Scientists have dedicated their lives to understanding the human sleep process.
Unfortunately, there are still misconceptions out there that can get in the way of restful slumber. You need to get rid of all the confusing, conflicting, and flat-out incorrect sleep information from your system if you want sounder sleep. Here are ten sleeping myths you need to stop believing right now.
1. Adults Can Sleep Fewer Hours
Yes, adults can sleep fewer than the recommended eight hours per day. However, it would be best if you never made it a habit.
Studies show that sleeping fewer than eight to ten hours every day can lead to sleep deprivation in the long term. Sleep deprivation is one of the major causes of accidents and disasters. Remember the Exxon Valdez oil spill or the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown? While sleep deprivation did not cause these accidents, workers’ lack of sleep was a major contributing factor.
Sleeping at least seven hours per day should lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression. Fewer sleep hours can increase your risk of dying due to heart disease.
2. Falling Asleep Anytime, Anywhere is Healthy
Falling asleep on the train or in the car is better than not getting any sleep at all, correct? It is. However, you should look at it as a sign of something wrong. If you find yourself falling asleep anytime, anywhere, there is a good chance you are sleep-deprived.
According to Dr. Rebecca Robbins of the Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine, such behavior can only indicate micro-sleeps. It is a sign that your body is already exhausted. It sleeps anytime and anywhere because it is trying to repay the body’s sleep debt.
3. Your Brain and Body Can Easily Adapt to Less Sleep
One of the most common misconceptions about sleep is that the body and brain can adjust to long-term sleep deprivation. If you make it a habit to sleep only three to four hours every day, your body will be accustomed to it.
Unfortunately, this is not true. The brain needs to undergo several cycles of sleep, consisting of four phases. Stages 3 and 4 are the most important because they restore many of the body and brain’s critical functions. Short sleep duration decreases the number of sleep cycles, preventing your body and brain to restore themselves to optimal functioning.
4. Sleeping at Any Time of the Day is Healthy
Prof. Girardin Jean-Louis of NYU Langone Health’s Department of Psychiatry says that a regular sleep schedule is a function of our internal biological clock. The circadian rhythm controls the body’s critical processes, including hormone regulation, digestion, body temperature, and even sleep-wake cycles.
Sleeping outside your normal sleep schedule can increase the risk of obesity, depression, ulcers, some cancer types, and heart disease. Mistimed sleep can also affect protein composition. In other words, sleeping at any time of the day is a bad idea.
5. Snoring is Harmless
Experts at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute say that snoring is a sign of sleep apnea. It is a sleep disorder that can increase the risk of atrial fibrillation, hypertension, diabetes, heart attack, cancer, glaucoma, and kidney disease. It can also contribute to behavioral disorders. Snoring can also affect sleep quality. If you snore, your partner tends to wake you up because of the annoying noise. Abrupt awakenings can disrupt your sleep pattern. You will feel exhausted when you wake up in the morning.
6. Pre-bedtime Alcohol Consumption Makes It Easy to Fall Asleep
Old folks say a bottle of beer or a glass of wine before bedtime always makes it easier for them to fall asleep. There is a basis for this claim. After all, alcoholic beverages are depressant and sedative by nature.
However, Dr. Robbins says that is as far as alcohol goes. It can make you fall asleep faster, but it will trap you in the first two stages of sleep. You will never progress to stage 3 and 4 of the sleep cycles, where most of the body and brain reparative and restorative processes occur.
7. You Will Sleep Faster If You Watch TV in Bed
People think that watching TV in bed will tire the brain, making them fall asleep faster. They fail to realize that blue light from TVs, laptops, smartphones and similar devices can prolong the first two sleep stages.
The National Sleep Foundation says that blue light prevents the efficient release of the sleep hormone melatonin. You will have sleep stages 3 and 4 of short duration, setting you up for a dreadful night.
8. Closing Your Eyes and Forcing Yourself to Sleep Helps
They say it is all in the mind. If you force yourself to sleep, you will be able to sleep. Closing your eyes lying in bed will also help you to fall asleep quickly. That is why our mothers always told us to count sheep while waiting for sleep to set in.
Unfortunately, doing so is counterproductive. The only thing you are accomplishing is training your mind that you have insomnia. If you fail to fall asleep within 15 minutes of getting to bed, it would be best to get up and perform some light activities.
9. Okay to Go Back to Bed After the Alarm Sounds
Everyone is guilty of hitting their favorite snooze button by an additional five to ten minutes. The issue here is that your body will attempt to return to sleep. Unfortunately, such sleep will be low-quality and very light.
You will never reach sleep stage 4 and REM sleep because the alarm will already sound off. You will wake up feeling tired and groggy.
10. A Sign of a Good Night’s Sleep is Remembering Your Dreams
A French study revealed that people who can remember their dreams in great detail tend to wake up more often during sleep. They are also more sensitive to external stimuli. A slight scratching sound from the kitchen or leaves rustling outside the window is often enough to arouse them from their sleep.
Hence, just because you can remember your dreams vividly does not automatically mean you had a good night’s sleep.
Differentiating fact from fiction is crucial to getting good-quality sleep. Use what you have learned today to make the necessary changes to how you sleep and begin reaping the rewards of a well-rested body and mind.
Author’s Bio: Charles is the managing editor at Sleep Matters, where he helps people get a better night’s sleep by providing in-depth reviews on mattresses and beddings.
More on this topic: 5 Proven Reasons Why Sleeping Is An Important Factor In Being Fit