7 Eye-Opening Pieces of Trivia About Sleep Deprivation

Here at Can't Sleep we love sleep (and helping others get more of it). We also love trivia. We are really proud of our Trivial Pursuit track record. But in researching this piece some of these eye-opening facts about sleep deprivation even surprised us:

1. The average amount of time people sleep has dropped from nine hours in the pre-lightbulb era to seven-and-a-half hours today. While it might be a bit extreme to resort to living by candlelight as a way to get better sleep making sure that your room is dark and your eyes are shielded from intrusive electronic light from gadgets like cellphones and computers when you go to bed will help a great deal.

2. According to several pieces of extensive research during the first two years of a baby’s life, new parents will miss six months of sleep on average. And we have yet to find a new Mum or Dad who refutes the validity of this claim! Getting enough sleep when raising a baby (as well as nearly with the 1,001 other things you need to do) is a must though, for both Baby's sake and your own.

3. When applied patiently and systematically, sleep deprivation is said to be the single most effective form of coercion and torture. For example, sleep deprivation was deliberately chosen as the method of execution in 19th century China, on the grounds that it would cause the maximum amount of suffering and would serve as the greatest deterrent to other potential offenders. Usually, those sentenced eventually died by the nineteenth day, having suffered terribly.

4. Children don’t react the same way to sleep deprivation as adults: while adults get sleepy, children become hyperactive. In fact, a lack of sleep can result in ADHD-like symptoms in kids. Children need an average of nine to 10 hours of sleep each night. So, Mums and Dads, if you want a few minutes extra peace and an easier time getting the kiddies to sleep, it's not how much sugar they are consuming that you should be most worried about but how much sleep they are getting as well.

5. The Greek writer and philosopher Alcmaeon (fifth century B.C.) proposed what is probably the first theory on the causes of sleep. He postulated that sleep occurred when the blood vessels of the brain filled with blood. The blood induced pressure on the brain, which created sleepiness. When the blood left the brain, a person would wake up.

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) on the other hand proposed that sleep occurred as long as digestion took place. He theorized that the 'fumes' from the food were absorbed into the bloodstream and then taken to the brain, where they induced sleepiness. Neither were very right of course but the concept of sleep-inducing 'food fumes' is a very interesting one isn't it?

6. Shakespeare made many references to sleep in his writings, and his clear descriptions of insomnia suggest that he suffered from the disorder himself. Is this one of the few times that insomnia was actually a good thing? Your answer to that will depend of course on how you feel about the writings of the Bard of Avon. Ask many school children forced to read them and they are likely to say it puts them to sleep!

7. Only one half of a dolphin’s brain goes to sleep at a time. Dolphins are capable of what is known as unihemispheric sleep, in which one hemisphere of the brain goes into a deep sleep while the other hemisphere remains awake.

This allows dolphins to sleep underwater without drowning. Dolphins spend approximately one-third of their lives asleep in this way but you are not a dolphin (or if you are hi, we hope you like the blog along with all the fish) and so it's crucial you make sure that you get enough real, deep sleep every night.

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