Sleep Problems: Myths Harming Your Health

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CDC pegs American adults with sleep problems at about 50-70 million. Steer clear of these sleep myths to safeguard your health.

Besides exercise and diet, sleep is among the cornerstones of good health. In fact, we spend more time in sleep than in eating and physical activities. Despite being a regular part of our lives and the lengthy time that we sleep, we are still clueless on how sleep works and how it can affect your life.

The medical world only has focused on the importance of sleep and how it affects our productivity, well-being and our overall health. It was just in 2015 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considered a lack of sleep as a leading public health issue in the United States, at the same level as obesity.  About 50-70 million American adults have problems with sleep, according to the CDC. While this health condition was present even before sleep research became intensive, doctors and scientists are becoming alarmed at the rate by which we sacrifice sleep for other activities.

Sleep deprivation 

So how damaging is sleep deprivation to our health? Many doctors attribute a chronic lack of sleep to a list of major diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cancer. At ENDO 2015 (the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in San Diego) a paper was presented revealing that sleeping 30 minutes less than the recommended amount (7-9 hours) on weekdays could boost the risk of diabetes and obesity.

Likewise, lack of sleep is being tagged as the leading cause of major disasters that have claimed many lives and affected the health of many.  Errors in judgment and slow motor skills that can lead to fatal accidents are due to sleeping less than the ideal amount. Moreover, sleep-deprived people can have difficulty concentrating, memory lapses and other cognitive problems that reduce productivity at work.

Common misconceptions

Despite the many adverse effects caused by insufficient sleep that have been discovered, many of us still are clueless regarding this vital yet very misunderstood daily activity. Here are some prevalent notions about sleep that have no scientific backing.

Hitting the “snooze” button can give you extra sleep time – Hitting the snooze button may feel good for a short period, but this can wreck your whole day. Bidding for additional 15 minutes of sleep confuses your sleep cycle, which can make you feel drowsy and ineffective for the rest of the day.    

Lost sleep can be compensated for during the weekends – Paying for sleep debt by sleeping longer during the weekends is not an effective way to cope with the loss of sleep on weekdays. This adjustment can disrupt our circadian rhythm, slashing our productivity during weekdays. Sticking to your sleep schedule is essential for good health.

Booze can make you drowsy – Alcohol can make you tipsy and sleepy for a while, but it robs you of your good night’s sleep for the night. Drinking at least two glasses of alcohol can bring you to the final stage of the deep sleep cycle immediately, skipping the early ones. You cannot stay in this phase for long, so you quickly will regress into the first stage, which makes it easy to wake you up.    

Sleeping more than the ideal amount is healthy – The adage is that a good thing done excessively becomes destructive. For adults, sleeping for the typical 7-8 hours nightly boosts your health. Except during illness, sleeping more than nine hours every night can result in numerous physical side effects, many of which are serious diseases. Consult your doctor if you have a tendency to oversleep.

All adults have to sleep for 8 hours – The idea that 8 hours of sleep is ideal for all is a myth that has been blown out of proportion. Each of us has unique sleep needs. Some successful people, such as Thomas Edison, slept less than 8 hours at different times while athletes hit the sack for more. Many variations of nightly sleep nightly patterns work well for a variety of people.     

Sleep is too significant to our health not to be discussed intensively. It is about time to dispel our incorrect notions about sleep before it destroys our health.

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