Debunking Sleep Myths
Sleep is a common physiological behavior that all animal species practices (Sleep, 2022). Fun fact! The average individual sleeps for around 26 years in their lifetime, which is equal to 9,490 days or 227,760 hours (Curtis, 2017). Even though sleep is something that everyone does every day, there are still many misconceptions about it. Because obtaining adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining good health and wellbeing, it's imperative that we are aware of the facts and myths surrounding this topic.
Myth 1: How Long You Sleep Is All That Matters
The length of your sleep is vital, but it's not everything. Another important factor to take into account is the quality of sleep, which is strongly related to maintaining sleep consistency and minimizing sleep interruptions. You may be unable to proceed through the sleep cycle properly if you wake up repeatedly during a cycle of sleep, a condition known as fragmented sleep. This would reduce the amount of time you spend in the deepest, most restorative stages of sleep, which is why it's crucial to get adequate sleep in addition to good-quality, uninterrupted sleep (Suni, 2020).
Myth 2: It Doesn’t Matter When You Sleep as Long as You Sleep Enough Hours
According to the Sleep Foundation (2020), studies have shown that the time of sleep is important, and it is ideal to sleep as much as you can at night. The act of sleeping in the evening contributes to synchronizing the body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm, with its surroundings. The quality of sleep and other critical aspects of general health are influenced by proper circadian timing, which also has an impact on mental and cardiovascular health, metabolism, and other bodily functions (Suni, 2020).
Myth 3: Everyone Needs Eight Hours of Sleep
We are constantly reminded to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. According to the American Academy of Sleep (2018), adults should regularly sleep 7 hours or more every night to ensure good health. Teenagers and children on the other hand, require much more sleep. It should be noted that genetic, behavioral, medical, and environmental factors all have an impact on how much sleep an individual needs.
Myth 4: The More Sleep, The Better
While there are concerns with sleeping too little and the fact that not everyone needs at least 8 hours of sleep, problems can also emerge from sleeping too much. According to Suni (2020), although individuals in particular situations, such as those recovering from illness, may require more sleep, excessive sleep in general might be a sign of an underlying health problem. Excessive sleep is associated with many of the same health issues as insufficient sleep, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, cognitive impairment (Breus, 2022). Further studies are required to fully understand this association, however some studies have linked excessive sleep to higher mortality rates, such as, (Cappuccio et al., 2010).
Myth 5: You Can “Catch Up” on Sleep
Contrary to what many people think, sleeping more at another time won't help you make up for "lost" sleep. Being sleep deprived causes you to incur a sleep debt that grows over time and is impossible to "repay" (What Are Some Myths about Sleep?, 2019). Long-term sleep deprivation can also put you at risk of developing health issues, compromise your safety, and affect how well you perform at work. While obtaining more sleep may aid in lessening daytime drowsiness or sleepiness, it cannot undo the harm done by not obtaining enough sleep or enough quality of sleep each night.
Myth 6: Loud Snoring is Normal
Everybody snores occasionally, but loud, persistent snoring is not normal. Loud snoring is a typical sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that, if left untreated, may be associated with major health concerns (Breus, 2020). According to the Sleep Doctor (2020), other symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:
Gasping, choking, 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
Myth 7: The Ability To Fall Asleep Anywhere and at Any Time Means You’re a “Good Sleeper”
You should never glamorize excessive daytime sleepiness. It is more indicative of having sleep issues than being a "good sleeper" if you can fall asleep at any time and in any situation (Suni, 2020). This is actually a sign of sleep apnea, insufficient sleep, or insomnia, according to the Sleep Foundation (2020). An inconsistent sleep schedule has also been linked to narcolepsy and circadian rhythm disorders.
Myth 8: Watching TV Helps You Fall Asleep
You may believe that having the TV on as background noise will help you fall asleep, but in truth, the TV's fluctuating brightness and loudness might disrupt your sleep and cause you to wake up in the middle of the night (Sleep myths: Separating fact from fiction, 2018). In addition, some people could become overly engrossed in the show they are watching and wind up staying up later than they intended. The American Academy of Sleep (2018) stated that this also breaches the golden rule of good sleep hygiene, which is to use your bed just for sleeping and having sex. You also have a likelihood of associating viewing TV with going to bed, which increases your chance of getting "learned" or "psychophysiological" insomnia.
Myth 9: Drinking a Warm Glass of Milk or Herbal Tea Will Help You Fall Asleep
Despite the common belief that consuming a warm glass of milk or herbal tea can help you fall asleep, the American Academy of Sleep (2018) says that there is actually very little evidence that certain foods either promote or hinder sleep. Despite the limited data, it should be noted that milk and tea both include substances that tend to aid sleep: milk has the amino acid tryptophan, while green tea contains the amino acid theanine. It should be emphasized that individual differences in sleep patterns and affects mean that whether or not these practices would apply to you still varies.
Myth 10: Alcohol Guarantees a Good Night’s Sleep
Even though drinking can be soothing and make falling asleep easier due to its sedative or lethargy effects, it can have a negative influence on the quality of your sleep (Suni, 2020). Alcohol use right before bed can disrupt your sleep patterns, increase the possibility that you'll wake up during the night, and make sleep apnea and snoring worse (Sleep myths: Separating fact from fiction, 2018). To provide some insight, sleep apnea is a common, potentially fatal medical condition that can also result in acid reflux in the stomach. Aside from the poor quality and restless sleep, depending on alcohol to fall asleep can also increase your risk of developing alcohol dependence.
These are only a few of the misconceptions surrounding sleep; there are numerous others that need to be verified with facts. You should strive to get a good amount of regular, high-quality sleep because it is necessary for one's overall health. In order to get the appropriate amount of sleep, it's crucial that you establish a healthy bedtime routine. The good news concerning sleep disorders is that the majority, if not all, of them, are treatable. The best course of action is to seek professional advice as soon as you notice a problem with your sleeping patterns, especially if you exhibit excessive or severe symptoms. Click here to know more about Fidecita’s Mental Health Care services. You can also message the Fidecita Facebook Page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further inquiries.
Breus, M. (2022). Sleep Myths. The Sleep Doctor. https://thesleepdoctor.com/how-sleep-works/sleep-myths/
Cappuccio, F. P., D’Elia, L., Strazzullo, P., & Miller, M. A. (2010). Sleep Duration and All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies. PubMed, 33(5), 585–592. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/33.5.585
Curtis, G. (2017). Your Life In Numbers. The Sleep Matters Club. https://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/your-life-in-numbers-infographic#:~:text=The%20average%20person%20spends%20about,what’s%20so%20special%20about%20sleep%3F
Sleep. (2022). Sleep. News-Medical.Net. https://www.news-medical.net/condition/Sleep
Sleep myths: Separating fact from fiction. (2018). American Academy of Sleep. https://sleepeducation.org/important-common-myths-about-sleeping-fact/
Suni, E. (2020). Myths and Facts About Sleep. Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/myths-and-facts-about-sleep#:~:text=Myth%3A%20It%20Doesn’t%20Matter,internal%20clock%2C%20with%20its%20environment.
What are some myths about sleep? (2019). https://www.nichd.nih.gov/. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/sleep/conditioninfo/sleep-myths