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8 Sleep Myths, Debunked!

Myth: Counting sheep will help you fall asleep.

Myth #1: Sleep is an inactive, passive activity.

While the body rests, the brain remains active during sleep. According to Help Guide, “During REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, your brain consolidates and processes the information you’ve learned during the day, forms neural connections that strengthen memory, and replenishes its supply of neurotransmitters, including feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine that boost your mood during the day.”

Myth #2: You can make up for lost sleep during the week by sleeping more on weekends.

Although it will help relieve part of your sleep debt, it will not completely make up for your lack of sleep. The US Department of Health and Human Services explains that sleeping later on weekends can affect your sleep-wake cycle, making it harder to go to sleep at the right time on Sunday nights and get up early on Monday mornings.

Myth #3: There’s no harm in hitting the snooze button for 10 extra minutes of sleep.

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Snoozing actually makes your body and brain feel more confused, giving you that groggy, fuzzy-headed feeling that could persist for up to four more hours after waking up. Ten extra minutes of sleep in the morning upon waking up are less restful than 10 minutes of deep sleep because the snooze takes place at the end of the cycle when sleep is lighter. [via The Greatist]

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Myth #4: You can get by with only 4-6 hours of sleep.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that some people have a gene enabling them to function well on just four to six hours of sleep. But this gene is very rare, appearing in less than 3 percent of the population. And no, you cannot “train” yourself to get by with less sleep.

Myth #5: To get the best sleep, 8 hours is the magic number.

While the quantity of sleep you get is important, it’s the quality of sleep you need to pay attention to. Help Guide reports, “If you’re giving yourself plenty of time for sleep, but you’re still having trouble waking up in the morning or staying alert all day, you may not be spending enough time in the different stages of sleep.” Sleep requirements vary per person depending on your age, lifestyle, and health, but the National Sleep Foundation suggests that teens need 8-10 hours of sleep a day, adults generally need 7-9, and the elderly, 7-8.

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To figure out if you’re meeting your sleep needs, evaluate how you feel as you go about your day. If you feel energetic and alert all day long, from the moment you wake up until your regular bedtime, then you are getting enough sleep. 

Myth #6: Counting sheep or watching TV will help you fall asleep.

There are many old-school theories for aiding sleep. Counting sheep, for example, was deemed by scientists as repetitive and distracting. You’re better off imagining relaxing scenarios, such as an empty beach. As for the habit of watching TV until you fall sleep, it could cause harm in the long run. According to studies, TV emits light with a bluish hue that could lessen our body’s production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. [via Sleep Junkies]

Myth #7: Daytime naps are a waste of time.

According to the Sleep Health Foundation, daytime naps are necessary if you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Just make sure your naps don’t go beyond 20 minutes and have it not later than mid-afternoon.

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Myth #8: The older you get, the fewer hours of sleep you need.

The elderly seem to sleep fewer hours at night, but it’s because aging brings more body aches and pains, among other things that cause a change in sleeping patterns. In reality, your sleep needs are stable throughout your adult life.

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