Truth & Myths About Sleep

Fri, May 15, 2009

Tests & Quizzes

Myth #1:               Do I need 8 hours of sleep

It is well known that 8 hours is an average time we need for our sleep. Some people need 7 hours or even less. Others need 9 hours, or even more. We also know that during adolescence sleep time is increase to between 8 and 9.25 hours per night. At this time, adolescents’ biological clocks seem to shift their day cycle to let them stay awake later at night and stay in bed later in the morning. That is why it make difficult for some youth to get up for their 8:30 classes! In fact, an amount of sleep we need depends on a combination of factors, such as: age, mental developmental level, genetics, regular exercise and sports, the way we spent our wakefulness time, and a quality of the sleep we get.

Myth #2:               An alcohol prior going to bed will help me to fall asleep 

Well… yes and no… Alcohol is a depressant. In usually slows your central nervous system down the way any sedative drug would. It means that alcohol may help you falling asleep (assuming that didn’t pass yet!). Unfortunately as a rule, an alcohol can produce really negative effect on the rest of your night, forcing you to be awaken or having nightmares. The final result will be that the next morning you feel that you haven’t had a good sleep (never mind a headache you might develop during that night). It happens because we are programmed to go through several cycles of light and deep sleep, as well as our dream stages, which is the REM sleep. Obviously, alcohol can alter this cycle.

Watch the video: How much sleep do you actually need? 6,7,8 hours or more?

Myth #3:               I can manipulate my sleep time by cheating, stocking up, or catching up

None of those statements are true. You start depriving yourself of sleep and you will be sorry observing some effects, even minor. You can’t spend extra time in bed expecting to compensate this time later by not sleeping. What it means is that we need to make our sleep as regular as possible and, as we usually say in sports: be consistent in your sleep habits! There is no question: consistency is a very important factor in healthy sleep. However, it is also know fact that we can quite well recuperate our sleep deprivation during the week and spend extra hours resting on the weekends.

Myth #4:           My brain is asleep when I am asleep

Our brain continues to be active when we are asleep. Check our brain waves pattern to see for yourself how active our brain is. During sleep our brain is still in charge for our respiration, heart pulses, digestion process, as well as our internal organs, and cellular activity. In the meantime, the brain takes care of producing dreams, visual and occasionally audible sensations during our sleep time. This unusual phenomenon is still not fully understand by modern science, however, the author of this writing will try to explain his understanding of this and other brain phenomena in later chapters.

Myth #5:           Going to bed before midnight provides the best sleep

Sometimes it does, sometimes it does not. I would be more accurate to say that the best quality sleep is obtained in the first few hours after falling asleep, which is irrelevant before midnight or after. The first three hours of our sleep when we cycle (usually twice) into our deepest sleep, is considered to be that deep sleep. During that sleep, as many studies concluded, we recover most of our physical and mental fatigue, which might be required for the next day. After that, our sleep time is mostly fill with dreams, as well as with short cycles of lighter sleep states.

Myth #6:           I will need less sleep as I get older

7 to 9 hours of sleep is required by the greater part of people regardless of age. It is true to say that above age of 40, the nightly sleep cycle displays some changes. Apparently, there is more time that has been spent in lighter sleep and less in deep sleep. Consequently, the lighter sleep you are in, the more likely that you can be more easily awaken. From another hand, additional health problems that can negatively affect sleep can occur or become more prevalent as we are getting older. What it means, that as we age, our sleep may be interrupted more often, however, we still require the same amount of sleep.

Myth #7:           I should nap if I am tired

You need to be very careful about it: this statement is only true if that nap is no longer than about 30 minutes and if it doesn’t occur after around 8 p.m. If it is longer or later naps then our brain might think that it a night sleep has started. What could happen in this kind of situation that our regular sleep schedule becomes fragmented and if you try to go to sleep later the same night your sleep becomes disrupted more frequently. Fortunately, as it has been noticed, naps that follows these guidelines, can be very beneficial and re-energizing.

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