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The Truth Behind Common Sleep Myths

A recent article on discussed how sleep is usually the first thing to take a hit when we’re busy with work. The author, Jane Porter, debunked these five common sleep myths:

Sleep is just a way to let your brain rest - Contrary to popular belief, the human brain is most active at night, said Jim Maas (author of Sleep for Success: Everything You Must Know About Sleep But Are Too Tired to Ask). Short-term memories are actually registered and stored in the brain during sleep.

The body gets used to sleeping less - When a person becomes chronically sleep deprived, mental performance declines, said Phil Gehrman, assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and member of the Penn Sleep Center. A 2003 study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Medical School, found that reducing nightly sleep time to six hours or less per night hurts cognitive performance as much for staying awake two nights straight.

Catching up on sleep is possible on the weekend - Recent studies show that catching up on sleep on the weekends won’t easily make up for the large amount of sleep lost during the week. In order to feasibly catch up on two hours of sleep for five nights straight, you would need to add 10 extra hours of sleep onto two full nights of sleep, said Gehrman.

Coffee is a substitute for lack of sleep - Caffeine can temporarily help fight drowsiness, by inhibiting adenosine, the chemical in the brain that makes people feel sleepy. However, the body doesn’t get the same nourishment from caffeine that it gets from sleep. Besides making people jittery, excessive caffeine can also cause one to feel even more tired than before when it starts to wear off, Gehrman said.

Sleeping longer causes gain weight - Many think being in bed longer can cause weight gain from being less active, but the opposite of this idea is true. In 2011, a study from the University of Chicago found that lack of sleep affects metabolism that can lead to obesity. The hormones responsible for making one feel hungry increase in the body with less sleep, said Maas.

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