Sleep: We all do it, but we don't always understand it. In fact, sleep can even seem a little mysterious. Maybe that's one reason why some myths persist when it comes to this vital part of our lives. Have you ever heard of these three?
Myth: Snoring may be annoying, but it's not a health concern.
Fact: While snoring is usually harmless, it does have a potentially serious side. It can warn of a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, in which breathing temporarily stops several times a night. People with sleep apnea may wake up choking or gasping for air.
Sleep apnea can leave you worn-out the next day. Worse, it may raise the risk of heart disease. Fortunately, treatment—including continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy—can help.
Myth: You can get by on very little sleep.
Fact: Skimping on shuteye can sink your mood and leave you unproductive, irritable and accident-prone. There's more: Sleeping too little may be a serious health risk. It's linked to everything from high blood pressure to obesity, diabetes and depression.
Getting enough sleep regularly will help you feel and perform your best. For most adults, that's at least seven hours a night.
Myth: If you wake up and can't get back to sleep, it's best just to lie there until you can.
Fact: Actually, if you can't fall asleep after about 15 minutes, don't stare at the clock: Get up and go to another room to do something relaxing. Listen to some soft, soothing music. Or read a book. When you feel sleepy, come back to bed.
Keep in mind that waking up and having trouble getting back to sleep can signal insomnia. Other signs include frequently waking up during the night or often feeling groggy the next day. If you have concerns about your sleep habits, let your doctor know.
Watson Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center was one of the first sleep labs in the state, and it’s the only one in the area accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. If you’re one of the 70 million Americans who suffer from some degree of sleep deprivation, ask your primary care doctor for a referral.
Sources: American Academy of Sleep Medicine; National Sleep Foundation