Putting sleep myths to bed: experts answer the questions that keep you awake at night
Sleeping pills depress the central nervous system, so they feed into biochemical changes that occur in the brain, causing you to drop off to sleep.
Unlike the brain circuitry, they wash the entire brain in these chemicals so there are other unwanted effects. They reduce the amount of time you spend in the deepest stages of sleep, and people get used to them and require increasing doses. It is better to look at the underlying cause of your sleep problem, which is often psychological.
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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) sleep, the bulk of which occurs in the last two-thirds of the night. As a rule of thumb, it takes about an hour to metabolize one unit of alcohol, so if you have a 250ml glass of wine at 7 pm it will mostly be out of your system by 10.30pm.
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.
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.
Acceptance is important.
If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed, get up, go to another room and do a calming activity, then go back to bed. If you are lying in bed unable to sleep, your brain will soon start associating lying in bed with being awake.
Napping must be natural because so many cultures have siestas. But often the desire to nap in adults comes from insufficient sleep during the night. There are reports showing that excessive napping can be associated with negative health outcomes
We are paralyzed during REM sleep, and we believe that this is so we don’t act out our dreams.
A small percentage of the population wake up in REM sleep, but the brain forgets to wake the muscles so they get this scary state where they are paralyzed but awake. It is completely harmless, although it can feel terrifying.
... while watching TV, but then can’t sleep when they go to bed.
During a nap, you dissipate some of your sleep pressure. The brain can only produce so much sleep over 24 hours. If you use some of it up on snoozing in front of the telly, there is less left for the night.
The optimal way to wake up is naturally. If someone is hitting the snooze button, it suggests they are not getting enough sleep or they are sleeping at the wrong time for them. If you are a habitual snooze button user, reset your alarm to the later time and get more consolidated sleep.
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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
During the day:
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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...
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.
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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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 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.
... 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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