Did you get your daily dose of sleep? Getting a good night’s sleep can help you prevent a lot of health problems. The quality and quantity of sleep play a key role in keeping you healthy and fit. Several studies have reported that one should sleep for at least 7-8 hours a day, which cannot be underestimated. However, there are certain sleep facts which should be shed light one because most people blindly believe some of the common myths surrounding sleep. In this article, we try to bust the common myths about sleep and state the facts right for you to inculcate healthy sleep habits.
Myth #1. The Older You Get, The Lesser Sleep You Need
Sleep Facts #1: This is one of the most common myths about sleep. However, it is not true. Just like an average adult, older individuals are also recommended to sleep for seven to eight hours. In fact, the sleeping patterns might alter as you age but the amount of sleep you might need might not vary. Older people tend to wake more at night which in turn can actually lead to less nighttime sleep as compared to adults. As they may sleep less at night, you might often find them taking a quick nap during the day. Moreover, older people tend to wake up early and sleep early as compared to their younger counterparts.
Myth #2: Your Brain Shuts Down When You Sleep
Sleep Facts #2: It is wrongly believed that while we sleep, our body including our brain also takes a break. However, this is completely wrong. The reality is that our brain remains active and is super busy when we are deep into our sleep. The brain continues to govern the bodily functions such as breathing, pumping of the heart and other such functions. It sorts and processes information about what happened on that day. It then stores all the information into your long term memory, which is the key to learning and memory.
Myth #3: Snoring Is Quite Normal (And Not Harmful)
Sleep Facts #3: This is not true because snoring quite often than not is a common problem, which should not be ignored. If you snore every day or if your partner snores loudly on most nights, it is not normal as it could be a sign of an underlying condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. This usually means that something is affecting your breathing during sleep by getting in the way of your breathing pattern. It can occur in kids as well as adults.
Snoring can also be a sign of sleep apnea and is associated with several medical problems such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. It can not only be a disturbing factor for your partner’s inadequate sleep but can also cause other significant health problems, so it is best to consult a doctor to know the cause of it and get it treated.
Myth #4: Alcohol Helps You Sleep Better
Sleep Facts #4: Alcohol might aid you to sleep for a short period of time but in the long run it can affect your sleep pattern. Drinking has been found to put you at an increased frequency of interrupted sleep and frequent awakenings. Moreover, it also fails to get you the desired sound sleep.
The consumption of alcoholic drinks has been found to delay the response rate towards different situations. It makes you feel drowsy and has damaging effects on the body. Sleep is just a temporary benefit of alcohol but it can exert numerous side-effects on the body that range from severe dehydration to liver damage.
Myth #5: Waking Up Mid Night Means You Will Stay Fatigued Throughout the Day
Sleep Facts #5: Experts suggest an adult sleep for about 7-9 hours each day. But most people believe that those who fail to get the desired sleep hours are more prone to fatigue and inefficiencies at work. This is true to a certain extent. However, if you wake up at midnight only sometimes and not quite frequently, then you might not feel tired or fatigued. It might disturb your sleep, making it difficult to sleep again, but may not bring a restless tomorrow for you.
Several studies have reported that short spanned sleep just like power naps have been found to enhance an individuals’ performance and cognitive skills. But if you wake up very often then it’s wise to fix an appointment with a sleep specialist to know the root cause.
Myth #6: Watching TV Or Surfing/Playing On Phone Will Help You Fall Asleep At Night.
Sleep Facts #6: Well, this could be the reason that most people are stuck to their phones or TV till they fall asleep. However, this is a common misconception which means watching TV or playing on a phone can hardly make you fall asleep. In fact, use of electronic devices which emit light like phone and laptops just before hitting the sack can affect your sleep.
In reality, the blue light which is emitted from TV and phone can distract the brain instead of calming it before sleep. Instead of this, try other habits which can help you to maintain sleep hygiene and sleep better. For example, sleeping at the same time every day, reading a book before going to bed, taking a stroll after meals or listening to some soothing music to help you get a good night’s sleep. You can even try some breathing techniques or perform yoga before hitting the sack to sleep better.
Myth #7: It Is Not A Big Deal If You Experience Trouble Falling Asleep
Sleep Facts #7: This is not true because if you are suffering from trouble falling asleep quite frequently, it could mean insomnia. It is a common sleep disorder which affects a person’s ability to sleep at night along with impairing his functional ability during the day. If you have suffered from sleep deprivation for at least 3 nights per week for a period of three months, then it could indicate that you are suffering from chronic insomnia. Other common symptoms of insomnia include mood swings, sleeping during the day and decreased work performance. If you experience any of these symptoms or think you suffer from insomnia, it is wise to talk to your doctor to know about your condition in detail and do the needful.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)
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