Like good diet and exercise habits, getting enough sleep is essential to improve our physical, emotional and mental health. Americans celebrate Better Sleep Month in May. Supported by the Better Sleep Council (BSC), Better Sleep Month aims at raising awareness about the importance of sleep in maintaining overall health and encouraging people to adopt better sleeping patterns.
There are many myths about sleep such as how much sleep a person needs, how to make up for lost sleep, and so on. On the eve of Better Sleep Month, let’s a look at some common sleep myths and unravel the truth.
- How much sleep does a person need – 8 hours is a luxury, 6 hours is more practical: The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults need 7-9 hours sleep, and older adults, 7-8 hours. Experts recommend that you should assess your personal needs and habits and see how you respond to different amounts of sleep. This will help you develop a healthier sleep pattern and lifestyle.
- Naps during the day can make up for loss of sleep at night: While short naps during the day can keep you energized, they are not a solution for late hours and lost sleep. Moreover, snoozing can affect your ability to sleep at night and contribute to the unhealthy sleep pattern.
- You can make up for lost sleep by resting during weekends: There is nothing like banking sleep. Sleeping more than you should during weekends can lead to lethargy.
- You need less sleep as you get older: This is a misconception as unsteady sleeping patterns among older people could be the sign of a health issue. Experts say that you need the same amount of sleep when you get older as when you were younger.
- Snoring is annoying, but harmless: Not exactly. Snoring could be an indication of medical conditions such as sleep apnea. It can affect the quality of your sleep as well as that of your partner.
- Sleep loss will not have a severe impact on my health: This is false. In addition to making you feel tired and run down during the day, losing just an hour’s sleep at night can increase the risk of a heart attack. Many sleep-deprived nights means you are at risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression.
- During sleep, your brain rests: The body does rest during sleep, but the brain remains active, gets revived and still controls many body functions such as breathing.
- Exercise before bed helps you sleep: No, the optimal time for exercise is four hours before your bedtime.
- Sleeping less keeps you thin: Will not going to sleep help you burn fat? No. Cutting back on your sleep can have a negative effect on weight loss, and the chances are you will become overweight and even obese. To burn calories, get a good night’s sleep and start your day with exercise!
A weakened immune system, high blood pressure, diabetes, reduced concentration, mood swings and irritability are all consequences of a poor sleep pattern. Better Sleep Month is the time to understand the benefits of sleep and to develop a healthy sleep pattern. Sticking to a sleep schedule, not going to bed either hungry or stuffed, avoiding foods that prevent sleep at night, creating a bedtime ritual, maintaining an optimal sleeping environment, limiting daytime naps, and of course, regular physical activity are time-tested strategies to get better sleep.