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The Truth About Sleep - Fact or Fiction?

By Stephen R. Farris

Have you ever wondered about how much sleep you really need, or whether or not a dream was real? Should you wake up a sleepwalker or not? These are all questions and thoughts we might have during some point in our life. 

But what is truth, and what is fiction or myth? Some of the answers we may already know, but left to the old wives tales that are still around and the theories remain for generations yet to come to ponder on.

The mystery of sleep may never be fully answered, but thanks to modern science there are more answers to questions than we've had previously. So let's take a look at something we spend nearly a third of our lives doing -- sleeping.

Does Our Brain Really Shut Down During Sleep?

Good question. How many times has someone told you that you needed to get some sleep to ease your mind and shut down your thinking (brain)? Probably several times. However, our brains don't automatically shut down while we are sleeping. Instead, our brains go through several cycles: three cycles of non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and one cycle of REM. This process may occur several times during sleep. If your brain actually shut down, how else would you be able to sense the smell of smoke if your house was on fire? 

If You Remember Your Dreams It Shows You've Rested Well

The old myth of remembering your dreams after a restful night's sleep isn't all built up to what actually happens. Sure, you might remember bits and pieces of a dream after a good night's sleep, but more than likely by the time you wake up you've totally forgotten what it was about. Most of the time you remember a dream when you awake coming out of REM sleep. But for the most part, we tend to forget them, which is probably best after watching that scary movie late at night.

Night of the Sleepwalkers

Sounds like a title for a movie, but in reality, you won't make a sleepwalker have a heart attack and die if you try to wake them. At worst, they might be a little scared or confused. Some sleepwalkers are active during their "journey," so it's best to proceed with caution -- for your safety and theirs -- if you try to wake them. According to the United Kingdom's Health Service website, they suggest the best thing is to make sure they're safe, ease them back awake once they've gone back to sleep, and let them return to slumber so they won't have another episode.

And remember, if you have questions about sleep, or lack of, talk to your local chiropractor to hear tips and suggestions they can provide to help you.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Rockville, Md.

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