At UAMS, we've investigated the truth behind some common medical myths.
At UAMS, we've investigated the truth behind some common medical myths.

UAMS Mythbusters – Fact or Fiction??

Everyone has heard them before. It may have been your grandmother, an uncle or one of the kids on your block. They are medical myths, beliefs that for one reason or another have been trusted for years. Some are actually based on fact but most are simply misunderstood concepts about health and the body. Our UAMS mythbusters have investigated the truth behind some of the more popular myths. Here’s the real deal about these medical myths.

Can you make up for lost sleep?

We’ve all said it: “I’ll stay up late tonight and sleep late this weekend.” But can our bodies really catch up on sleep that we’ve lost? It seems logical to make up for lost Zs, but it doesn’t work exactly like this myth suggests.

We can make up for a portion of the hours we lost on the weekend but not all of it.

“Yes, people can make up for lost sleep on another day,” says Dr. Chuck Smith, one of our primary care physicians at UAMS. “The amount of sleep lost and recovered may not be the same, though. Most of the first few hours of sleep can be recovered, but if the amount of sleep lost is more than a few hours, not all of it will be recovered.”
Dr. Smith says that if you lose only five hours of sleep throughout the week, you can probably recover most of the five hours over the weekend. However, you may not recover all of the lost sleep if you lose over 20 hours.

Does drinking cold water burn more calories than warm water?

Our bodies can burn calories in several ways: basal metabolic rate (BMR), physical activity and digestion. Drinking cold water rather than warm is not one of them. Or least cold water does not burn enough calories to be worthy of mentioning.
“If your goal is weight loss and burning more calories, I wouldn’t spend time on the temperature of the water, but rather on reducing calories by snacking on fruits instead of cookies,” UAMS Outpatient Dietitian Andrea Tappe says.
Drinking a glass of ice water rather than a glass of water at room temperature only burns about eight calories. Your basal metabolic rate, which keeps your organs functioning, burns about 70% of your calories. Physical activity adds about 20% and digestion about 10%.
The idea that drinking cold water must burn more calories developed from the belief that our bodies expend energy to warm up. It is true that your body will work to raise its temperature to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but it will only expend about eight calories to do this. Eight calories is the equivalent of a small pickle.
How much water should we drink daily? Andrea says that men should take in about 15 cups and women should take in about 11 cups. “This may seem like a challenge, but remember it includes water from all beverages, even caffeinated.”                           

Is eating carrots good for your eyesight?

According to Dr. Joseph Chacko, director of neuro-ophthalmology at UAMS, your mom was right when she told you to eat carrots for your eyes. “I don’t think it is a myth,” he said. “Carrots and other colorful vegetables have lots of vitamin A which helps the retina to function. We want our patients to eat more vegetables in their diet.”
Vitamin A is an essential fat-soluble vitamin. It promotes eyesight and helps us see in the dark. If you do not get enough vitamin A, it can actually lead to night blindness. Vitamin A helps to form a purple pigment known as rhodopsin that is located in the light-sensitive area of the retina. The more vitamin A you intake, the more rhodopsin you produce.
Vitamin A is found naturally in many foods, including liver, carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, kale, spinach, pumpkin and leafy vegetables. 

Is it safe to sleep if you have a concussion?

It has long been thought that a person with a concussion should not sleep because they might slip into a coma or lose consciousness. Through research and the expertise of UAMS doctors such as Dr. Alice Alexander, one of the primary care doctors in our Internal Medicine Clinic, we now know that there is no need to make a patient with a concussion stay awake.
If the person who is injured is awake and holding a conversation, you can let him or her fall asleep as long as they are not developing any other symptoms such as dilated pupils or issues with walking. “Usually after a concussion, a person may be dazed or may vomit,” explains Dr. Alexander. “For children, we advise parents to wake up the child a couple times during the night to make sure they are able to be aroused.”
Dr. Alexander says that a concussion is a head injury that sometimes involves loss of consciousness but is not associated with internal bleeding. Unless a doctor says the person needs further treatment, the injured person should sleep and rest.
A concussion can be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. Most concussed people recover quickly and can be treated at home, while others have symptoms that last for days or weeks and need medical attention.
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