Between work, family, exercise and down time, it should come as no surprise that most adults don’t get enough sleep. They go to bed late, wake up early and depend on caffeine for a morning or afternoon boost.
This schedule is far from ideal and unfortunately, it’s also quite common. A sick child, pressing work deadline, or even a second job, sometimes leaves people with no choice but to deprioritize their sleep. On top of that, when you do finally get into bed, the stress of juggling it all, makes it difficult to fall asleep. So, what are the implications of this lifestyle? Some people choose to justify their sleep habits by modeling them after the most successful people in the world such as Richard Branson, Barack Obama, Marissa Mayer and Elon Musk, knowing that they are getting less than the recommended 7-9 hours. That said, many successful people such as Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook and Bill Gates, do get the recommended amount of sleep and swear by it.
Here are five common misconceptions about sleep that will make you want to find more time for shut eye:
1. You need less sleep as you get older
How much sleep you need depends in part on your age. According to The Sleep Foundation, the amount of sleep you need decreases with age, from 14 to 17 hours a night for newborns to 9 to 11 hours for school-aged children. Young adults should get 7 to 9 hours, as should all other adults.
But your sleep needs are not just based on age and health. Genetics also comes in play as some circadian rhythms (the biological clock in humans that regulates the sleep/wake cycle) run a little over 24 hours while others run a little under 24 hours. This means some people need less sleep than others.
As people get older, the quality of their sleep often decreases. Infants spend the most time in deep sleep, also known as restorative sleep, while older people spend more time in light sleep or disrupted sleep.
2. Health problems are unrelated to sleep
People who lose sleep to fit in an early morning workout, or one late in the evening, may be shooting themselves in the foot if the exercise cuts into the advised 7 to 9 hours. Studies have connected less sleep with a variety of health conditions, including obesity and cardiovascular problems. Another study found that getting less sleep may make you more prone to getting Alzheimer’s in old age. Lack of enough sleep, or quality sleep, can also make you both more susceptible to illness and lengthen the time it takes to recover.
3. Insomnia means difficulty falling asleep
Most people link insomnia solely to difficulty falling asleep. But insomnia is a sleep disorder that includes trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. The majority of people naturally wake up once or twice during the night but can fall back to sleep easily. However, if you struggle with getting back to sleep and are often tired during the day as a result, you also have insomnia. Insomnia becomes more common as people age.
4. Snoring is the same as sleep apnea
Snoring may be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing stops and starts during sleep, but snoring does not necessarily mean you have sleep apnea. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include daytime drowsiness and overall fatigue. While more men are diagnosed with sleep apnea, women are also affected, particularly after the onset of menopause.
5. Try to stay in bed when you can’t get back to sleep
Many people were taught to stay in bed if you wake up in the middle of night. This is not advised. If you can’t fall back to sleep after about 15 minutes, it is better to get up and read or listen to quiet music until you feel sleepy again.
Knowing the facts will help you good night’s sleep, which is one of the most important things you can do for your body and your health.