Sleep is a subject that’s not fully understood even by those who dedicated their whole lives to studying it.
While there is a lot we don’t know about sleep, there is also a lot that we do.
Here, we dispel 10 of the many myths about sleeping that you might have heard before. Some of these are just innocent tales, while others might put you at serious risk.
Read on to find out what is and isn’t true about sleep.
While snoring might not mean anything serious in some cases, it can also be a sign of a very serious condition called sleep apnea.
This condition prevents air from flowing through a person’s airways while they’re asleep.
Special attention should be paid if you or someone you know snores and feels sleepy very often during the days.
Sleep apnea can be treated. If you snore and don’t feel refreshed in the morning, consult your physician.
Sleep experts agree that an adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night for optimal health and performance.
Most people do not get this amount of sleep and then try to catch up during the weekend. However, this doesn’t work. The effects of sleep deprivation show themselves after just one night of inadequate sleep.
These effects are physical as well as mental
You know how you feel after not sleeping well last night - drowsy, lethargic and not-so-sharp. These effects worsen after every night of not sleeping enough.
Unfortunately, if you miss 2 hours of sleep for 5 days you can’t just add 10 hours to your sleep on a Saturday and make up for it.
None of these things is guaranteed to keep you awake and driving a car with the risk of falling asleep is very dangerous.
If you’re feeling tired while driving, we recommend you to pull over and have a short 20-30 minute nap.
Coffee and energy drinks might help alleviate tiredness for a short period of time, but they take time to kick in and the effects can go away fairly quickly, depending on how tired you are.
Sleep experts agree that people still in development, 23 and under, need 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night to be fully refreshed, as opposed to 7 to 9 hours for fully developed adults.
Moreover, their circadian rhythm is postponed, meaning they naturally get tired later in the evening and sleep longer in the morning.
Many schools start early, when teenage bodies want to be asleep. Therefore, a lot of students attend school too tired to perform at their best.
People might be able to fall asleep in 5 minutes and still suffer from insomnia.
Generally, there are four different signs associated with insomnia. Difficulty falling asleep being one of them, but not the only one.
There is also waking up during the night/early morning and not being able to fall back asleep, waking up frequently during the night, and waking up in the morning, but feeling unrefreshed.
Insomnia can be a symptom of many physical and/or mental conditions and, in most cases, can be treated.
If any of the four symptoms mentioned above occur more than a few times a month and impact your day to day life, we recommend seeing a doctor and discussing options of treatment.
Contrary to popular belief, even people who get more than enough sleep every night can feel tired during the day.
This can be a sign of many underlying medical conditions - most often narcolepsy or sleep apnea
Both conditions can be treated which minimises their effect on a person’s life. If you think your tiredness during the day is interfering with your daily life, we recommend consulting a specialist.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Numerous studies have connection of sleep quality and quantity with health.
For example, poor sleep reduces production of testosterone and growth hormone, lowering our body’s capability to burn fat, which leads to increased weight gain and even obesity.
Inadequate sleep increases blood pressure and impair the body’s ability to use insulin. This combination can result in developing diabetes and heart disease.
Sleep is the most important thing for our health and not getting enough of good quality shut eye time results in much worse things than having to drink a lot of coffee the next day.
Sleep experts recommend 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night for most adults. The number of total sleeping hours doesn’t change with age, sleep patterns do.
Older people naturally feel tired sooner, so they go to bed sooner and therefore, they wake up sooner too.
Also, they tend to break their sleep up into “chunks” by having one or more naps during the day.
This is why they don’t need to sleep all of those 7 to 9 hours during the night.
While it’s true that your body and brain are recovering while you’re asleep, they still have a lot of work to do.
Rather than “turning off”, your brain shifts its’ resources to support parts that are usually not very active during the day.
For example, the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for critical thinking is not very active, that’s why even the weirdest dreams don’t seem weird while we’re dreaming.
On the other hand, hippocampus which has been linked to many memory functions is more active during sleep, which could explain why we remember our dreams when we first wake up and then slowly forget them.
Unfortunately, you can’t force yourself to sleep and as we all know, the harder you try the harder it gets.
Experts agree that if you do not fall asleep within 15-20 minutes, you should get out of bed, and engage yourself in a calming activity such as listening to relaxing music, reading or meditation.
Avoid any light as well as checking the clock. Return to bed once you feel sleepy.