5 Things You Didn't Know About Sleep

Most of us would agree that sleep is extremely important. Some of us can sleep 9+ hours a day, while others wake before the alarm goes off. Some of us can sleep anywhere, while others HAVE to sleep in their own beds. Why is getting the right amount of sleep so important? What does how we sleep say about us? Find the answers below.

1. There is an "alarm clock" gene

Do you wake up every morning before your alarm goes off? Researchers have identified an alarm clock gene that starts our biological clocks every morning. Our biological clock kick starts our metabolism each day, which in turn initiates other important body functions and wakes us up. Researchers believe that when the alarm clock gene doesn't work properly, sleeplessness and chronic illnesses, like cancer and diabetes, might occur.

2. Our sleep position says a lot about us

Believe it or not, our preferred sleep position is a good indicator of our personality type. People who sleep in a fetal position tend to have tough exteriors but are sensitive and shy. Those who sleep like logs (on their sides, straight with arms extended down their sides) are social, easy going, trusting, and gullible. Soldier position sleepers (sleep on their backs with their arms at their sides) tend to be reserved and quiet and have high standards.

3. You are what you sleep

We've all heard the expression "you are what you eat" to explain how the foods we eat affect our health. The same is true for how much sleep we get. People who only get five hours of sleep a night are 73 percent more likely to gain weight compared to those who sleep more. That percentage drops to 27 percent for those who get six hours of sleep every night. But why? Our genetic makeup plays a factor in how much we weigh. The more we sleep the less our genes determine how much we weigh. Thus, the more we sleep, the more control we have over our weight. Plus, lack of sleep can increase hunger sensations by up to 25 percent!

4. Dream, dream, dream

Here's what you might be dreaming about: men dream about other men 70 percent of the time, but women dream about men and women equally. Only 12 percent of us dream in black and white. And that percentage was higher before the advent of color television! People who don't dream generally have personality disorders. Find out more things you didn't know about dreams and sleep here.

5. Your body is still working while you sleep

Ever wonder what's happening while you're asleep? Obviously, your body's basic functions, like breathing and circulation, don't stop. But what else happens? Would it surprise you to know that your brain recharges itself? And your cells repair themselves? They do! Plus, your body releases important hormones. Each of these complex processes take time, which is why it's important to get a full 7 - 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Studies show that sleeping too little or too long can result in shorter lifespans.

The more you know...

There's so much more to sleep than simply shutting our eyes and drifting off. It may seem like sleep is an incredible waste of time, but these interesting facts show that sleep, and what happens while we sleep, is critical to our health and physical well-being. Whether you like to bundle up in hotel bedding or fall asleep in public, make it a point to get 7 - 8 hours of sleep every night. Your mind and body will be the better for it.