Maybe it's because 2018 was a hell of a year and we all want to spend most of 2019 in sweet, sweet slumber, but there was a lot of research published in January this year about sleep. Like, a lot of research. These new findings about sleep covered a lot of ground, from the neural patterns of the sleeping brain to the genetics of early risers and the tie between sleep and health — and it's changing the way we think about rest. If you've always been curious about how sleep shapes our lives, this crop of research shows that it's hugely influential in unprecedented ways.
Sleep involves many moving parts. There are the hormonal signals issued by your brain that indicate when you should fall asleep or wake up; the circadian rhythms of each cell in your body, which dictate your sleep-wake cycle over a 24-hour period; the four separate stages of sleep, including REM or rapid eye movement sleep, which occur multiple times over the course of a night's slumber; and other factors, including genetics, stress and environment, that influence how your sleep actually progresses. It's possible to examine sleep from many different angles — and, as these studies show, science is still learning a lot of mind-blowing things about our bodies and minds when we drop off to sleep every night. Here are eight brand-new facts about sleep.