10 Fun Sleep Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Everyone sleeps. Time to find out more about those 7-9 hours.

By Loren Bullock

Not only is sleep a restful, restorative time for us, but it is filled with rather interesting occurrences and mind-blowing unconscious experiences. But really, sleep is so important that the average human spends 25 years of their life doing it.

Even with sleep being this huge part of our lives, I bet there are still a few things that will come as a surprise to you. In this article, we’ll go over 10 interesting facts about sleep, that you probably have never heard of, in detail.

Hey, they aren’t call fun facts for nothing.

10 Fun Sleep Facts

1. You can’t sneeze while asleep.

Though we should be more prone to sneezing as we lie horizontal (our mucous membranes are more sensitive and swollen), we can’t sneeze while we sleep. There isn’t enough movement for dust particles to irritate our sinuses, and if there is, the neurotransmitters that initiate the sneeze are shut down during REM sleep.

If your body really gets the urge to sneeze, it’ll wake you up first.

2. 1-in-4 married couples sleep in separate beds.

In a survey done by the National Sleep Foundation, 25% of married couples sleep in separate beds. Why? Because there is less sleep disruption when sleeping alone. Many couples report that getting a sleep divorce is ideal for couples with different sleep schedules, bedroom preferences, and relationships where one person has a sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnea.

3. Sleepwalking in children is relatively normal.

Most of the time it is hereditary and will be outgrown by the time the child ages into a teenager. Sleepwalking is caused by lack of sleep, illness, or stress. Children often wander around the house with their eyes open, sleeptalk, and are hard to wake up.

To prevent sleepwalking in your child, have your child calmed and relaxed before bed, keep a regular sleep schedule, and avoid excess caffeine and sugar before bed.

4. Humans are the only mammals that willingly put off sleep.

That’s because sleep is one of our most primal urges as mammals. If you’re feeling drowsy, it’s because your body needs rest. All other mammals give in to this urge because it allows them to function and survive in the wild.

5. Athletes need more sleep than most adults.

The average adult needs anywhere between 7-9 hours of sleep each night to stay out of sleep debt. Athletes, on the other hand, need about 10 or at least an hour more than they are already getting. The reason for this is, just like athletes need more carbohydrates and protein for their body to keep up with their workouts, they need extra sleep to recover from these practices.

6. You only spend about 25% of the night in REM sleep.

You probably know that REM sleep is the sleep stage where people dream. And though it feels like we dreamt all night long, REM is a very small portion of the time you spend unconscious. In fact, REM sleep only occurs every 90 minutes throughout the night. The rest is spent in NREM sleep, the other four stages of sleep.

7. Newborns sleep anywhere between 14 and 17 hours a night.

We all know that newborn babies sleep a lot, but did you know they slept about 70% of the day? Their sleep schedule tends to be irregular: only staying awake for about 1-3 hours at a time. While they sleep, they spend twice the time in REM sleep as adults do.

8. Newborns also steal approximately 1,055 hours of sleep from their parents during their first year.

This adds up to be about 44 days of missed sleep or about 12% of their yearly sleep. The reason for this loss of rest is a combination of parental worry, infant crying, and feeding during the night⁠—talk about sleep deprivation. A pat on the back to parents everywhere.

9. 90 million Americans report snoring to be the primary cause of sleep disruption.

Studies show that these adults think of their own snoring, or the snoring of their partner, simply as an unavoidable nuisance and road block to a good night’s sleep. Actually, chronic snoring can be a sign of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea.

If you or your sleep partner is suffering from chronic snoring, visit your doctor or a sleep clinic.

10. Blindness inhibits circadian rhythm.

People who are totally blind often do not fall asleep at “normal times” because our bodies’ natural circadian rhythm relies on light reception. When the sun does down and it gets dark, our bodies release melatonin, the sleep hormone. And when the sun comes up, and light gets in, it restricts the melatonin output.

Totally blind people don’t have this light/dark reception, therefore, they fall asleep when their body tells them to, not based on the sun.

Other Sources:

  • Science Illustrated, 2012
  • National Sleep Foundation, 2019
  • KidsHealth, 2018

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