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Sleep Myths & Facts

Debunking Sleep Myths: Do You Need Less Sleep As You Age?

You may be surprised by how many hours of shut-eye older adults should be getting. It’s a fact of life: The joys of grandchildren and retirement come with some less-welcome events. Along with changes to vision, hearing, and hairline, older adults may also notice a shift in sleeping patterns. Falling and staying asleep can be more difficult, and even people who once loved to spend mornings in bed may find that they wake up much earlier than they used to. Despite the shift in sleep schedules, however, people’s total sleep needs don’t change much as they get older. The recommended amount for those ages 65 and up is seven to eight hours a night while…

Can You Really Sleep With Your Eyes Open?

Sleeping with your eyes open sounds like something from a horror film, but it’s a real condition called nocturnal lagophthalmos. It occurs when the eyelids can’t close enough to cover the eye—either partially or fully. Surprisingly, the condition is quite common. As much as 20 percent of people experience it, and it even occurs in babies. It can be hereditary, so if you sleep with your eyes open, your infant might, too (but most children grow out of it). However, if you still experience nocturnal lagophthalmos as an adult, it’s important to check in with a doctor. First, sleeping with your eyes open robs your peepers of important moisture. When your eyes are closed…

Is Your Smartphone Ruining Your Sleep?

Smartphones make it easier than ever to be connected to the Internet at every waking moment. While that might make you feel like you’re always on top of things, that 24/7 connection to technology is actually unhealthy when you’re trying to fall asleep. The problem starts with the fact that 71 percent of people sleep either holding their smartphone, having it in bed with them, or having it on their nightstand. So many people use their smartphones as their alarm clocks, it makes sense that many would want their phones within an arm’s reach. But when your cell is that close to you, the temptation to check social media sites, work email, and/or the…

“Top Off” with Milk or Formula to Help Your Baby Sleep?

A MythBusters-style investigation into the idea that a large meal before bed helps baby sleep better. As every parent knows, waking at night to feed a baby—whether by breast or bottle—can be incredibly hard. High on the list of tricks to eek out more precious minutes of sleep is the advice to feed the baby extra milk, to “top off” or “fill the tank” before bed. A bigger meal, or even the addition of formula or rice cereal, will make her sleep longer. So the reasoning goes. This turns out to be a widespread myth. Newborn babies eat frequently and sleep in short stretches because their nervous and digestive…

Why Do We "Spring Forward" But "Fall Back" With Daylight Saving Time?

Myths, truths, and debates about switching the clocks The terms “spring forward” and “fall back” are used to describe a practice of changing standard time with the intention of  “saving” (as in, making better use of) natural light. During daylight savings time (DST), clocks are turned ahead one hour, so that the sun rises later in the morning and sets later in the evening. The change is reversed in autumn. Originally enacted in the United States as a wartime conservation effort, observance of DST became federal law in 1918. (To dispel a common myth: It was not enacted for farmers—in fact, most farmers fought for its repeal.) While it was quickly repealed after the war ended,…

Understanding Sleep Cycles: What Happens While You Sleep

Learn what is really going on in your body while you’re getting your zzz’s. Before the 1950’s, scientists used to believe that as people drifted off to sleep, their brains and bodies would go into “shutdown” mode, entering a passive state that allowed them to recover from the previous day. What researchers have since learned: Sleep is a whole lot more complicated, and it’s a much more active state than you might think. In fact, while you’re getting your zzz’s, your brain goes through various patterns of activity. It’s a predictable cycle that includes two distinct parts – NREM, or Non-REM sleep, plus a REM or “Rapid Eye Movement” cycle. Check out what happens in…