Sleep is essential to health and well being. And yet, there is still a lot that we don't get right about sleep.
What we do know is that sleep restores the immune system, balances hormone levels, lowers blood pressure, cleanses toxins from the brain, and more and yet there are a huge number of myths about sleep that persist. Many of these are a product of not understanding the full importance of sleep; others have been created by people for the purpose of selling products to improve nightly rest.
Here are some of the most common myths — and the facts.
Myth: Health is not affected by lack of or poor quality sleep.
Fact: Not getting enough sleep or poor quality sleep is associated with a long list of negative health effects, including memory problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety, heart disease, and Alzheimer's linked buildups in the brain. In addition, too little sleep may decrease growth hormone secretion, which has been linked to obesity.
Myth: Sleeping pills help you sleep.
Fact: When you suffer from insomnia or restless sleep, it’s easy to be tempted to pop a sleeping pill and get some shut eye. But sleep experts caution that whatever is happening after you take a sleeping pill is not actually sleep. By studying the brainwaves of people who have taken sleeping pills, experts have been able to show that these people aren't actually sleeping, they're sedated. In fact, some research indicates that taking some sleep medications may be causing memory damage over time.
Myth: Older people need less sleep.
Fact: The average adult needs seven to nine hours of good quality sleep daily. While sleep patterns may change as we get older, the amount of sleep our body needs does not. It’s true, older people may sleep less at night for a variety of reasons, but the amount of sleep they need is unchanged from their younger years.
Myth: Your body will adjust to less sleep if you condition yourself.
Fact: Sleep experts say there is no way around the amount of sleep needed for optimal health, and for most adults that is 7 – 9 hours. If you skimp on sleep you incur a sleep debt, and that debt needs to be paid. Our body does not seem to get used to less sleep than it needs.
Myth: Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep.
Fact: Insomnia is a complex sleep disorder. Difficulty falling asleep is just one of the four symptoms according to the National Sleep Foundation. The others are waking up early and not being able to fall back asleep, waking often during the night, and waking up feeling tired. There are things you can do to alleviate insomnia and other sleep problems. The best treatment for the long-term usually isn’t medication, however.
Myth: Your brain rests during sleep.
Fact: The body rests during sleep, but not the brain. The brain remains active and still controls many essential functions, including breathing, during sleep.
Myth: It's fine to use your phone at night if you eliminate blue light.
Fact: There is a lot of buzz these days about blue light emitted by screens and how they inhibit the production of melatonin, leading to sleep problems. This has led to a rapid rise in blue light blocking products, such as screen covers, glasses, and apps. And although these are helpful it is the simple act of checking our phones (and the resultant stimulation) before bed that is messing with our sleep, experts say. So put the phone down. Have a bath, read a book and make bedtime BED TIME again.
To read more about the effects of poor sleep read this >>article<<.