Myths About Sleep

As a person with a sleep disorder, the article Myths – and Facts – About Sleep caught my attention.  The article complied a list of myths about sleep that are from the National Sleep Foundation.  For each myth listed below you can read more details by clicking on the above link.

Below is the list of sleep myths from the National Sleep Foundation, along with my comments:

1. Snoring is a common problem, especially among men, but it isn’t harmful.  Wrong!  Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea which can be a serious health issue.  Anyone who snores loudly, especially with pauses in the snoring, should be checked by a physician.

2.  You can “cheat” on the amount of sleep you need.  I think more people are becoming aware that this isn’t true, especially with more and more documentation of the importance of sleep to our health.

3.  Turning up the radio, opening the window, or turning on the air conditioner are effective ways to stay awake when driving.  No way!  I have a sleep disorder and do sometimes get sleepy when I am driving.  I do what the experts suggest – pull off in a safe area and sleep.  Sleepy driving is dangerous driving.

4.  Teens who fall asleep in class have bad habits and/or are lazy.  This is another one I know firsthand is untrue.  Teens are one of the most sleep deprived groups in the country.  Their biological clocks keep them up late and keep them sleeping late in the morning.  Smart school systems are recognizing this and changing the hours that teens start school.  (My elementary age son went to school in the early morning, then the middle school students went, and then the high school students went.  This is opposite of what has traditionally been done.)

5.  Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep.  There are three other symptoms including waking too early and not being able to fall back asleep, awakening frequently, and waking up without feeling refreshed.

6.  Daytime sleepiness always means a person isn’t getting enough sleep.  I know firsthand that this isn’t true.  Daytime sleepiness can signal an underlying medical issue.

7.  Health problems such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and depression are unrelated to the amount and quality of a person’s sleep.  This is completely untrue.  The quantity and quality of a person’s sleep can cause a myriad of health problems.

8.  The older you get, the fewer hours of sleep you need.  Sleep patterns change as we age, but the amount of sleep we need generally does not.

9.  During sleep, your brain rests.  The body rests.  The brain remains active and recharges.

10.  If you wake up in the middle of the night, it is best to lie in bed, count sheep, or toss and turn until you eventually fall asleep.  Most experts agree that after 15 – 20 minutes you should go to another room and do something relaxing such as reading or listening to music.

While we are talking about myths, let’s remind ourselves that thinking your mattress isn’t important for a good night’s sleep is false.  A comfortable mattress is paramount to a good night’s sleep.  Three comfortable beds that you should check out are the air bed, the natural latex mattress, and the memory foam mattress.