are somewhat impaired. The ability to drive safely is compromised and people are less able to make rational decisions about their capabilities. Studies have shown that humans are terrible judges of our own sleep-related impairment, so even if you’re convinced you’re functioning fine on three or four hours of sleep, indicators would show that you are not.
It can be tempting to use alcohol as a means to get to bed, since just one glass of wine can make you drowsy. However, though it will indeed make you fall asleep quicker, the alcohol interferes with your restorative REM sleep and will make you wake up more than usual throughout the night, in addition to exacerbating underlying conditions like sleep apnea and acid reflux.
A fear of sleep is real. Though many people willingly put off sleep (see slide one), others have an excessive, diagnosable fear of sleep called somniphobia. Their extreme dread may result from repeating nightmares, traumatic events, or anxiety about tasks they could be doing instead of sleeping. Avoiding sleep results in a declining mental and physical state and has been linked to depression. If you suffer from nightmares, find out how to avoid them.