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Can We Cheat Death With The 3.5 Minute Rule?

Photo Credit: allwording.com 4 mins read

CLAIM: Facebook post suggests a 3.5 minute rule to prevent sudden death from interrupted sleep. 

FALSE: The facts stated here range from undefined to completely ridiculous; however, we discuss sleep disorders and other underlying conditions. Meet nocturia, a condition marked by excessive urination; often interrupting nighttime sleep. However, there is no evidence directly linking this with “sudden death”. Instead, studies suggest it to be a tell tale sign for underlying health conditions. 

Full Text

Sleep disorders are a fairly common norm. Save insomnia, there are still some gnarly conditions that go bump in the night. Culprits include nocturia or heart palpitations; these sometimes result in brain fog from interrupted sleep. None of the above is news. 

However, in line with pseudo science comes yet another strange finding. This Facebook claim suggests interrupted sleep can result in sudden death if the 3.5 minute rule is not followed. 

The post reads:

Facebook Claim

Published on August 30th, it has amassed over 8.6K shares, 2.5K likes and 875 comments- it certainly has the masses attention. The claims made in the post attributes its advice to an unnamed doctor, already raising scepticism. 

Verification

Preliminary findings show that this is yet another recycled claim. Other iterations from recent years suggested a 1.5 minute interval period. However, as stated in the fact check, it is a baseless argument with no empirical evidence. Nonetheless, we shall address some of these interesting assertions.

Analyzing the claims

Claim 1: Disturbed ECG Pattern

According to the post, waking up causes the Electrocardiogram (ECG) to ‘change’ which in turn leads to brain anaemia and heart failure. While the former is true, that ‘change’ was not defined and really is not a bad thing! 

‘The change’ in blood pressure actually alludes to a term called circadian rhythm. Studies show that early morning hormonal release can actually increase blood pressure. However, this does not result in anaemia! 

Claim 2: The brain becomes anaemic 

The World Health Organization (WHO) explains anaemia as a condition in which the oxygen carrying capacity of red blood cells is insufficient to meet physiological needs. The organization further lists iron deficiency as the leading causality. 

Generally, the red blood cells through the help of the haemoglobin carry oxygenated blood around the body. Iron deficiency inhibits the production of haemoglobin which in turn inhibits the travel of oxygenated blood. You can follow the trail… As a result, anaemia steps in.

While there are studies that suggest a correlation between anaemia and heart failure, in most cases, the underlying heart condition already exists. And anaemia essentially increases the risk factors for chronic heart failure. This is because de-oxygenated blood results in fatigue; this in turn renders efficient blood pumping, arduous. 

Nonetheless, suggesting anaemia results in heart failure without an existing heart condition is ridiculous. It is even more silly because the post proposes anaemia as a result of the “ECG change”.

Possible Reasons For Waking Up At Night

Nocturia

This is probably the only feasible correlation to the claim; especially because of a particular study. Nocturia is more of a precursor or a resultant condition rather than an ailment in itself. It is basically the need to get up and pee at night; and this is contingent on a plethora of reasons.

Normally, kidney functions dwindle, and the body produces less urine at night; though more concentrated. This is done via the antidiuretic hormone. Hence, a healthy person should not have his or her zzzz interrupted too frequently from this need, alas…
However, the aforementioned study highlights a correlation between nocturia and  mortality risk. The operative word used was risk; meaning possibility, not fact. It goes on to explain nocturia as a precursor for underlying health conditions across a range of age groups. However, it had not reached the peer review stage!

Diabetes mellitus and insipidus

Diabetes mellitus, is another reason one might wake up at night. This chronic condition is marked by elevated or depleted blood sugar levels. Succinctly, a common symptom cited for diabetes is abnormally large amounts of urine (polyuria); especially at nighttime. This is attributed to the kidneys’ inability to process glucose. Interestingly, this is as a result of another symptom experienced by diabetics- excessive thirst. 

There is also diabetes insipidus, no relations… Conversely, it has zilch to do with mellitus with respect to blood sugar levels; a hallmark of the former disease. It is a metabolic disorder marked by intense thirst and heavy urination. This is as a result of the kidneys’ inability to regulate body fluids. Consequently, victims get dehydrated frequently; consume and dispense large volumes of water and urine respectively.

Too Much Water Intake

Is there such a thing? We have heard medical assertions like your body is mostly water- 60%; your blood is 90% water… So water consumption should be alright yeah? Not exactly. Water intake is highly beneficial– no argument there. However, research shows that if not optimally utilized with respect to time and quantity, it could be not so good. It really is not anything dire but a noteworthy recommendation. Drinking water too close to bedtime can inadvertently disrupt your sleep cycle. This in turn can lead to sleep deprivation with its host of problems. However, this is not a hard and fast rule but subjective to varying physiologies. 

Conclusion 

The claim is obviously FALSE; to reiterate what has already been established. The medical assumptions range from undefined to ridiculous. Nonetheless, it is advised not to hurriedly jump out of bed as this can result in dizziness and possibly fainting. This is however, contingent on diverse physiological conditions and NOT a precursor to stroke or sudden death. Instead, it is worthwhile to focus on the indicative causes of interrupted sleep. A few mentions include diabetes, urinary tract infection and nocturia amongst others.

Victor Ndukwe is a first-class honours graduate in Architectural Design Technology from the University of Wolverhampton. He was an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists; and a STEM Ambassador. Additionally, he manages a health-fitness centred blog. His varied work experience gives him a unique perspective in the literary field; having worked in construction, Information Technology and conducted extensive research in various fields. He now utilizes this skill set in the field of fact-checking; aiding colleagues and teammates with research and editorial work.

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