We’re gaining new information every day about how and why we sleep, but even with all of the information available, there are still a lot of myths that people cling to.
A research team from NYU School of Medicine reviewed more than 8,000 websites to identify the 20 most common assumptions about sleep. Here are the top three:
“I can get by on five hours of sleep or less”
For the overwhelming majority of us, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The research team says this myth poses the most serious risk to health from long-term sleep deficits. To avoid the effects of this falsehood and others identified in this study, the experts suggest creating a consistent sleep schedule and spending more time, at least seven hours, asleep.
“Snoring is annoying, but harmless”
Snoring CAN be harmless, but it can also be a sign of sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing starts and stops over the course of the night. The study authors encourage patients not to dismiss loud snoring, but rather to see a doctor since this sleep behavior may lead to heart stoppages or other illnesses.
“An alcoholic drink before bed helps me sleep”
Despite beliefs to the contrary and the still-alive tradition of a “nightcap,” drinking alcoholic beverages before bed is unhealthy for sleep. Alcohol reduces the body’s ability to achieve deep sleep, which people need to function properly.
The researchers acknowledge that some things still cause disagreement among sleep experts. For instance, many people believe that sleeping late on the weekends will help them catch up on lost sleep during the week. This is not true because it actually disrupts your circadian rhythm to have a different sleep schedule on the weekends than during the week. It’s a better practice to set an appropriate sleep schedule every day. However, they acknowledge that for people with uneven work schedules it may be better for them to sleep in than to get fewer hours of sleep overall.