As you know that sleep is a pleasurable physiological activity that is restorative, refreshing and energizing. Recent sleep researches have made us aware of the facts & cleared our mind from the conventional myths about sleep.
Not only good health but it is understood by various studies that sleep is an essential component of our life & helps us to prevent harmful diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, depression & many more.
Unfortunately, for people all around the globe, lack of quality sleep is a very real problem which may lead to poor alertness, lack of attention, reduced concentration , decreased work performance, and even accidents.
Thus to clear the doubts let us examine the most common Sleep Myths:
During sleep our brain shuts for rest: Myth 1.
As one sleeps the brain remains active, gets recharged & controls many body functions like breathing, secretion of hormones like growth hormone which is essential for growth gets secreted while sleeping. Not only this sleeps helps to boost our immunity & improves our memory. All the functions of our body are regulated by our brain while sleeping.
Decreasing my sleep duration by an hour or two will not cause any harm on the day time functioning : Myth 2
We need almost 7-8 hours of sleep each night. When we sleep less than that, we start developing sleep debt which over the period results in symptoms like feeling tired, day time sleepiness, leads to weight gain, high blood pressure, bad mood and also decreases the overall productivity.
Our body adjusts very quickly to the change in sleeping timings: Myth 3
Our sleep-wakefulness is controlled by our body clock (circadian rhythm) & when there is a change in our sleeping schedule our body clock is set to a later time leading to changes in sleep cycle.
We can gradually change our sleep timings on day to day basis but the change is not very quick but slow.Our body adjusts comparatively easier to an hour of change but when there is a large shift in timing, it is difficult to adjust.This also depends upon our genetics & our day to day habits.
We can set our clock by our preference to go to sleep. For eg. If you use to sleep at 1 am at night & now you want to make it earlier, it will take few weeks to fix it.
Snoring is very common & shows that one is having a sound sleep: Myth 4
Snoring is a symptom of a life threatening condition known as sleep apnea, that is an interruption in breathing passage leading to partial or complete closure , as a result of which the blood oxygen levels fall .This causes repeated disruptions in sleep, leading to daytime sleepiness & tiredness.This also increases the blood pressure, blood sugar, body weight, increase chances of heart attack & brain attack.
Snoring in any case is not present in normal situation.
Students who fall asleep in class are very careless & lazy: Myth 5
On an average students require 8-9 hours of sleep each night, often it is seen that they don't get adequate sleep. In any case if sleep is inadequate in duration or quality, this will lead to excessive sleepiness during the day.
Listening to high volume music or opening a window are the ways to keep myself awake while driving : Myth 6
As you know that driving is a complex activity that involves your eyes, ears, hands, feet & mind. Drowsy driving is a very dangerous condition that may lead to fatal accidents that causes damage to the vehicles & also loss of life. The damage not only involves the driver but everyone on road. Adults require 7-8 hours of sleep, ensure that you sleep well the night before you drive, plan your drive with a companion & take frequent breaks, avoid alcohol & medication that make you sleepy, on the day you drive. If you feel sleepy while driving, stop your vehicle at safe location & take a nap.
If you still feel sleepy even after following the above, then you are advised to visit a sleep specialist for diagnosis & treatment.
Posted By: Dr. Himanshu Arora