Top Ten Sleep Myths
Myth 1: Sleep is a time when your brain and body shut down for relaxation and repose.
There is no evidence showing that any regulatory system and/or major organ in the body shuts down during sleep. Actually, some physiological processes become more active while we sleep, e.g. activity of the pathways in the brain needed for learning and memory is heightened and also secretion of certain hormones is boosted.
Myth 2: Getting just one hour less sleep per night than needed won’t have any effect on your day time functioning.
This lack of sleep won’t make you significantly sleepy during the day. However, even slightly less sleep can affect your ability to respond quickly and think properly, and it can compromise your ability to fight infections as well as cardiovascular energy and health equilibrium, particularly if such lack of sleep carries on. If you systematically don’t get enough sleep, ultimately a sleep debt builds up that will make you overly tired during the day.
Myth 3: Your body adjusts quickly to different sleep schedules.
Your biological clock makes you most drowsy at night and most alert during daylight. Therefore, even if you work the night shift, you’ll naturally feel sleepy when night time comes.
Most people can reset their biological clock, but only by appropriately timed signals — and even then, by less than 2 hours per day, at best. Therefore, it can take more than a full week to adjust to a different altered wake/sleep cycle, such as you encounter when switching from working the night shift to the daily one or traveling across several time zones.
Myth 4: People need less sleep as they get older.
Older people don’t require less sleep, but they often find their sleep less invigorating or get less sleep. That’s because as people age, they spend less time in the restful, deep stages of sleep and are more easily awakened.
Older people are also more likely to have medical circumstances that interfere with their sleep, e.g. insomnia.
Myth 5: Extra sleep at night can cure you of problems with excessive day time fatigue.
Not only is the quality of sleep important but also the quantity of it. Some people sleep 8 or 9 hours per night but still feel exhausted when they wake up because the quality of their sleep is poor. A number of sleep disorders influence the quality of sleep.
Sleeping more hours won’t alleviate the day time sleepiness these conditions or disorders cause. However, many of these disorders or conditions can be
treated effectively with medical therapies or with changes in behavior.
Myth 6: You can make up for lost sleep during the week by sleeping more on the weekends.
Although such sleeping pattern will help relieve part of a sleep debt, it won’t completely make up for the insufficiency of sleep. This pattern also won’t make up for diminished performance during the week because of not sleeping enough. Moreover, sleeping later on the weekends can affect your biological clock so that it will be much harder to go to sleep at the right time on Sunday night and get up early on Monday morning.
Myth 7: Naps are a waste of time.
Although naps do not substitute for a good night’s sleep, they can be restorative and help counter some of the impaired performance that results from not getting enough sleep at night.
Naps can actually help you learn how to do certain tasks quicker.
But avoid taking naps later than 3 p.m., as late naps can interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night. Also, limit your naps to no longer than 1 hour because longer naps will make it harder to wake up and get back in the swing of things. If you take frequent naps during the day, you may have a sleep disorder that should be treated.
Myth 8: Snoring is a normal part of sleep.
Snoring during sleep is frequent, particularly as a person gets older. Snoring on a regular basis might make you sleepy during the day and more susceptible to heart disease and/or diabetes. Furthermore, some studies link frequent snoring to poorer school achievement and problem behavior in children. Frequent, loud snoring can also be a sign of sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder that should be treated by a doctor.
Myth 9: Children who don’t get enough sleep at night will show signs of sleepiness during the day.
Unlike adults, children who don’t get enough sleep at night typically become more active than normal during day time and they also show difficulty in behaving properly and paying attention. Thus, they may be diagnosed incorrectly as having attention deficit hyperactivity.
Myth 10: The main cause of insomnia is worry.
Although stress or worry can cause a short bout of insomnia, a persistent inability to fall asleep at night can be caused by a number of other factors. Certain sleep disorders and medications and can keep you awake at night. Other common causes of insomnia are anxiety disorders, depression, and arthritis, asthma, or other medical conditions with symptoms that become more troublesome at night. Some people who have chronic insomnia also appear to be more excited than normal, so it is more difficult for them to fall asleep.