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Sleep Disorder Myths

How much do you know about sleep disorders? Review these statements and learn which are true and which are myths.

Health problems such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression have no relation to the amount and quality of a person's sleep.

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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 onset of diabetes. In addition, insufficient sleep affects growth hormone secretion that is linked to obesity. As the amount of growth hormone secretion decreases, the chance of weight gain increases.

The older you get, the fewer hours of sleep you need.

False: Sleep experts say that most adults need between 7 1/2 and 9 hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health, and safety. Sleep patterns change as people age, but the amount of sleep they generally need doesn't necessarily change. Older people tend to get sleepy earlier in the evening than younger adults and may need slightly less sleep to perform optimally. Older people may wake more frequently throughout the night and may actually get less nighttime sleep, but their need for sleep is no less than that of younger adults.

Snoring is a common sleep problem and can be harmful.

True: Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that is associated with other medical problems such as heart 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, or their partners may hear gaps in their breathing.

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

False: Sleep experts say that most adults need between 7 1/2 and 9 hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health, and safety. 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.

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