5 interesting sleep-related curiosities

Sleeping itself is quite curious ... after all, we spend about a third of our lives sleeping, not to mention that, although it is indispensable - because the lack of it can have dramatic consequences for our mental and physical health - No one can explain for sure why it is so necessary.

The folks at ListVerse have published an article with a lot of fascinating information about sleep, and we at Mega Curious have selected five of the most interesting for you to check out:

1 - The dreaded paralysis

Has it ever happened to you to wake up suddenly and find that you can't move? The experience usually causes real panic in those who pass by it and has been associated with several legends. In Japan, for example, sleep paralysis would be caused by a demonic monk chaining his victims, and in the Caribbean region, those responsible would be the souls of babies who died without being baptized.

In some areas of Africa, sleep paralysis is believed to be the work of zombies, and another common idea is that the phenomenon occurs during alien abductions. However, this condition is an old acquaintance of science, occurring when the brain awakens from the REM state - the phase of sleep in which dreams are clearest - but the body does not.

2 - Counting sheep

If you suffer from insomnia, you probably have heard someone - well-meaning - suggesting that you count sheep to fall asleep. For this idea has been around for a long time, and it seems to have its origin in literally counting sheep. That's because the shepherds who took care of the animals at night, worried that some predator would attack the animals, would count the sheep repeatedly to make sure none were gone.

Eventually the poor shepherds would fall asleep. But this was out of sheer exhaustion, and not because counting sheep has any sound effect. In fact, the idea behind the count is that in this way we occupy the mind with something monotonous as we move away from everyday worries. However, when it comes to using the visualization technique to relax, it is best to imagine a very quiet place or situation.

3 - Smell is not an alarm clock

Ever wonder how it is possible that people who were present in fires did not wake up to the smell of smoke? For know that our ability to react in the presence of different odors changes when we are sleeping. This was proven during a study conducted by Brown University in which scientists exposed volunteers to a variety of smells while they slept.

According to scientists, as soon as they were in a deep sleep state, participants showed no reaction whatsoever, even when in contact with very strong smells. And this was observed even when the volunteers slept with a device that kept their mouths closed and forced them to breathe through their noses.

4 - Theories

As we commented above, no one can explain exactly why sleep is so necessary, and if this remains a mystery to this day, just imagine the theories our ancestors didn't have about it! The first are from the Greeks, who believed that sleep was caused when blood vessels carried blood from the skin to the center of the body, and when the flow was reversed, people woke up.

Another explanation - from the Greeks - was that sleep was associated with digestion and, of course, there was still a theory based on mythology. In this case, the responsible was the sleeping god Hypnos, who lived in Erebos, that is, in eternal darkness, and every night he was accompanied by his brother Thanatos, the god of death.

For the ancient Egyptians, sleepers entered a world between the land of the dead and the living, with dreams and nightmares attributed to spirits. In addition, the Egyptians also believed that sometimes sleep was a form that the dead had found to communicate with the living.

5 - Drunkenness and sleep

It is a mistake to think that a drink or two can help someone sleep better. Some studies conducted to assess the effects of alcohol on sleep have found that while drinking does make people fall asleep faster, ingesting it can reduce the REM phase of sleep and cause more nightmares, resulting in interruptions during sleep. of numbness.

In addition, studies have also shown that women suffer more from the effects of alcohol than men from generally processing it faster. Not to mention that some conditions such as gastric reflux, apnea and insomnia can be aggravated with drinking.