is complex, interesting, profound and sometimes just weird. Isn̵
Myth: When you remember your dreams, you slept better
Many people believe that remembering their dreams means having a good night’s sleep. That’s not necessarily the case, says Ariel Garten, co-founder of Muse, a neuroscience and meditation company. People really remember dreams when they wake up during awakening, she says, indicating poorer sleep. It also has something to do with sleep stages: You’re more easily awakened during REM sleep, which is when dreams happen, Garten says.
Myth (sort of): You can die from not sleeping
Sleep deprivation is unlikely to be a cause of death, but sleep deprivation can increase your risk of death due to effects such as immune system suppression and an increased risk of car accidents. There is one medical condition associated with death from sleep deprivation, called “fatal familial insomnia,” which involves degeneration of the central and autonomic nervous system, but this condition is genetic and extremely rare.
In the past, gamers have died during game marathons lasting more than 20 hours, but their deaths are usually attributed to something else – not sleep deprivation – such as a gamer in Taiwan who died of cardiac arrest during a game marathon. In other cases, the cause of death is not specified.
Fact: Dreams are like filing cabinets for your brain
Dr. Shelby Harris, a licensed psychologist certified in behavioral sleep medicine, tells CNET that dreaming is your brain’s way of storing important bits of information for later. “There is a lot going on during the day, and our brains have a clear way of figuring out what to create a file for the future should we need that information again,” she says.
“Dreaming is the way the brain combines emotions, memories and cognitive experiences into a neat, neat file and shreds what we don’t need,” explains Dr. Harris explains. “While dreams are often jumbled, bits of them tend to reflect what’s going on.”
Fact: people didn’t always sleep in a lot of time at night
People used to be engaged in biphasic sleep, or two sleep “shifts” instead of one long stretch of sleep. Some anthropologists and historians believe that the invention of electricity and increasingly standardized work and school schedules (i.e., 8-hour days, as originally determined by social reformer Robert Owen) affected our current sleep behavior.
Fact: Deep sleep cleanses your brain
Every time you fall asleep, your brain takes a shower – in a sense. During sleep, your brain ‘flushes out’ toxins and waste by flushing in and out the cerebrospinal fluid in a wave-like manner. This process is believed to promote healthy cognitive function, adding another reason to prioritize sleep.
Fact: Some people can do well with less than 6 hours of sleep
Researchers have discovered a “sleep short gene” that occurs in people who can only sleep for a few hours each night without ill effects. It is possible that many achievers, such as CEOs and other leaders, have this gene.
Fact: Einstein reportedly got 10 hours of sleep a night
Take it from Einstein: a good night’s sleep is the key to smartness and success. Unless you’re Nikola Tesla.
Fact: More sleep isn’t always better
Most sleep research shows that both short and long sleep durations are associated with higher overall mortality, says Annie Miller, psychologist at DC Metro Sleep and Psychotherapy. Sleeping too much can lead to health complications, as can sleeping too little. “This information can go a long way when people are concerned that they are not getting enough sleep and how this will affect them in the long run,” she says.
Myth: you can ‘make up’ for missed sleep
Speaking of more sleep, Miller explains that catching up on sleep is a modern fantasy. “Some people try to catch up on sleep during vacations or vacations during the week, but they can’t,” she says. “Our brain thrives on habit and routine. If we vary our wake-up time, we create what is called ‘social jet lag’ and this actually makes the sleep problem worse.”
In fact, some people only dream in black and white
In 2008, a study found that older adults dream more in black and white than younger people. In particular, the paper says that adults 55 and older reported dreaming mainly or only in black and white, while people 25 and younger almost never dream in black and white. This may have something to do with exposure to color television, because in the 1940s, 70% of the participants in a study said they only dreamed in black and white. Or those people are simply “profoundly mistaken” and only remember their dreams in black and white.
Myth: You shouldn’t wake someone who is sleepwalking
Conventional wisdom tells us to leave sleepwalkers alone to do their thing, as it can be dangerous to wake them up. But the National Sleep Foundation says it is sometimes necessary to wake a sleepwalker, such as in cases where the sleepwalker puts themselves or others at risk. If you can, it’s best to lead the sleepwalker back to their bed without waking them, says the National Sleep Foundation.
Fact: Fear is not the main emotion in nightmares
Research shows that more people experience confusion, disgust, guilt, and sadness during bad dreams, not fear. Anxiety is also a common emotion that people feel during bad dreams and nightmares.
Fact: Some people are afraid of falling asleep
Somniphobia, also called hypnophobia and sleep anxiety, is the fear of falling asleep or sleeping on your own. Don’t confuse this with insomnia, the inability to fall asleep. Someone with somniphobia may experience severe anxiety about going to bed.
Fact: Sleep deprivation is a treatment for depression
While most of us are concerned about not getting enough sleep, science shows that deliberate sleep deprivation can ease depressive symptoms. Researchers don’t yet understand the biological mechanisms behind this, but there is clearly a connection.
Fact: Nobody knows if your brain can create unique dream people
You may have heard someone say that your brain can only dream about people or combinations of people it has seen before – that it cannot create new and unique people. This is a compelling theory, but according to Stanford University, there is no good way to know if it is true.
Fact: Twitching while falling asleep is called ‘hypnic jerks’
If you ever shook yourself up just as you fell asleep, you have experienced a hypnic shock. These shocks are relatively common, affecting about 60 to 70% of people, researchers estimate. They are completely harmless unless you vibrate so hard that you fall out of bed.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.