Five Of The Top Myths About Sleep - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Five Of The Top Myths About Sleep

Posted: Updated:

YAHOO.COM - When running your own business starts to feel like more than a full-time job, one of the first things to take a hit is sleep. While sacrificing a good night's rest might seem to be par for the course for entrepreneurs, too little shuteye could soon hurt your business.

You may believe you can function on less sleep than you need, catch up on the weekends or compensate by drinking more coffee. If only it was so simple. Here are five common beliefs about sleep and why they aren't really so: Sleep is just a way to let your brain rest.

People often think the brain is resting when they sleep, but it is actually more active at night than during the day, says Jim Maas, author of Sleep for Success: Everything You Must Know About Sleep But Are Too Tired to Ask, (AuthorHouse, 2010) and CEO of Sleep for Success, a consulting business based in Fort Worth, Texas. During sleep, your cardiovascular system and brain are doing a lot of work when it comes to creativity, critical thinking and memory. For example, short-term memories get registered and stored in the brain during sleep. "There's a physical change in the brain that happens only as a product of adequate sleep," Maas says.

I can get used to sleeping less.

If you believe you can condition yourself to operate on less sleep, you're wrong. When you are chronically sleep deprived, your mental performance declines, says Phil Gehrman, assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Penn Sleep Center. "We lose the ability to accurately judge how impaired we are." A 2003 study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Medical School found that chronically reducing sleep time to six hours or less per night hurt cognitive performance as much as staying awake for as many as two nights straight. "You're going to lose the ability to focus; you have a greater likelihood of making mistakes; and you'll have greater risk taking behavior," says Michael Breus, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based sleep specialist and author of The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan (Rodale 2011).

I can catch up on the weekends. 

Recent studies show that if you don't get enough sleep during the workweek, sleeping in on the weekend won't easily make up for it. If you lost about two hours of sleep for five nights straight, Gehrman says, you would need to tack an extra 10 hours onto two full nights of sleep. And that's highly unlikely. Without that much extra sleep on the weekend, you will start the next week just as depleted as you were at the end of the previous week, he says. What's more, even if you did catch up on your sleep on the weekend, it won't undo the damage done in terms of lost productivity. 

Coffee is a substitute for lack of sleep.

There's no doubt that caffeine is a potent antidote for drowsiness. It inhibits adenosine, the chemical in the brain that makes us feel sleepy, but it can only go so far. Coffee might help you feel more awake, but your body doesn't get the same nourishment from caffeine that it gets from sleep. This means your thinking speed and ability to move through problems and situations will still be impaired, says Breus. "It keeps you awake and moving around, but it doesn't replace the need for sleep," he says. "Your body doesn't heal; your memory doesn't get better." What's more, besides making you jittery, excessive caffeine can also cause you to feel even sleepier than before when it starts to wear off, Gehrman says.

Sleeping longer will make me gain weight.

You might think being in bed for longer will make you less active and cause weight gain, but the opposite is true. A 2011 University of Chicago study found that lack of sleep affects metabolism and can lead to obesity. Ghrelin and leptin, the hormones in your brain that cause you to feel hungry, actually increase in your body with less sleep, Maas says. And when we are tired and sleep deprived, we tend to have cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods, Gehrman says.

I can catch up on the weekends. 

Recent studies show that if you don't get enough sleep during the workweek, sleeping in on the weekend won't easily make up for it. If you lost about two hours of sleep for five nights straight, Gehrman says, you would need to tack an extra 10 hours onto two full nights of sleep. And that's highly unlikely. Without that much extra sleep on the weekend, you will start the next week just as depleted as you were at the end of the previous week, he says. What's more, even if you did catch up on your sleep on the weekend, it won't undo the damage done in terms of lost productivity. 

Coffee is a substitute for lack of sleep.

There's no doubt that caffeine is a potent antidote for drowsiness. It inhibits adenosine, the chemical in the brain that makes us feel sleepy, but it can only go so far. Coffee might help you feel more awake, but your body doesn't get the same nourishment from caffeine that it gets from sleep. This means your thinking speed and ability to move through problems and situations will still be impaired, says Breus. "It keeps you awake and moving around, but it doesn't replace the need for sleep," he says. "Your body doesn't heal; your memory doesn't get better." What's more, besides making you jittery, excessive caffeine can also cause you to feel even sleepier than before when it starts to wear off, Gehrman says.

Sleeping longer will make me gain weight.

You might think being in bed for longer will make you less active and cause weight gain, but the opposite is true. A 2011 University of Chicago study found that lack of sleep affects metabolism and can lead to obesity. Ghrelin and leptin, the hormones in your brain that cause you to feel hungry, actually increase in your body with less sleep, Maas says. And when we are tired and sleep deprived, we tend to have cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods, Gehrman says.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 44 Riverside homes destroyed or damaged in storm

    44 Riverside homes destroyed or damaged in storm

    Thursday, July 24 2014 3:46 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:46:53 GMT
    RIVERSIDE, Wash. - Many families were still at the Red Cross Shelter set up at Riverside High School in Riverside this morning.An afternoon storm destroyed or damaged 44 of their homes and knocked down close to 100 trees in Riverside Village Mobile Home Park.Many residents said the storm looked like a tornado as it swept through their neighborhood.>>
    RIVERSIDE, Wash. - Many families were still at the Red Cross Shelter set up at Riverside High School in Riverside this morning.An afternoon storm destroyed or damaged 44 of their homes and knocked down close to 100 trees in Riverside Village Mobile Home Park.Many residents said the storm looked like a tornado as it swept through their neighborhood.>>
  • Carlton Complex Fire now 52% contained

    Carlton Complex Fire now 52% contained

    Thursday, July 24 2014 3:45 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:45:02 GMT
    UPDATE: Officials say the massive wildfire that has destroyed about 150 homes in north-central Washington is now more than half contained.The rain and hail that fell on Wednesday, wasn't enough to extinguish the nearly 400-square-mile Carlton Complex of fires, but it gave crews a chance to dig lines along the south and east parts. The fire is 52% contained.>>
    UPDATE: Officials say the massive wildfire that has destroyed about 150 homes in north-central Washington is now more than half contained.The rain and hail that fell on Wednesday, wasn't enough to extinguish the nearly 400-square-mile Carlton Complex of fires, but it gave crews a chance to dig lines along the south and east parts. The fire is 52% contained.
    >>
  • Person injured by falling tree branches outside Spokane courthouse

    Person injured by falling tree branches outside Spokane courthouse

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 9:35 PM EDT2014-07-24 01:35:37 GMT
    One person was injured when strong winds caused tree branches to fall to the ground outside the Spokane County Courthouse in Wednesday afternoon.Fire crews and police officers told KHQ the person who was hit by the branches was quickly taken to the hospital.>>
    One person was injured when strong winds caused tree branches to fall to the ground outside the Spokane County Courthouse in Wednesday afternoon.Fire crews and police officers told KHQ the person who was hit by the branches was quickly taken to the hospital.>>
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Battle rages in Gaza City

    Battle rages in Gaza City

    Sunday, July 20 2014 2:12 PM EDT2014-07-20 18:12:41 GMT
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - It's the deadliest day yet of Israel's 3-day-old ground offensive in Gaza. Palestinian health officials say at least 65 people were killed as Israeli troops backed by tanks and warplanes battled Hamas militants in a crowded neighborhood of Gaza City.Thousands have fled the city and dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed. Palestinian health officials put the number of displaced at 35,000.>>
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - It's the deadliest day yet of Israel's 3-day-old ground offensive in Gaza. Palestinian health officials say at least 65 people were killed as Israeli troops backed by tanks and warplanes battled Hamas militants in a crowded neighborhood of Gaza City.Thousands have fled the city and dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed. Palestinian health officials put the number of displaced at 35,000.>>
  • Feds: Man said he'd blow up London-to-LA plane

    Feds: Man said he'd blow up London-to-LA plane

    Thursday, July 17 2014 12:52 AM EDT2014-07-17 04:52:07 GMT
    LOS ANGELES (AP) - A federal criminal complaint says a passenger on a flight this week from London to Los Angeles threatened to kill flight attendants and blow up the plane.The FBI says 20-year-old Kevin Lee Mosele of Kihei, Hawaii, was charged Tuesday with interfering with a flight crew. He could get 20 years in federal prison if convicted.>>
    LOS ANGELES (AP) - A federal criminal complaint says a passenger on a flight this week from London to Los Angeles threatened to kill flight attendants and blow up the plane.The FBI says 20-year-old Kevin Lee Mosele of Kihei, Hawaii, was charged Tuesday with interfering with a flight crew. He could get 20 years in federal prison if convicted.>>
  • Las Vegas doctor will help girl attacked by pit bull

    Las Vegas doctor will help girl attacked by pit bull

    Monday, June 23 2014 8:58 PM EDT2014-06-24 00:58:54 GMT
    JACKSON, Miss. - A Las Vegas doctor deeply touched by the story of the little girl who was asked to leave KFC because of the scars on her face, has decided to pay it forward. Victoria Wilcher was the victim of a pit bull attack that left her with multiple scars all over her face and only one eye.>>
    JACKSON, Miss. - A Las Vegas doctor deeply touched by the story of the little girl who was asked to leave KFC because of the scars on her face, has decided to pay it forward. Victoria Wilcher was the victim of a pit bull attack that left her with multiple scars all over her face and only one eye.>>