This year, Sleep Awareness Week runs March 11 through March 17. Powered by the National Sleep Foundation, Sleep Awareness Week is all about highlighting how important getting your zzzs is for general well-being, health and safety.
This year's theme is "Begin with Sleep." What better time to start working on better sleep habits? After all, getting enough sleep can improve your overall health, reduce your risk of certain diseases, reduce chronic pain, improve your mood, and even help you maintain a healthy weight. Even if you’re familiar with the health benefits of sleep, here are some interesting facts you may not know.
1. Exercising generally makes it easier for you to fall asleep--and can help you sleep sounder. However, if you exercise right before you head to bed, it can make it harder to fall asleep.
2. Humans are actually capable of taking a short cat nap while the eyes are still open without losing balance.
3. On average, most people take about 10 to 15 minutes to fall asleep at night. If you fall asleep in just five minutes or less, you are probably overtired and sleep deprived.
4. Snoring is the number one cause of sleep disruption for around 90 million Americans, and 37 million Americans deal with snoring that disrupts sleep on a regular basis.
5. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more likely to overeat because levels of leptin, the appetite-e regulating hormone, fall and can increase your appetite.
6. Humans are the only mammals that will delay sleep willingly.
7. Sleep deprivation can significantly reduce your pain threshold, although it’s unclear why. Getting more sleep can improve your pain tolerance, especially if you deal with chronic pain.
8. If the temperature in the room is too high, you may find it difficult to fall asleep. The body temperature needs to decrease a bit for you to fall asleep, so feeling hot can keep you from sleeping well.
9. Approximately 12 percent of people have dreams that are completely in black and white.
10. When you wake up, within five minutes, you forget at least 50 percent of your dreams. Wait another five minutes and it increases to 90 percent.
11. Most humans will sleep for about a third of their lives.
12. Feelings of tiredness peak at both 2 a.m. and 2 p.m., which is why you get that afternoon slump after lunch.
13. Staying awake for a straight 16 hours can decrease performance just as much as if you had a blood alcohol level of 0.05 percent.
14. One of the biggest distractions that keeps people from sleep is constant access to the internet.
Sleep is just as important as following a healthy diet and exercising. As we head into Sleep Awareness Week, make sure that you’re logging enough hours of sleep to stay healthy. Now is the perfect time to change your habits by going to bed a bit earlier, keeping your smartphone out of the bedroom, or turning your bedroom into a better sleep environment. Sleep well!