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The truth about common sleep myths
last updated:
Mon, 5/16/2011 3:37 PM

Quality sleep is one of the most important--and often misunderstood--keys to a healthy lifestyle. Kristi Lester, Manager of the Methodist Healthcare Sleep Disorders Center, shares why some of the things you've heard about sleep may not be the real story.

Myth #1: When a person is snoring, they are getting really good, restful sleep.

Reality: Although snoring appears harmless and more humorous when Larry, Curly, and Moe are doing it, snoring is a sign that not enough air is going into a person's windpipe. Snoring or pauses in breathing often indicate a serious, life-threatening sleep disorder known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Myth #2: I can function just fine with 5 or 6 hours of sleep.

Reality: The vast majority of adults function best with 7.5 - 8.5 hours of sleep every night. Many individuals who get less than that amount struggle with memory, problem-solving, and emotional problems.

Myth #3: I never discuss my sleep problems or concerns about sleepiness with my primary care physician because it really isn't important to my health.

Reality: Sleep isn't just "a break" from our daily lives. It is an active state important for renewing our minds and bodies each day. We spend one-third of our lives sleeping. There are more than 80 sleep disorders that lead to a lowered quality of life and poor health. Many disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea are life-threatening, as they may lead to heart attacks, strokes, depression, and other debilitating diseases and conditions. Sleepiness is often a complication of untreated sleep disorders and endangers lives every day by contributing to traffic accidents. You should always discuss any concerns that you have regarding sleepiness or your sleep in general with your primary care physician.

Myth #4: People who are sleepy during the day are "lazy."

Reality: Excessive sleepiness often indicates that the person is not getting enough sleep or that he or she has a sleep disorder that requires treatment. People with daytime sleepiness often fall asleep at traffic lights and stop signs, while watching television, during meetings, or while sitting in front of a computer. This is not normal behavior and a person should talk with their primary care physician about these issues.

Please tune in to Comcast Cable Channel 18, WYPL's The Power of Sleep in May 2011 where Dr. Merrill Wise will discuss these and many more common myths about sleep and sleep disorders. The Power of Sleep airs every month on the following days and times:

Mondays - 3:00 a.m.; 9:00 p.m.
Tuesdays - 12:30 a.m.; 6:30 a.m.; 6:30 p.m.
Wednesdays - 4:30 a.m.; 11:00 p.m.
Thursdays - 12:30 p.m.
Fridays - 3:00 p.m.; 9:00 p.m.
Saturdays - 2:00 a.m.; 10:00 a.m.
Sundays - 6:00 p.m.

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Kristi Lester is the Manager of the Methodist Healthcare Sleep Disorders Center. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Please call the Sleep Disorders Center for more information at 901.683.0044.

Signs of a Sleep Disorder
last updated:
Wed, 4/28/2010 1:46 PM

We know that people have 3 basic needs to survive: water, food, and sleep. Sleep is an active state that renews our mental and physical health each day and, unfortunately, most of us fail to get quality sleep. Sleep disorders lead to a poor quality of life and reduced personal health.

Did you know that untreated sleep disorders can lead to high blood pressure, increased blood sugar levels, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and mood problems? It’s not just your health. Sleep disorders also endanger others by contributing to traffic and industrial accidents. Discussions have partly linked the Challenger disaster, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill to people suffering from a severe lack of sleep! 

Sleep disorders include problems falling asleep and/or staying asleep, interrupted sleep, and daytime sleepiness. Many times, we don’t discuss our sleeping problems with our physicians because of the short time spent with them and the need to discuss the current problem, such as a sinus infection, shortness of breath, symptoms of the flu, or other issues we are having. So, symptoms and signs that could be related to a sleep disorder may go unreported.

The most devastating sleep disorder that a person can have is the one that goes unreported, undiagnosed, and untreated, especially in a city where we have so many wonderful Sleep Disorders Centers and sleep medicine specialists. 

So, how do you know if you may have a sleep disorder? Well, some of the common signs and symptoms to talk with your doctor about are:

  • Snoring
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure and/or diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Legs jerking and/or kicking while you sleep
  • Changes in your mood such as being depressed; angry or irritated frequently
  • Bedwetting
  • Falling asleep at work; in a movie; at a stop sign or light; while talking to someone

Sometimes, you may not be aware of the things that you are doing in your sleep.  So, have a bed partner, parent, friend, family member, or child observe you and describe what you do in your sleep. 

On June 15th Dr. Robert Aguillard will present “When Snoring Becomes a Problem for You or a Family Member,” the second in a FREE series of sleep seminars sponsored by the Methodist Healthcare Sleep Disorders Center.

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Kristi Lester is the manager at the Methodist Healthcare Sleep Disorders Center. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Please call the Sleep Disorders Center for more information at 901.683.0044.

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Methodist Healthcare is an integrated health care delivery system, dedicated to the art of healing through our faith-based commitment to minister to the whole person. 1211 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104 • (901) 516-7000

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