We go through our daily life waking up, working, taking care of our family, running errands, and staying pretty busy. Often, we do all of this without thinking much about how it is possible- our body! Your body is actually pretty amazing, and many of the wacky facts you don’t know about your body go a long way toward making the sleep you get at night possible. In fact, sleep is just as important as diet and exercise in keeping your body functioning at its best.
Here are some educational, interesting, and downright amazing things you probably didn’t know about your body and how it affects your sleep needs:
#1 The sensation of falling when half asleep and jerking yourself awake is called “Hypnic Jerks.” This happens most often in the first stage of sleep. While no one is completely sure why hypnic jerks occur, they are said to be perfectly healthy. Oddly enough, these jerks may be increased by anxiety, caffeine, or even physical activity too close to bedtime. This is possibly due to your mind not “allowing” your body to fall asleep yet. They are more frequent in young people and decrease as we get older.
#2 Your body reacts to your elevation in many ways, including how well you sleep. Have you ever taken a ski vacation in the mountains and had a tough time settling down for the night? Researchers have found that the higher the altitude, the greater the sleep disruption. In general, sleep disturbance becomes greater at altitudes of 13,200 feet or more. The disturbance is thought to be caused by diminished oxygen levels and the changes in respiration that accompany this. Most people adjust to new altitudes in approximately two to three weeks, so moving out West won’t mean you suffer forever!
#3 The human body never adjusts to shift work. Unlike altitude, there are some things your body really doesn’t ever adjust to. From truck drivers to restaurant workers to doctors and nurses, many professions require a certain amount of the workforce to take night shifts. While you may agree to work nights in order to make more money or see your family during the day, your body and your sleep schedule don’t harmonize to agree with your decision. It all has to do with your body’s circadian system. This type of work situation creates a misalignment between your internal clock and the outside world. When this happens, your body sends out signals that are quite inconvenient, like secreting drowsy-making chemicals when you’re on the job or telling you to be awake and eat when you’re trying to sleep.
#4 A higher BMI and an inadequate sleep routine are often found in conjunction to one another. If you’re having a hard time getting to and keeping yourself at a healthy weight, your sleep schedule may be to blame. Those who don’t get enough sleep are much more likely to have bigger appetites due to the fact that their leptin levels fall and their ghrelin levels rise, as well as self-reported hunger. Leptin is an appetite-regulating hormone in your body which promotes an appetite increase. Ghrelin is called the 'hunger hormone' because it stimulates appetite, increases food intake, and even promotes fat storage. This happens quite quickly, actually. In fact, a single night of sleep deprivation increases ghrelin levels and feelings of hunger in normal-weight healthy men. I think we have all experienced a day in our life when we were especially groggy and craved sweets and carbs!
#5 Your body materializes dreams based on what you’ve experienced. Dreams are still being studied and fully understood, but one thing we do know for sure is that your brain creates dreams based on what we experience on a daily basis. For example, before color television many people, about 85%, reported dreaming in black and white. Individuals who are born blind dream, but not in images. They experience dreams involving things such as emotion, sound, and smell rather than sight. How interesting!
#6 The concept of “sleeping it off” is actually real. Has anyone ever told you something to the effect of “You’ll feel better in the morning?” It works! This is because as you enter Deep Sleep and REM sleep, your body repairs itself and removes toxins. Sleeping also allows your organs to rest. Many organs, including the heart and the lungs, function significantly slower during sleep than they do during wakefulness. When these organs aren’t working as hard, they get a chance to recuperate. This rest allows them more likely to function in a healthy for longer.
Your body is pretty complicated, and so is your relationship to sleep. One thing is for sure, though- you need deep, uninterrupted sleep on a quality mattress that is just right for your unique sleep needs. That’s our specialty! Visit your nearest City Mattress location and speak to one of Sleep Experts. Be sure to let them know if you aren’t sleeping the entire night through, you are suffering from Sleep Apnea, you are still tired in the morning, or you just aren’t comfortable on your current bed. Whatever your body needs and whatever your current sleep is lacking, we can help!