Sleep is a wonderful thing and it’s a shame you didn’t truly appreciate the gift of nap time when you were younger. Now, as an adult, sleep is one of the most treasured commodities around. Whether you’re a parent with a cranky newborn or you just aren’t a morning person, bedtime is often most people’s favorite time of day. Why do people love sleep so much? Well, it’s restful, reparative, and can even let you dream. But what about all the weird things you do while you’re asleep? I’m not just talking about the occasional sleep-walk to the fridge for a midnight snack, either.
While on the topic of sleep-walking, it turns out it’s not so rare. According to a recent study published in Neurology, over eight million adults in America sleep-walk at some point in their lives. If you’re anything like me, sleep-walking is mostly harmless and makes for a funny story the next morning when your husband tells you he definitely thought he was about to get a Paranormal Activity ending when he awoke to me standing over him. Hilarious possible possessions and frightened partners aside, there are actually way weirder things you are probably doing in your sleep. Here are 11 strange things you do while sleeping that will make you rethink the whole dreamland thing.
1. You Get Colder
It's not just your imagination and it may be the explanation for the covers tug-of-war that happens while you and your partner sleep. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and sleep specialist, told Woman's Day that your body temperature drops while you sleep. This happens because because it signals your brain to release sleep-inducing melatonin. No wonder people hog the blankets at night!
2. You Can Learn
Before you get your hopes up, this doesn't mean that you can magically study in your sleep. But, due to new research, there may be more to learning than previously thought. According to a study in Nature Neuroscience, your brain does retain information while you're asleep, like the link between sounds and smells.
3. You May Grind Your Teeth
Not everyone does this, but it's actually not too uncommon for people to clench their jaw or grind their teeth while they are asleep. Noted in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, grinding teeth can largely go unnoticed by the sleeping person. Some telltale signs, though, are if you are consistently waking up with a sore jaw, an earache, or stiffness in the muscles around your jaw and face. Of, if your sleep partner asks if you heard that weird sound last night.
4. You Can Have Sex
Although this is pretty rare, The American Association of Sleep found that, out of the people who identify as having some type of sleep disorder, eight percent have had sex while fully asleep. And there are those that just fall asleep during sex. Hey, no judgements.
5. You Can Get Mad
Have you ever woken up, slightly confused, and feeling angry but you're not quite sure why? If so, you're not alone. According to Sleep, people who wake up mad suffe from confusional arousal disorder. And before you brush this off, you should know that it affects three to four percent of the adult U.S. population. If you don't have a calculator, that's somewhere around twelve million people.
6. You Move
Perhaps we're not so different from animals. Just like the viral video where a dog is trying to run in his sleep, BBC reports that humans move their limbs while sleeping too. These movements are referred to as hypnic jerks and occur because it's your body's way of slowing down the part of your brain that controls motor function.
7. You Get Paralyzed
As spooky as this sounds, it's actually a completely normal part of your body's sleep cycle. Lisa Shives, an internist and sleep medicine specialist, told Woman's Day that it's the brain's way of making sure you don't hurt yourself by acting out dreams. Rest easy, though, because this temporary paralysis of your muscles occurs when you aren't even aware.
8. Your Forget Stuff
Though stress, age, and having children can all be factors in not remembering information, your sleeping brain may be to blame. Dr. Christopher Colwell at the UCLA School of Medicine told The Houston Chronicle that your brain sorts data from the day while you sleep and basically tosses what's deemed unnecessary so you can make room for new and important information.
9. You Orgasm
Remember how some people can have sex while asleep? According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, you can actually have a full-blown orgasm while completely asleep, too. Though most of the pioneering research done by Alfred Kinsey in the '40s focused on male nocturnal emissions, recent research shows 4 percent of both genders have orgasms during sleep.
10. You Grow
Your mom was right when she said that a good night's sleep will keep you healthy. As written in the The National Center for Biotechnology Information, your body secretes a growth hormone during sleep. This growth homone is basically your body's way of repairing itself.
And if you feel a little taller in the morning, there's a reason for that. Breus told Woman's Day that your spinal disks finally get the chance to rehydrate and expand while you sleep because you're horizontal and don't have the gravity of standing pressing on your spine. So that's why you're a bit taller in the morning.
11. You Pass Gas
There's nothing to be ashamed of because, let's be honest, everyone does it. While some may have a more fibrous diet than others, everybody passes gas while they are asleep. William Kohler, medical director of the Florida Sleep Institute, told WebMD that flatulence is totally normal during sleep, but admitted it can be a bit embarrassing if your partner notices your "nocturnal noises."