In the world of adulting, having the ability to PTFO whenever, wherever is the ultimate humble brag. (Personally, I’d give a kidney to be able to nap on command.) But the sleep doctors have spoken, and they’ve declared that those with the superhuman ability to fall asleep under any circumstance aren’t necessarily at an advantage. In fact, it might be a sign of sleep deprivation.
In a hallmark study debunking 10 of the most commonly held sleep myths, researchers at NYU Langone Health found that people who possess the “ability” to fall asleep anywhere aren’t getting enough of it to begin with, reports CNN. “Falling asleep instantly, anywhere and anytime, is a sign that you are not getting enough sleep and you’re falling into ‘micro sleeps’ or mini-sleep episodes,” says Rebecca Robbins, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at NYU Langone. “It means your body is so exhausted that whenever it has a moment, it’s going to start to repay its sleep debt.”
“Falling asleep instantly, anywhere and anytime, is a sign that you are not getting enough sleep.”
From the moment you blink open your eyes, your brain begins to produce the sleep chemical adenosine. Spending time in bed diminishes levels of the yawn-inducing chemical. Unless—of course—you skimp on your prescribed amount of sleep. Then, your levels rise and rise until you’ve created a sleep load. The problem is, it’s not always easy to know if you’re suffering from sleep deprivation. Like stress, fatigue can sometimes hide in plain sight.
The Epworth Sleepiness Scale, a questionnaire designed to determine why you’re TATT (tired all the time), ranks the likelihood that certain activities (e.g., reading before bed or watching tv) will whisk you off to dreamland. It can help you to assess just how desperately your body needs to clean out its adenosine stores.
Once you’ve quizzed yourself, you can take appropriate actions to begin paying off your credit to Mr. Sandman.
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