(ORDO NEWS) — You spend a third of your life lying on your favorite pillow and snoring sweetly until the nasty sound of the alarm clock wakes you up. But what do you know about sleep as such, other than platitudes like the one that is good for the body? Scientists still cannot fully explain why we sleep, but they continue to discover interesting and even absurd facts about this still mysterious physiological process. Here are six of the most surprising ones.
Men dream more often sex, women have nightmares
Want is not harmful? Yes, it is no secret to anyone that sex is more important for most men than for women. Moreover, both during wakefulness and in a dream. In 2009, scientists from the University of the West of England surveyed two hundred men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 and published an amusing study. First, women are more likely than men to recall a nightmare when asked to share their most vivid dream. At the same time, men’s dreams are much more likely to contain sexual scenes, shall we say, with full contact.
Interrupted sleep is worse than being awake
Lack of sleep can make you irritable – a common knowledge. Researchers also found that your physical condition will be even worse if your sleep is often interrupted even if you went to bed early, compared to the fact that you just go to bed late, but sleep, as they say, non-stop. The explanation is quite simple: those who constantly wake up spend less time in deep sleep (that very healing phase of sleep).
“Owls” have more nightmares
In 2011, Turkish researchers analyzed the frequency of nightmares on a scale of 0 (never) to 4 (always) among 264 students. On average, the “owls” scored 2.1 points, while the average score for the “larks” was 1.23. According to scientists, such a gap cannot be a statistical error. Scientists from the Dream and Nightmare Laboratory at the Sacre Coeur Hospital in Montreal conducted an online survey of nearly 4,000 people, which also confirmed that the human body’s daily cycle, known as the circadian rhythm, may be associated with nightmares. This is due to the stress hormone cortisol, which peaks in the morning right before we wake up, that is, at the time when we enter REM sleep. Researchers believe that if sleep continues during this period, then an increase in cortisol levels causes vivid dreams, more often nightmares.
We sleep longer in winter
People don’t hibernate, but it’s harder for us to get out of bed on a snowy day – a scientifically proven fact. Analysis of data on the brain activity of people from different geographic zones showed that in northern countries people sleep a little longer compared to those who live in warm climates: 7 hours 20 minutes versus 7 hours 7 minutes, respectively. Sleep experts claim that sleep duration in winter changes due to reduced daylight hours, which affects the circadian rhythm. It’s no wonder then, that on a cold winter morning, all we want to do is snuggle up in that thick blanket that is perfect for the cold weather, and go right back to sleep. So now you know what to write in the explanatory note after being late for work.
Sometimes we sleep like dolphins
Dolphins are known to turn off only half of their brain during sleep. A recent laboratory study found evidence of a similar phenomenon in humans. During deep sleep, the brains of some subjects showed greater activity in the left hemisphere. According to the researchers, this is a remnant of the survival strategy we inherited from our ancestors. When people are in a new environment, the left hemisphere can serve as a “night watch” that urgently wakes up the sleeping person in case of danger.
We sleep longer than our ancestors
We often hear that modern people don’t get enough sleep. However, in reality, this is not the case. A study by scientists from the University of Chicago showed that over two decades, the proportion of survey participants who sleep more than 9 hours a day increased from 28% (1985 figure) to 37% (2007 data).
This is not all. Modern technologies and electronic gadgets are often blamed for the fact that because of them, humanity also began to sleep less. A 2015 study proves otherwise. Scientists have collected data on the sleep duration of the inhabitants of some African tribes and found that people in these societies sleep less than 6.5 hours a night. At the same time, the average resident of a metropolis sleeps from 7 to 8 hours a day.
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