All our life we are told secrets relating to sleep, such as how much we’re supposed to get a night and how certain behaviors can relate to our snooze schedule and health. Being informed about sleep can make a major difference to your happiness and wellbeing. A number of the most popular myths are actually quite misunderstood and today we are going to address the most common ones.
1. You need 8 hours of sleep a night
I’m sure we have all been told in our lifetime that we need to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. However, in reality, your ideal nightly sleep amount depends on a number of different factors, like your age and activity level throughout the day. You don’t want to be sleep deprived but sleeping too much can also be harmful to our health.
2. You can catch up on missed sleep on the weekend
It can feel impossible to get enough sleep during the week, whether you spend your days at the office, wrangling your kids, or juggling a college workload. The weekend arrives and your first thought is, “now I can finally catch up on my missed sleep!” Well, think again!
When we don't get adequate sleep, we accumulate a “sleep debt” that can be difficult to "pay back" if it becomes too big. Sleep debt is defined as the difference between how much sleep you really need and how much you actually got. Sleeping in on the weekends only tackles a very small amount of the sleep you’re trying to catch up on.
Instead, consider going to bed earlier each night, waking up at a later time in the morning, or practice good sleep hygiene such as keeping the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
3. Snoring is harmless
Although snoring may be harmless for most people, it can also be a symptom of a life-threatening disorder called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing that prevent air from flowing into or out of your airways. The breathing pauses reduce blood oxygen levels and can strain the heart and cardiovascular system. The good news is that this problem can be treated and if you’re experiencing symptoms, you should consult your physician.
4. Insomnia is struggling to fall asleep
Difficulty falling asleep is only one of four symptoms generally associated with insomnia. Others include waking up too early and not being able to fall back asleep, frequent awakenings, and waking up feeling unrefreshed. While it can be frustrating, insomnia can often be treated.
5. Can’t fall asleep? Count sheep
Research suggests that counting sheep may be more distracting than relaxing. If you do not fall asleep within 15-20 minutes, it is recommended that you get out of bed and go to another room and engage in a relaxing activity, such as listening to music or reading. Avoid watching the clock and once you’re tired, you should return to bed.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there, but the truth is that getting enough good-quality sleep each night is incredibly important for your health. Debunking myths, learning more about your sleep cycle, exercising regularly, and practicing effective sleep hygiene can help you achieve a perfect night’s slumber.
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