Myths and Facts About Sleep

Did you know?  Interesting Facts: 

According to National Institute of Health, approximately 70 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of sleep disorder, ranging from chronic snoring problems and Insomnia to life-threatening Sleep Apneas. 
Humans sleep on average around three hours less than other primates like chimps, rhesus monkeys, squirrel monkeys and baboons, all of whom sleep for 10 hours.
Women suffering from lack of sleep more often than men and with increasing frequency as they age.  
6 out of every 10 adults claim to have sleep problems for a few nights a week or even more. 
Daytime sleepiness is severe enough in 40% of adults to interfere with their daily activities at least a few days each month, and for 20%, it affects a few days every week. 
Despite the severity of the problem, less than 5% of those who suffer from a sleep disorder consult a physician about their condition.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea afflicts about 18 million Americans, however as many as 90% of all cases remain undiagnosed.

Myth: Sleep really makes you smarter or more skillful.
Fact:  It seems so. A large number of studies offer extensive evidence supporting this role of sleep in what is becoming known as sleep-dependent memory processing. These studies indicate that what we learn during waking hours requires distinct periods of consolidation before it is finally retained in our memories and then reflected in our abilities. The simple passage of time does part of the job, but sleep has the unique capacity to enhance the process.

Myth: Snoring is a common problem but is not harmful.
Fact: Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that is associated with other medical problems. Sleep apnea is characterized by episodes of cessation of airflow or decreased airflow throughout the night. People with sleep apnea may remember waking up frequently during the night gasping for breath. The breathing pauses may be related to reduced blood oxygen levels, which can strain the heart and cardiovascular system. Over time, sleep apnea can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease if it is not treated. The good news is that sleep apnea can be treated. People who snore loudly should consult a physician, especially if pauses in snoring are noted and daytime tiredness is present. Snoring on a frequent or regular basis has been associated with hypertension. In addition, insufficient sleep affects growth hormone secretion that is linked to obesity. As the amount of hormone secretion decreases the chance of weight gain increases

Myth:Health problems such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and depression have no relation to the amount and quality of a persons sleep.
Fact: More and more scientific studies are showing correlations between poor quality sleep and/or insufficient sleep with a variety of diseases. Blood pressure is variable during the sleep cycle. Interrupted sleep, however, can negatively affect the normal variability and may lead to hypertension and cardiovascular problems. Research indicates that insufficient sleep impairs the bodys ability to use insulin, which can lead to the onset of diabetes. Fragmented sleep can cause a lowered metabolism and increased levels of the hormone cortisol. Increased cortisol levels can result in an increased appetite and a decrease in ones ability to burn calories.

Myth: The older you get, the fewer hours of sleep you need.
Fact: Sleep experts recommend a total sleep time of seven to nine hours of sleep for the average adult. Sleep patterns change as people age, but the amount of sleep they generally need does not. Older people may wake more frequently through the night and may actually get less nighttime sleep, but their need for sleep is no less than that of younger adults. Older people tend to sleep more during the day because they may sleep less during the night.

Myth: Men snore and women do not. 
Fact: Nearly one-third of women (31%) responded that they snore at least a few nights per week, likely disturbing their own sleep and the sleep of their partner.

Myth:You can "cheat" on the amount of sleep you get.
Fact: Sleep experts say that most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health, and safety. 

Myth: Teens who fall asleep in class have bad habits and/or are lazy.
Fact: Teens need at least 8.5  9.25 hours of sleep each night, compared to an average of seven to nine hours each night for most adults. The internal biological clocks of teenagers can keep them awake later in the evening and can interfere with waking up in the morning.

Myth:Insomnia is characterized only by difficulty falling asleep.
Fact: There are four symptoms usually associated with insomnia:

•Difficulty falling asleep, 
•Waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep, 
•Frequent awakenings, and 
•Waking up without feeling refreshed. 

Insomnia can be a symptom of a sleep disorder or other medical, psychological or psychiatric problems. Insomnia is a treatable disorder. Symptoms should be discussed with a health care professional when those symptoms occur more than a few times a week and start to affect a persons daytime functioning.

Myth:Daytime sleepiness always means a person is not getting enough sleep.
Fact: Excessive daytime sleepiness can occur even after a person gets enough sleep. Such sleepiness can be a sign of an underlying medical condition or sleep disorder such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea. Symptoms should be discussed with a physician.

Myth:During sleep, your brain rests.
Fact: The body rests during sleep. Despite this fact, the brain remains active, gets "recharged," and still controls many body functions including breathing. When we sleep, we typically drift between two basic sleep states, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and Non-REM (NREM) sleep, which consists of Sleep Stages One through Four. Sleep can be important to helping with consolidating your memories and cognitive functioning.

Myth: If you wake up in the middle of the night, it is best to lie in bed trying to fall back asleep, or to toss and turn until you eventually fall back to sleep.
Fact: Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep is a symptom of insomnia. Relaxing imagery or thoughts may help to induce sleep. However, most experts agree that if you do not fall back to sleep within 15 to 20 minutes, you should get out of bed. You should go to another room, and engage in a relaxing activity like listening to music or reading. Dont watch the clock. Return to bed only when you feel tired.

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