Myths About Sleep

I’ve heard so many rumors about sleep that sometimes I can’t help but research if it were true or not. Here’s what I found out:

  1. “You need to get minimum of eight hours of sleep.”
    There are scientific studies that have proven that not everyone need eight hours of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, eight hours is just an average number for us to grab onto as a rule. Everybody has a different lifestyle and bodies that requires different hours of sleep. Generally, infants require more sleep than adolescents, who requires more sleep than young adults. It’s best to experiment to find what works best for you.
  2. “Naps are for kids!”
    The secret’s out! Napping is for everyone and has actually been proven to be extremely beneficial for adults. It helps improve performance on cognitive tests and helps keep you alert and focused. Napping helps move a memory from the hippocampus where it’s still “fragile” and easily forgotten to  a “more permanent storage” or the neocortex.
  3. “Drinking alcohol helps me sleep better.”
    Alcohol has a natural sedative effect that can help ease into a good night’s rest. Although it helps you fall asleep quicker, the alcohol is metabolized through your body during the night which keep your body susceptible to wakefulness.
  4. “I always fall asleep after eating turkey.”
    I’m sure everyone has heard of the turkey coma during Thanksgiving or Christmas when people have post-meal naps. The explanation is this: turkey contains tryptophan, a chemical used to produce serotonin, which has an effect in putting us to bed. However, turkey doesn’t contain more tryptophan then other meats. Most likely cause is the massive amounts of protein and carbohydrates that is ingested.
  5. “Milk before bed helps me fall asleep easier.”
    Evidence has shown that milk on it’s own doesn’t produce serotonin, which is vital for sleep. Along with serotonin, your body also needs carbohydrate-rich foods to help produce insulin. All three are essential to have any sleep inducing effects. Why do people believe milk helps? Completely psychological. People may associate milk with their childhood and motherly care.
  6. “If I can’t sleep, I just start counting sheep.”
    This is an old age theory that imagining and counting sheep one by one can lull you to sleep. A test was done by scientists from Oxford University’s Department of Experimental Psychology found that the opposite happened. Volunteers counting sheep took up to 20 minutes longer to fall asleep. Scientists believe that counting is too repetitive and boring to occupy enough space in the brain, which leads to other distracting thoughts keeping you awake.

Know of any other myths?

Write them in the comments below and I’ll see what I can research about it.

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