Health Topics

Myths and Facts About Sleep

Myths and Facts About Sleep

A good night’s sleep is something that everyone wants. Learn how to get a full night’s rest by separating fact from fiction. View the common misconceptions listed below:

  • Myth: Health problems such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and depression have no relation to the amount and quality of a person’s sleep.

    Fact: More and more scientific studies are showing correlations between poor quality sleep and/or insufficient sleep with a variety of diseases. Interrupted sleep can negatively affect the normal variability and may lead to hypertension and cardiovascular problems. Research indicates that insufficient sleep impairs the body’s ability to use insulin, causes a lowered metabolism and increased levels of the hormone cortisol. This results in an increased appetite and a decrease in one’s 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.

  • 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. Over time, sleep apnea can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease if it is not treated. 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.

  • 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 are lazy.

    Fact: Teens need at least 8.5 – 9.25 hours of sleep each night. 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.
  • Waking up without feeling refreshed.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Myth: If you wake up in the middle of the night, it is best to lie in bed trying to fall back asleep.

    Fact: Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep is a symptom of insomnia. Most experts agree that if you do not fall back to sleep within 15 to 20 minutes, you should get out of bed and engage in a relaxing activity.

For more information on sleeping problems, download our free Sleep Treatment Guide.