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Common assumptions about sleep are wrong-- and unhealthy-- according to sleep experts

Posted at 2:30 PM, Apr 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-23 07:06:24-04

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — Forget what you thought you knew about sleep.

Some of the most common beliefs are nothing but myths, according to sleep experts.

Like trying to relax before sleeping, by watching TV or videos on your phone.

"Oh it's the worst thing you could do," said Dr. Marc Frost, the Medical Director at Dent Sleep Lab in Amherst. "The bright lights that are going to come out from the screens are going to drop your natural melatonin levels.

Another incorrect assumption is that you only need five hours of sleep.

"The amount of sleep that most people need is between seven to nine hours, depending on age and things like that."

And if you thought snoring is just something annoying that you, or someone you know does, it could actually be a sign of sleep apnea, a serious and dangerous sleep disorder.

We visited one of the test rooms at Dent Sleep Lab where sleep studies take place.

After determining what exactly is disrupting someone's sleep, a patient comes to spend a night or two, and get hooked up to many wires.

Technical Coordinator Doug Lukaszewski showed 7 Eywitness News reporter Ala Errebhi just a little bit of what's used to record brain activity, breathing, heart rate, oxygen levels sleep stages.

"We put belts, put leg leaves on you, EKG and the whole accouterments of EEG leads on your head," he said

Lukaszewski showed us sleep test results of someone suffering from sleep apnea. The patient had low oxygen levels, and stopped breathing several times throughout the night.

But having data like this helps doctors determine the best treatment for a patient.

"Unfortunately life is what life is sometimes," said Dr. Frost. "The most important thing is healthy habits."