News & Events


5 popular beliefs about sleep

"A night of early sleep counts as two", "insomnia is a sign of anxiety", "The night is for sleep"... We've lost count of the things that are said about sleeping, but are they all fables? Professor Michel Billard, a specialist in sleep and sleep disorders, helps us tell apart fact and fiction.

A night of early sleep counts as two.

Michel Billard: “That one’s true! The depth or the intensity of sleep is at its peak at the beginning of the night. This is the reason why the first three to four hours of sleep are the most significant.

This does not mean that we must not sleep 7 to 8 hours a day. Studies have concluded that our sleep during the second part of the night is far from being useless, even if it is lighter.


Insomnia is a sign of anxiety

M.B: “Not necessarily! There are infinite varieties of insomnia and people sleep very little or not at all as a result of extremely variable factors. Anxiety is indeed a common trait of insomniacs, but that does mean that we one is strictly anxious when they cannot sleep.

For instance, 10% of insomniacs suffer from respiratory disturbances, without exiting any sign of anxiety. So, yes: anxiety is an important factor in insomnia but it is not the sole reason behind it.”


Counting sheep helps fall asleep

M.B: Of course, I mention this belief because it is funny, and also because it draws the attention towards the treatments for insomnia.

The most popular treatment is referral to prescription drugs: 95% of the people who suffer from insomnia take sleeping pills because France, just like many other countries in the West, a great importance is given to prescription drugs.

Only 5% undergo a non-medicinal treatment. How does that go you ask? By abiding by the rules of sleep hygiene. This consists of giving the patient a set of very simple rules, the first of which is: no coffee at night! The same goes for alcohol because while we fall asleep much faster when we drink it, we wake up just as easily, unfortunately and end up in a very bad shape. The third tip is: don’t watch football at midnight, otherwise you’ll find yourself still awake at 4 AM, after a wave of excitement.

Other treatments involve cognitive behavioral therapy which allows the person who suffers from insomnia to gather behavior and ideas which would help him find a way to sleep.


Those who snore are the deepest sleepers.

Quite the contrary! Certain people who snore suffer from sleep apnea, which means that they snore and also stop breathing periodically, sometime reaching 400 times a night! Every time this occurs, the person is strangled and wakes up, up to 400 times a night! They may not be conscious of this, every time, but their sleep will be segmented.


The night is made for sleep

That’s correct, we are born to be awake during the day and sleep during the night, but modern life requires that certain people stay awake to run jobs. This applies to doctors, police officers, fire fighters, etc… It isn’t natural for the human body to be working at 3 AM! A few people manage it well, others face difficulties that hinder their being able to sleep normally.

The reason for that is that their sleep is not as organized as it ought to be. This is either because it’s hard for them to fall asleep or because they wake up too early.