Facts About Sleep You Definitely Want to Know

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1.  Body temperature is closely linked with the brain’s sleep-wake cycle.

Heat causes agitation; cold causes depression.  This basic principle explains why hot summer nights can result to a restless sleep, and cool winter evenings are more conducive for bedtime. 

2.  A number of snorers experience cessation of breathing during sleep.

This condition, known as sleep apnea, increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke.  The most common cause of obstruction and suffocation is the tongue.  Consequently, a side-lying position is recommended for obese people or for snorers, when dozing off.

3.  Sleep needs differ throughout the life span.

Small children and teenagers need an average of 10 hours of sleep. This is due to increased body metabolism and bone growth during these years.  For the average adult, roughly around 8 hours is favorable.

4.  Insomnia may occur anytime during sleep.

Contrary to common belief, insomnia does not only pertain to difficulty falling asleep.  It may include (1) difficulty of sleep onset, (2) waking up too early or in the middle of sleep, and not being able to doze back off, (3) frequently waking up and cutting off sleep in the middle of the night, and (4) waking up tired, or without feeling refreshed.

5.  To fight insomnia, engage in relaxing activity.

What most people do to combat difficulty sleeping is to remain in bed or toss and turn until they eventually fall asleep.  Contrary to this practice, medical experts suggest that if you do not fall back asleep within 20 minutes, it is best to get out of bed and engage in relaxing activities such as reading, imagery, or listening to light music. 

6.  The body – not the brain – rests during sleep.

Once asleep, your brain remains active to maintain normal body functions such as breathing, heartbeat, etc.  However, despite this active state, the mind is recharged during this time, which is also the reason why people feel more mentally alert after a good night’s sleep.

7.  Sleep deprivation genuinely causes a decrease in normal functioning.

Although some people cheat sleep in order to get more time for work and activity, this practice, when done for an extended period of time, generally yields the opposite effect.  Sleep deprivation can adversely affect how the brain and body function.  It may cause symptoms such as tiredness, lethargy, muscle pain, dizziness, and irritability, which altogether disrupt day-to-day activities and overall well-being.

8.  Exercise is the most effective method to promote sleep.

Exercise builds stress and tension in the muscles, which in turn, result in better sleep quality.  Consequently, lack of exercise produces opposite results.  This is the reason why people find it fairly easier to fall asleep when they are tired.  However, it is to be noted that exercise done two hours prior to bedtime may have opposite results, and cause difficulty falling asleep.

9.  “Violent sleepers” are at higher risk of organic brain disorder.

AOL Health reports that people who frequently move about during sleep, kicking and turning in bed, seem to be more susceptible to neurological disturbances. 

10.  Sleep medication must be taken with caution.

Sleeping pills are drugs, and so it is of utmost importance that you consult your physician before taking them.  Also they may cause physical and psychological dependence that disrupt your capacity to fall asleep naturally.

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The National Sleep Research Project

Cleveland Clinic, Myths and Facts About Sleep

The Week, 5 Startling New Facts About Sleep


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