Who would’ve thought that sleeping, out of all activities, would become so challenging? We’re ready to try out as many remedies as possible but some are just myths so don’t bother too much. Here are some facts about sleep that are totally wrong.
Myth #1: 8 hours of sleep is a must for everyone
Truth: No. Everyone is unique, be it genetically, age wise or activity level wise. So it’s impossible to say that everyone needs equal hours of sleep. Some do just fine with even four hours.
Myth #2: Alcohol helps you sleep
Truth: You may experience drowsiness when you intake alcohol but don’t mistake that for sleepiness. Alcohol actually tends to disrupt your sleeping pattern altogether. Scientists have been researching on the counter-intuitive relationship between drowsiness experienced from drinking alcohol and actual sleep ever since 1930s. They’ve realized that the body finds it rather difficult to multitask as it has to metabolize alcohol and try to sleep simultaneously.
Myth #3: You can catch up on sleep
Truth: Who wouldn’t want to believe this to be true? Sleeping till noon on weekends sounds fantastic but trust me, it’s not healthy for you at all. It’s actually like flying from Boston to California and then back again in one weekend, leaving your body confused on Monday. You wouldn’t want to that to yourself, right? So the best way to prevent this is to get consistent amount of sleep each night.
Myth #4: Sleep deprivation won’t mess up other aspects of your health
Truth: You feel like you’ve unlocked a great achievement when you stay up all night. However, don’t. As cool as it sounds to stay up all night, it seriously deteriorates your health if it gets consistent and chronic.
Sleep deprivation increases the probability of diabetes, obesity, coronary heart disease and stroke. Short term consequences include poor vision, mood swings and headaches. So try to avoid it altogether.
Myth #5: Drinking warm milk can help you sleep
Truth: Drinking warm milk at night is pretty soothing. This is because it contains tryptophan, a compound that our bodies convert into the sleep-influencing brain chemical serotonin. However, its quantity in milk isn’t enough to make you fall asleep. So it’s psychologically good!
Myth #6: Naps are bad for you
Truth: You try to avoid taking a nap during the day because you’re scared you won’t fall asleep at night. However, that’s not how it works. Studies show that 15-20 minute stints are effective ways to stay alert during the day. Interestingly, naps have a positive impact on memory, mental performance and immune system. Nap away!
Myth #7: You can only dream during REM sleep
Truth: This has been pretty controversial but finally we have a conclusion: you can dream during all phases of sleep!
So there are two primary stages that go by the names Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-REM. The dreams we have during REM are more of fantasy while non-REM dreams are more like daily events.
Myth #8: Counting sheep helps you fall asleep
Truth: 101, 102…128…150..
We all have spent hours counting sheep in hope of falling asleep! However, studies show that this technique takes longer to fall asleep. For instance, 41 people with insomnia found it harder to sleep at night when instructed to count sheep while they fell asleep easily when given no instructions.
Try thinking about the things that relax you instead; you’ll find it much easier to fall asleep!
Myth #9: If you wake a sleepwalker, you could scare them to death
Truth: When people tell you that you’ll kill a sleepwalker if you wake them up – they’re either lying to scare you or they just don’t know.
If you wake a sleepwalker, you’ll only leave them confused and shocked – nothing else. Sleepwalkers are usually in deep sleep which is why it is hard to wake them up and harder for them to gain consciousness even after waking up.
Myth #10: If you die in your dreams, then you die in real life
Truth: Remember when you fell off the Empire State building in your dream and that feeling was so real that you thought you’d actually pass away? Well don’t worry, it was just a dream. And this is just a myth.
Myth #11: REM sleep is the most restful type of sleep
Truth: We feel like we’re awake during REM sleep phase because our brain and body behaves that way. Ninety minutes after falling asleep, we enter the first REM cycle and this is detected by the increase heart rate, rise in blood pressure and temporarily paralyzed limbs, while we experience more restive and restorative sleep during the non-REM phase.
Myth #12: People who are under anesthesia are asleep
Truth: It is very common for people to mistake unconsciousness for sleep. If you’re unconscious, it certainly doesn’t mean that you’re asleep. While we’re asleep, our brain releases specific brain waves. However, the brain doesn’t emit any wave when we’re under anesthesia.
Myth #13: Turkey makes you sleepy
Truth: This is a very famous myth which comes to surface every year especially around Thankgiving – no surprise. This is because it contains tryptophan (like milk), a compound our bodies convert into the sleep-influencing brain chemical serotonin. However, the quantity is even less than cheddar’s.
Experts have concluded that you feel sleepy after eating turkey simply because your stomach is satisfied – overly satisfied actually.
Myth #14: Insomnia means that you have trouble falling asleep
Truth: Indeed insomnia is a sleep disorder, but that does not mean that you have trouble getting to sleep.
One in three Americans suffer from mild insomnia which means that they experience any of the following:
- Waking up too early and not being able to fall back asleep
- Frequently waking up in the middle of the night
- Not feeling fresh after waking up
- Trouble falling asleep
Myth #15: The elderly need less sleep
Truth: Just because elders wake up early in the morning and get less hours of sleep, it doesn’t mean that they need less sleep overall. Elders tend to wake up frequently during the night which shows that they are less well-rested compared to those who sleep continuously during the night.
This is why elders take naps during the day, so don’t disturb them!