Sleep seems like a natural and easy action, and we tend to think that we know everything about it, but, really, is it so? Sleeping is an essential condition for a happy and healthy well-being, so it is never too late to destroy some of the most popular myths about it. Keep reading, and by the end of this article, you will be an expert in sleep.
Myths about falling asleep
Myth: “If I can’t fall asleep, I just drink a glass of wine, and it helps me sleep like a baby”
Truth: Actually, no. Alcohol helps you fall asleep faster, it’s true, but it does not let you go to deeper phases of sleep, when your body actually rests and heals itself. This BBC documentary about alcohol shows an interesting experiment. It proves that drinking alcohol before bed won’t help you have a good sleep, but instead will probably make you feeling bad next morning.
Myth: “If you can’t fall asleep, try counting sheep and you’ll be sleeping in a minute”
Truth: Wrong. Counting sheep in attempts to fall asleep faster is a common practice for many nations, however, it does not prove its effectiveness anymore. A study by two Oxford scientists showed that counting sheep appears to be less effective than imagining a waterfall or a campfire.
Myth: “Watching TV helps me fell asleep”
Truth: Not really. Even though the sound of TV may make you sleepy, the blue light that is radiated through the screen suppresses your melatonin levels and keeps you awake longer.
Myth: “I sleep 5 hours each night and I feel awesome”
Truth: …aaand you are probably lying. Some famous people claim from time to time that they spend 4-5 hours in bed, and it is true that genetically some people can feel good with this amount of sleep. However, such superpower is available only for 2-3% of the population. Healthy adults need 7-8 hours of sleep every night in order to maintain their well-being. If you think that sleeping less than 7 hours per night is okay for you, read our article about how bad sleep deprivation can be for your health.
Misconceptions about sleeping cycles
Myth: “Oh, grandma’s old, she doesn’t need to sleep as much as I do”
Truth: Mistake. Adults need 7-8 hours of good sleep to stay healthy, and it includes old people, too. If all your elderly fellows start their days early in the morning, it means that they go to bed far before midnight.
Myth: “Exercising before bedtime makes me exhausted so I’ll sleep better”
Truth: Another mistake. In reality, exercising helps your body produce adrenalin, which will make you stay awake longer.
Myth: “I don’t sleep well during the working week, but I’ll catch up sleep on weekends”
Truth: Lack of sleep during the working week creates a so-called “sleep debt”, but you can’t get rid of it by sleeping a lot of extra hours during the weekends. Even though it may help you feel better for the first few hours after you wake up, when this time is over, you will feel sleepy again. What is even more dangerous, such sleeping patterns mess up with your circadian rhythm. The best decision to avoid the sleep debt is to try waking up at the same times 7 days a week, while going to bed when you start to feel tired.
Myth: “Snoozing lets me wake up better”
Truth: Actually, no. By clicking on the “snooze” button on your phone several times in a row, you do not give yourself more time to sleep but actually give yourself an opportunity to fall into a deeper sleeping phase. It means that it would be awfully hard to wake up at last. There is even a chance that you will not hear your alarm and eventually oversleep.
Myth: “I sleep 10 hours each night, and it’s great for my health”
Truth: And you also are very wrong. Oversleeping is just as harmful as lack of sleep. Sleeping longer does not equal getting a better sleep because there is a high chance that your body doesn’t go to the phase of deep sleep when you spend more than 8 hours in bed.
Myth: “I feel sleepy and tired during the day. I guess I just didn’t have enough sleep”
Truth: Well, that may be the reason. However, not the only one. Sleepiness and tiredness may also be caused by unhealthy diet, stress, lack of physical activity, and so on.
Myth: “Power naps help me survive through a day”
Truth: They do, but only in case you nap for less than 20 minutes. Spending more time napping strongly interferes with quality and quantity of your night’s sleep, which can be a way to sleeping disorders.
Myth: “When I feel sleepy while driving, I can just open the windows and I’ll get energized”
Truth: This hack helps only for 15 minutes or so, but then you will feel sleepy again. If you feel sleepy while driving, the best decision would be pulling over and taking a power nap. A cup of coffee would also help.
Myth: “I wake up early, so I’m more productive than others”
Truth: Only partly true. Researches showed that people who wake up early are more productive during the first several hours they are awake, but their performing abilities decrease during the second half of the day.
Myths about health & sleep
Myth: “I can’t have sleep apnea if I am not overweight”
Truth: Wrong again. The nature of apnea is not yet entirely understood by the scientists. It is correct that overweight people have higher chances of developing apnea but it doesn’t mean issues, such as sleep apnea or obesity.
Myth: “Lots of people snore at night, it’s not a big deal”
Truth: Well, it may actually be a big deal. Even though sometimes snoring is caused by the special anatomical aspects of the nose, in many cases it may be a sign of serious health
that people with normal weight can’t have it too.
Myth: “If I take sleeping pills occasionally, they won’t do any harm”
Truth: Wrong. The majority of sleeping pills create addiction. Even if you do not take them on a regular basis, there is a chance that your body will develop a tolerance towards them. It means that you will need to take bigger dosages to feel their effect. No need to mention that such habit messes up with the natural circadian rhythms of the body, which can lead to serious sleeping disorders.
Myth: “I can’t fall asleep, so it means I have insomnia”
Truth: Troubles with falling asleep is only one of the three symptoms of insomnia. However, it is impossible to diagnose this disease basing only on one characteristic. If you feel like you have signs of a sleeping disorder, the best idea would be to visit your doctor.
Myth: “I wake up during the night. It means that I have insomnia”
Truth: Wrong. Waking up during the night is natural for many species, including humans because in most cases it simply indicates the end of one sleeping cycle and the beginning of another one. If you cannot go back to sleep for more than 15 minutes after you woke up in the middle of the night, try reading or listening to music. It will reset your brain and remind it that it’s time to sleep.
Myth: “My blood pressure has nothing to do with my sleeping habits”
Truth: Absolutely wrong. Your general health, including the functioning of a cardiovascular system, highly depends on the quality of sleep you get.
Myth: “My brain turns off when I am sleeping”
Truth: This popular myth is also untrue because, no matter how crazy it sounds, your brain never stops working. Anyway, it’s true that sleep helps your mind to relax and reset itself.
It’s done! Now you truly are an expert in sleeping, and we hope that these myths will not create any more barriers between you and your perfect night’s sleep.
Myth: “I can’t remember my dreams, so they are useless”
Truth: Another misbelief. Even though many people claim that they cannot remember their dreams, it does not mean that they do not see them. Dreaming is a way for the brain to get rid of the useless information and finally relax.
Myth: “Don’t eat cheese before bad, you’ll have nightmares!”
Truth: The origin of this myth is also unknown, but it seems to be pretty popular in our society. However, scientifically, there is no connection between certain foods, like cheese or hot pepper, and the nature of the dreams we have. It may be though that this myth appeared when cheese was still an unusual food for people, so it could cause diarrhea and stomach pains. In this case, it would for sure be a good idea to avoid eating it before the bedtime.
Myth: “Don’t wake up a sleepwalker, he’ll die!”
Truth: This myth has an undefined origin, but it is most likely to have its roots back in the times when people connected sleepwalking with being driven by the evil forces. However, there is no scientific evidence that waking up a sleepwalker will do harm to him or her.