Pillow Talk: Fascinating Facts You Probably Didn’t Know about Sleep
Hedgehogs, bats and dormice show us how it’s done: In many places on this earth, as soon as it gets cold, these animals go into hibernation – often for several months at a time. Sometimes, we feel like we could use something like that too, no matter the season, right? Feel like you’d just like to curl up and spend the whole day in bed? We have put together a few interesting facts and studies for you about human sleep behavior.
We spend ⅓ of our lives sleeping
According to the German Socio-Economic Panel, we spend on average 32 years of our lives sleeping (assuming that we live to be 90 years old). That’s amazing, isn’t it?
Who sleeps in the longest?
As part of an international survey by the National Sleep Foundation, several thousand people in the USA, Canada, Mexico, the UK, Japan and Germany were polled about their sleeping habits. At not even 6.5 hours a night, Japanese spend the least time in bed. Mexicans, on the contrary, sleep the most at 7 hours and 6 minutes a night.
Here are some other intriguing facts:
- Childless couples sleep on average 7 hours a night. The more children you have, the fewer hours of sleep you get per night.
- The higher your income is, the less you sleep.
- 15- to 20-years-olds stay in bed the longest at 7.5 hours.
- Those between 41 and 50 get the least amount of sleep. Unfortunately, it also puts them in a bad mood because studies have shown that your overall life satisfaction and sleep depend on one another.
- When people retire, they have time once again and their sleep duration increases.
Social media disturbs your sleep
You can’t imagine life without a smartphone or social media? Unfortunately, regular use of your phone and social media can have a negative impact on your sleep. A study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and the National Institute of Health (NIH) examined the influence of social media on the sleep quality of 19- to 32-year-olds. The researchers found that 30% of the 2,000 participants had sleep disturbances. Those who were most active on Facebook, Instagram and Co. were three times more likely than those who didn’t use social media to have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
Do you like it cozy?
Sleeping in a warm and cozy bedroom, even in winter, can diminish the quality of your sleep. Research has shown that the best temperature for your bedroom is between 16°C (60°F) and 18°C (65°F). At this temperature, your body is more likely to remain thermally neutral. This means that your body can cool itself without having to resort to sweating. Likewise, it doesn’t have to shiver to produce warmth if you leave the window open all night in freezing temperatures. The best thing to do is to air your bedroom for about 10 minutes before going to bed.
Good sleep through regular exercise and vice versa
Exercise and sleep influence each other, both in winter and summer. Your fitness performance depends on the quality and quantity of the sleep you get. Likewise, you should also pay attention to the diurnal variations of physical performance. In a nutshell, those who exercise more than once a week sleep deeper and better.
But be mindful: for some an intense workout right before bed can make it hard to fall asleep. You need to see what works for you.
More sleep in winter
Theoretically, humans require more sleep in winter than in summer. The reason for this increased need to sleep is the darkness. This is particularly a problem in northern regions like Norway or Canada. The shorter the days and the longer the nights, the more melatonin (sleeping hormone) we produce. This is triggered by darkness and regulates your daily sleep and wake cycle (or circadian rhythm). Sun or daylight, on the other hand, blocks its production. In the meanwhile, there are even food supplements that contain melatonin. These supposedly help with sleeping disorders or jetlag.
By the way: Getting enough vitamin D in winter is often a bit tricky. Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. In certain latitudes (like Central Europe), the sun rarely shows itself in winter. If you don’t get enough sunlight, you start to feel tired and weak. The good news is that it only takes 10 to 15 minutes a day in the sun to replenish your vitamin D stores.