7 Sleep Myths

February 2, 2009 8:31:42 AM PST
Americans spend about one-third of their lives snoozing, but According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are many common myths about sleep. Some common misconceptions include:Myth: Snoring is normal and isn't harmful.
Reality: Although snoring may be harmless for many people, it can be a symptom of a life-threatening sleep disorder called sleep apnea, especially if it is accompanied by severe daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, weight gain, headaches and impotence. Snoring on a regular basis has also been directly linked to hypertension.

Myth: Extra sleep can prevent daytime fatigue.
Reality: It's not just how much you sleep but how well. Some people sleep eight or nine hours a night but don't feel well-rested because of poor-quality sleep. Also, some studies have linked too much sleep to problems like diabetes, depression and even a shorter lifespan. Experts say most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep.

Myth: Teens who fall asleep are lazy.
Reality: According to sleep experts, teens need at least 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep each night, compared to an average of seven to nine hours a night for most adults. Also, a teen's biological clock can keep him awake later in the evening. However, many schools begin classes early in the morning when a teenager's body wants to sleep.

Myth: You need less sleep as you age.
Reality: Older people need just as much sleep as other adults, but they often get less or find it less refreshing because they spend less time in deep sleep. They may also be more likely to suffer from aches, pains and medical problems that can disrupt sleep.

Myth: Turning up the radio and opening the window are effective ways to stay awake while driving.
Reality: Experts say these are not good ways to stay awake and can be dangerous. If you're feeling tired while driving, the best thing to do is pull off the road in a safe rest area and take a brief nap. Caffeinated drinks may also help. However, it takes about 30 minutes before you'll feel the effects.

Myth: Children who don't get enough sleep just act tired.
Reality: Unlike adults, children who are sleep-deprived typically become more active during the day. They may also have trouble paying attention in school.

Myth: Your body quickly adjusts to different sleep schedules.
Reality: Most people can reset their internal clock by one or two hours a day, but it can take a week or longer to adjust to dramatically different sleep cycles.