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Myths and Facts about Sleep - National Sleep Foundation

Waking up in the middle of the night

Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep is a symptom of insomnia. 

If you do not fall back asleep within 15-20 minutes, you should get out of bed, go to another room and engage in a relaxing activity such as listening to music or reading. Return to bed when you feel sleepy. Avoid watching the clock.

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Myths and Facts about Sleep - National Sleep Foundation

Myths and Facts about Sleep - National Sleep Foundation

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/myths-and-facts-about-sleep

sleepfoundation.org

10

Key Ideas

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. 

Sleep apnea can be treated; men and women who snore loudly, especially if pauses in the snoring are noted, should consult a physician.

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. 

Sleeping teens are lazy

According to sleep experts, teens need at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night, compared to an average of seven to nine hours each night for most adults. 

Their internal biological clocks also keep them awake later in the evening and keep them sleeping later in the morning. However, many schools begin classes early in the morning, when a teenager's body wants to be asleep. As a result, many teens come to school too sleepy to learn, through no fault of their own.

Insomnia

Difficulty falling asleep is one of four symptoms generally associated with insomnia.
The others include waking up too early and not being able to fall back asleep, frequent awakenings, and waking up feeling unrefreshed. 

Insomnia can be a symptom of a sleep disorder or other medical or psychological/psychiatric problems, and can often be treated. 

Daytime sleepiness

Excessive daytime sleepiness is a condition in which an individual feels very drowsy during the day and has an urge to fall asleep when he/she should be fully alert and awake. 

The condition, which can occur even after getting enough nighttime sleep, can be a sign of an underlying medical condition or sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. These problems can often be treated.

Quality of sleep

Studies have found a relationship between the quantity and quality of one's sleep and many health problems. 

  • Insufficient sleep affects growth hormone secretion that is linked to obesity
  • Blood pressure usually falls during the sleep cycle, however, interrupted sleep can adversely affect this normal decline, leading to hypertension and cardiovascular problems. 
  • Insufficient sleep impairs the body's ability to use insulin, which can lead to the onset of diabetes. 

Sleep declines with age

While sleep patterns change as we age, the amount of sleep we need generally does not. 

Older people may wake more frequently through the night and may actually get less nighttime sleep, but their sleep need is no less than younger adults. Because they may sleep less during the night, older people tend to sleep more during the day. 

During sleep, your brain rests

The body rests during sleep, however, the brain remains active, gets "recharged," and still controls many body functions including breathing. 

Waking up in the middle of the night

Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep is a symptom of insomnia. 

If you do not fall back asleep within 15-20 minutes, you should get out of bed, go to another room and engage in a relaxing activity such as listening to music or reading. Return to bed when you feel sleepy. Avoid watching the clock.

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Slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) – SWS

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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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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 l...

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.

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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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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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How alcohol affects sleep

A lot of the symptoms associated with a hangover are a product of sleep deprivation.

Alcohol affects our ability to get into what is known as rapid eye movement (REM...

Eating before bed

It is important to leave at least a couple of hours between eating and sleeping. 

There is a whole raft of so-called sleepy foods – anything containing tryptophan, serotonin, melatonin, magnesium, calcium, potassium – often eaten in the hope they will aid sleep. 

If you do want to eat these foods, do it because it’s a nice ritual, not because you need it to sleep.

A cure for sleepwalking

There isn’t a cure. 

People who sleepwalk usually are advised to keep their room safe by locking windows and doors, and to maintain what’s called good sleep hygiene: keep to a regular sleep routine, turn mobile phones off, avoid stimulants, and so on. Sleepwalking can often occur as a result of poor or disrupted sleep.

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Creating a sleep-inducing environment
  • Turn the temperature between 60 and 72 degrees.
  • Turn off the lights. Artificial light suppresses your body’s production of the sleep hormone melat...
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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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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Nightmares

Nightmares are broadly defined as frightening dreams that result in some degree of awakening from sleep. 

Nightmares themselves contribute to disrupted sleep not only by waking th...

Night terrors

Night terrors are very intense episodes of fright during dreams. These frightening episodes are often accompanied by screaming or yelling, as well as by physical movement such as leaping out of bed or flailing in panic. 

Research suggests that sleep terrors occur during non-REM sleep dreaming, while nightmares tend to happen during REM sleep. 

Recurring dreams
Recurring dreams are dreams that re-appear with some pattern of regularity. 

Studies suggest that recurring dreams may contain more threatening content than regular dreams. Research suggests links between recurring dreams and psychological distress in both adults and children.

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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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