Sleeping Myths: Over and Undersleeping
February 17, 2011
We spend about one-third of our day sleeping, so you can just imagine the number of hours we spend curled up on our comfy beds. While we may think that our body doesn’t do anything during sleep, our internal organs are certainly busy preparing for the activities that we’ll be doing the following day. Like the night before a child’s birthday party, the parents are busy preparing the food, gifts, and decor for the next day.
And yet while our body is busy recovering and preparing, we rob it every once in a while by limiting our sleeping hours. What’s more, we tend to hold on to certain beliefs about sleeping — whether these beliefs are influenced by pop culture, mass media, or just general knowledge. But truth be told, many of these beliefs are in fact, myths. Indeed, continuing to believe – and live by – these myths may have dangerous implications on our health.
Myth #1 — It’s okay to sleep less during weekdays and just sleep more during weekends
There are times when work or exams require you to sleep less during weekdays. In these cases, we have no choice but to sacrifice sleep temporarily and then just hope to make up for it over the weekend. This is fine as long as you take note of the keyword “temporary”. Because although having that extra weekend sleep can help you recover the sleep you lost during the week, it’s not healthy to do this on a permanent basis. It messes up your body clock and you’ll also have problems transitioning from your Sunday to Monday sleep.
Myth #2 — Oversleeping is okay
While oversleeping may sometimes be better than under-sleeping, it’s also not healthy to oversleep. I once had the experience of staying awake for almost three and a half days straight and then slept for over 24 hours after. It was a completely terrible experience. I had an intensely painful headache when I woke up, I didn’t know what meal I should eat, and my body felt like it went through a boxing match. Oversleeping also has a tendency to make you lethargic, and not to mention unproductive. People should pursue a sleeping time of 8 hours with a range of plus-minus 1 hour, no matter how tempting it is to stay in your plush mattress the whole day. Of course, this depends on your age bracket and health status, but 8 is still the ideal number of sleeping hours for most people.
Two more sleep myth-busters on the next blog post. Stay tuned!