We all know that sleep is important for physical and mental restoration – but there are many more interesting facts about your nightly shut-eye that you may not be aware of.
From the science behind dreaming to the impact of an ‘all-nighter’ on your health, the experts at Australian company The Goodnight Co. recently shared their top facts and they don’t disappoint.
‘So many questions come to mind when we think about sleep… and what we’ve found out may surprise you,’ they wrote.
Ditch your ‘all-nighter’ plans: You may want to re-think that last minute exam cramming, as ‘not sleeping for 16 hours can make you behave as if you have a blood alcohol level of .05 per cent’
1. IF YOU STAY UP ALL NIGHT YOU MAY AS WELL BE ‘DRUNK’
You may want to re-think that last minute exam cramming, as ‘not sleeping for 16 hours can make you behave as if you have a blood alcohol level of .05 per cent’.
And according to SA Health, a BAC of .05 – .08% is likely to make you at risk of impaired judgement and reduced inhibitions.
This fact has been backed up in multiple research projects, with one Australian study finding that after 17–19 hours without sleep, subjects’ performance on some tests was equivalent or worse than that at a BAC of 0.05%.
Response speeds were also found to be as much as 50 per cent slower for some tests and ‘accuracy measures were significantly poorer than at this level of alcohol’.
2. EVERYBODY DREAMS, EVERY NIGHT
Everybody dreams four to seven times each and every night.
‘If you can’t remember them, you’re not alone. Most people forget 90 per cent of their dreams,’ Goodnight Co. wrote.
According to Very Well Mind, common reasons for why dreams are forgotten include medication that suppresses REM sleep and sleep disorders.
‘As a general rule, dreams fade quickly after waking. The electrical signals and chemical signatures that constitute the experience of the dream may disappear as wakefulness ensues,’ they wrote.
‘It is possible for elements of the dream to be recalled later in the day, perhaps triggered by an experience that reactivates the same area of the brain that created the dream overnight.
‘It is more likely that dreams will be remembered if your state of REM sleep is fragmented. Alarm clocks notoriously interrupt REM sleep towards morning.’
The brain can’t create people, so it uses registered faces in your dreams – so even if you can’t identify them, you’ve seen them before
3. SHIFT WORKERS ARE AT INCREASED RISK OF DISEASE
According to the International Classifications of Sleep Disorders, shift workers are at increased risk for chronic illnesses, cardiovascular diseases and gastrointestinal diseases.
This is because those who follow a schedule outside of the typical ‘9 to 5’ tend to struggle with sleep disturbance and end up with ‘shift work sleep disorder’ – a circadian rhythm sleep disorder.
‘Circadian rhythm refers to the ~24hr rhythmic output of the human biological clock,’ the Sleep Foundation reports.
‘It is considered a disorder because of the frequency with which people suffer from sleep disturbance and excessive sleepiness in trying to adapt to a shift work schedule.’
How can you manage shift work and your sleep?
Out of everyone in the world, these people probably find it hardest to adapt to a regular sleeping routine.
But you don’t have to compromise your sleep hygiene or health just because of late nights:
Avoid working consecutive shifts longer than 12 hours
After night shifts, it is recommended that you have at least 48 hours off so your body can recover. When you have a day or two off from work, it is good idea to catch up on rest.
Create an inviting sleep space
Try using a diffuser with essential oils to create ambiance and relaxation, and if you’re sleeping during the day, consider a Silk Sleep Mask to block out the light.
Reduce screen time
Light, noise, and content from televisions, smartphones, and tablets are stimulating and can cause difficulty falling asleep.
That McMuffin on your early morning drive home might be an easy option, but it’s no good for your sleep cycle. Diet is an extremely important contributor to getting a good night’s rest!
Source: Goodnight Co.
Know your body: Factors such as illness, exercise, pregnancy and chronic problems should also be taken into account when deciding on the right amount of sleep for you
4. THE ‘STRANGERS’ IN YOUR DREAMS ARE REAL PEOPLE
The brain can’t create people, so it uses registered faces in your dreams – so even if you can’t identify them, you’ve seen them before.
‘An individual person could encounter dozens or even hundreds of human faces on a daily basis from commuting to and from school or work, or from seeing people on the news or in television and movies,’ Erica Seigneur of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, said.
‘Most of these people will remain strangers to our conscious selves, but their faces and figures will still be perceived and processed by our brains.
‘Because of this, it would be impossible to say for certain that you had never seen a person or face outside of your dream before.’
She did add, however, that while this theory cannot be tested in a ‘meaningful or accurate way’ it is ‘more likely that our sleeping brain recycles previously seen faces rather than creating new ones’.
What are dreams made of?
During wakefulness our thoughts are influenced by input from both the external environment – i.e., the people and things we see, hear, and interact with – as well as our internal environment, i.e., our memories.
During sleep, however, our brains receive very little input from the external environment, which leaves our memories as the source for most, if not all, of the material that makes up our dreams.
Source: Stanford Neurosciences Institute
5. BLIND PEOPLE DREAM WITHOUT VISUALS
According to The Goodnight Co., ‘blind people are more likely to report feelings of touch, taste, and smell in their dreams compared to sighted people’.
‘This likely corresponds to their waking experience which relies more on these senses.’
Speaking to Vice Serbia, Nikola Zekic, who has been blind since birth, said his dreams consist mostly of ‘sounds’.
‘As a child, I would often dream that I was falling. I would just keep falling all night long. I used to like it because it made me feel like I was flying.’
Have a routine before you sleep: Try using a diffuser with essential oils to create ambiance and relaxation, and if you’re sleeping during the day, consider a Silk Sleep Mask to block out light
6. EVERYONE HAS DIFFERENT SLEEP NEEDS
The National Sleep Foundation released new guidelines in 2015 after experts from sleep, anatomy, physiology and neurology revised the recommended sleep ages.
They released the following:
- Newborns (0 to 3 months): 14 to 17 hours
- Infants (4 to 11 months): 12 to 15 hours
- Toddlers (1 to 2 years): 11 to 14 hours
- Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): 10 to 13 hours
- School-age children (6 to 13 years): 9 to 11 hours
- Teenagers (14 to 17 years): 8 to 10 hours
- Younger adults (18 to 25 years): 7 to 9 hours
- Adults (26 to 64 years): 7 to 9 hours
- Older adults (65+ years): 7 to 8 hours
Factors such as illness, exercise, pregnancy and chronic problems should also be taken into account when deciding on the right amount of sleep for you.
How much sleep do you need?
1. Start where you are. Determine how much sleep you’re getting every night.
2. Go to sleep 15 minutes earlier every 2-3 nights, until you’re getting at least 7 hours of sleep every, single night.
3. When you hit 7 hours, see how you feel. If you’re tired during the day or you’re not ready to wake up when your alarm goes off, move your bedtime back 15 more minutes.
4. Continue this process until you are getting enough sleep every night. You’ll probably end up somewhere between 7 and 9 hours, but listen to your body and follow its needs.