False myths about sleep
The dream is one of the most important activities for the human being, despite the popular bad tongues that try that we have a mistaken idea of its transcendence. Rest is vital so that we can properly develop our physical and psychological functions.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem entirely intelligent that we spend a third of our lives sleeping, but the truth is that without that minimal amount, we literally couldn’t live.
In fact, the University of Chicago once conducted a study on the effects of not sleeping in mammals, specifically on the total sleep deprivation in 10 rats. The results were devastating, as all subjects died or were sacrificed for approaching an imminent death between 11 and 32 days that the experiment lasted. For obvious reasons, this same experiment with humans has not been done.
However, other less aggressive studies have shown that we could not live without sleep for more than about 11 or 15 days. From the third day without sleep, humans began to suffer hallucinations and small episodes of temporary madness. If sleep problems become chronic, we would be 40% more likely to suffer from a psychiatric illness with adequate and regular rest.
Experts recommend between seven and nine hours of sleep a day, but this is a goal that very few people can achieve. The different factors involved, such as the time zone and our hectic pace of life, are leaving an important mark on our health.
Popular culture has been responsible for misinterpreting the characteristics of sleep and its benefits. In this way, we have internalized behaviors and habits that are not favourable for our rest. Below are some commonly believed false myths about sleep.
This idea is deeply rooted, but it has no scientific basis. It is true that when we have ingested alcohol we experience drowsiness, however, once we have reconciled sleep, its quality worsens. The depth and the restorative effect of normal rest are altered because the drink reduces the REM phase. In this period there is a total muscular relaxation and the dreams are presented, indispensable to reorganize our brain.
Alcohol also increases the likelihood that we will snore and therefore suffer apnea. These are some of the findings of a study by Christian Nicholas and his colleagues at the University of Melbourne, Australia, published in the magazine Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
If we drink without abusing, it is advisable to take the last drink between an hour and a half and two hours before going to bed, so that the concentration of alcohol in the blood is scarce and we can fall into Morfeo’s arms.
With sleep we lose our self-consciousness, but that does not mean that the brain remains inactive. In fact, it is working on fundamental tasks to provide us with our well-being. For example, while we rest, the knowledge we have acquired while we are consciously is transferred. That is why it is said that the most appropriate thing to do before taking an exam, in addition to studying, is to sleep the right number of hours.
However, this does not mean that the mind can assimilate new knowledge while sleeping, for example an English lesson played while you’re sleeping. This myth was popularized in 1942 as a result of the experiments of psychologist Lawrence Leshan to check if it was possible to eradicate the habit of biting the nails of a group of students. He divided the children into two separate rooms. The first group was given a phonograph at night that repeated the phrase "My fingernails taste bad". The second group slept without this device. Lists of words were reproduced, but none were able to remember even one when he awoke. This is because when we sleep the brain is already busy processing what we have learned during the day to add new information.
Taking time to rest is the best way to be productive. Failure to do so negatively affects the way you reason and feel, and also increases the likelihood of metabolic and endocrine problems. Rachael Taylor, a researcher at the University of Otago, in New Zealand, found that children between the ages of three and five who sleep less than eleven hours a night are more likely to be overweight or obese when they turn seven.
Sleep deprivation also increases the chance of dementia, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease. Above all, the immune system may be affected, as noted in a study by scientists from Yale University, in the United States, in the magazine Immunity. According to this research, in the early hours of the day we are more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria, as if our defenses were breaking up: they depend on the biological clock and the cycles of light and darkness of the Earth, and when dawn comes, they’re still asleep. Likewise, those who sleep less than six hours a day are 12% more likely to die of premature death than those who do six to eight hours, according to a study by the University of Warwick, in the United Kingdom, in collaboration with the University of Naples Federico II, in Italy.
Laying between your sheets on Saturday and Sunday to compensate for the dynamics of late nights and early mornings can have its advantages, such as reducing the risk of diabetes, as suggested by research at the University of Chicago. However, it is not a good way to balance all the sleep we have lost, which can lead to numerous health problems.
Partaking in mattress marathons on weekends is also not suitable for the brain, according to Josna Adusumilli, from Harvard University. This researcher also maintains that sleeping six hours a day for 12 consecutive days produces similar physical and psychological effects to staying awake for an entire night. Among other things, motor accuracy decreases by 10%.
Snoring can become a nightmare. When repeated they represent a reliable indicator of the ailments that await us in our later lives. Therefore, they should be evaluated by a doctor. Snoring is a sign, for example, of sleep apnea - pauses in breathing that some people suffer whilst they sleep. Sometimes, people who suffer from snoring wake up with a sense of drowning, but the most important thing from a medical point of view is that these interruptions reduce the oxygen levels in the blood , the heart rhythm is altered which causes the oxygen to have more difficulty in reaching the body tissue which in turn has long-term cardiovascular effects. It also increases the likelihood of road accidents, as sleep is not restorative and the person wakes up tired.
There is no magic solution to stop snoring, but there is one factor that seems to be determining: obesity, since the accumulation of fat in the neck area and the laxity of the muscles of the abdomen cause breathing.
The word lunatic comes from the common belief that when we sleep under the moonlight we behave in an eccentric and unpredictable manner. The inﬂuencia of the stars is also the engine of astrology and other divinatory pseudosciences. Is there any scientific basis for the belief that the Earth’s satellite changes our behaviour or rest? A study in the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics sheds light on the subject. Scientist Jean-Philippe Chaput of the Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Canada studied the correlation between lunar phases and sleep. To this end, ab analysis regarding the economic and socio-cultural levels of 5,812 children from the five continents, as well as a handful of factors such as age, sex, parents' education, body mass index, what time they slept at night, the day the measurement was made, the degree of physical activity and also the degree of sedentary lifestyle.
After analyzing the data produced during the three phases that were analyzed, the full moon, the half moon and the crescent, Chaput concluded that, in general, the satellite was not present in any of the variables that had been studied. The only correlation it found was that the duration of sleep was reduced by an average of five minutes during the new moon period, which is an alteration of only 1 % of the night’s rest. According to the researcher, this minimal variation falls within the statistical margin of error.
The circadian cycle is the name of the internal biological clock that controls our sleep and waking rhythms, and it is synchronized with the light and dark phases of the Earth. Except for work, most people work with this cycle: they work during the day and sleep at night. That does not mean that the biological rhythm of all people is the same: there are those that work better in the morning and others that work better at night. Depending on this characteristic, the individuals are divided into night owls, which sleep late and wake up late; and morning birds, which go to bed early and rise early. Note: there are also people who are neutral. Moreover, this classification changes a lot with age. Thus, the elderly tend to be morning birds, and the teenagers, night owls.
Although it is alright to sleep with the television on, it is best to sleep in the dark. If we do not observe this basic measure of sleep hygiene, our rest will not be as deep as the body requires. The biological clock is synchronized with the cycles of light and darkness, and the artistic lighting breaks that rhythm, which in the long run causes numerous disorders, some serious. For example, it can affect your mood and is responsible for some cases of depression.
According to a study by the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, even a light source as insignificant as the TV stand by can disturb sleep. Research author Cathy Wyse argues that night light, common in large cities, could be key to the growing obesity epidemic. The reason is that the alteration it produces in the biological clock affects the areas of the brain that regulate metabolism. To get a good night’s sleep it is necessary to leave the bedroom in the dark, and avoid the use of computers, mobiles and electronic books with backlight a few hours before we get into bed.
Taking a nap after eating is often linked to being a bum. However, it helps us to be more alert at work. That’s why companies like Google already have spaces where their employees can take naps in the middle of the day. Depending on how long the nap lasts you gain some benefits. A nap of less than five minutes will help us to beat sleepiness, but if we choose to rest ten or twenty minutes it will significantly improve concentration and blood pressure.
The best time to nap it is between two and three in the afternoon, the time of the day when we usually suffer a drop in productivity. Your health will notice. Harvard University researcher Dimitrios Trichopoulos, studied for six years the lives of 20,000 people between the ages of 20 and 80 to conclude that those who slept 30 minutes after meals at least three times a week were at a 37% lower risk of death from heart disease.
From the age of 12, it becomes increasingly more difficult to get a child out of bed. That does not mean that they are lazy or that they have a dissolute life. They tend to stay up late and prolong sleep because they suffer a delay of about three hours in their circadian rhythms. Moreover, they should not be reproached: according to the doctors, up to the age of twenty you need to sleep on average between nine and 10 hours because the brain, in full development, needs a lot of rest time.
Colleges and universities that have delayed the start of classes to fit the biological clock of teens, such as a Minnesota center and a Kentucky center, have significantly improved grades in various subjects. Sleeping well is so fundamental for a student that, according to psychologist Amy Wolfson, those who obtain a remarkable or outstanding caliﬁcation go to bed about forty minutes earlier and sleep about twenty-five minutes more than those who obtain a lower performance.
From time immemorial, counting sheep has been the advice given to us ever since we were children whenever our dream was thwarted. But the truth is that the myth of counting animals to encourage our desire to sleep is not as effective as our ancestors would have us believe. By following this advice, all we can do is encourage the cognitive activation of our brain. What is recommended in these cases, according to different scientific publications, is that after approximately 15 - 20 minutes without falling asleep, we get up and do some activity to get tired and again feel like resting.
The great truth is that our brain never stops working. In fact, in addition to coordinating the functionality of different organs, our neurons are activated within seconds to process the information that has been collected throughout the day. Other functions of the brain during the night are the care and repair of the brain (from the production of myelin), the detoxification of different substances and the assimilation of different data.
Well it is true that preparing a margin of eight hours of rest or more is a good way to bet on a restful sleep. However, it doesn’t always have to be effective and pleasurable, because there are many factors that can intervene in whether we spend a good night or not. It is known that the first hours of sleep are the most restorative, but to go to bed early, It doesn’t mean that we’re going to sleep sooner or rest better. In fact, forcing the body to sleep is also not recommended.
Another of the popular myths is that there are nights that we dream and others that we don’t. Some of the latest research from the University of California (UCLA) states that when we are sleeping, activates the same regions of the brain that are activated when remembering things. It has been shown that we always dream, but what happens is that we cannot always remember it, because memory does not file’, so to speak. In fact, we only remember small fragments of those stories that have accompanied us through the night.
It is true that human beings, as they get older, sleep less. However, it is not because our body does not need so many hours of sleep, but what is being lost is the ability to generate a deep and restful sleep. In fact, this lost rest continues to be costly for the physical and mental health of the person. As the brain ages, neurons and circuits in the areas that regulate sleep slowly degrade, resulting in less slow or no REM sleep. According to researchers at the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley, United States, this change may begin to explain the aging itself.
That’s right. More than one in four adults (28%) has suffered insomnia as a result of the use of mobile phones in bed, according to a new research by the smartphone manufacturer Oneplus in Europe. 97% of millennials say they have suffered insomnia because they stayed up very late checking their phones: they are the most affected age group. Amongst the other findings of the study, it is noteworthy that one out of six people (13%) between the ages of 18 and 34 uses mobile phones between 11 in the evening and three in the morning. Mind you, older people are less likely to partake in this behavior. Be that as it may, the bedroom is the place in the house where the smartphone is most used.