15 Things You Might Not Know About Sleep

Sleep is as important to your health as diet and exercise. Researchers are learning more about sleep every day, but it’s there’s still much to learn. Here are a few sleep facts to help you better understand one of the most valuable activities of your day.

There’s a World Sleep Day.

World Sleep Day takes place each year on the Friday before the vernal equinox (spring equinox).

Our brain stays active while we sleep.

We may find sleep restful, but our brain stays active during sleep. For example, the brain sends signals to relax the muscles in our body so that we do not act out our dreams.

We deprive ourselves of sleep.

One of the most common reasons for sleepiness in the United States is self-impose sleep deprivation. Humans are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep.

Sleep helps us stay healthy

Sleep deprivation is associated with health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. A lack of sleep can also impair cognitive ability, motor skills, and weaken your immune response

We don’t know why we sleep.

The biological purpose of sleep remains unknown; however, we do know that sleep affects our health, mood, and quality of life.

One-third of your life is spent in bed.

The average person spends about one-third of his or her life sleeping.

How much sleep do adults need?

Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.

Sleep needs vary from person to person.

Infants need more sleep than older children, and older children need more sleep than adults. Some people need more than the recommended amount of sleep while others cope well with less than the recommended amount of sleep.

We don’t get enough sleep.

Short sleep duration is defined as fewer than seven hours of sleep in a period of 24 hours. One-third of American adults report getting fewer than the minimum recommended seven to nine hours of sleep.

Roads are safer during daylight saving time.

Fewer traffic accidents are reported during daylight saving time (spring and summer) than outside of daylight saving time (fall and winter). Experts say this has to do with circadian rhythms and our sleep cycles.

What are hypnic jerks?

Do you twitch or wake up with a jerking motion while falling asleep? Those movements are known as sleep starts or hypnic jerks.

Don’t drive drunk; don’t drive drowsy.

Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. The CDC states that being awake for 18 hours straight affects driving performance as much as a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05%, and being awake for 24 hours is equal to a BAC of 0.10%.

Everyone dreams.

The average person spends around two hours dreaming each night. Some people dream in color and others dream in black and white.

Don’t force yourself to sleep.

You can’t make yourself sleep, but you can create conditions and an environment that promote good sleep. The decisions you make throughout your day affect how well you sleep at night. Things like exercise, limiting caffeine, avoiding naps, and exposure to sunlight can improve your sleep quality.

Roughly one-third of your life is spent sleeping. Don't let a sleep disorder stand between you and a restful night's sleep. Click To Tweet

Sleep disorders can prevent sleep, or good quality sleep.

Sometimes sleep disorders stand between you and a good night’s sleep. Recurrent nightmares, sleep apnea, restless legs, and sleepwalking are just a few of the sleep disorders that a sleep medicine specialist can help with.

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