There are some pervasive sleep myths that really need to be discussed in order to encourage and promote better sleep.

ASIA SLEEP CENTRE blog 3 Busting myths about sleep DECOR

SLEEP IS JUST REST
Sleep is more than simply a period of rest; it is an essential time for your body to perform routine maintenance, creating long-term memories and repair damage from your day. Sleep brings many health benefits. Getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night assures that your body and mind will function well the next day.

SLEEP IS A PASSIVE EVENT
Sleep is more than a passive event. The brain is highly active during dream sleep; the brain is even more active during dream sleep than in non dream sleep and the awake state. It has been shown that although the metabolic activity during dream sleep is so high, dream sleep is essential in rejuvenation, memory re-building, and feeling refreshed.

THE MORE I DREAM, THE MORE TIRED I AM
This is not true. It is well accepted that dream sleep is important in rejuvenation, and feeling refreshed in the morning. Dream sleep is crucial for the individual.

LOSING AN HOUR OF SLEEP IS NO BIG DEAL
If you get less sleep than you need, your ability to do certain cognitive and physical tasks is decreased. If that sleep loss builds over time, you develop a sleep debt; this can interfere with the hormones that monitor appetite (appetite hormone – ghrelin), changing your mood and increasing your risk of some chronic illnesses. Therefore, try to get seven to nine hours every night for good health.

YOU CAN LEARN TO NEED LESS SLEEP
Unfortunately, there is no way to “train” yourself to sleep less. Research has shown that restricting people to only four to five hours of sleep for several weeks result in very slow performance, impaired judgment and poorer mood.

NAPS WASTE TIME
Naps can be a great way to catch up on lost sleep. After taking naps, people function better and do certain cognitive tasks quicker. Napping can also help you train yourself to fall asleep quicker. However, taking the midday “power nap” should be tailored to the patient’s needs. It is known that napping longer than 45 minutes to an hour, may cause you to wake up more tired; or napping after 4pm may make it more difficult for you to fall asleep at night.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ‘CATCH UP SLEEP’ 
Many people wake very early on weekdays, to send the children to school or to go to work (building up a sleep debt). On weekends, it would be ideal to catch up and “pay back” this sleep deficit by sleeping more and waking up later. It is, however, much better to have a consistent daily sleep schedule (if possible) that gives you seven to nine hours each night.

SNORING IS NORMAL & INDICATES GOOD DEEP SLEEP
While snoring may be very common during sleep, frequent snoring can indicate serious sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea. If you are a frequent, loud snorer, see your doctor about being assessed for sleep apnea, especially if your bed partner has noticed that you are short of breath while sleeping, or if you are excessively tired during the day and your sleep does not make you feel refreshed. Treatments are available and you (and your partner) will have more energy during the day.      

CHILDREN WITH A SLEEP DEFICIT WILL BE TIRED
Children are different from adults. When children are overtired, their adrenaline kicks in and they seem energetic, even hyperactive. Children with sleep deficits may have behavior and attention problems. There are studies to show that children with sleep disorders may be associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It has also been shown that children diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, have poorer school results and treatment of the sleep apnea would improve the school performance. So don’t use daytime energy levels to assess your child’s sleep; use the clock. Children need longer hours of sleep, hence, sleep for them is of utmost importance.

OLDER PEOPLE NEED LESS SLEEP
Older people need the same amount of sleep as everyone else, seven to nine hours per night. There is a cultural belief that as you age, you need less sleep. Unfortunately, because of this myth, many older people do not seek help for their sleep problems.  Older people may not be able to get continuous seven to nine hours sleep (due to the lower melatonin levels in the blood), but they cumulatively do get their seven to nine hours sleep per day (as they often nap in the morning or afternoon); this would be normal for people in this age group.

This is an excerpt from Dr Kenny Pang’s second edition book “Sleep Matters”, available at the Asia Sleep Centre and all major bookstores.

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ASIA SLEEP CENTRE blog 3 Busting myths about sleep DECOR APS

To find out more about good sleep, normal sleep, children’s sleep, insomnia, snoring, obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, you might want to download Dr Kenny Pang’s free iPhone & iPad apps on “Snoring”, “Child Sleep” and “Insomnia”.

Dr Kenny Peter Pang is an ENT / Sleep Specialist with MBBS, Masters Medicine (ORL), MRCS (Edinburgh), FRCS (Edinburgh), FRCS (Ireland) (OTO). He is the medical director of the Asia Sleep Centre located at Paragon #18-04. Call 6836 0060 to make an appointment or email drpang@asiasleepcentre.com. For more information about Dr Kenny Pang and the Asia Sleep Centre, go to www.drkennypang.com or www.asiasleepcentre.com.