Sleep is a funny thing. It takes up about a third of your life, yet most people don’t give a second thought to their sleep habits.
But good health requires a three-pronged approach of diet, exercise and restful sleep, and all three are equally important; you can undo the benefits of eating right and exercising regularly by neglecting your sleep cycles.
First of all, forget everything you ever heard about sleep. There are more wive’s tales and myths about sleep than there are hard facts.
You need your eight straight
Who’s idea was that? Obviously, some guy who had no kids or smart phone. There’s nothing magical about the number eight, and we all have different inner clocks and lifestyles. You’ll know you’re lacking sleep when you can barely keep your eyes open in the afternoon.
More is better
It’s not, at least not when it comes to sleep. Studies have shown that people who sleep more than eight hours a night died younger than those who slept between six and eight hours. If that’s not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is. Scientists have yet to determine if oversleeping leads to poor health, or poor health leads to oversleeping, but there is definitely a connection.
Some people can get by on 4 or 5 hours a night
This is definitely a myth, because scientists have determined that the ill effects of too little sleep are exactly the same as those of oversleeping: impaired judgment, poor performance, and the inability to pay attention. Drowsy driving is now considered just as dangerous as drunk driving.
Another wake-up call for us is a study by Harvard University nurses which found that women who slept an average of five hours a night or less packed on an extra two pounds a year, compared to normal sleepers.
You can make up for lost sleep later
No, you can’t! Your Circadian clock is not like a Savings and Loan. Once you fall behind in your sleep, it gets increasingly difficult to get refreshing sleep. You cannot make up for it on the weekend. The next time you hear someone say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” tell them it may be sooner than they think.
Tylenol PM can’t do any harm
Wrong again. Over-the-counter (OTC) sleep medications like Tylenol PM and Simply Sleep are just as habit-forming as prescription drugs. What’s worse, the active ingredients in these OTC knock-out pills are actually antihistamines which make you drowsy as a side effect. These drugs are no better than prescription sleep medications.
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