What You Don’t Know About Sleep

Posted: April 22, 2011 in The More You Know

You like sleep, I like sleep, everyone likes sleep, even though we don’t get near enough of it. Now, why is that? Are we just so wrapped up in everything thats going on that we can’t find enough time to re-charge our batteries? I know, I know. You have school, a part-time job, mountains of homework, friends, chores, etc. So? Are you willing to risk your health and happiness to keep everything on your plate? I think it’s time to cut something. Of course not work, or school, but something less important, like Facebook.

Here are a couple facts that make make you a little uncomfortable:

*17 hours of sustained wakefulness (that means staying awake for a long time without naps) leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%. (That’s buzzed, guys)

*Any time less than 5 minutes to fall asleep at night means you’re sleep deprived. The ideal time is between 10 and 15 minutes, meaning your still tired enough to sleep deeply, but not so exhausted you sleep sleepy during the day.

*(You may be too young to remember these example)The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska, the challenger space shuttle disaster, and the Chernobyl nuclear accident have all been attributed to human errors in which sleep-deprivation played a role. (AKA, you could KILL people.)

*NRMA estimates fatigue is involved in 1 out of 6 fatal road accidents. (That’s a lot!)

*Exposure to noise at night can suppress the immune function even if the sleeper doesn’t wake. (As in, if you have the radio and TV on, it’s bad because your not getting enough sleep.) Unfamiliar noise, and noise during the first and last 2 hours of sleep has the greatest disruptive affect on the sleep cycle.”

*The “natural alarm clock” which enables some people to wake up more or less when they want to is caused by a burst of the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin. (Thats bad.) Researchers say this reflects an unconscious anticipation of the stress waking up. (As in, your are WAY too stress and need to relax or else you won’t get much good sleep.)

*Tiny luminous rays from a digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt the sleep cycle even if you do not fully wake. The light turns off a “neural switch” in the brain, causing levels of a key sleep chemical to decline within minutes.” (This means night lights, lava lamps, and bright alarm clocks are bad. If you need a clock, have it facing away from you.)

*To drop off [into sleep] we must cool off. Body temperature and the brain’s sleep-wake cycle are closely linked. That’s why hot summer nights can cause a restless sleep. The blood blow mechanism that transfers core body heart to the skin works best between 18-30 degrees C. But later in light, the comfort zone shrinks to between 23-25 degrees C – one reason why older people have more sleep disorders.

* After 5 nights of partial sleep deprivation, 3 drinks will have the effect on your body as 6 would when you’ve slept enough. (So, having 3 alcoholic drinks is worse when your tired than when your not.)

*Teenagers need as much sleep as small children (about 10 hours a night) while those over 65 need least of all (about 6 hours). For the average adult aged between 25-55, 8 hours is considered optimal. (SEE!)

*Some studies suggest women need up to an hour’s extra sleep at night compared to men, and not getting it may be one reason women are more susceptible to depress than men.

*As a group, 18-24 year-olds deprived of sleep suffer more from impaired performance than older adults.



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