Debunking Sleep Myths: What Are The Facts?
We spend most of our time snoozing—roughly one-third of our lives. Yet, the art of getting quality ZZZs still remains a mystery to most. The unfortunate truth is that many believe in common sleep misconceptions, which could potentially lead to unhealthy side effects.
You need the facts for the best sleep, and we’ve got you covered. Keep reading!
Myth #1: Loud snoring is harmless.
Sure, this one is annoying if you share your bed with someone else. But did you also know that chronic snoring is actually one of the most common symptoms of a sleep disorder called sleep apnea? Although not all snoring is a sign you’re suffering from sleep apnea, excessive and loud snoring could be an indicator that your airway is being blocked at night [1,2].
Some other symptoms of this serious health risk include:
- Gasping, choking, and snorting sounds during sleep
- Observable episodes of lapses in breathing, most often by sleep partners
- Increased need to urinate during the night
- Headaches, dry mouth, and sore throat in the morning
- Trouble concentrating during the day
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
Please consult your doctor if you or someone you know is suffering from any of these symptoms to seek guidance and proper treatment.
Myth #2: You can train your body to sleep less and less.
This is a big no-no. Sleep is your body’s best pal. We need sleep. Lack of sleep takes a toll on pretty much every part of your body, from your heart to your brain to your immune system to your metabolism [1,2,6]. Your body can’t, and shouldn’t, get used to that.
Bottom line: You can’t train your body or brain to be okay with persistent insufficient sleep.
In fact, when you don’t get the quality sleep you need, problems like weight gain, illness, forgetfulness, risk of future chronic disease, inability to concentrate, and memory loss are more likely to affect you [1,2,6].
Myth #3: If you sleep a long time, then you’ll be fine.
There’s actually a word for this one—it’s the opposite of insomnia, where you sleep too little. It’s called Hypersomnia, and it’s sleeping too much. Good sleep is all about balance.
The duration of your sleep is, of course, important, but there are more critical factors to getting adequate sleep each night like sleep quality and the time at which you fall asleep.[7,8]
For instance, sleeping when it’s darker rather than lighter has been shown to align the body’s circadian rhythm with its surrounding environment, which in turn promotes better mental health, cardiovascular function, metabolism, and other factors of overall wellness [1,2].
For adults, getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night is the gold standard. If you find that you’re consistently sleeping for 9 or more hours per night and still don’t feel rested in the morning, you should consult your doctor.
Myth #4: You’re a “good sleeper” if you can fall asleep anywhere.
If you have the uncanny ability to fall asleep anywhere at any time, you might actually be sleep deprived. Excessive daytime sleepiness isn’t a positive attribute—it can be a serious symptom of an underlying sleep disorder like insomnia, sleep apnea, circadian rhythm disorders, or even narcolepsy [1,2].
The goal shouldn’t be to be able to fall asleep at any place and at any time. Strive for the recommended amount of high-quality sleep and a regular schedule so you can stay feeling your best both day and night!
Myth #5: Napping is fine because it makes up for a lack of sleep.
Incorrect. A short nap for a quick boost of energy during the day is fine, but if you’re using naps as a substitute for getting good sleep each night, there’s a bigger problem here. You might actually be throwing your sleep schedule, patterns, and rhythms further out-of-whack with this tactic.
Sleep experts say that when you do need a nap, it’s best to do so early in the afternoon and keep it shorter than 30 minutes [1,2].
Myth #6: Alcohol can help you fall asleep faster.
Skip the nightcap, folks. This myth is super dangerous for your health and for your sleep. Drinking that small sip of brandy right before bed could lead to potential sleep disorders like insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, and circadian rhythm abnormalities, among others [1,2,3].
Myth #7: You should just stay in bed if you’re having a hard time falling asleep.
If you know you are awake, so does the rest of your body. There doesn’t tend to be an overlap between being awake and sleeping. It’s important to associate sleep with your bed, not the lack thereof .
Sleep experts actually recommend getting up if you can’t seem to fall asleep within the first 20 to 30 minutes of lying in bed. You can try doing an activity that is calming in low lighting (avoid the electronics and blue light) [1,2]. Some of these include:
- Writing your thoughts in a journal
- Going a short, slow, and quiet walk
- Light stretching or some gentle yoga
Myth #8: A warmer bedroom makes for the best sleep.
Science tells us that it’s actually the polar opposite—your body temperature naturally drops when you sleep. A room that is too warm might disrupt this important physical process . Plus, when has it ever been comfy sleeping in a hot room?
Sleep experts say to find what works best for you in the mid-60s Fahrenheit range for the best sleep [1,2].
Myth #9: Your bedding doesn’t affect your sleep.
Your bedding plays a HUGE role in the quality of your nightly snoozes. Are you prone to night sweats? It’s probably because of your old bed sheets, especially if you are used to using cotton.
Here’s the truth: you need a higher-quality sheet that wicks away moisture and protects you from overheating.
Bamboo viscose blended sheets have thermal-regulating properties that balance your body’s temperature, making them the more breathable and cooling option compared to other standard bedding. Plus, they’re softer than silk and stronger than cotton. They are also hypoallergenic which means they are gentler on the skin and can ward off common non-living allergens. Not to mention, this material is wallet-friendly.
What are some of your favorite ways to fall asleep and stay asleep? What are some common sleep myths you’ve heard? Let us know in the comments below. The Cosy community loves hearing from you!
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- Common myths and facts about sleep. Sleep Foundation. (2022, April 1). Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/myths-and-facts-about-sleep
- Mammoser, G. (2019, April 28). Sleep myths that harm health. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/common-sleep-myths-that-compromise-sleep-and-health#Myth-#2:-Watching-television-is-a-good-way-to-relax-before-bed
- Simou E, Britton J, Leonardi-Bee J. Alcohol and the risk of sleep apnoea: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Med. 2018 Feb;42:38-46. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2017.12.005. Epub 2018 Jan 3. PMID: 29458744; PMCID: PMC5840512.
- Robbins R, Grandner MA, Buxton OM, Hale L, Buysse DJ, Knutson KL, Patel SR, Troxel WM, Youngstedt SD, Czeisler CA, Jean-Louis G. Sleep myths: an expert-led study to identify false beliefs about sleep that impinge upon population sleep health practices. Sleep Health. 2019 Aug;5(4):409-417. doi: 10.1016/j.sleh.2019.02.002. Epub 2019 Apr 17. PMID: 31003950; PMCID: PMC6689426.
- Okamoto-Mizuno K, Mizuno K. Effects of thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythm. J Physiol Anthropol. 2012 May 31;31(1):14. doi: 10.1186/1880-6805-31-14. PMID: 22738673; PMCID: PMC3427038.
- Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research; Colten HR, Altevogt BM, editors. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2006. 3, Extent and Health Consequences of Chronic Sleep Loss and Sleep Disorders. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19961/
- Wilckens KA, Woo SG, Kirk AR, Erickson KI, Wheeler ME. Role of sleep continuity and total sleep time in executive function across the adult lifespan. Psychol Aging. 2014 Sep;29(3):658-65. doi: 10.1037/a0037234. PMID: 25244484; PMCID: PMC4369772.
- Libman E, Fichten C, Creti L, Conrod K, Tran DL, Grad R, Jorgensen M, Amsel R, Rizzo D, Baltzan M, Pavilanis A, Bailes S. Refreshing Sleep and Sleep Continuity Determine Perceived Sleep Quality. Sleep Disord. 2016;2016:7170610. doi: 10.1155/2016/7170610. Epub 2016 Jun 16. PMID: 27413553; PMCID: PMC4927978.