10 strange things about sleep

Here are some interesting things we have learned about sleep

Published 7:00 PM, October 12, 2017

Updated 7:00 PM, October 12, 2017

Here are 10 interesting things we have learned about sleep.

  1. The amazing “armadillo sleep”. The next time your teenager sleeps for 18 hours in a day, you may want to check if he or she is an armadillo. Armadillos, brown bats, pythons sleep approximately that length of time. Compared to other creatures, our 7 hours of prescribed sleep as human adults are far from the armadillo’s slumber time. But as babies, we also spend a lot of time sleeping – about 16 hours a day!

  1. We were not scientifically interested in “sleep” till the early 1900s. Even if humans have always had sleep as an essential part of their lives, scientific research on sleep was not recorded until 1913 with a publication by a French scientist and the subsequent research by American scientist Dr. Nathaniel Kleitman on the internal body clocks we have and what sleep deprivation does to us.

  1. Birds do it and some humans do it too! In 1999, a study confirmed that birds indeed sleep with one eye open so that they will be half-alert to predators. This means that half their brain is also awake. Scientists think that since this is such a cool trick that nature devised, then it may also what could explain why some humans find it difficult to sleep in “foreign” surroundings on their first night. They call this the “first night effect”. In 1966, the first study of first-night sleep was conducted that proved that we generally have difficulty sleeping for the first time in a new environment. Last year, a landmark study showed that what happens to bird brains when they sleep is similar to what happens to our brains on our first nights in new environments.

  1. Sleep does a fantastic house-keeping job with your memories. In this recently published sleep study, scientist saw the pattern that goes on in your brain right after you learned something (like stroking a few keys in a particular sequence). This pattern amazingly disappears and reappears in another part of your brain – like a really efficient filing system. This only happens in your sleep. Disrupting this flow may mess with our brain’s evolved system of memory-keeping and recall.

  1. The garbage truck comes only when you are sleeping. In 2013, scientists confirmed that it is when you sleep that the brain sends its “garbage truck” to collect all the toxins it has accumulated and flush them out through your body, joining other toxins that it regularly gets rid of. These toxins are the ones responsible for the damages associated with aging. So if you want to age well, sleep well.

  1. Sleep deprivation attracts chronic diseases. If you don’t sleep, you render yourself more vulnerable to diseases you think you will get only with advanced age such as diabetes, hypertension. This is because of the stress your body naturally experiences if you do not get enough sleep. This stress, if habitual, sets the body into a path of malfunction that leads to those diseases. Sleep is so basic to our biology that if we do not have enough of it, we get sick.

  1. Lack of enough sleep is a scientifically valid explanation (not necessarily an excuse) for poor grades. In a 2015 study of student-pharmacists, researchers found out that poor performance in tests were linked to insufficient sleep hours. This does not mean that merely sleeping more will get you better grades. Good grades are the result of many things, including studying. So make sure you study but also get enough sleep before you take your exams.

  1. Your emotional life may be anchored in your sleep. This study maps out how the “hemming and hewing” that happens in your brain when you sleep shapes your emotional self and if this is disrupted or lacking, it will affect how you manage your own emotions. This makes it understandable how our previous night’s sleep and our next day mood are connected.

  1. No sleep and your immune system drops. Once you lose sleep, a study has documented that you lose “warrior” cells called leukocytes – the ones that fight infection. But the good news is they could be restored by a nap and a longer night sleep right after. But don’t push your luck because of #10 below.

  1. You cannot completely make up for lost sleep. If you have had late nights for a week, you can get more sleep later but it will not give you the same benefits had you gotten regular sleep in the first place. This also means that those late nights you spent working overtime or partying, have already left their mark on your health and could not totally be erased by a healthy lifestyle you have recently adapted.

With our constantly connected lives, sleep seems to be a scarce commodity. This is a reminder that in order to be fully awake, there is no way around it but to sleep. – Rappler.com

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