Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Debunking Common Sleep Myths

by Mazhar Aziz (writer), , February 07, 2017

One of the common misconceptions about sleep is that it is a period of rest when we shut down to conserve our energy for the following day.

Sleep is utmost important for our body to rejuvenate after the day's exhaustion. And as researchers acquire more knowledge about its purpose and the adverse side effects of not getting enough sleep, the significance of getting a goodnight's sleep becomes even more comprehensible.

There are various reasons for insomnia and an extensive list of dos and don'ts to avoid it. However, some of the myths associated with sleep are nothing but a fallacy. Some of the popular tales about sleep have been proven wrong by the researchers lately stating they have no connection with proper/improper sleep, whatsoever. Here are some common sleep myths which have been demystified.

1. Sleeping is a period of inactivity

One of the common misconceptions about sleep is that it is a period of rest when we shut down to conserve our energy for the following day. Even though it may appear on the surface to be an absence of consciousness, but sleep is an active state within the brain.

During sleep, we cycle through various stages of sleep comprised of 3 stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Although our bodies remain still and inactive at night, there are countless homeostatic processes going on that we're unaware of.

2. Alcohol helps you sleep better

Many people prefer a glass of wine or whiskey before going to bed as they believe it helps them sleep better. Alcohol is a depressant and therefore increases non-REM sleep and reduces REM sleep. Insufficient REM sleep has been linked to migraines and poor emotional stability. Alcohol also causes interrupted sleep which makes you feel exhausted throughout the following day.

3. Snoring is harmless

Snoring is simply the sound caused by vibrations in the upper airways of the respiratory system due to obstructed air movement while sleeping. Habitual snorers can be at risk for serious health problems, including sleep apnea, which can result in high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

4. Older people need less sleep

It's a common myth that when we get older, we naturally need less sleep. However, researches have shown that older adults should sleep the same amount of time as when they were in their 30s. Although old people tend to experience fractured sleep, but that's not because their body requires lees sleep, it's more likely because of the aches, pains, and medications.

5. You can catch up the sleep during the weekends

If you're an employed person and are busy mostly during the weekdays, you're more likely to sleep less than that required by your body. To compensate this sleep deprivation, you must probably assume that it'll be okay once you sleep during the weekends, however, this habit may accumulate a chronic sleep debt which is likely to bring out a lot of physical and mental health problems.

6. Sleeping pills are harmless

Even though sleeping pills are amongst the most commonly prescribed drugs and are believed to be harmless by the consumers, they can be linked to higher risks of cancer and other fatal diseases.

7. A "8 hours" sleep is idealistic

It is widely believed that sleeping for 8 hours helps you to restore your drowned energy, even though a 8 hours' sleep surely helps, it is not mandatory for everyone to sleep for the exact amount of time as the necessity depends on the type of workload that one's body is subjected to.

These are the most commonly hold beliefs associated with sleep and the list goes on. If you're insomniac or sleep deprived, please consult a doctor instead of following the myths related to the conditions.

About the Writer

Mazhar Aziz is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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