Myths and Misconceptions About Sleep
When it comes to sleep, there are a lot of beliefs and misconceptions that people have whether it’s about falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up and just sleep in general. Some of these beliefs may be relatively harmless but there are some misunderstandings about sleep that can have serious complications if repeatedly done or not done. There are some misconceptions that don’t provide any help in relieving sleep deprivation which can lead to health problems. What are these common misconceptions? Here are just a few of the myths and misunderstandings that most people have regarding sleep.
Myth #1: Taking a Drink at Night will Help me Get to Sleep
While alcohol does make you a bit drowsy with a couple of drinks, by no mean is it a solution to help you get enough sleep. What happens is if you drink a shot of vodka or a bottle of beer before dozing off, you’re sleeping patterns will be disrupted. You might end up being awakened in the middle of the night or the wee hours of the morning. Worse, by the time you wake up from your seemingly peaceful slumber in the morning, you’ll feel like you didn’t get a wink of sleep at all. There is a type of sleep that is called restorative sleep which allows your body and your mind to rest at an optimum level. But that level of sleep can never be achieved with alcohol.
Myth #2: Exercise will Help me Tire Out and Get to Sleep
While it is good for you to exercise if you want to get some sleep, exercising during the late hours isn’t advisable. What happens during exercise is that the body’s hormones rise, like epinephrine and norepinephrine, to support the bodily functions involved in exercise. While you will indeed feel tired out after a workout session, you may be unable to fall asleep immediately because these hormones still heighten your senses. What you can do is time your exercise session properly like in the afternoon so that you can feel tired by the time night comes and you’ll be able to get to sleep later in the evening once your hormone levels return to their normal levels.
Myth #3: Tiring my Eyes will Help me Sleep
While activities like watching television or reading a book can be helpful in getting you to sleep, it is sometimes not advisable. This is because these activities may be stimulating for you and trigger you to keep being awake instead. Furthermore, these activities aren’t also advised at night since they have a tendency to damage your eyesight which isn’t very healthy for you. Similar to exercise, doing these activities in the afternoon or the early evening can help a lot in getting you to sleep. It isn’t advisable to watch TV or read a book late at night, especially in the dark since there is a high risk in damaging one’s eyesight.
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Myth #4: There’s no Harm in Using Sleeping Pills
This is a huge misconception that a lot of people have which entails dangerous effects on one’s health. While sleeping pills are still widely available in a number of pharmacies, they aren’t really meant for helping you get to sleep. These sleeping pills are also called opioid analgesics which are actually meant for patients about to undergo a surgery. The purpose of these drugs is to provide a pre-analgesic stage which supports the main anesthetic agent that is later going to be used right before surgery. By no means are they really meant to help relieve insomnia. This is easily shown as how patients who underwent surgery and received analgesics to prevent or minimize pain during and after surgery never wake up comfortably or it seems like they’re still quite tired even after sleeping for six to eight hours straight. It should also be noted that these sleeping pills are still filtered out by the liver, causing liver damage if taken too much. This can lead to life-threatening signs and symptoms like loss of consciousness, abnormal respiratory rate and rhythm, abnormal heart rate and rhythm, a drop in blood pressure and more. A good example of this is how a lot of people have attempted suicide by using sleeping pills.
Myth #5: My Body can Learn to Sleep Less
Allowing your body to learn or conditioning your body to sleep lesser than what you’re used to may be possible but it isn’t a healthy thing to do. Our body needs a set number of hours so that it can recover. If it does not get the rest that it needs, the several body systems falter and decrease in their function. If you condition your body to get less sleep that it needs, it can have repercussions on your body in its physiological aspect. While you feel that you get enough sleep with going for just about four or five hours a day, your body may feel otherwise. Even if you feel well-rested, you may experience signs and symptoms like listlessness, decreased concentration, daytime sleepiness, nausea and more.
Myth #6: There’s No Harm in Taking a Few More Caffeine
Caffeine in itself is a big no-no if you want to get a good night’s sleep. However, there are some who believe that getting one more cup of coffee can help you get to sleep more quickly. Another popular belief among people is that eating a small amount of chocolate just before going to bed can help in an easier time to fall asleep. The problem with these is caffeine is a stimulant which is both found in chocolate and coffee. Add to that the sugar content in both which increases the glucose levels in our blood, therefore adding more energy for our body. If you take a hefty amount of both of these compounds, chances are you’ll be wide awake at night. But it isn’t the end when it comes to caffeine and chocolate. You can still consume them but plan it out hours before going to sleep.