From lettuce sandwiches to avoiding cheese before bedtime, there are a whole host of facts and myths surrounding the mysterious world of sleep. But thankfully scientists work tirelessly to advise us on making the best of our slumber.
Surprising sleep facts
In fact, older adults need just as much rest as the young but, because they often find it harder to sleep soundly, they can misinterpret this as a sign that they don't need so much.
But US research has revealed that this lack of sleep could damage health and brain ability.
Though the quality of sleep may suffer as we age, it is important to maintain the quantity in order to avoid cognitive decline.
According to new US research, getting forty winks after lunch improves the brain's ability to absorb new information.
The theory goes that the hippocampus, which stores our short-term memory, gets full up during the morning's work.
But a short siesta enables the brain to clear the facts that we've already processed, thereby making way for new memories.
But it turns out that your teens aren't just being lazy – they really do need more sleep.
All the hormonal upheaval of puberty means teenagers find it tough to get up in the morning, but it is during sleep that they release a hormone essential for the inevitable growth spurt.
This means that they need more sleep than both children and adults.
But if you're not getting your eight hours, you might find it difficult to shift those excess pounds.
A recent UK study found that those who get less than four hours shut-eye each night are 73 per cent more likely to gain weight – and too little sleep could lead to some serious calorie cravings.
But if you're looking for a perfect night's sleep, there is now an iPhone app that can tell you exactly when you should be waking up.
Sleep Cycle records the varying phases of our sleep and provides you with an optimal wake up time.
And there's no rude awakening, since the app gently brings you to life with soothing music.
But a weekend sleep marathon will do nothing to help you 'catch up'.
Scientists investigating the effects of short-term and long-term sleep deprivation found that an accumulated lack of sleep is not repaired by a day under the duvet.
In fact, people suffering from chronic sleep loss were unable to "bank" their sleep and sadly that rested feeling from a long lie-in is largely psychosomatic.
An Austrian study revealed that men were less able to sleep deeply with their partner than women.
This resulted in rising stress hormone levels and the boys' ability to perform a simple cognitive test suffered.
It also explains why your man is less than chirpy in the morning.
While you may have enjoyed a cosy night's sleep, the warm damp conditions are perfect for that nasty little critter, the dust mite – and that can cause asthma and other allergies.
But leave your bed scruffy and unmade and the dry conditions mean they won't survive.
But according to US research, young people who don't get an early night are running the risk of triggering depression.
A study of the habits of more than 15,000 college and high-school students, revealed that those who stayed up after midnight had a 24 per cent higher risk of depression.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends at least nine hours a night for young people.
Research at Loughborough University has revealed that women work their brains harder than men – and that means they need more sleep.
Specifically that multi-tasking the ladies are renowned for means the part of the brain known as the cerebral cortex is worked harder and it needs deep sleep to recover.
An extra 20 minutes a night more than men should do the trick.
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