There’s nothing better on earth (or any of the planets, for that matter) than a good night’s sleep, especially those ones where you traipse to your bedroom on heavy legs, with heavy eyes, and fall onto your bed, landing in the weirdest way possible, but you don’t care because your bed and pillow have never felt more marshmallowy and your duvet has never felt so soft and cosy. Ah, sleep like that is the best.
But apart from the fact sleep is awesome and stops you from being grumpy for the first three-quarters of the day, what else do you actually know about sleep?
If a blank expression just fell over your face, don’t worry. Not many people are in the know and, even those who should be, only started making any progress on this front about 25 years ago (yeah, we’re looking at you know-it-all-scientists).
Since then, though, research has skyrocketed and we (well, not us, per se, but said scientists) are finding out more and more about sleep every day and night, discovering things we never thought we’d discover in our wildest dreams.
So, without further ado, here are some super-surprising facts about sleep that will. blow. your. mind.
- Soon-To-Be-Parents Look Away Now
In the beautiful, miraculous and explosive first year of a baby’s life, parents will have anywhere between 400 and 750 hours of sleep stolen from them. What’s worse, you’ll never get this back. Never. Darn sleep thieves.
- Old-School Dreamers
Rumour has it, before the colour TV burst into every living room (and, let’s be honest, every kitchen, dining room, bedroom and jeans pocket too), only 15% of people actually dreamed in technicolour. Mmm hmmm. Their dreams were black and white. What’s even weirder than this is the fact 12% of people still dream in black and white.
- Dreams Do Come True
Believe it or not, some of the most breathtaking inventions ever to be dreamt up were, in fact, dreamed up. We’re talking about the idea of Google, the sewing machine, John Lennon’s ‘Dream’, Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’, Benzene, the theory of relativity and a couple of other less-impressive-but-still-impressive things that we don’t have time to mention right now. Okay, one more: The Terminator movies.
- The Longest Sleep
If you want to get into the Guinness Book Of Records for staying awake longer than anyone else in human history, then you need to grab a box of matchsticks and knuckle down because that record currently stands at 11 days. Yup. In 1964, a Californian student by the name of Randy Gardner stayed away for 11 days. *Obviously, don’t try this yourself. Please.
- You’ll Never Walk Alone
According to the National Sleep Foundation, around 15% of the population like to go for little strolls in their sleep, which is quite a high number. Of course, if you do meet a sleepwalker while you’re out and about, please do wake them up. We know you’ve probably heard you shouldn’t do that but, how do we say this, it’s a myth. Don’t worry, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about; plenty of other people believed it too.
- Money Can Buy Sleep
Remember those Mastercard adverts, “there are some things money can’t buy, but for everything else there’s Mastercard.” Well, it turns out, you can actually buy a better night’s sleep. Sort of. What we mean is, according to a report done by the Sleep Council, high-earners (that’s £65,000+) enjoy the sweetest slumber of anyone (which is hardly surprising is it).
- Position Is Everything
We know everyone has a preferential sleeping position, but how you lay at night can actually help your body work better. For example, if you have digestion problems, then the best thing you can do is get in the parachute position of laying on your front with your hands above your pillow. If it’s heartburn you’re prone to, however, then try sleeping on your left side. Yes, it’s crazy, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
- Memory Of A Goldfish
Every so often in life, you meet people who claim they don’t dream and, who knows, maybe they don’t. However, it’s far more likely they just forget their dreams, which is normal because we forget 50% of what we dreamed about within five minutes of waking up and 90% within ten minutes.
- Become A Cheap Date
You know how you start to go a little bit woohoo right before bed, especially when you’re super-tired? Well, that’s maybe because being awake for 17 hours straight has the same effects on your body as drinking two glasses of wine (which might be a handy thing to know at the end of each month, you know, when your bank balance looks like a horror movie).
- Twin Peaks
Nothing is worse than having to battle through that after-lunch-feeling of irrepressible tiredness, yet it’s something we all experience because our fatigue-levels peak twice a day: at 2am and 2pm. The good news is, the next time your boss happens to walk in and find you yawning at your desk, just hit them with this scientific fact and carry on doing what you were doing.
- The Impossible Sneeze
According to science, it is physically impossible to sneeze while sleeping, which is because, when you fall asleep, your body relaxes the parts of your brain that are responsible for it reacting certain stimuli. Yup. One of these is sneezing. Ergo, it’s impossible.
- Animals Sleep Funny
Let’s start with cats who, much like teenagers, sleep away over two-thirds of their lives. Now compare that to giraffes, who have such a fear of missing out they only sleep for 1.9 hours a day. The worst, however, has to be the brown bat; a creature that can kip for 20 hours a day, every day. You wouldn’t get much done but, oh, imagine the bliss. Anyway, check out this list to see which animal you’d be.
- How Those Born Blind Dream
One of the questions that always danced across my frontal lobe when I was a kid was, “how are people born blind able to dream?”. Well, the answer is, they experience dreams, not through sight but through emotions, scents and sounds. It’s fascinating. What’s more, the timing of going blind in someone’s life may have a big impact on what they dream about, which this article explains in much more detail.