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Sleep Myths That Harm Health

It doesn’t matter when you sleep

Our bodies tend to follow a natural rhythm of wakefulness and sleep that is attuned to sunrise and sunset for a reason.

While some missed sleep here and there isn’t necessarily a big deal, shifting your sleep schedule long term isn’t healthy.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Sleep Myths That Harm Health

Sleep Myths That Harm Health

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/common-sleep-myths-that-compromise-sleep-and-health

healthline.com

8

Key Ideas

5 hours of sleep is enough

Habitual sleep deprivation is associated with diverse and far-reaching health effects and none of them is good.

Between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night are recommended. You can get used to less sleep, but you’re getting used to being miserable.

Watching Television before bed

Cellphones, tablets, and all kinds of personal electronics are not a good idea when you’re getting ready for bed.

Researchers have increasingly focused on “blue light” emitted by screens and its effect on sleep and negative sleep-related health outcomes.

It doesn’t matter when you sleep

Our bodies tend to follow a natural rhythm of wakefulness and sleep that is attuned to sunrise and sunset for a reason.

While some missed sleep here and there isn’t necessarily a big deal, shifting your sleep schedule long term isn’t healthy.

Just closing your eyes

It is not as good as sleeping. 

Everything from your brain to your heart to your lungs functions differently when sleeping compared to being awake. If you know you’re awake, the rest of your body does too.

Being able to fall asleep anywhere

A healthy sleeper actually takes a couple of minutes to fall asleep. We do see that if people fall asleep right away, that can be a sign that they are not getting quite enough sleep.

Alcohol before bed

A Pernod digestif after dinner. A nip of brandy before bed. Whatever your poison, it won’t help you sleep any better. In fact, it will likely make you feel worse the next day and is also dangerous.

A nightcap can also cause sleep apnea or make it worse.

Learn to function on less sleep

As much as we’d like to think we can train our bodies to need less sleep, the science says the opposite.

All of the evidence shows, without a shadow of a doubt, that chronic insufficient sleep, of five-six hours or less, is associated with a host of unfavorable consequences.

Loud Snoring is harmless

Loud snoring is actually one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea, a disorder in which an individual can actually stop breathing while asleep.

Sleep apnea affects the quality of sleep. So if you snore loudly and you suffer from fatigue or sleepiness during the day, those symptoms together could mean you have it.

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Five hours of sleep

Sleeping five hours or less consistently increases your risk greatly for adverse health consequences. These included cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, an...

Alcohol before bed boosts your sleep

It may help you fall asleep, but it dramatically reduces the quality of your rest that night. It particularly disrupts your REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, which is important for memory and learning.

You will have slept and may have nodded off more easily, but some of the benefits of sleep are lost.

Watching TV in bed

Often if we're watching the television it's the nightly news… it's something that's going to cause you insomnia or stress right before bed when we're trying to power down and relax.

The other issue with TV - along with smartphones and tablets - is they produce blue light, which can delay the body's production of the sleep hormone melatonin. 

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Snoring isn’t harmful

Although snoring may be harmless for most people, it can be a symptom of a life-threatening sleep disorder called sleep apnea, especially if it is accompanied by severe daytime sleepiness. 

You can "cheat" on sleep

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

The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior, decreased productivity, and safety issues in the home, on the job, and on the road.

Turning up the radio

... opening the window, or turning on the air conditioner are effective ways to stay awake when driving.

These "aids" are ineffective and can be dangerous to the person who is driving while feeling drowsy or sleepy. 

It's best to pull off the road in a safe rest area and take a nap for 15-45 minutes. Caffeinated beverages can help overcome drowsiness for a short period of time. 

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Slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) – SWS

About 80% of our sleeping is of the SWS variety, identified by slow brain waves, relaxed muscles and deep breathing.

Deep sleep is important for the consolidation of memories. New experience...

Rapid eye movement (dreaming) - REM

Dreaming accounts for 20% of our sleeping time.

The length of dreams can vary from a few seconds to almost an hour. During REM sleep, the brain is highly active. The muscles are paralyzed, and the heart rate increases. Breathing can become erratic. 

Sleep quantity

Although eight hours is the common mention, optimum sleep can vary from person to person and from age to age.

One review that worked through 320 research articles concluded 7 - 9 hours of sleep are enough for adults. According to experts, too little or too much sleep can both have a negative impact on your health.

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Keep in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle
  • Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day;
  • Avoid sleeping in, even on weekends;
  • Limit naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon;
Melatonin

Is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. 

Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark, making you sleepy, and less when it’s light, making you more alert. 

However, many aspects of modern life can alter your body’s production of melatonin and shift your circadian rhythm

Influence exposure to ligh

During the day:

  • Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning. 
  • Spend more time outside during daylight. 
  • Let as much natural light into your home or workspace as possible.

At night:

  • Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime.
  • Say no to late-night television.
  • Don’t read with backlit devices. 
  • When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark.
  • Keep the lights down if you get up during the night.

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Our sleep-wake pattern

Our molecular clock inside our cells aims to keep us in sync with the sun

When we disregard this circadian rhythm, we are at a greater risk for illnesses such as diabetes, heart...

The lifestyle imbalance

Thomas Edison said that sleep is "a bad habit." Like Edison, we seem to think of sleep as an adversary and try to fight it at every turn. The average American sleeps less than the recommended seven hours per night, mostly due to electric lights, television, computers, and smartphones. 

However, we are ignoring the intricate journey we're designed to take when we sleep.

Stage One Sleep

When we fall asleep, the nearly 86 billion neurons in our brain starts to fire evenly and rhythmically. Our sensory receptors become muffled at the same time.

The first stage of shallow sleep lasts for about 5 minutes.

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The Science of Sleep

The average adult spends 36 % (or about one-third) of his or her life asleep.

Purpose of Sleep:

  • Restoration
  • Memory Consolidation
  • Metabolic Health
Restoration

The first purpose of sleep is restoration.

Every day, your brain accumulates metabolic waste as it goes about its normal neural activities. Sleeping restores the brains healthy condition by removing these waste products. Accumulation of these waste products has been linked to many brain-related disorders.

Memory Consolidation

The second purpose of sleep is memory consolidation.

Sleep is crucial for memory consolidation, which is responsible for your long term memories. Insufficient or fragmented sleep can hamper your ability to remember facts and feelings/emotions.

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Not getting enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep

Now that is an issue most of us face on a daily basis: not getting enough sleep because we are too stressed or paying too much attention to our screens, for different reasons.

The bad news ...

Make believe it is time to go to bed

If you find yourself experiencing issues when trying to fall asleep, you might as well consider making your brain believe that night has come.

In order to do this, you could start using dim table or side lamps instead of bright ones, turning on your phone the so-called 'night mode' or using a mask to cover your face.

The so-called 'sleep debt' and how to fight it

Whenever we fall behind on sleep, most of us have the tendency to try to catch up during weekends. The result is not that good though: it confuses our internal clock and therefore, we tend to feel even more tired afterwards.

So we should actually try waking up and going to bed at the same hours on both weekdays and weekends and building up a regular schedule that suits our needs.

The Sleep Sweet Spot
The Sleep Sweet Spot

The average Fitbit user:

  • Is in bed for 7hours, 33 minutes per night
  • Sleeps only 6 hours, 38 minutes
  • Spends 55 minutes in a restless or awake state...
The Gender Sleep Gap

Among Fitbit users:

  • Women get about 25 minutes more sleep on average.
  • Men get a slightly higher percentage of deep sleep than women until around age 55. Then women get more deep sleep.
  • Women get 10 more minutes per night REM sleep.
The Generational Divide

When it comes to Fitbit users:

  • Generation Z goes to sleep the latest, but they sleep longer.
  • Baby Boomers sleep the least, averaging 6 hours and 33 minutes per night.
  • REM and light sleep stay reasonably stable throughout a person's life.
  • Deep sleep decreases from 17 percent at age 20 to 12 percent at age 70.
The necessary amount of sleep
The necessary amount of sleep

Most adults function best after 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

When we get less than 7 hours, we’re impaired (to degrees that vary from person to person).  When sleep persistently fa...

Polyphasic sleeping

It's based on the idea that by partitioning your sleep into segments, you can get away with less of it.

Though it is possible to train oneself to sleep in spurts instead of a single nightly block, it does not seem possible to train oneself to need less sleep per 24-hour cycle.

Replacing sleep with caffeine

Caffeine works primarily by blocking the action of a chemical called adenosine, which slows down our neural activity, allowing us to relax, rest, and sleep.

By interfering with it, caffeine cuts the brake lines of the brain’s alertness system. Eventually, if we don’t allow our body to relax, the buzz turns to anxiety.

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Stressing about sleep

Before a stressful work event, we tend to worry about what will happen if we don’t sleep well:

  • We worry that we’ll be physically tired.
  • We worry that ...
Sleep mistakes

... we make when it comes to sleeping well before a big day:

  • We try too hard to sleep and we end up making it harder to fall asleep.
  • We overestimate the negative consequences of poor sleep.
Sleep restriction

It's a technique for improving the quality of your sleep by using the power of Sleep Drive (the body’s natural need for sleep). Sleep Drive is built during the day: the longer you’re awake the stronger your need for sleep. 

Sleep Restriction temporarily restricts the quantity of your sleep so that you’re awake longer and therefore build up more Sleep Drive.

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