(From The Reader’s Digest, June, 1945)
Between the ages of 25 and 70 the average person spends 15 years sleeping. Lack of sleep has made generals lose battles, nervous patients lose their minds, wives lose their husbands. Obviously an understanding of sleep is important to us all, but how many of us know the scientifically established facts about it? What’s your score on the following statements, some true, some false?
Healthy sleepers never toss and turn.
False. Everyone changes his position many times because the muscular arrangement of the body is such that we cannot relax all over at once. Thirty-five shifts a night is average.
The most refreshing sleep comes early.
True. Studies at Colgate University show that many of the benefits of sleep have been fully obtained by the end of the first few hours.
If you sleep six hours instead of eight, you must expend more energy the next day to accomplish the same work.
True. Laboratory tests show that we use up to 25 percent more calories to compensate for lost sleep.
To make up lost sleep we must sleep a few hours longer for several nights in succession.
False. One normal night’s sleep will give us all the recovery that extra sleeping can bring.
Sleeping with someone makes restful sleep more difficult.
True. The slight motions of the other person keep us from sinking into the deepest and most refreshing sleep.
Men who are able to get along with very little sleep are among the most energetic.
False. Napoleon and Edison went with only a few hours’ sleep a night, but they took cat naps during the day. In any 24-hour period they apparently slept a normal length of time.
Lack of sleep alone may lead to really serious illness.
True. Animals die more quickly from lack of sleep than from lack of food.
We fall completely asleep and also wake up in one split second.
False. When we are half asleep, either at the beginning or the end of the night, we pass through a period when we cannot speak but can clearly hear sounds. Our power to move is then asleep, but our hearing faculties are awake.
Sleeping on the left side strains the heart.
False. It makes no difference whether the average person sleeps on his back or on either side.
Drinking hot liquids before going to bed is one of the best ways of insuring good sleep.
False. Pressure of liquids on the bladder causes restlessness. Only small amounts of liquids should be drunk during the evening if you want to pass a restful night.
It is unhealthy to sleep in summer with an electric fan on in the room.
False. If the fan is turned to the wall to avoid drafts and placed on heavy felt to absorb sound, it will improve your chances of a restful night.
Physical fatigue can make it difficult to get to sleep.
True. A warm bath is probably the best way of reducing the tension that comes from too much unaccustomed exercise before going to bed.
The worst thing about insomnia is worrying about its effects on the next day’s work.
True. Dr. Donald A. Laird, who studied sleep habits at Colgate University, suggests that when sleep is difficult you decide to get up later the next day. Knowing that you have plenty of time in which to rest, you will dose off easily.
Mattress and springs should be of medium softness to insure the most restful sleep.
True. A soft bed is the worst enemy of sound sleep, a hard bed almost as bad.
A nap after lunch is sheer self-indulgence and cuts down a person’s efficiency.
False. Studies at Stephends College, Missouri, show that when students slept for an hour after lunch their scholastic records were higher than when they used the time for studying.
Mental effort to is worst possible preparation for getting to sleep.
True. A dull evening, ending with a walk to tire your muscles, is the best preparation for sleeping.