Sleeping: Myth or Fact?

MYTH: Health problems such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and depression have no relation to the amount and quality of a person’s sleep.

FACT: More and more scientific studies are showing correlations between poor quality sleep and/or insufficient sleep with a variety of diseases.

MYTH: During sleep, your brain rests.

FACT: The body rests during sleep. Despite this fact, the brain remains active, gets “recharged,” and still controls many body functions including breathing. When we sleep, we typically drift between two basic sleep states, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and Non-REM (NREM) sleep, which consists of Sleep Stages One through Four. Sleep can be important to helping with consolidating your memories and cognitive functions.

MYTH: Teens who fall asleep in class have bad habits and are lazy.

FACT: Teens need at least 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep each night, compared to an average of seven to nine hours each night for most adults. The internal biological clocks of teenagers can keep them awake later in the evenings and can interfere with waking up in the morning.

MYTH: Daytime sleepiness always means a person is not getting enough sleep.

FACT: Excessive daytime sleepiness can occur even after a person gets enough sleep. Such sleepiness can be a sign of an underlying medical condition or sleep disorder such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea. Symptoms should be discussed with a physician.

MYTH: If you wake up in the middle of the night, it is best to lie in bed trying to fall back asleep or to toss and turn until you eventually fall back asleep.

FACT: Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep is a symptom of insomnia. Relaxing imagery or thoughts may help to induce sleep. However, most experts agree that if you do not fall back to sleep within 15 to 20 minutes, you should get out of bed. You should go to another room, and engage in a relaxing activity like listening to music or reading. Don’t watch the clock. Return to bed only when you feel tired.

MYTH: You can cheat on the amount of sleep you need.

FACT: Sleep experts say that most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health, and safety.