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Decoding Myths About Sleep

Sleep is considered as the body's "down-time"- an absence of consciousness. But there are myths around this we discuss here

Decoding Myths About Sleep

Sleep experts say that most adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep

There are many pervasive myths about sleep which in many cases might not be true. Sleep is considered as the body's "down-time"- an absence of consciousness. Although we remain still and inactive at night, sleep is an active state within our brain and body. There are numerous processes going on within our body that we are unaware of. Brain activities such as delta waves increase when we are asleep. Further, sleep is also the time when the endocrine system increases production of human growth hormone which is vital for a healthy immune system. Dreams are an essential part of our sleep. Far from being an escape into fantasy land, dreaming is thought to be vital for building neural connections and consolidating long term memories. Night terrors, also known as nightmares, are a part of dreams. These are common among children which they outgrow by adolescence.

Myth: Health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and depression have absolutely no relation to the amount and quantity of sleep an individual gets.

Fact: Blood pressure is variable during the sleep cycle. Interrupted sleep can negatively affect the normal variability and may lead to hypertension and cardiovascular problems. Fragmented sleep can cause a lowered metabolism and increased levels of the hormone cortisol. Increased cortisol levels can result in an increased appetite and a decrease in one's ability to burn calories.

Myth: You can 'cheat' on the amount of sleep you get.

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

Myth: Insomnia is characterized only by difficulty in falling asleep.

Fact: Insomnia is a symptom of a sleep disorder or other psychological, medical or psychiatric problems. This disorder is treatable. Insomnia is not always caused by the difficulty of falling asleep.

Myth: Everyone needs eight hours of sleep a day.

Fact: Scientific studies have proven that when it comes to the amount of sleep we need in order to function optimally, it differs from one individual to another. Our sleep requirements also vary over our lifespan. Sixteen hours of sleep is normal for a new-born, while adolescents generally require a couple of more hours than adults.

Myth: When we get older, we require less sleep.

Reality: It's more difficult to sleep as you get older but we still need all of it.


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