5 interesting myths and facts about sleep

Before you read about myths and facts about sleep, Did you know that one out of five adults is affected due to a night of inadequate sleep ( an article in American Journal of Epidemiology) ?

The authors of this article, Dr. Patrick M. Krueger (University of Colorado Boulder) and Dr. Elliot Friedman (Purdue University) further mention that the short sleep than 7-8 hours a day is associated with car/workplace accidents, depression, diabetes, and learning memory problems, etc.

This often happens because we are not aware of the facts related to the sleep

Most of us do not sleep well because of many things; some of us watch late-night TV shows or scroll through tweets or Facebook posts. Many of us have late-night working habits. If we do not get enough sleep, we feel stressed and tired the next day, which affects the whole daily-routine. Some people struggle to fix their sleeping habits, while others can sleep anytime and anywhere.

We have a lot of misconceptions, half-baked or lack information about enough required hours, snoring, good and inadequate sleep, etc. Besides this, there are many myths and misconceptions about sleep and sleeping habits. For instance, we often hear that older people require lesser sleep than adults, alcohol improves sleep or an interesting one, we can catch up with our remaining rest later, etc.
Considering 7-8 hours daily, we spent nearly one-third of our life sleeping,

In this post, I have presented some of the essential facts about sleep.
So, let us start!

1. Does alcohol help to sleep soundly?

No. It doesn’t.

Alcohol may make you fall to sleep immediately, but the quality of sleep degrades. Falling asleep instantly and a sound or a healthy sleep is different.

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After about 90 minutes of our sleep, we go in a stage of a deep sleep, called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. According to an article written by Denise Mann in WebMD , if we get disturbed at this time, we feel tired and drowsy the next day and alcohol as a sleep aid is not appropriate

People who use alcohol as an aid to inducing sleep may become dependent on it, and there is a higher chance of such people walking and talking in sleep.

There is an interesting article titled ‘alcohol & sleep – a bad combination‘ , according to it, the alcohol consumption before sleep increases the heart-beat rate by 10 %, which is extra 3000 beats a night. Therefore, we have to be very cautious about alcohol to use as a sleeping aid. 

2. Can we catch up on sleep?

No, we cannot.

It has become prevalent nowadays to ‘catch up on sleep‘ on weekends. Many people often sacrifice their sleep to cover their busy schedule and think that they can sleep more on weekends to cover the remaining rest.

We cannot cover the sleeping hours of full week on a single day! It is not just an average number, but there is more biology involved in it.

According to an article in the Scientific reports , it requires four days to recover 1 hour of loss of sleep, which is also known as PSD (Potential Sleep Debt)

Dr. Katherine Dudley (Director of the Cambridge Health Alliance Sleep Medicine Program) wrote in Harvard Health blog (2019) that, the people who practice so-called ‘catching up on sleep’ remained sleep-deprived similar to the people who do not practice it.

She further mentions that such habits can lead to excess calorie intake after dinner, reduced energy expenditure, increased weight, and detrimental changes in how the body uses insulin.

3. Is snoring good or bad?

Snoring is very common. Excessive snoring is bad !

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology,

“Nearly half of adults snore, and over 25 percent are habitual snorers. Problem snoring and sleeping disorders are more frequent in males and people who are overweight, and usually worsens with age.”

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According to an article on sleepeducation.org , sleeping on our back may make us more likely to snore. Congestion due to cough and the use of alcohol can lead to snoring. 

No doubt, snoring bothers others sleeping beside us.

Do you know that heavy snoring may also be one of OSA’s symptoms (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) ?

Don’t worry; not all snorers suffer from OSA.

OSA is a severe sleeping disorder, which stops our breath temporarily (more than 10 seconds). 

There are various treatments available to avoid heavy snoring. It is better to visit a nearby ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist or otolaryngologist. Surgical options such as Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty and custom fit oral appliance-based options to stop heavy snoring and OSA are also available.

4. Do older adults need less amount of sleep?

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No, it is not correct.

It is one of the most widely spread misconceptions.

A study based on 320 studies recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for people up to 64 and 7-8 hours of sleep up to the age of 65 years old

Then why do we observe older people sleeping very less?

It is not about the required sleep, but the condition of insomnia, which affects older people’s sleep.

According to an article in BBC Future, nearly 69 % of older people reported sleeping problem but only 19 % of the times, the problem is noted down on the patients’ chart. It is the change in body clock that affects older people’s sleeping habits and not the requirement. 

5. Does our brain take rest during sleep?

No, our brain doesn’t rest during sleep.

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The brain is unlike the computer, which, when shut down, stops functioning.

There are a series of events that take place in our brains when we sleep. According to an article in the Scientific American, our brain generates two faces of sleep called SWS (Slow-wave sleep) and REM. 

There are many activities performed by our brain during these phases, such as signaling, relaxation of body muscles, deep breathing, paralyzing body during dreams, etc.

6. How to get good sleep?

The sleeping hours the age-wise sleeping hours recommended by NSF (National Sleep Foundation) is as follows: 

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Good sleep represents the healthiness. It is required for cognitive performance, physiological processes, emotion regulation, physical development, and quality of life. Therefore, it is essential to get a sound sleep with the highest quality.

Following tips and ideas to get a sound sleep.

Exposure to light

Exposure to light has a direct effect on our sleeping cycle. Our brain has a gland called the Pineal gland, which releases a hormone known as Melatonin. Pineal secrets Melatonin in the dark and stops in the day. The rise of Melatonin in blood makes us sleep.

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However, the blue lights by mobiles, TVs, laptops, and e-readers stops this hormone secretion, which tumbles our sleeping schedule and thus the sound sleep.
Therefore, we should avoid exposure to such electronic gadgets at night.

Sleep schedule

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We should follow the same sleep schedule on any of the days (let it be weekend or weekday). It will keep the body’s natural cycle (circadian rhythm) maintained.
Napping in the day time may be problematic. You may not be able to sleep in the night at your scheduled time as a result of extended napping in the daytime.

Large meals and caffeine/nicotine and alcohol 

The large meals/dinner should be taken at least three hours before bedtime.
Caffeine delays sleep by almost 10 hours . Therefore, we should avoid caffeine in the second half of the day.

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The nicotine present in cigarettes has a stimulating effect. Smoking at the time of bed will make your sleep disappear.
As mentioned above, alcohol will not let you sleep soundly.

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Bedroom aura

In the night, the temperature of the bedroom should be moderate (not very cold/hot)
Use low lights in the bedroom.


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Exercising daily, particularly in the morning, keeps our body sensitive to sleeping hormones such as Melatonin.
We should avoid exercise just before sleep, as it may be stimulating.

I hope you would have gotten some of the facts related to the sleep clear ! Please comment below to convey your thoughts !

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