Putting Common Sleep Myths to Bed

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Think you know everything there is to know about sleep?
Keep dreaming…
Sleep is like nutrition: We need it to be healthy and to function.
“Sleep is huge — it should be on our priority list and I don’t think that, sometimes, that’s where we put it,” says Nikki Mills, Director of Sleep Services at Sanford.
Nikki Mills has been in the sleep industry 17 years.
She’s seen it all and has heard it all.
“People say that alcohol helps them sleep better,” says Mills.
Science disagrees.
Mills says while a nightcap may calm you and speed the onset of sleep, it actually increases the number of times you awaken during the night. You’re not getting quality sleep with either alcohol or tobacco.
Another sleep myth: “I do best on five hours of sleep”
“They’ve done a lot of research on people who get less than six hours and even if they have no history of stroke or blood pressure, you start having more medical problems,” says Mills.
She says adults need seven to nine hours, always.  Anything less than that and you’re putting your health at risk.
So what about working the night shift?
“People who work the night shift, they get on average of three hours less sleep a night,” Mills notes.
Which leads to health problems in the long run.
Mills says your body can adjust to less sleep, but that’s not healthy.
“You can do things to keep your body awake like consuming caffeine, but that’s not healthy if you’re tired,” she says.
Another sleep myth is snoring.  The thinking is, while it may be annoying, it’s just harmless.
“That’s definitely false,” Mills states. “What snoring is, is the tissues are falling back so it’s obstructing your airway to some portion and you’ll hear people wake up from snoring a lot and that’s gonna make you tired. It’s something that someone should look into. It’s not normal to be snoring.”
There are hundreds of sleep myths that Mills would love to put to bed.  But, she says bottom line, don’t do electronics at night, don’t hit the snooze button in the morning, and what you do during the day, affects what happens at night.
Watch your stress levels, caffeine intake and make sure to exercise and drink lots of water.
Tummy sleeper — not healthy?
Mills says it doesn’t matter in what position you sleep — it’s all about the quality of sleep you get.
Back, side or tummy.
And, on a more positive note, Mills says you DO NOT swallow seven to eight spiders every year while you sleep. She says there is NO evidence whatsoever to support this theory. In fact, a sleeping person is more likely to scare off a nearby spider than ingest one.

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