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14 Myths About Sleep

Do you drag yourself awake every day? Read this before you go to bed'll thank us in the morning!

1. You Need Eight Hours a Night To Function At Your Best
"Everyone needs different amounts," explains sleep psychologist Dr Delwyn Bartlett. "You only need to worry you're sleep deprived if you start nodding off during the day." She adds most adults sleep for about seven hours a night - which is adequate.

2. Sleep is Just Rest
Sleep is more than simply a period of rest; it is an essential time for your body to perform routine maintenance, creating long-term memories and repair damage from your day. Sleep brings many health benefits. Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night assures that your body and mind will function well the next day. Make sleep a priority for your health and energy.

3. If You Can Get It, More Sleep Is Always Healthier
You wish. Studies have found that people who sleep more than eight hours a night die at a younger age than those who snooze less. What scientists don't know is whether sleeping longer causes poor health, or is a symptom of it, says Dr Brendon Yee, a sleep and respiratory physiciain at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. "We don't know how many of these 'longer sleepers' suffer from health complications that cause them to sleep for longer."

4. Losing an Hour of Sleep is No Big Deal
If you get less sleep than you need, your ability to do certain cognitive and physical tasks is decreased. If that sleep loss builds over time, it can interfere with the hormones that monitor appetite, changing your mood and increasing your risk of some chronic illnesses.

5. A Few Hours Sleep Is All You Really Need
Legendary short sleepers don't necessarily function better on fewer zzzs. "We don't know whether these people had power naps in the afternoon," says Dr Yee. He warns that too little sleep can impair your judgment and attention span, weaken your immune system and even make you overweight by altering hormone levels. A recent study in the US found that women who slept for five hours or less a night were 33 percent more likely to gain over 30 pounds in a 16 year period than women who had slept for seven hours.

6. Intermittent Sleep At Night Means You'll Be Tired All Day
There are indications that our ancestors slept this way, and many animals still do. "Waking [during the night] is a normal part of sleeping," points out Dr Bartlett. "Most people wake up three times a night, but don't remember it. It's only a problem if it takes too long for them to get back to sleep." One study** even found that when people lived without artificial lighting, they slept for three to five hours, woke for one or two, and then slept again for four or more hours - and they said they had never felt so rested!

7. You Can Make Up For Lost Sleep On Weekends
Bingeing on sleep over the weekend while not sleeping during the week, a pattern known as "sleep bulimia", makes it even more difficult to get refreshing sleep. "Weekend sleep-ins can make you feel even more sluggish," adds Dr Yee. "To maintain your body's natural rhythms, it's a good idea to get up at roughly the same time every day, even on the weekends."

8. You Adjust to Sleep Changes Easily
Your body gets on schedule based on your activity and exposure to daylight. When you travel across many time zones or work night shifts, you confuse body's sense of time, making sleep difficult and inhibiting some necessary sleep functions. For every one- to two-hour time change, it takes your body 1 day to adjust. That means it could take your body 6 to 12 days to adjust to a trip from New York to China.

9. Older People Need Less Sleep
Older people need the same amount of sleep as everyone else, 7 to 9 hours per night. There is a cultural belief that as you age, you need less sleep. Unfortunately, because of this myth, many older people do not seek help for their sleep problems. Often, older people sleep less than they need to because of illness. Many of the medications older people may be using interfere with sleep. Talk to your doctor to find out more.

10. Extra Sleep Helps Fatigue
Some people assume that if they feel tired during the day, then they should sleep longer at night. This is not necessarily true. If a person is getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, then he or she should seek another source for their fatigue. Some sleep disorders decrease sleep quality, even though the person is getting enough sleep. Many medical conditions can cause fatigue. If you are sleeping long enough but are still tired, try some exercise and daylight exposure during the day. If that doesn't help, see your doctor.

11. Naps are Wasteful
Naps can be a great way to catch up on lost sleep. After taking naps, people function better and do certain cognitive tasks quicker. Napping can also help you train yourself to fall asleep quicker. However, napping longer than an hour or after 3 p.m. may make it more difficult for you to fall asleep at night.

12. Snoring is Normal
While snoring is common during sleep, frequent snoring can indicate serious sleep disorders like sleep apnea. If you are a frequent, loud snorer, see your doctor about being assessed for sleep apnea. Treatments are available and you (and your partner) will have more energy during the day.

13. Children With a Sleep Deficit Will be Tired
Children are different from adults. When children are overtired, their adrenaline kicks in and they seem energetic, even hyper. Children with sleep deficits may have behavior and attention problems. So don't use daytime energy levels to assess your child's sleep; use the clock. Children need an incredible amount of sleep. Find out how much sleep your child needs and troubleshoot your family's schedule to make sure this happens.

14. Insomnia is Caused by Worry
While worry and stress can interfere temporarily with sleep, insomnia is often caused by other factors. Medications and medical conditions can keep a person from falling asleep. These conditions include depression, anxiety, asthma, arthritis and other conditions which worsen at night.


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