Sleep is essential to the human body. It’s our way of resting physically and mentally as we deal with a significant amount of stress throughout the day. However, there are some beliefs regarding sleep that sometimes may or may not be true. We often hear them coming from people and sometimes we may even experience them firsthand. But there are times that these mere rumors and myths contain information that’s incorrect and may even lead to harm if not taken seriously. Here are the common myths about sleep and the truth about each one.
Snoring isn’t a Big Deal
Snoring may be a common thing for some people. We can’t deny that a lot of people tend to snore and all we can do is endure it. However, snoring shouldn’t be just ignored right off the bat. Snoring can be a symptom of a potential health problem. Sleep apnea is a life-threatening condition wherein there are pauses in breathing, leading to a decreased amount of air in the person’s airways during sleep. This leads to reduced oxygen levels in the blood, leading to more workload for the heart to keep up and increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Eight (8) Hours is the Ideal
You can hear a lot of people say that the ideal amount of sleep is eight (8) hours. This isn’t necessarily true. Some people may need more than that while some people may need less than that. Each person has different adjustment and preference to the amount of sleep they can get and can require more or less sleep that’s dependent on a number of factors. But the commonly recommended amount of sleep may range from six (6) to eight (8) hours a day.
Insomnia is Difficulty in Falling Asleep
Not necessarily. In insomnia, difficulty in falling asleep is just one of the many symptoms associated with it. Other symptoms are difficult to maintain sleep, waking up and being unable to go back to sleep, getting awakened on a frequent basis and waking up still feeling tired and exhausted. These can be potential signs or symptoms of sleep disorders or other medical problems.
Not Enough Sleep is Equal to Daytime Sleepiness
Extreme daytime sleepiness is when a person gets a strong urge to sleep during the day or often ends up falling asleep even when the person is expected to be fully alert or awake. However, this condition doesn’t necessarily mean that the person didn’t get enough sleep at night. There are conditions or sleep disorders that render some people to be drowsy during the day. One such condition is narcolepsy. Daytime sleepiness is a serious problem that should be addressed quickly as it can result in injury, accidents or even death.
The Brain Rests During Sleep
This is only half the truth. During sleep, our body is able to rest physically. But during sleep, the brain still remains at work. At this time, the brain gets refreshed since it doesn’t have to deal with the physical strain that our body undergoes compared to when we’re awake and can focus on the most important functions. During sleep, our brain can still process information, even during deep REM sleep.
Music, Open Windows or Air Conditioning Can Help in Staying Awake While Driving
These practices are often ineffective and dependent upon the preference of an individual. These can be potentially dangerous for the one who’s behind the wheel while feeling sleepy. Instead of doing these practices, it’s a wise choice to pull over on the side of the road and rest in a safe area just to take a short nap. About 15-30 minutes will do. Caffeinated drinks can also help in fighting off drowsiness for a short while but it takes a few minutes for you to feel the effects. The best way to prevent feeling sleepy while driving is to get a good night’s sleep the night or day before making the trip.
The Amount and Quality of Sleep is Unrelated to Health Problems
Definitely a false. Sleep is an important need for our body. Not getting enough sleep puts you at risk of developing serious health problems like cardiovascular disease, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, depression and more if left unchecked. Various hormones in our body are disrupted if we don’t get enough sleep, often resulting in unhealthy weight loss or weight gain. Other processes are disrupted as well, leading to damaging effects on the different organs. Normally, blood pressure should decrease when we sleep. However, disturbing the sleep patterns result in the abnormal readjustment of blood pressure and result in hypertension and potentially damaging the blood vessels, increasing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Less Sleep is Needed by Older People
It is recommended that we get to sleep with a range of six (6) up to eight (8) hours for the average adult. While our sleeping patterns change throughout life, the amount of sleep that we need often doesn’t change. This belief may stem from the fact that as we age, we are often found to be awake most of the time. Babies can sleep as much as sixteen (16) to twenty (20) hours a day. As we age, that amount lessens until we arrive at a point that we just sleep that amounts to usually six (6) hours, sometimes even less. That’s because we are required to stay awake to accomplish tasks through our body still needs more hours of sleep. In fact, older people need more sleep since they tend to tire out more easily compared to when they were younger.
Myths are common when it comes to sleep. There are a number of beliefs that stem from rumors or chitchats that often end up twisting our beliefs and practices regarding sleep. It’s more often than not; these common myths lead to potentially harmful practices if left alone. However, not all beliefs regarding sleep may be completely true or false. Knowing the facts about each one is crucial and important if you want to get the best kind of sleep that you want.