For most of humanity’s time on earth we have had a very limited understanding about sleep so it is not really surprising that there are so many myths and mistruths surrounding this phenomenon. We always hear these myths and mistruths and after a while we decided to look into them, after all sleep is our business. So in the interests of clearing the air and expose the truth, here are 4 things you need to stop believing about sleep:
1. Eight hours sleep is the magic number: Wrong! This has been one of the most pervasive myths. The reality is that the best amount of sleep for most of us is around 6-7 hours sleep, not eight. In fact, many studies have found that eight hours is too much for most people and can have a range of short term and long term impacts. Don’t worry if you are not getting eight hours as this is not the magic number.
2. The best way to recover from lost sleep during the week is to sleep in on the weekend: Wrong! This is plain incorrect. Unfortunately, sleeping in will actually just make the next week’s sleep harder. The reason for this is that the body clock, which regulates the sleep/wake cycle, is a finely calibrated mechanism and it craves regularity. By sleeping in during the weekend you break the schedule and throw the body clock out of whack. Don’t sleep in no matter how tempting it is as you will just finding getting up harder on Monday morning.
3. If you wake in the middle of the night the best thing to do is lie in the dark in bed: Wrong! While this is ok for those who can lie there in comfort thinking only positive thoughts before easily drifting off to sleep for the majority of us who will stress about things and lie there worried about how long it is taking us to get to sleep, the best thing we can do is get up. Go into the living room and read a book, have a bath, whatever it takes, then go back to bed when you get tired again.
4. My snoring is normal and not a problem: Wrong! Snoring can sometimes be just an annoyance to others but in about half of all snoring cases it is an indicator of something much worse. Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, which can cause some very serious problems. Sleep apnea is a condition where the sleeper stops breathing regularly during the night, causing them to wake. Over the long term this can have a range of serious impacts, from weight gain to cognitive impairment, from depression to Alzheimer’s.
The reality is that many of the things you hear about sleep are not true or are misrepresented. The best thing you can do is check up with reliable sources, read up on what you hear rather than taking it at face value as much of what is said is plain wrong.
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