Ever wondered what your body’s doing while you are off in sleep? Let’s delve in the science of snoozing.
Artificial lights have changed our natural sleeping patterns
Without artificial lights, we would sleep in two blocks each night. We would fall asleep around 10 pm and wake up a few hours later, and then go back to sleep after an hour. Psychologist Thomas Wehr found people revert to sleeping this way if isolated from artificial lights for more than a few weeks.
264 hours is the longest documented stretch that anyone has stayed awake
In 1964, a San Diego student named Randy Gardner stayed awake without any kind of stimulant for 11 days. He experienced phantom sounds and visions the longer he went without sleep. When he finally fell asleep, he slept for nearly 15 hours. No long-term ill effects were reported.
Some animals only send half their brain to sleep
In dolphins and whales, for instance, this gives them the ability to surface for air and be on the lookout for danger while still technically sleeping. Ducks are also able to sleep with one eye shut and one-half of their brains asleep. This allows some of the birds to stand watch while others in the group can rest.
Children around the world have vastly different sleeping patterns
Jodi Mindell of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Avi Sadeh of Tel Aviv University found that 95 percent of the babies in Vietnam sleep in their parents’ bed, compared to 15 percent in Australia. In New Zealand, the average bedtime for an infant is 7:30 pm while in Hong Kong, it’s 10:30 pm.
Dreams tend to follow well-defined patterns
In his lifetime, Calvin Hall, a psychology professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, collected more than 50,000 dream reports from any person who’d share them. Using Hall’s database, researchers identified that we tend to dream mostly about things that make us anxious. Adults tend to dream about other adults, while children are more likely to dream of animals.
Sleep may help us to learn new skills
After having people to play the video game Tetris before they went to sleep, Robert Stickgold of Harvard Medical School found that the test subjects tended to dream about the game that night. Those test subjects that dreamed about the game showed the most dramatic improvement once they played the game again the next day.
Therapy may be a better treatment for insomnia than sleeping pills
Psychologist Charles Morin of Laval University in Quebec found that people who used cognitive behavioral therapy to deal with sleepless nights reported much better overall sleep quality than those treated with sleeping pills alone.
Sleeping rhythms can affect your sports performance
Researchers at Stanford University and the University of Maine found that circadian rhythms – the natural cycles that govern when we’re awake and when we’re sleepy – have an ‘outsized effect’ on professional sports: athletes at their peak circadian rhythms have an unseen advantage over their opponents.
Female sleep is the key to a happy marriage
Psychiatrist Wendy Troxel of the University of Pittsburgh recently found that a woman’s ability to stay and fall asleep had a great impact on marital satisfaction than her daily interactions with her husband. The same effect was not found for men in relationships.
16-19 degree C is the ideal temperature for a good night’s sleep
Research in Lille, France arrived at this figure for someone who is sleeping in pajamas and covered by sheets. If they sleep naked, the ideal temperature jumps to 30-32 degree C.