5 Surprising Facts About Sleep

You spend approximately 33% of your life sleeping, and that means you devote more time to this activity than perhaps any other. Knowing the truth about how it works, and how to optimize it, is therefore extremely beneficial.

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Sleeping is often taken for granted. To some, it is a chore. To others, it is a necessary evil that allows them to remain functional during their time awake. Yet without sleep, we wouldn’t just be zombie-like! We wouldn’t be able to fight disease, store memories into our long-term databases, or physically grow.

Yet there are countless myths about sleep that people continue to believe. Counting sheep, for example, has been proven to be a counterproductive method of falling asleep .Other surprising facts about sleep are listed below.

1 Beauty Rest is Real

This one goes far beyond the “you look as good as you feel” mantra. In fact, when Swedish researchers asked observers to rate the attractiveness of participants after they got a full night’s rest versus after they had spent over 24 hours awake, the pictures of the rested individuals where rated higher without fail. Additionally, the observers rated the photos of the sleep-deprived participants as less healthy looking.

2 Watching TV or Reading a book won’t Put you to Sleep

A startling number of people claim that watching late night television or reading a novel will put them right out. In reality, however, science has shown that the light associated with both of these activities (directly from your television or from the bedside lamp necessary to read a book) directly suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that is necessary for the proper regulation of the sleep-awake cycle in humans.

There is a caveat, however. If you haven’t read books in a while and suddenly find yourself reading again, your untrained brain will suddenly find itself quite exhausted in short time.

3 You Need the same Amount of Sleep Regardless of Age

For whatever reason, some people believe that as they get older they need less sleep. In reality, all humans require seven to nine hours of rest a night. Elderly people simply go to bed earlier and wake up more frequently than their younger counterparts.

4 Alcohol does not Help you Go to Sleep

It’s not uncommon for some individuals to take a “nightcap” in the form of a beer or glass of wine before they go to bed. While alcohol is indeed a depressant and will help you fall asleep, it can also backfire horribly. Alcohol disrupts REM sleep, which is the most relaxing and important stage of the sleep cycle. Also, when your body processes the alcohol mid-sleep and the depressant effect wears off, you may suddenly rebound and wake up unable to fall back asleep.

5 Sleeping Pills are not Highly Addictive

Believe it or not, today’s sleeping pills are far safer and subtler than their previous incarnations. If used as directed (and you don’t have a previous history of addiction or substance abuse), sleeping pills can be a valuable way to treat insomnia without presenting overly harmful side effects.

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