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Five Myths and Five Facts About Sleep

Interesting facts and urban legends about sleep.

There are many legends, myths and old wives tales about sleep and the way it affects our health and well-being. Research is being done constantly at sleep labs and universities around the world that sheds new information about sleep and the human body. Here are some misconceptions and some facts.

The National Sleep Foundation has put together a complete list from their studies, but here are 5 myths and 5 facts you might be really surprised to learn.

  1. Myth: Teenagers who fall asleep in class are assumed to have poor sleep habits and being staying up all hours of the night and day.

    Fact: The experts say that teens need more sleep than grown adults. Most adults require 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night and teens need at least 81/2 – 91/2 hours of sleep every night. The average teenager’s circadian clock tells them to stay awake later at night and sleep later in the morning. Our schools are on the wrong timetable for teens, with classes starting at 7AM and 7:30AM, in most areas across America. Teenager body clocks work better with wake-up times later in the morning, so schools should start thinking about starting later and ending later. Studies indicate the optimum circadian time for intellectual learning inmost people is later in the 24 hour day and not early morning time frames!!!

  2. Myth: Older people do not need as much sleep as younger people under 50 years old.

    Fact: The issue is not that the human body needs less sleep, but as people get older many factors affect sleep. Older people, especially once in retirement take naps during the day and so they do get the basic 8 hours of sleep a day, but not always at night. Many older folks have sleep disorders that interrupt an 8 hour sleep interval: sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, allergy congestion and many others.

  3. Myth: “I need more sleep, I am so tired,” said one half of the American public when interviewed about their sleep habits.

    Fact: Getting more sleep on weekends or taking a day off work to sleep 14 – 18 hours straight, does not guarantee you will “catch-up” on lost sleep and it does not give you more energy. Most people do not understand you have a certain “sleep system”…..sleep pattern…if you sleep more than your regular pattern you interfere with melatonin levels, your exposure to sunlight and your body temperature. The results of placing such stress on your body van cause obesity, depression, agitation and even depress your immune system.

  4. Myth: If you have insomnia, prescription drugs are the best way to fall asleep at night.

    Fact: Hello out there—-earthlings have survived for centuries without prescription sleeping drugs! The sleeping medications of our modern age were developed for short-term use, when sleep patterns are disrupted by stress such as a family death, loss of a job or a combination of stressful events that might occur at the same time in a person’s life. Avoiding food and caffeine, computers, arguments and exercise before going to bed can drastically help chronic insomnia. The NIH has stated for several years, their studies indicate Cognitive Therapy practices help people suffering from insomnia perhaps better than drugs and have no residual side effects. Many research studies indicate that at least 50% of people that think they have insomnia are experiencing “anxiety or depression (Univ. of California at San Diego).

  5. Myth: People who sleep less live longer lives.

    Fact: There are some studies that may indicate some people do not require 8 hours of sleep per day and still thrive. The best answer to this question revolves around understanding your own body system and sleep pattern. Longevity is ensured by a numerous factors in a person’s daily life: proper nutrition, reduced stress, adequate exercise and a scheduled rhythmic pattern of sleep (be it 6 hours or 8 plus hours per day). When a person does not sleep according to their circadian clock and inner nature they often do not feel their sleep was restful and that may lead to wellness being compromised.

There is a great deal to understand about sleep and our patterns of sleep. Try not to buy into the urban legends floating around the cyberspace world and get educated.

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  1. Thanks for educating us…Now I understand why I cannot get my teenage sister to get up early in the morning :)

  2. Woo Hoo!! Now I know why my brother (the nerd, age 15)is always faling alseep at school. The teacher tell me and want me to tell mom. Ha

  3. Good info and thanks…
    A friend

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