Everyone sleeps, so everyone has a favorite theory about how sleep works. Call it unfounded folk wisdom, misinformation, or the fibs we tell ourselves to feel better about not sleeping – it all adds up to potential health problems if we don’t separate the fact from the fiction. Learn which sleep myths to ignore so that you can sleep better at night!
Myth #1 - Everyone Needs Eight Hours of Sleep
We’ve all heard that you should get eight hours of sleep every night, but that’s not necessarily true. Some people require nine or more hours of sleep every night to function at their best; others might only need seven hours of sleep. The right amount of sleep for your body is enough sleep so that you don’t feel sleepy or tired during the day. Another related myth? That you need less sleep as you get older. It’s just not true. What often happens is that sleep time at night may shorten (usually waking up earlier) for older adults but this lost sleep time is made up for in the form of a daytime nap (easier to do if you’re retired!).
Myth #2 - You Can Train Yourself to Need Less Sleep
These days, it’s almost a bragging point to say that you can get by on four hours of sleep. Some people might feel like they’re gaming the system by operating on energy drinks and coffee all day, but in fact you can’t trick your body into sleeping less and remaining healthy. What’s actually happening is that sleep-deprived people become less able to accurately determine how sleepy they are; it’s comparable to someone saying they feel fine to drive after having a few beers. Meanwhile, your body’s sensitive systems are headed for illness and disease.
Myth #3 - Snoring May be Annoying But it’s Harmless
Not true! Snoring often signals that there’s something wrong with the way your body breathes during sleep. For some people, snoring is a signal that obstructive sleep apnea is present. Obstructive sleep apnea refers to a condition that occurs during sleep when your body isn’t getting the air it needs because your airway is repeatedly obstructed during sleep. The snoring and obstruction are usually caused by either a small airway, or excess tissue in the airway. When the apnea is moderate to severe, the stress on your cardiovascular system can, over time, increase the risk for other serious medical conditions including heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and depression.
Myth #4 - TV and Alcohol Are Good Ways to Ease Into Sleep
You might have good intentions of getting some sleep tonight, but you’re not feeling quite sleepy yet. Crawl into bed to watch some TV before drifting off? Sip on an alcoholic nightcap? Wrong choices. Actually, the blue lights emitted from TV screens, and screens from your laptop, tablet, and smartphone, interact with your brain to promote alertness rather than sleepiness. And watching something scary or stressful, like an action flick or the evening news, can make it doubly difficult to drift off. Alcohol might, admittedly, make you feel drowsy and fall asleep, but it disturbs your sleep for the rest of the night. Processing the alcohol creates extra work for your body that keeps you up, and prevents you from entering deep sleep. You might wake up for extra bathroom visits, too.
Article by Optisom
1. National Sleep Foundation, Myths and Facts About Sleep: http://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/myths-and-facts-about-sleep
2. Sleep Health Foundation, Common Myths About Sleep:http://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/files/pdfs/Sleep-Myths.pdf
3. Cleveland Clinic, Myths and Facts About Sleep: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/neurological_institute/sleep-disorders-center/patient-education/hic-myths-and-facts-about-sleep