Debunking Common Sleep Myths

Sleep is a naturally occurring state of the body and mind, which is characterized by reduced muscle activity and inhibited sensory activity.

Everyone sleeps and to understand how important it is here are some common myths debunked by Dr Ravi Aysola – a Professor of Clinical Sleep Medicine at UCLA.


Insomnia Is All In Your Head:

It’s a Myth. Insomnia is when people are facing difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up before they intend to. Sleep Disorders and mood disorders are Interconnected, difficulty in coping with our feelings and emotions can lead to sleep disorders and vice versa. If we’re not sleeping well, we might have a tough time regulating our emotions.

Trouble falling asleep shows signs of stress and anxiety and also that we are having trouble shutting off our brain, and Difficulty with staying asleep can be caused by movements during sleep and breathing problems during sleep. Hence, waking up frequently at night and being unable to sleep even after changing the environment and improving sleep hygiene and habit is a sign of a sleeping disorder and should be followed by getting medical help.

Our Limbs Are Paralyzed During REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep:

It’s TRUE! REM sleep is about 20% of the total time we sleep. It’s a unique neurological and physiologic state. Our eyes move rapidly during this time while the rest of our body’s muscles are almost in a paralyzed state except for our breathing and eye muscles. It’s the time we tend to Dream, during Rem sleep our brain is especially very active. There’s a circuitry within the brain that inhibits our skeletal muscles, this is so we don’t act out what we’re dreaming about and end up hurting ourselves.

We Only Sleep with Our Eyes Shut:

It’s a Myth. Humans do experience regional sleep, this may be when our eyes are open but because parts of our brain are not fully awake, it may not register what’s happening around us especially the time when we are sleep deprived. Microsleep is when we sleep for a very brief period while the brain is not fully aware of it. It can also happen due to eye problems or medical issues which affect the eye.


Snoring Is Harmless:

It’s a Myth. Our muscles relax when we sleep including the muscles that are situated on the back of the throat. Depending on the shape and size of the tissue that is in the back of the throat ie. The Tongue, The Uvula and The Tonsils also the size of The Jaw, the sleeping positions and the medication that we take these factors could interact and result in some people partially or completely collapse the airway during sleep. Partial collapse and vibration of the tissue causes the snoring sound. If snoring is interfering with our breathing and causes the oxygen level to drop it leads to Sleep Apnea which is a repetitive collapse of the airway disrupting sleep and a drop in oxygen level. If not treated on time it can cause insomnia, waking up tired and Daytime sleepiness. Over a long time, it can cause other more serious issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes and mood disorders.

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