Interesting things about sleep (backed by science)
If you say you don’t like sleep, you’re lying. Or, maybe you’re just not doing it right. At Ely Mattress, we’re obsessed with sleep. It makes you feel great, and means you get to spend time in a cosy bed. But, for something we spend a third of our lives doing, we know surprisingly little about sleep.
There are some obvious facts about sleep that are widely known – like how staring at screens too close to bedtime is bad sleep hygiene. Plus, there are plenty of old wives tales and myths surrounding sleep. Such as, eating too much cheese will give you nightmares.
Sorting the fact from the fiction, we’ve gathered together a list of interesting things about sleep. These are backed by science, so you can confidently rely on them at the next pub quiz, or impart them sagely the next time a friend complains about being tired.
In a normal sleep period, a person can experience between four and six sleep cycles.
What are these?
One phase is rapid eye movement (REM. The second is NREM (non-rapid eye moment). This second phase can be split into three separate stages (N1-N3), with each having its own variation of muscle tone, brain wave pattern, and eye movement. Scientists believe that REM sleep is essential for both physical and mental rejuvenation. A person can cycle between these phases four to six times a night.
Ever found it almost impossible to get out of bed? Well, experience this persistently could mean you have dysania – extreme difficulty in leaving or rising from bed. Dysania is linked to clinomania, which is an obsession with staying in bed!
Many people believe they can train themselves into a certain sleeping pattern. In fact, our sleep patterns are largely determined by our genetics. A number of studies have found that approximately 80% of our need to sleep is genetic. So, if you find you can manage on six hours of sleep a night, it might be down to a single genetic mutation.
Believe it or not, sleep experts have found a direct link between people’s sleep and their personalities.
Professor Idzikowski conducted research that found sleeping positions indicated certain things about a person’s personality. For example, he found that those who tend to sleep in the “fetal position” may “appear tough but are actually sensitive souls right to their core”.
Slumped in your desk at the office, struggling to keep your eyes open after lunch? It’s not just the boring daily tasks or the weight of the pasta dragging you down.
Research shows that tiredness peaks at around 2am and 2pm each day. That’s why it can be so difficult to get back into gear after your lunch break.
The world record for the longest period of time without sleep is 11 days and 25 minutes. This record cannot be beaten, since the Guinness World Records removed the category. Why? Sleep deprivation is so dangerous. Humans feel the effects of sleep deprivation after the first 24 hours.
Interestingly, we are the only mammal that deliberately delays sleep.
If you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, you may have felt hungrier than usual. One interesting thing about sleep is its impact on certain hormones. One of these hormones is leptin, which regulates your appetite.
A lack of sleep means a drop in leptin, which can leave you feeling more hungry than usual.
Another fact about sleep that is backed by science is that sensitivity to pain is increased in people who are sleep-deprived. A Berkley study found that the neural mechanisms that activate natural pain relief were disrupted when operating on insufficient sleep.
The study also found that even slight disruptions to sleep, that we might think have no real impact, can alter our ability to withstand pain.
Lots of people might feel like they fall asleep much faster and easier after having a few alcoholic beverages. Whilst this may be true, thanks to alcohol’s sedative effects, it’s more akin to passing out.
Research has found that alcohol can actually block the REM state, which is the key to feeling properly rested. Even just a couple of drinks can affect your sleep.
Temperature is a significant factor of sleep, and can make all the difference when trying to get a perfect night’s rest. The ideal temperature for sleep for an adult is approximately 65 Fahrenheit, or 18.3 degrees Celsius.
Our body temperature drops around 2 hours before our body clock says it’s bedtime. This coincides with the release of the sleep hormone, melatonin. By dropping the thermostat a couple of degrees before bedtime, we can help our bodies get into sleep mode.
Although there have been countless studies around sleep, all showing its vast benefits and impacts, scientists still don’t know the biological purpose for sleep.
It’s something we all need in order to survive and be healthy, but scientists still aren’t quite sure why it’s necessary. One theory is that it “cleans” the brain of toxic proteins and damaged molecules. Plenty of research suggests we should think of sleep as a janitorial role for our brains and bodies.
All we know is that a good night’s sleep simply can’t be beaten.
An Ely Mattress is expertly designed and hand-crafted to deliver the perfect night’s sleep. Natural fibers, like ventilating horse hair and bouncy sheep wool, form an environmentally friendly mattress that’s gentle on allergies as well.
Five-zoned pocket springs, paired with 13 soft layers, result in the ideal firmness that supports all body types. Feel like you’re truly drifting into dream land, and give Ely Mattress a try.
Shop now to find your next natural mattress – because you deserve a luxurious sleep.