The Family Sleep Institute Reveals Five Myths About Sleep

It should come as no surprise to learn that sleep is essential to living a healthy and balanced life. That's just one reason spas today offer numerous treatments that encourage sleep and even offer classes on the topic as well as individual and group sessions with sleep therapists. However, there are still some misconceptions out there on the subject of sleep. Fortunately, the folks at the Family Sleep Institute have released the five things you probably don't know about sleep—but should.

1. Falling asleep before your head hits the pillow is a sign of healthy, normal sleep.

This isn't necessarily true, as it normally takes 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep. It's more likely a sign of sleep deprivation, a sign your body needs mores sleep.

2. Sleeping like a log and never moving or waking even once during the night is a good thing.

Apparently, waking one to three times a night is normal. A night of healthy sleep generally includes four to five sleep cycles, between which most people either waken completely or come close to waking. Wakng in the night is only considered a problem when you have trouble getting back to sleep again.

3. Sleeping in and taking long naps on the weekends is a healthy way to make up for sleep lost during the week.

While you may make up for some of the sleep you've lost, it's not the same as getting adequate sleep on a regular basis. Sleeping for extended lengths of time can disturb your circadian rhythms, making it more difficult in the long-run to maintain a regular schedule.

4. Sleep aids you get at the drugstore are safe and effective.

Most over-the-counter sleep aids contain an antihistamine, which can knock you out. However, it's not the same as normal sleep. Although it may be better than nothing on occasion, regular use can prevent you from getting the restorative sleep you really need. They may also have other side effects, and taking them regularly can be habit forming.

5. You can get by fine on six hours of sleep.

The typical human body needs between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Genetic research shows that only 3 percent of people can truly thrive on only six hours of sleep or less.