Many people have a lot of misconceptions about sleep despite it being part of everyday life. As an informed person, you must be able to distinguish what is true and what is not. These are some of the most common fallacies about sleep that are widely believed:
1. The older I get, the less sleep I need.
Children and teenagers do need more sleep than adults. However, adults still need to get 6 to 8 hours of sleep to restore their bodies. Some adults may be able to function with less than 6 hours of sleep but those people are few and far between. A large percentage of adults do not get the medical attention they need for their sleep problems because of this widespread belief.
2. Sleeping in on the weekends can make up for my sleep deprived weekdays.
The human body needs a consistent amount of sleep every night. An individual cannot store extra sleep over the weekend to carry over into the week. We all have internal sleep schedules and sleeping more on the weekends will throw you off. It will make it harder to sleep and wake up at usual times during the week. Sticking to a specific sleep schedule will help reduce the difficulty of going to sleep overall.
3. Snoring is just a normal part of sleeping.
Snoring definitely is a common sensation during sleep. But frequent or excessively loud snoring is an indication of an underlying health problem, such as sleep apnea. Snoring can also disrupt a person’s bed partner’s sleep as well. CPAP therapy can help eliminate snoring if it is due to sleep apnea.
4. Napping makes people more tired.
The only negative aspect of napping is it can make it more difficult to sleep at night if you nap after 3pm.
5. I feel tired when I don’t sleep enough, but it is not a big deal.
The sleep deprived population has a higher risk for an array of different physical and mental illnesses. Lack of sleep can significantly raise blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. A sleep deprived brain has an imbalance of hormones. This imbalance can cause depression, anxiety, and delusional paranoia.
6. Television is a good sleep aid.
The ambient light from the television actually keeps you awake for longer. When a person is falling asleep, their brain secretes a chemical called melatonin. The light will cause your brain to delay the release of melatonin. Computers, tablets, and smartphones will have the same effect on your brain if you are trying to sleep. Try to avoid using this type of technology at least two hours before sleep. If you wake up in the middle of the night, do not turn on the television. It is best to go into another dimly lit room and do some light stretching until you feel tired enough to sleep.
7. A warm glass of milk induces sleep.
This is an old wive’s tale based on a psychological reassurance. There is no scientific proof that warm milk helps people fall asleep. Warm milk is associated with nostalgic thoughts of being nutured by a mother. Some may fall asleep faster because of a placebo effect; they strongly believe it will make them fall asleep and so it does.
8. Over-the-counter sleep aids are harmless.
Some over the counter sleep aids are made of powerful chemicals that can have many side effects. There is nothing worse for a body’s sleep cycle than to be dependent on a drug to fall asleep. Sleep aids were meant to only be taken for a limited amount of time. A doctor should be consulted if difficulty persists for longer than 14 days.
9. Sex right before bed will keep you awake.
This all depends on the individual. For some people, sex may calm them down enough to relax them to sleep. For others, it may keep them awake, especially, if it was not enjoyable or if they were uncomfortable during sex. Whatever the case may be, most people figure this one out on their own.
10. Big meals before bed will cause nightmares
A large meal before bedtime will not cause nightmares. However, eating triggers the production of stomach acid. If you lie down right after the acid could flow back up your esophagus causing heartburn. If you have a history of reflux, you might want to wait several hours before going to bed.
11. The more hours spent sleeping the better!
People who sleep for more than 9 hours per night have a high risk for developing depression, diabetes, and premature death. Sleeping longer has also been linked to faster declines in brain function.