It seems odd that humanity hasn’t yet decoded the secrets of sleep through the use of science, while a significant proportion of the population fail to sleep properly, hence the abundance of guides such as this. The problem is in part due to our outdated beliefs and information regarding this essential human need. It’s time to look at the evidence. Below are ten widely circulating myths about sleep that don’t actually add up.
10. The more sleep you get, the better
You can actually have too much of a good thing. Sleep duration is not fixed; different people have different needs, which also vary as we age. In a study conducted by Harvard researchers, it was shown that too much sleep (nine or more hours) is associated with poor sleeping quality. So don’t try to increase the quantity of your sleep, but aim for quality instead.
9. Alcohol or Marijuana Can Aid Sleep
Alcohol will bring most people closer to sleep. At the same time, however, it will disrupt your sleep quality by waking you up more times during nighttime. As far as weed is concerned, it can also make you sleepy buy unless you are a regular user, falling asleep may be problematic and the sleep itself will be troubled by weird dreams. There is more information about how these two compounds affect sleep here. Our recommendation would be to opt for an alcohol-free beer before sleeping instead.
8. If Your Sleep is Interrupted in the Middle of the Night, Remain Lying Down Until You Fall Back Asleep
Losing your sleep halfway through nighttime sucks, but it can happen to anyone. We expect to fall back asleep within minutes, so we never bother to get out of bed. However, if we fail to fall asleep within 15 minutes, experts suggest to get out of bed and engage in some activity that distracts both our minds and bodies without too much stimulation. Avoid checking the clock as well.
7. Insomniacs Can’t Fall Asleep
Insomnia is a complicated sleep disorder. Having trouble to fall asleep is simply one of its four culprits. The National Sleep Foundation defines the remaining three as often waking, waking up early without being able to get back to sleep, and feeling tired after waking up. There are several things to try that may counter insomnia and other related issues. Medicines aren’t recommended to become a long-term solution; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may yield better results.
6. 7-8 Hours of Sleep Every Night is a Must for All
Not all people have the same sleep needs, but one thing is sure: how well you sleep matters most than how much you sleep. Having that in mind, the National Sleep Foundation puts out advice according to age, ranging from 14-17 hours of daily sleep for newborns, to 7-9 hours of daily sleep for adults in the 18-64 years’ group, with older adults needing slightly less (7-8 hours). The younger the age, the more sleep is generally required. According to a study by Jawbone, people who sleep 8 to 9,5 hours at night feel happier the next morning.
5. The Reason You Are Sleepy During the Day Is a Lack of Sleep
If you have one episode of missed or poor sleep, you are surely going to feel terrible the following day. However, if tiredness and sleepiness are constant companions, then you should look for other causes than sleep -stress, diet or a hidden medical issue among the likely ones. Things like allergies or even your regular medicines could make you feel this way. Your sleep quality should be among your considerations, naturally, but don’t exclude other causes.
4. Power Naps Are a Great Way to Feel Refreshed
Naps can be great, but not all of them were created equal. Shorter naps are actually more beneficial since longer ones may leave you feeling dizzy. Your best bet is to aim for 20-minute power naps, to enhance your mental alertness and your energy levels.
3. You Can Only Be A Morning Person or a Night Owl (and Productivity Is A Trait Of Morning People)
Most people believe that they belong to one of two kinds: morning birds or night owls. However, sleep cycles are way more complicated than just that. Our daily energy levels fluctuate in a way that doesn’t necessarily coincide with the time we prefer to sleep and wake up. As for the famous saying “the early bird gets the worm,” it seems to be a kind of societal reward, embedded in the way we live (e.g., school system and working hours). However, research shows that night owls have nothing to be jealous of regarding productivity and creativity. As for schools, many experts agree that for health reasons, students should begin their day later because they don’t get enough sleep (and I would take the same for my workday anytime, thank you).
2. You Can Use the Weekends to Complement your Sleep
The lack of sleep during the week accumulates in a way. Many people think they can restore the lost sleep by oversleeping during the weekend, but it doesn’t seem to work this way. Doing so might actually decrease your energy levels for the following week. So, instead of sleeping in during the weekend, it’s a better strategy to sleep earlier, or even have an afternoon nap.
1. Snoozing Gives You More Time to Sleep
Finally, this might induce pain to some of you, but snoozing won’t make you feel better. You won’t get more time to sleep but will actually become more tired because you will be pulled from deeper sleep phases after dozing off in the meantime. And you will be deprived of energy for the rest of the day. So, forget about snoozing and get up. Your day will flow better and probably your nighttime sleep as well.
Author Bio: Sam Malik is a health blogger in the UK with a special focus on natural health. He is a medical writer during the day for healthcare blog and writes on topics he is passionate about as a hobby during his free time. You can find his published material on various well known health platforms including Natural News on a regular basis.