Sleep is the process by which our bodies and brains rejuvenate, rest, repair, and restore ourselves. It is also a time to focus on the things that matter most to us, such as our mental and emotional well-being.
Various ideas have emerged to explain the purpose of sleep, such as energy conservation theory, restoration theory and brain plasticity theory. While scientists do not fully understand the biology of sleep, they are certain that it is necessary to support healthy brain function and maintain physical health.
Myth 1: Sleep is a time when your body and brain shut down for rest and relaxation
Despite the popular belief that sleep is a period of inactivity, there is no evidence that the human brain shuts down during this time. Rather, the brain becomes more active in many ways during sleep, including increased secretion of hormones and neurotransmitters, and activity of pathways in the brain linked to learning and memory.
Myth 2: Getting just one hour less sleep than you need will not have any impact on your daytime functioning
A lack of sleep can disrupt your mood and affect how you react to the world around you, which in turn impacts your work, school performance and quality of life. In addition, people who are sleep-deprived are more likely to have trouble with attention and concentration, and are more prone to make mistakes in their daily lives.
Myth 3: During sleep, your immune system works harder to protect you from germs and disease.
The immune system works to fight off infection and toxins by producing proteins and cells that can detect and destroy any harmful organisms your body may encounter. In addition, during sleep, the immune system also remembers any illnesses and germs that have come into contact with your body in the past so that these can be fought off again should you contract another illness.
Myth 4: During sleep, your brain becomes more active and makes you feel better
While it is true that the human body and brain become more active during sleep, scientists still do not know exactly what happens in the brain during this time. Nevertheless, they believe that during sleep the brain performs several critical housekeeping tasks, such as organizing long-term memories, integrating new information, and repairing and renewing tissue and nerve cells.
Myth 5: During sleep, your brain is more active and makes you feel better
While there is a tendency for the brain to become more active during sleep, scientists believe that this happens in part because of the way we experience REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, when our brains are engaged with dreaming. In fact, research has shown that during REM sleep, our brains are much more active than they are during wakefulness.
Myth 6: During sleep, your brain is more focused and makes you feel better
While we do not know the exact role of sleep in our mental well-being, it is important to recognize that not getting enough sleep can negatively impact your quality of life. Not only does a lack of sleep increase your risk for heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure, but it can also lead to depression and other mental health conditions.