What Are the Common Sleep Myths?
Sleep seems to have many mysteries surrounding it, despite how familiar it seems to us. Maybe sleep isn`t really as mysterious as we have made it. Perhaps we have only believed many assumptions over the years without actually verifying the details. Or could it be that we are now attempting to commonize sleep? Well, we have the answers to your doubts, and we dare to challenge your age-long beliefs about sleep with some backup from science. Stay awake while you read this!
5 Sleep Myths you Should Stop Believing
Your Brain Shuts Down During Sleep
Well, it`s understandable that we pity that cute little organ, and can`t imagine it active for so long, however, it`s not true that it shuts down while we sleep. The brain is actually active during the day and at night. The brain is active at all times to manage important functions such as breathing. Brain wave activity is as sharp as that of wakefulness during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep when we have most of our dreams. As funny as this may sound, it is most difficult to wake people during REM despite the brain`s activity. That`s probably why that stage is called paradoxical sleep.
During sleep, the brain cycles through three stages of non-REM sleep, then a phase of REM sleep follows. There are characteristic brain wave patterns and neuronal activity during each of these sleep phases, and each cycle of the four stages repeats itself about five times during a full night’s sleep. Some regions of the brain fall quiet during non-REM sleep, while others spring into action. The amygdala, which is commonly known for its role in emotion is active during slumber, while the thalamus is relatively quiet during non-REM sleep. It gets active during REM sleep and sends the cerebral cortex the sights and sounds of our dreams. These are only a few of the brain`s activity during sleep. So when next someone tells you their brain shuts down during sleep, you know what to tell them.
If you Remember your Dream, you Slept Well
A number of people dream every night, however, any don’t remember them. Dreams often happen during REM sleep, and it is only when someone wakes during or just after REM sleep that the memory of a dream doesn`t fade. This may be because there are neurons that are active during REM sleep that actively suppress dream memories. These neurons produce melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) that regulates sleep and also hinders the hippocampus, which is a pivotal brain region for memory storage. So in essence, remembering a dream is not an indication of good sleep. It`s simply about the timing of wakefulness.
Never Wake up a Sleepwalker
Have you heard that common claim that if you wake a sleepwalker, they might have a heart attack or die? Well, that`s another myth. The closest truth to it is that sleepwalkers are likely to be confused and afraid, and can get injured while trying to navigate their paths, especially if they are aggressive. So you only need to be cautious while waking them, and ensure they`re safe until they wake up fully. Also, be sure not to shout at them or frighten them while they are in that state.
Alcohol Guarantees a Good Night’s Sleep
Alcohol actually reduces the amount of time it takes to get to sleep. This myth might have stemmed from the fact that drunk people ate difficult to wake, hence must have slept so well. Well, it is what it is: a myth. People actually sleep poorly under the influence of alcohol because it messes with sleep cycles. Alcohol reduces REM sleep percentage, among other challenges. Studies have also found that people who consume alcohol suffer higher rates of insomnia than those who don’t. The “best” that alcohol does is to get people to sleep quicker, however, they usually don’t have refreshing sleep sessions.
Only Eat Cheese Before Bedtime
This old piece of advice has been around for too long not to be true, right? Well, you are wrong again. Eating a heavy meal before bedtime may cause indigestion or heartburn, and could interfere with sleep, however, you don’t have to restrict your night meals to cheese. This myth might have stemmed from the fact that certain foods, such as cheese, milk, and turkey induce sleep because they contain tryptophan, an amino acid required for the production of serotonin, which is further necessary for the manufacture of melatonin, a vital hormone in inducing sleep. The truth is that the levels of tryptophan in cheese and turkey are not high enough to make a difference in sleep quality.
Some Fascinating Sleep Facts
- A number of healthcare professionals report inadequate time in discussing insomnia with their patients.
- Caffeine is the most consumed drug in the world, as many consume it on a daily basis in tea, coffee, chocolate, cocoa, some soft drinks, and some drugs.
- Humans are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep.
- The higher the altitude one is, the greater the sleep disruption. Usually, sleep disturbance increases at altitudes of 13,200 feet or more due to reduced levels of oxygen levels and changes in respiration.
- People usually adjust to new altitudes in about two to three weeks.
- Regular exercise makes it easier to fall asleep and also makes people have sound sleep sessions.
- Exercising intensively or just before bedtime makes it more difficult to fall asleep.
- Divorced, separated, and widowed people have higher rates of insomnia.
- Self-imposed sleep deprivation is one of the primary causes of excessive sleepiness among Americans.
- A 2008 study found that 36% of Americans drive drowsy or fall asleep while driving.
- People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites because their leptin levels fall. Leptin is an appetite-regulating hormone.
- Most healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every night, while some can function perfectly with as little as six hours of sleep. A few others, on the other hand, need up to 10 hours of sleep.
- It’s natural to feel tired at two times of the day: about 2:00 a. m. and 2:00 p. m. This is a major reason people have a post-lunch dip.
- Sleep is as important as exercise and diet.
- Shift workers are at increased risk of various chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases.
- The body never adjusts to shift duties.
- Newborns sleep for a total of 14 to 17 hours a day on various schedules.
- Infants put to bed drowsy but not asleep are more likely to be “self- soothing,” and as a result, fall asleep independently at bedtime.
- Snoring is the primary cause of sleep disruption for about 90 million American adults.
- Science is yet to discover if animals dream during REM sleep as humans do.
- Young people of high school age need about 10 hours of sleep a night to get the brainpower required for learning.
- Two-thirds of US high school students get less than 8 hours of sleep on school nights.
- Parents of newborns lose six months worth of sleep in the first two years of childcare.
- A recent study showed that 50% of UK pilots admitted to having fallen asleep while flying a passenger plane.
- People who go blind later in life can still see visually in their dreams.