Top 10 Facts About Sleep

  1. It is impossible to tell if someone is really awake without close medical supervision. People can take cat naps with their eyes open without even being aware of it.

  2. Dreams, once thought to occur only during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, also occur (but to a lesser extent) in non-REM sleep phases. It is possible that there may not be a single moment of our sleep when we are actually dreamless.

  3. REM dreams are characterised by bizarre plots, but non-REM dreams are repetitive and thought-like, with little imagery - obsessively returning to suspicion you left your mobile phone somewhere, for example.

  4. Humans sleep on average around three hours less than other primates like chimps, rhesus monkeys, squirrel monkeys and baboons, all of whom sleep for 10 hours.

  5. Ducks at risk of attack by predators are able to balance the need for sleep and survival, keeping one half of the brain awake while the other slips into sleep mode.

  6. The “natural alarm clock” which enables some people to wake up more or less when they want to is caused by a burst of stress hormone andrenocorticotropin. Researchers say this reflects an unconscious anticipation of the stress of waking up.

  7. Elephants sleep standing up during non-REM sleep, but lie down for REM sleep.

  8. 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 “neutral switch” in the brain, causing levels of a key sleep chemical to decline within minutes.

  9. The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon. The record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses.

  10. Have you ever heard of Sexsomnia syndrome? Well, it is a condition completely distinct from sleepwalking and is a form of sleep disorder called REM behavioural disorder. The condition can range in severity from disruptive moaning to unwanted, and sometimes violent, sexual advances to their partner.