7 interesting facts about sleep
If you’re anything like us, you love a good sleep. The older we get, the more precious sleep becomes. We’ve been told our whole lives that we need a solid eight hours in order to function properly and most of us love sleep so much that we’d happily dedicate a third of our day to it if we had the time. There’s nothing quite like waking up on your own terms after a really good snooze.
But sleep is actually a serious business. It’s essential for our overall health and wellbeing. Though the longest known period for a human to go without sleep is eleven hours, people have died in less time. It is vitally important that you spend an adequate amount of time asleep.
In case you needed any more encouragement to go to bed, here are some fascinating sleep facts.
If anyone were to ask us whether we prefer sleeping or eating, we’re not sure what we would answer. They’re both essential to human life and equally enjoyable. But whilst human beings can go a week or more without food with few repercussions, just a few days of sleep deprivation would render you unable to function. In fact, sleep deprivation is officially listed as a form of torture.
- Humans are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep
When elephants are tired, they have a nap. When seals need a snooze, they sprawl out on their favourite rock and spend some time in slumber-land. Humans are the only mammals who delay sleep because we think we have more important things to do.
When researchers put people in a room with no clocks or windows and told them to sleep whenever they felt tired, most of them slept for more than seven hours in a 24 hour period. Only 2.5% slept for less than seven hours. Between seven and eight hours is a good amount to aim for if you’re looking to meet your body’s natural needs.
- The average person falls asleep in 7 minutes…
… but it should actually take you 10 to 15 minutes to drift off. If you fall asleep in less than five minutes, it’s likely that you’re sleep deprived.
- Parents of newborn babies are extremely sleep deprived
On average, a new parent loses 6 months worth of sleep in the first two years of parenthood, and for every child a woman has, her risk of insufficient sleep increases by 46%. Newborns sleep for 15 hours a day, but unfortunately this does not always happen during the night, which is why new mums are encouraged to sleep whenever their baby does.
- Adults who sleep for less than seven hours a night are more likely to report asthma, diabetes and cancer
They’re also 12% more likely to die prematurely. Lack of sleep has serious consequences for your overall health and wellbeing and can put you at greater risk of causing a car accident if you drive. In America, 1,500 deaths a year are caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel and 1 in 25 people reported falling asleep whilst driving in the last 30 days.
- You spend 75% of the night paralysed
During REM sleep, your brain paralyses your body so that you don’t act out your dreams. In our opinion, that’s a really good evolutionary trait. Imagine a world full of sleeping people who think they can fly. Terrifying.
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