Many of our lifestyle habits have myths attached to them, and sleep is no exception to that. We have all heard of sleep-inducing methods like counting sheep, but its effects have been dubious at best, especially for insomniacs.
This time, we have gathered the most prevalent myths regarding sleep, so we have less to worry about come bedtime.
People sometimes swear by a good old nightcap before bedtime, as a little bit (or a lot, depending on your emotional state) of wine or whisky can help us hit the sheets.
Drink alcohol to sleep better.
The bad news is, alcohol is a depressant, which contributes to fluctuations in REM and non-REM sleep. Lack of REM sleep is linked to migraines and emotional roller coasters. Halfway through the night, the body makes up for the lack of REM sleep resulting in a disturbed sleep cycle and crankiness in the morning.
Just lie down in bed, and you will eventually fall asleep.
Astonishingly, some people believe that just lying in bed for the duration of the night actually benefits the body as real sleep. There is a difference between a state of rest and a state of sleep. While one is asleep, the body undergoes numerous reconstructive and rehabilitative processes that do not kick in if you are awake. The immune system for that matter does not do well without sleep as it produces cytokines that help fight off viral infections.
Leave sleepwalkers alone.
Do not believe what you see in Looney Tunes cartoons; the notion of not disturbing people who walk in their sleep stems from ancient superstitions, the most morbid being demonic possession. Though sleepwalkers might get startled if you wake them up, no adverse effects follow. In fact, you might be saving that person from potential accidents if they end up wandering close to the stairs.
Your body forgets how to sleep.
Insomniacs can be led to believe that their body loses the ability to sleep, which is simply not true. Experts call this phenomenon sleep state misperception, where insomniacs get confused about whether they are sleeping or not (they do). The sense of time is lost when you are sleeping, which probably contributes to the feeling that they are awake all the time. Believe us, being awake for a long time only has the inevitable result of death.
Spicy food results in nightmares.
Hot peppers and spicy dishes cause nightmares, so they say. While excessive consumption of spicy chilli and even cheese can upset your stomach, they are not responsible for bad dreams at all.
The misconception probably stemmed from the discomfort people felt after dining heavily on Mexican food and trying to go to bed. No study has ever made any significant connection between hot and spicy food and unsettling nights.
Old people need less sleep than young ones.
Senior citizens do need sleep; they just have a harder time than younger people do, so do not be cruel. Your parents and grandparents still need the same amount of sleep, between seven and eight hours to keep their bodies functioning properly.
Their difficulties in sleeping lie with their medical conditions, adjustments in circadian rhythms, and the fact that deep sleep time is drastically reduced as the body ages.