When your head hits the pillow, and your eyes close at night, your brain ISN’T shutting off while you sleep. Far from it. There’s a whole lot of fascinating, bizarre — and necessary — craziness going on inside your head and body. Here, 10 eyebrow-raising facts you probably didn’t know about slumber.
1. You really “fall” asleep. Between the first two stages of sleep, your body makes involuntary jerky motions. They’re totally normal. Experts theorize that as you deeply relax, your brain registers your body as falling, and attempts to catch itself.
2. Sleepiness can make you gain weight. When you’re sleep-deprived, the hormone leptin, which regulates your appetite, falls, making you hungrier.
3. Some people text in their sleep. Others send emails, shop, AND have sex. These behaviors are called parasomnias, and usually happen in the first 3-4 hours after people have gone to bed. Genetics are usually to blame, but alcohol and sleeping pills can also trigger these wacky episodes.
4. You need sleep more than you need food. You can survive two weeks without food, but 10 days without sleep will kill you.
5. All-nighters make you drunk. Going 16 hours without sleep makes you feel as loopy and out of it as if your blood alcohol level were .05 percent. (.08 is the legal limit.)
6. You can’t smell when you’re asleep. Now you know why smoke detectors are so important.
7. The moon affects sleep cycles. You might not turn into a werewolf during a full moon (at least we hope not), but you WILL sleep less and your quality of sleep will drop, too — even if you’re in a windowless room.
8. Sleeping through the night isn’t natural. In fact, up until the late 17th century, people had TWO sleep segments. In the middle of the night, they’d get up for an hour or two and pray, have sex, or read.
9. Messing with your sleep cycle can cause cancer. The evidence is so strong, in fact, that the World Health Organization considers sleep disruption a carcinogen. That’s unsettling news for people whose jobs require them to work through the night.
10. Get more rest, have more sex. The best reason of all to turn off the TV and go to bed early. Studies show a direct link between low libido and sleep deprivation — in men AND women.