Here’s “Just the Facts,” a series where we scour Greatist’s archives for the most vital need-to-know nuggets on any given subject. It’s the no-noise info you gotta have, the way you gotta have it.
Sleep, slumber, snoozing, dozing, catching some Zzz’s — whatever you wanna call it, we spend a third of our lives partaking in this restful activity. Considering that’s more than double the amount of time we toil away at work and almost six times longer than we spend eating, this is definitely a subject to be in the know about.
From essential hours and REM sleep dreams to health concerns and sex sleep, there’s plenty to dive in to. So, brush your teeth and tuck yourself in as we recite 29 facts about sleep.
Nothing drives a point home quite like a good statistic. And in the world of sleep, there are plenty to be had.
1. Seven hours of shut-eye is best
Various public figures have boasted about getting by on little to no sleep, but this isn’t recommended. We need at least 7 hours each night, although this varies slightly according to age (find your figure here). Don’t forget to factor in dozing-off time.
2. …but 9 hours is too much
We can feel pretty crappy if we don’t get enough sleep, but staying in the land of nod for too long can have a similar effect — and contribute to health concerns like obesity and heart disease.
3. Falling asleep should take 20 mins, max
A number of factors could cause delays in getting to Snoozetown (*cough* phone screens), but conking out as soon as your head hits the pillow isn’t great, either. This explainer is your one-way ticket to optimum dozing off.
4. There are four sleep stages
And the fourth and final one, REM (rapid eye movement), is the most important. This is when your brain is most active and more vivid dreams occur. Get all the tea on sleep cycles.
5. 37 million adults regularly snore
Which equates to a whole lot of grumpy partners/roommates/pets. If your bedmate (or you) is known to rumble in the bedroom jungle, check out what one Greatist writer and her S.O. did to make things better.
6. Up to 40 percent of us will experience sleep paralysis
It’s not permanent and is often a one-off, but it can be hella frightening. Everything from mental health issues to narcolepsy can trigger these episodes, but some simple strategies can help ease them.
We’re all for trying out some helpful tricks as long as they don’t lead us up the garden path. Ready to sort facts from fiction?
7. Socks help you sleep
We all know socks and sex don’t mix. But socks and sleep are a welcome pairing: Covering your tootsies encourages blood circulation, encouraging your brain to wind down — so pop on a pair an hour or so before bedtime.
8. Getting nekkid makes sleep better
Nudists, rejoice! Skin-on-sheet action not only leads to improved quality of sleep but also could enhance your mental health, immune system, and metabolism.
9. Afternoon nap = occasional bedtime doom
Is a 3 p.m. siesta really that bad? No, but you need to do it right. A cheeky daytime nap can improve your mood and alertness, but time of day and length of snooze are crucial. We’ve got the lowdown here.
Also, in case you’ve never heard of the (urban) legendary coffee nap, it’s a thing and a thing of beauty.
10. A shower before bed makes a sleepyhead
Showering in the morning to start your day makes sense, but standing under a torrent of warm water at night actually helps prepare your body for sleep. Lather up with the facts.
11. Chocolate after 6 p.m. is A-OK
Cocoa has caffeine, and caffeine keeps us awake… right? Technically, yes — but the amount of caffeine in a chocolate bar is actually pretty low, so it shouldn’t hurt.
This handy list of caffeine content in after-dinner treats will help you find a sleep-friendly choco option.
12. You can’t catch up on missed hours by sleeping in
In fact, research shows it takes 4 days to make up for just 1 hour of missed sleep. Check out our expert advice on how you can pay back your sleep debt and even things out in the Bank of Snooze.
13. A lack of sleep increases your accident risk
Worried? You should be: A U.S. study found those who sleep less than 6 hours per night have a higher chance of getting into a car accident. Here are some other not-so-cheery ways a lack of slumber impacts our lives.
When it comes to long-term well-being, sleep plays a bigger role than many of us realize. So slide into bed early for a spring in your step later.
14. Good sleep improves your health
In fact, it can influence everything from emotions and physical performance to immunity levels and risk of stroke. Discover more surprising ways slumber affects your mind and body.
15. Snooze to ease anxiety
Stress and sleep can be a vicious cycle: Bad slumber exacerbates stress, and stress keeps your mind buzzing. But, if you can relax, getting some decent shut-eye could be key to easing those troubles.
16. Beauty sleep is real
Forget pricey night creams: If you want to stave off signs of aging and prevent bags from popping up, research suggests you’ll benefit from getting enough sleep.
17. Sleep change + weight change = secret friends
We may not often think of them as having anything to do with one another, but research shows that lack of sleep and weight fluctuation are related — particularly since both can be brought on by stress. Don’t sleep on these facts.
While you’re at it, check out this funky new term we just learned about bedtime behavior.
18. Right-side sleepers could snooze away bloating
If sleep evades you thanks to uncomfortable bloating and gas, lying on your right side could — *ahem* — move things along. Other options have their benefits too.
19. Sleep improves memory
Maybe the answer to all Dory’s recall problems was actually just a decent night’s rest: Getting good sleep improves our ability to learn and memorize.
Ah, our other favorite bedroom activity. The relationship between sex and sleep goes much further than just that post-coital nap. So let’s take a deeper dive between the sheets…
20. Your sex drive is fueled by sleep
Not in the mood? You might not have gotten enough shut-eye. Researchers found that lack of sleep can lower testosterone levels and libido. ¡Ay, caramba!
21. Sleep sex is oh-so-real
It sounds like something from a movie, but sexsomnia is a very real condition — and can involve everything from self-pleasure to sexual aggression while you’re off in the land of nod. We’ve got the deets on this fascinating condition.
22. Get jiggy for great sleep
The rush of chemicals released during sex and the Big O not only encourages us to relax and nod off but also improves sleep quality. You likely need no convincing, but here’s more info just in case.
23. Women can have wet dreams too
Not just for teenage boys, the humble wet dream can happen to all of us and at any age. While it’s a sign of arousal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve had an orgasm — navigate the slippery facts here.
24. Dream sex doesn’t equal a secret desire
In other words, dreaming of getting down and dirty with your ex isn’t a green light to slide into their DMs. Feeling confused? We reveal the most common NSFW dream scenarios and delve into what they could really mean.
We all dream. But why do these scenes play out in our heads, what do they mean, and how can we remember them better? It’s time to venture down the rabbit hole.
25. We dream for various reasons
There’s no definitive answer for why we dream — but theories include our minds prepping us for fight-or-flight situations, processing memories or the day’s events, and helping us retain important info.
26. About 95 percent of dreams are forgotten
So don’t feel too frustrated if your dream memory bank is looking pretty empty.
27. Lots of factors impact dream recall
True fact: Everything from age and gender to stress and sleep disorders plays a role in our ability to remember dreams.
28. Some of us dream in black and white
For 12 percent of people, dreams can play out in a cool, old-school movie monochrome style. Color us jealous.
29. You can help dreams linger
As this article reveals, keeping your eyes closed and the lights off and jotting down what you remember of your dream as soon as you wake up can help the scenes stay in your mind.
That should definitely be enough facts to prepare you for tonight’s slumber cycles. All that’s left to do is raise a glass of warm milk to many nights ahead of restful sleep, sweet dreams, and beneficial bedroom antics!
Chantelle Pattemore is a writer and editor based in London, UK. She focuses on lifestyle, travel, food, health, and fitness.