Unrealistic Expectations About Sleep and Insomnia

15th Sleep Myths You Should Ignore.

In recent years, insomnia epidemic spread across the world and many myths have been created around sleep, yet many of us are not aware of the basic sleep facts.

Myth 1: Everybody needs 8 Hours of Sleep.
Restless Sleep PictureA lot of people buy into this myth and allow it to dominate their thoughts about sleep. When it becomes clear that, once again, the magic 8 hours aren’t going to happen tonight, panic starts to set in, driving away any possibility of getting a good night's sleep. Contrary to what many people believe, 8 hours of sleep is not that necessary. Millions of people function perfectly well on 5-7 hours of sleep. Accepting the truth those 8 hours is nothing but a myth can be your first step in ending insomnia.

Myth 2: During sleep, your brain rests.
The body rests during sleep. However, the brain remains active and gets “recharged.” During sleep, you drift between two sleep states, REM and non-REM sleep, in about 90-minute cycles.

Myth 3: Sleep Is A Passive Event.
Sleeping is not passive at all. The brain can be more active during dream sleep than it is in its awake state. Although the metabolic activity during REM sleep is high, it is essential in rejuvenation, memory rebuilding, and feeling refreshed.

Myth 4: The more I dream, the more tired I am.
It is well accepted that dream sleep is important to rejuvenation, and to feeling refreshed. All dreams, even nightmares, are sign of the full sleep cycle.

Myth 5: You can learn to get less sleep.
Poor sleep photoThere is absolutely no way to "train" yourself to get less sleep. Researches has shown that restricting a person to 5 hours of sleep per night for a period of weeks can severely effect performance, impair judgment, cause mood swings and depression.

Myth 6: Napping will help me catch up on last night’s sleep.
If you buy into this myth, you will further disrupt your natural sleep rhythms and make it harder for you to fall asleep next night. What you need to do is stay awake until your regular bedtime and allow your natural tiredness to send you into dreamland.

Myth 7: There is such a thing as weekend sleep "Catch up".
When you don't get the proper 7 to 9 hours of sleep, you are accumulating a sleep debt. On weekends it would seem ideal to wake up later to catch up on lost slumber. However, it is much more efficient and healthier to develop a daily schedule that allows you a consistent 7 to 9 hours per night.

Myth 8: Losing an hour of sleep is no big deal.
When you get less sleep than you need, your ability to learn and physical activities is greatly reduced. As sleep loss builds over the time you develop a sleep debt. Having a sleep debt can interfere with hormones that monitor your appetite, change your moods and increase the risk of long term illness.

Myth 9: I can fall asleep and feel better if I stay in bed longer.
Trying to force yourself to sleep is self-defeating because it will increase your anxiety which will in turn make it harder for you to fall asleep and reinforce your fears about going to bed. Get up and do something that takes your mind off getting to sleep. Do not just stay in bed trying to force yourself to sleep.

Cant Sleep ImageMyth 10: If you wake up in the middle of the night, it is best to lie in bed, count sheep, or toss and turn until you eventually fall back asleep.
If you wake up in the middle of the night, relaxing thoughts may help to induce sleep more than counting sheep, which may become distracting. Most experts agree that if you do not fall back asleep within 15-20 minutes, get out of bed, and engage in a relaxing activity like listening to music or reading. Return to bed when you feel sleepy. And please avoid watching the clock.

Myth 11: Snoring is normal and indicates a state of deep sleep.
Everybody knows that snoring is very common, but frequent snoring can be a symptom of a life- threatening sleep disorder called sleep apnea, especially if it is accompanied by severe daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea, or pauses in breathing while sleeping, preventing air flow, reduces oxygen levels and strains the heart and cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. People with sleep apnea awaken frequently during the night. Obesity can contribute to sleep apnea.

Myth 12: Insomnia means difficulty falling asleep.
Difficulty falling asleep is only one of the four symptoms associated with insomnia. Insomnia itself can be a symptom of a sleep disorder or other health problems. According to a recent National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America poll, 58% of adults in the country reported at least one symptom of insomnia in the past year.

Myth 13: Health problems such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and depression are unrelated to the quantity and quality of a person’s sleep.
Studies have found a direct relationship between poor sleep and health problems. Insufficient sleep affects growth hormone secretion that is linked to obesity. As the amount of hormone secretion decreases, the chance for weight gain increases. Blood pressure usually falls during the sleep cycle. However, interrupted sleep can affect the normal decline, leading to hypertension and cardiovascular problems. Insufficient sleep impairs the body’s ability to use insulin, leading to the onset of diabetes.

Myth 14: Older people need less sleep.
Older people have a tendency to get less sleep than youth and adults, but that does not mean they need less. The elder people need the same amount of sleep as the rest of us, they only may not be able to achieve this easily due to lower melatonin levels circulating in the blood. This is why you may notice older people nap more throughout the day, as their bodies try to make up for the lack of sleep.

Myth 15: Children with less sleep will become more tired.
Children have very different metabolisms than adults. If you think that by making your child stay awake in order to tire him/her out to fall asleep faster... think again. Children without enough sleep have a tendency to produce an excess of adrenaline and can end up more energetic, even hyper-active from a lack of sleep. Sleep disorders in children have been linked with Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (ADHD). Furthermore, children with sleep apnea have been linked with poor school performance and lower sports and health activities.

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