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Sleep Myths

How much do you know about sleep disorders? Review these statements and learn which are true and which are not.

Health problems have no relation to the amount and quality of a person's sleep.

Recommended Related to Sleep Disorders

When Nightmares Won't Go Away

Yael Levy recalls having chronic nightmares as far back as elementary school, when she was living in Israel. The grandchild of Holocaust survivors, she says her dreams were filled with images of suffering and death. In one recurrent nightmare, Levy was trapped in a concentration camp, facing death. In another, she was drowning in deep water. At their worst, the nightmares occurred on an almost weekly basis, leaving her jittery and desperately fatigued. "I would wake up so terrified that I was afraid...

Read the When Nightmares Won't Go Away article > >

False: More and more scientific studies are showing correlations between poor quality sleep and/or insufficient sleep with a variety of diseases, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression. For example, insufficient sleep can impair the body's ability to use insulin, which can lead to the development of more severe diabetes. Patients with poorly controlled diabetes and sleep apnea have improvement of blood sugar control when treated for sleep apnea. This is also found in patients with high blood pressure and sleep apnea. When the sleep apnea is treated, the blood pressure also improves. In addition, too little sleep may decrease growth hormone secretion, which has been linked to obesity.

Older people need less sleep.

False: The average adult needs a total sleep time of seven to nine hours per day. While sleep patterns usually change as we age, the amount of sleep we generally need does not. Older people may sleep less at night due, in part, to frequent night waking, but their need for sleep is no less than that of younger adults.

Snoring can be harmful.

True: Aside from bothering other people, snoring is not harmful. However, it can be a sign of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that is associated with significant medical problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Sleep apnea is characterized by episodes of reduced or no airflow throughout the night. People with sleep apnea may remember waking up frequently during the night gasping for breath.

You can "cheat" on the amount of sleep you get.

False: Sleep experts say that most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimal health. Getting fewer hours of sleep will eventually need to be replenished with additional sleep in the next few nights. Our body does not seem to get used to less sleep than it needs.

Teens need more sleep than adults.

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