Chances are you've heard sleep facts or trivia being debated at some point in your life. Some actually make sense, and some you question and wonder what the actual truth is.
Sleep myths are prevalent around the world and even in this modern age, some people still adhere to the stories they’ve been told from family and friends. Most of the time these so-called nuggets of wisdom are harmless, but there are some that may be misinformation and lead to sleep issues.
Getting enough sleep in this digital age is hard enough as it is. You shouldn’t be worrying about that old wives tale your Aunt Mildred was telling you about.
In order to help you get a good night's sleep, we'll tackle the common misconceptions about sleep. We promise you this won't be a snooze, there’s interesting facts ahead!
Myth #1: Older people need less sleep.
Fact: Not really.
It's been said that the older we get, the less amount of sleep we need per day. From childhood/adolescence to adulthood, there is a transition to requiring less sleep. But what about when you get into the senior years? While that may be true for some, the fact is there are a number of factors to consider why that happens.
One thing to consider is their sleep schedule. Older people are prone to napping during the day due to tiredness and a slower lifestyle, which in turn disrupts their biological clock, but also means they might be sleeping even more.
Myth #2: Number of hours of slept is more important than the quality of sleep.
Fact: No, but both are needed to have adequate rest.
Common sense dictates that the number of hours you spend sleeping should equal a good night’s sleep, since the longer you lie down the more you rest, right?
Wrong. According to experts, the quality of your sleep is just as important, if not more. The best kind of sleep is undisrupted and continuous, even if not particularly long. Trying to sleep in to get more hours without the quality is a waste of time.
This doesn't mean that you should aim for less sleep. Total sleep time is an important factor of having a restful sleep, but it isn't the only one. Rather, aiming for balance between amount and quality of sleep should be the goal.
Myth #3: Moving around in the middle of the night is bad.
Fact: Not really.
Some people see twisting and turning in the middle of sleeping is a sign of discomfort. However, that isn't always the case as it can be an indicator of someone in REM sleep.
As we sleep, we go through different stages, including deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, where the most cohesive dreaming takes place. In the former, the body undergoes a slowing down process in preparation for the latter, where the brain then filters information received.
Hence, as REM sleep takes place, the mind starts to dream and this may lead to movement by certain parts of the body, in relation to it. While it may be brought by discomfort in some instances, moving while sleeping can also signify dreaming and in extension, relaxed sleep.
So, if your partner is concerned or annoyed about you moving in your sleep, tell them to leave it be!
Myth #4: Snoring isn't a problem.
Fact: It actually depends on the gravity and severity of the snoring.
Some people snore. It’s a fact of life.
Sometimes, work or other activities that had you running all day tend to spill over when sleeping. When that happens, snoring usually occurs in some way, shape or form
While light snoring may be considered as a side-effect of exhaustion, a blocked nose or even sleeping in a certain position, prolonged and louder varieties are a problem that you should be wary of. Chronic snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea, a breathing condition where the sleeper is deprived of oxygen which, necessitating the body to overcompensate, hence the loud noises.
Considered as a sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that should be monitored at the earliest chance you can as it affects not only your sleep but overall health. Its effects are not limited to sleep alone as experts suggest that it may also lead to increase in heart attack risk.
So, if your snoring is loud and constant, maybe check with a sleep specialist just to be safe.
Myth #5: Napping during the day ruins your sleep cycle.
Fact: In the long run it does. Napping is a good way to prevent daytime sleepiness but it is not a substitute for a healthy sleep.
Sometimes, we are unable to hit the average 7 to 8 hours of sleep on some nights. This leads to us feeling sleepy while at school or work and we feel that a nap might do the trick. It turns out, in the long run, it doesn't.
Taking a light snooze in the middle of the day is a good way to be refreshed in the short term but it might also affect our sleep schedule. While it works to combat drowsiness, nothing beats quality sleep.
If you’re finding that you need to nap every single day, maybe have a look at your sleep schedule and see if you can make any changes.
Myth #6: Falling asleep anywhere at will isn't a problem.
Fact: Some might consider the ability to fall asleep in an instant anywhere a gift, but according to experts that isn't the whole picture.
Sleeping is a problem for some people, especially those whose stress levels are off the charts. So falling asleep seemingly at will might look like a blessing. However, the truth is that that is a sign that the body is simply exhausted.
A haggard machine might break down at any time and the same can be said for the human body. Instead of being seen as a skill, it might be caused by insufficient sleep.
Another reason that some people can sleep so easily might be that they are in the midst of sleep deprivation and their body cannot cover the deficit energy. It can also be a symptom of other sleep problems.
Always remember that lack of sleep not only affects our physical wellbeing, but also our mental health.
Take it with a grain of salt
Most sleep myths tend to highlight the need for quality sleep to ensure that both the body and mind are well-rested.
Believing in these notions is not the worst thing, but disregarding the facts will only leave you and your sleep suffering. At the end of the day, what matters is a good night's sleep.