Many of us find restful sleep elusive, but we know that getting enough of it is crucial to our health. With that being said, there are a number of things we don’t know about sleep. Read on to discover 11 things you likely didn’t know about sleep.
1. Man is the only mammal that willingly delays sleep. (Source: National Sleep Foundation)
2. Most of us need seven to eight hours of sleep each night for optimal daytime functioning, but at least 50 percent of Americans struggle with sleep problems. (Source: How to Sleep Naturally)
3. Fatigue can lead to depression, irritability, headaches, concentration problems, gastrointestinal symptoms, increased susceptibility to colds and infections, increased mistakes at work, and an increased risk of car accidents. (Source: How to Sleep Naturally)
4. The human body operates best when it’s in sync with natural cycles, but excess lighting from large urban areas has thrown off our biological clock and its connection with the rising and falling of the sun. (Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine)
5. Fragmented sleep could be as harmful to our health as a total lack of sleep—just one night of interrupted sleep can negatively affect mood, attention span and cognitive ability. (Source: University Herald)
6. More than eight in 10 survey respondents think that people misuse prescription sleep aids. (Source: National Sleep Foundation)
7. Medical experts have found a link between lack of sleep and weight problems: Dieters who sleep longer burn more fat, while people who sleep less burn more muscle mass. (Source: NPR)
8. Interrupted sleep can impair memory. Research even shows that shortly after childbirth a mental fog sets in until children start sleeping through the whole night. (Source: Medical News Today and Mother Nature Network)
9. Sleep deprivation has been linked with lower libido and less interest in sex in both men and women. (Source: Medical Daily)
10. Nearly 30 percent of people who drink four or more caffeinated beverages daily are at risk for sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing is interrupted briefly and repeatedly. (Source: Business Insider)
11. The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes. The record holder (who was competing in a rocking chair marathon) reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses. (Source: Sleep Academy)
Gina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living, where she manages the health section of the magazine.