ABC Medical Center > Digital magazine > Sleep myths and realities

Sleep myths and realities

2 June 2022

Key points:

  • Lost sleep time will affect our emotional behavior.
  • Poor sleep can affect your emotional and physical health.
  • In Mexico, adolescents suffer between 1.5 and 2 hours of sleep restriction per night.

It is normal to hear varied information about sleep, from, how many hours should we sleep? to, why are we sleepy during the day despite having slept enough? among others.

Dr. Yoaly Arana Lechuga, a psychologist specializing in sleep disorders at the ABC Medical Center, answers these and other questions regarding the subject.

One of the main myths about sleep is the number of hours we should sleep, it is normal to hear that there are 8 mandatory hours of sleep, but the reality is that there are people who can sleep 6 or 7 hours and can feel perfectly, while there are also people who must sleep between 8 or 9 hours to achieve this effect.

The important thing, in this case, is to understand that the number of hours of sleep needed is individual and will depend on the time you require for your recovery.

However, this scenario is different in children and adolescents, because they require a greater number of hours of sleep, but unfortunately, there is a great restriction worldwide by not giving it the importance it has. Within an investigation published by the ABC Medical Center’s Sleep Disorders Clinic, it was detected that Mexican adolescents are restricted from sleeping between 1.5 and 2 hours per night, says Dr. Arana.

A situation that will affect many health aspects including being overweight, their cognitive and social functions, alertness, focus, and other general aspects.

For Dr. Arana, another popular belief that must be disproved is that snoring is equivalent to sleeping soundly. Snoring means that there may be partial obstruction of the upper airway, resulting in the air not entering naturally and it can be associated with two respiratory events:

  • Sleep apnea. The patient stops breathing completely for at least 10 seconds.
  • Sleep hypopnea. The patient breathes 20% less than usual.

When this happens, the air that enters the body is insufficient, which will cause the oxygen levels in the blood to begin to drop, once the oxygenation is greatly decreased, the brain will activate, and it will enter a very superficial sleep in which there will be no rest, and it will try to compensate for the lack of oxygen, so it will make an exaggerated effort to breathe, breaking the respiratory pause and causing snoring, which will create a vibration in the tissues of the obstructed airway.

Beyond the decrease in rest, sleep apnea represents a risk for the heart, making us vulnerable to the development of some heart diseases, such as systemic arterial hypertension.

The reality, says Dr. Arana, it is that we never recover the sleep time lost. We will have very negative effects on our health when we sleep little, affecting our executive abilities, our attention, and memory, as well as the ability to solve problems; our mood will also be affected, being more irritable and intolerant and with low impulse control, even becoming a little more violent than when we have slept properly. Sleep restriction is also associated with increased mortality and morbidity in people.

Another consequence, as a result of lack of sleep, is gaining weight because there are two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, related to appetite and satiety. Recent studies have shown that when we sleep for a few hours, the hormone focused on appetite increases, while the hormone focused on satiety decreases, which will result in the need to eat for longer.

Concerning children, the magazine “Anales Médicos del ABC” showed a correlation between the hours of sleep of Mexican children and adolescents with their body mass index, concluding that those who slept less tend to be overweight and obese.

Dr. Arana indicates that, in general, when talking about having better health, we focus a lot on exercise or eating well, but sleeping is left aside, and there is a great gap regarding attributing the importance of sleep to our health.

At ABC Medical Center’s Neurology Center, we can provide you with specialized care. Contact us!


How can we help you?