Fact vs Myth: Sleep

1. Lack of sleep can affect your weight

Fact! Sleep appears to affect a number of factors that can have an impact on your weight. Recent studies have found that people who were sleep deprived – usually sleeping less than seven hours each night – had an increase of appetite and gained weight.2,3 Also, sleeping less provides more opportunity to eat, and insufficient sleep has been shown to impair the body's use of insulin, which can lead to the onset of diabetes.


2. The older you get the less sleep you need

Myth! Although sleep patterns change as we age, the need for sleep generally does not. Older people may wake more often during the night, and may sleep less at night-time, but they still need as much sleep as younger adults. This may mean that older adults sleep more during the day: planned naps can be a good strategy for ensuring enough sleep.


3. Insomnia can be a symptom of depression

Fact! Not being able to sleep, or waking up very early in the morning can be a symptom of depression.6 If you have had difficulty sleeping for a number of weeks, it may be worth talking to your doctor about possible causes and treatment options available to you.


4. You don't dream every night

Myth! Although you may not always remember your dreams, it is widely accepted that you dream every night. Most dreaming occurs during REM - rapid eye movement - sleep, but it is thought that some dreaming occurs during other parts of the night.


5. Your brain is inactive during sleep.

Myth! During sleep your brain is very active controlling body functions such as breathing, your heart rate, and hormone production. Not to mention consolidating memories and skills you have acquired during the day.


6. An hour before midnight is worth two after

Myth! There doesn't appear to be any truth to this old proverb. It is essential to get enough sleep and for most people this is around seven to eight hours sleep a night.6 If you have to get up early in the morning this will involve going to bed before midnight and may be where this myth originates. However, some people's body clocks are 'programmed' to sleep at certain times and if this is altered by even just an hour - it can affect the way they feel.