Health

Sleeping myths
Are you one of the more than 100 million Americans who suffer from insomnia? Don't fear - you are not destined for a lifetime of sleeplessness. Just don't buy into these myths.

Myth #1: Sleep is the same for men and women

Why it’s false: As we age, the percentage of deep sleep declines for both sexes, but far more in men than in women. By our mid-60s, many healthy men may not experience any deep sleep at all, said Dr. Matthew Edlund, author of “The Power of Rest: Why Sleep Alone Is Not Enough.”

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Myth #2: Sleeping pills are the only way to combat insomnia

Why it’s false: Sleeping pills are OK for shift workers or if you have jet lag, but they should only be used intermittently.

There are many things you can do throughout the day to help you get a good night’s sleep, Edlund said. For example, if you are anxious, try writing your worries down in a journal. Take a hot bath (not shower) at bedtime to induce sleepiness. Also, try taking a brisk walk each morning to “wake up” your brain and set you on the right path for the rest of the day.

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Myth #3: Drinking a glass of wine before bed will help me fall asleep

Five percent of the country still relies on alcohol as their ‘knockout drug,’ but the truth is -- as it metabolizes, and levels of alcohol drop in the bloodstream, it can actually have the opposite effect, Edlund said . Repeated use of alcohol will cause your body to build up a tolerance and eventually interrupt your sleeping patterns.

And, if you drink too much (as with any beverage) before going to bed, your sleep may be disrupted to urinate.

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Myth #4: Naps are disruptive to your sleep schedule

You may think naps are for children, but think again.

“Naps are among the most natural things in the world,” said. Edlund said. “Short naps can really revive people. There are a lot of studies that prove naps improve alertness and improve productivity, especially when you make them short.”

Edlund said naps are especially important for shift workers and teenagers, who both need extra rest.

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Myth #5: The body can go without rest when necessary

Why it’s false: “You need rest and sleep just like you need food,” Edlund said. “If you don’t get enough of it, your body doesn’t rebuild or renew itself the way it should. A lot of different things happen when people are sleep-deprived, and recent studies have shown (just what can happen).”

Edlund said sleep-deprived people tend to be more depressed, have more relationship problems, an increase in hypertension and a tendency for coronary artery disease.

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Still Can't Sleep?

If you still can’t sleep, Edlund offers these tips:

*Try to get into a pattern before going to bed: pick out your clothes, brush your teeth, read a magazine.

*Don’t watch TV before going to bed. It does not have a calming effect, in fact it is actually a stimulant.

*Don’t look at the clock during the night. Hide it if necessary. It’s normal to wake up many times during the middle of the night, but we usually don’t remember waking up.

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Dreaming

Remember how important rest is, and make time for it. Rest is power, Edlund said. With more rest, you will feel happier and healthier.

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Sleeping myths

Are you one of the more than 100 million Americans who suffer from insomnia? Don't fear - you are not destined for a lifetime of sleeplessness. Just don't buy into these myths.

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