The average American adult spends more than eight hours a day interacting with a screen, which can easily interfere with trying to maintain the recommended seven to nine hours of (quality) sleep cycle a night. That’s tough to nail, especially when you factor in particularly long work weeks, late-night texting sessions, early morning email checking, etc.
By now, you should know that none of these things are good for your sleep, and that other issues like depression, stress, and anxiety, along with poor dieting and a lack of exercise can make getting a restful night sleep much easier said than done. But that’s not everything.
Read on for six stats you probably don’t know about the activity you reportedly spend one third of your life doing. (And if you’re looking for tips on how to get a better night sleep when nothing else works, we’ve got you covered there, too.)
Table of Contents
Sleeping in on weekends won’t make up for late weeknights.
When you stay up late a number of nights in a row, you accrue “sleep debt,” inching you into sleep deprivation territory. Whether it’s due to an increased workload at the office or a new TV show you can’t stop binging, getting too little sleep is something we all do too often.
The problem is, sleeping in on the weekend won’t exactly erase that debt. In fact, it can even make the matter worse; these extreme variations in your sleep cycle can confuse your internal clock (aka the circadian rhythm). The best way to bounce back fully is to incrementally hit the hay earlier each night for a week or more, while keeping your wake time the same. With this method, over time, your body and mind will catch up naturally.
Sleep paralysis is caused by two states of consciousness existing at once, and is often due to a disrupted sleep cycle.
According to one study, up to 8 percent of population will experience sleep paralysis at some point in their lives. It can be truly terrifying, but rest assured, it’s technically harmless.
Sleep paralysis is actually just an extension of dreaming (REM sleep). Consider consciousness as having two states—asleep and awake—with a usual brief transition period between the two. With sleep paralysis, the two states occur, to some extent, at the same time, with your brain essentially waking up before your body.
This accounts for the perceived inability to move or speak, as it’s natural for the body to suppress motor functions during REM sleep to prevent us from acting out our dreams. Though scary, the effects usually only last a few seconds.
As for the cause, it’s most often triggered by irregularities in the sleep cycle, whether from stress, sleep deprivation, or daytime napping—further providing evidence for the importance of a more consistent sleep pattern.
Eliminating distracting noise is the most direct route to a restful night sleep.
Exposure to noises at night, especially during the first and last hours of sleep, can disrupt immune system functions and quality of your rest, even if they don’t cause you to wake up. (And those that do wake you can make falling back sleep even more difficult.)
The best way to avoid such a recipe for a poor night of sleep is to block out the sound from the start with noise-masking products, like Bose sleepbuds. The sleek sleep-with-them design allows you to wear them comfortably throughout the night, at home, and on the road, blocking out outside street noise, loud HVAC systems, or a snoring partner and replacing them with relaxing ambient sounds like rolling waves, stormy weather, or a calming stream.
Bose noise-masking sleepbuds SHOP
The more physically active you are, the more sleep you need.
Sleep is crucial for muscle recovery—that’s likely pretty obvious, but it goes beyond simply providing rest time for your pumped muscles. Sleep is when your brain processes your day’s experiences, connecting dots and forming habits.
A lack of sleep can not only lead to slower recovery time and increased exhaustion, but also lapses in concentration and poor memory performance during otherwise routine tasks, like remembering how many sets you have left or what exercise is next in your HIIT workout. So resist the urge to scroll Instagram one more time and get an extra hour of sleep after your next gym session.
Memories are processed from short term to long term storage during REM sleep.
Want to learn something new? Make sure you get a good night sleep after trying a new task. Research has shown REM sleep plays a critical role in the consolidation of procedural memory—the remembering of “how” to do something—as well as the formation of new, long-term memories.
This is why science has never backed cramming for an exam, as fleeting memories require deep sleep cycle to be retained.
The official scientific record for longest sleep deprivation is 264 consecutive hours, or 11 days.
The record for longest sleep deprivation was set in 1964 by Randy Gardner at the age of 17 under the supervision of a Stanford sleep researcher. During the marathon stint, Gardner experienced paranoia and hallucinations along with short term memory lapses, moodiness, and difficulty concentrating, further proving the necessity of a good night’s sleep.
Though numerous attempts to break Gardner’s record have been made (some claiming as long as 449 hours), a lack of extensive documentation and the fact that the Guinness World Records no longer acknowledges attempts at the record—for fear of ill health affects on future participants—mean Gardner is still largely consider to be the record holder.