Young Couple Sleeping

Young Couple Sleeping (Photo credit: epSos.de)

o you find yourself hitting the snooze button more than a couple times each morning or joking with your coworkers about how coffee keeps you going all day long?  If so, you are not alone.  Almost 70 million Americans have some type of sleep disorder that keeps them from getting the sleep they need each night.  All those sleepless nights and sleepy days can lead to serious health problems and often carry consequences like car accidents caused by drowsy drivers, lost productivity at work, and the development of mood disorders.

Those who struggle with getting quality sleep may be inadvertently causing some of their own problems because of the prevalence of misinformation about what helps you get the sleep you need and what doesn’t.  Here are five of the most common myths people believe about sleep and the real deal for each one.

1.       Napping is a No No

Many people believe that taking a quick nap will either make them more tired for the rest of the day or ruin their chances at a good night sleep tonight.  The fact is that most people will feel refreshed, more alert, and perform better after a quick nap lasting as little as 10 or 20 minutes.  Longer naps may result in you feeling less refreshed upon waking because the longer you nap, the more likely you are to enter the deepest sleep phase, slow wave sleep.  This may be why many people believe taking naps makes you more tired.  For the best result, take a short nap between 1 and 4 in the afternoon.  This is the optimal time frame for a quick pick-me-up that won’t impact your sleep tonight.

2.       Skipping Some Sleep is Not a Big Deal

Some people think that skipping an hour or two of sleep here and there is not a big deal because they don’t realize the impact this loss of sleep has on their life.  Let’s say you decide to stay up an extra hour and a half tonight to finish a work project that needs to be complete tomorrow.   You know the loss of sleep will make you feel tired tomorrow, but what you don’t know is that losing this small amount of sleep for only one night can decrease how alert you are tomorrow by 32%.  Just those 90 minutes can impact your memory, performance, and ability to safely operate a vehicle or other heavy equipment.  It only takes a loss of 6 hours of sleep to mimic the results of someone who is legally intoxicated on a test measuring reaction times.  Steer clear of skipping sleep. The increased alertness and attention you will gain by getting the sleep you need is sure to get you ahead faster than skipping sleep ever will.

3.       Having a bedtime routine is just for children

One of the most important parts of a solid sleep hygiene routine is going to bed at the same time every night.  Additionally, research shows that people who stay up late are more likely to become depressed or experience other mood disorders and health problems, regardless of the amount of sleep they get.  For these reasons, hitting the hay earlier in the day and at the same time of day are good practices that pave the way to a healthy relationship with sleep.

4.       Only People with Problems Need Pills

Many people think that sleeping pills and sleep aids are only meant to be used by people who have real sleep problems like insomnia.  However, the use of sleep aids to address sleep disruptions before they become chronic is actually more beneficial.  Advances in different sleep medicines actually offer better alternatives for addressing sleepless nights. They can help you fall asleep faster and don’t leave you feeling sluggish the next morning.  To see if sleeping pills are a good fit for you, discuss your sleep patterns and problems with a medical professional.

5.       Evening Exercise Keeps You From Sleeping

While some people may experience trouble sleeping after strenuous exercise, this is not the norm for most people.  Research indicates that it might actually help some people to fall asleep and stay asleep all night.  The best way to determine what impact the time you exercisehas on your sleep schedule is to test it out.  If you are worried that working out in the evening is keeping you up, try working out earlier for a few days to see if it makes a difference.  Exercise at different times of the day and take note of how it impacts the amount of sleep you get and how easy or difficult it is to fall asleep.  This will help you determine the best time of day to exercise.

About Valley Sleep Center:

Since 2002, ValleySleepCenter, accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, has provided Arizonawith diagnostic sleep disorder testing in a home-like atmosphere, ensuring a comfortable, relaxing experience for patients.  Their Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialists consist of experienced and knowledgeable physicians who provide expert advice across a multitude of sleep related disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, hypertension, sleepwalking, and pediatric sleep problems.  They accept most insurance plans as well as Medicare.  For more information contact Lauri Leadley at 480-830-3900; https://valleysleepcenter.com.