Tell anyone that you’re having issues with sleep, and they’ll probably throw at least one remedy in your direction. The only problem is, most of them don’t work. They aren’t even based in science. Worse, you may even be employing these tried but not so true methods yourself. Do you think you have the sleep thing all figured out? Check out these 11 myths about sleeping that people would be better off forgetting.
1. I Can Get By on Just a Few Hours of Sleep
This is a claim that is frequently made by CEOs, entrepreneurs, and other people who tend to take a bit of an energized approach to life. However, if anybody really believes that being sleep deprived doesn’t have a negative impact on well being, they are sorely mistaken.
People who claim that they can get by on unusually low hours of sleep may simply not be tuned into the negative effects of sleep deprivation. In other words, they don’t feel it so they aren’t aware of it. This can be dangerous.
Before you go the route of this kind of self imposed sleep deprivation, do some research. You’ll learn that sleep is when the body engages in restorative functions. This includes maintaining a healthy immune system.
2. If You Tough it Out You Can Get Used to Shift Work
If you have ever had to look at your timecard to figure out your life for the next seven days, you understand shift work. You may have even been told that you can just ‘nap when you are off’ or to ‘just deal with it’.
Here’s reality. If you work a job that doesn’t allow you to establish a regular pattern of sleep, you are going to suffer some negative effects. You might be able to do some things to mitigate these effects, but you are doing yourself a disservice if you let anyone convince you that they do not exist.
3. You Can Catch up on Sleep Later
We’ve all said it, and we’ve all taken advantage of down time to get a few extra hours of sleep. Unfortunately, that great feeling you get when you sleep in doesn’t mean that you have erased the effects of sleep deprivation.
There is no sleeping savings account. If you miss out on important hours of sleep, it has a negative impact on your health,you can’t make a transfer later on to make up for that.
4. The Only Way to Cure Insomnia is Through Prescription Drugs
People who have chronic insomnia often go to their physicians to be put on prescription medications. While these drugs work, they are often quite strong. Sometimes there are intense side effects or a risk of drug dependency. Depending on how your body processes them, prescription sleep meds can help you fall asleep, but not stay asleep. Other meds can give you a sleep hangover. Then there are the sleep medications that cause people to behave really irrationally. Some people have reported driving, cooking, eating, and doing other activities in their sleep when on certain sleep meds.
For some, medication is needed. It is certainly a valid medical choice to take prescription sleeping pills. However, for others making changes to sleep routine does the trick. For example, moving the bed away from the window, going to bed a little bit earlier to wind down, and even taking natural supplements for sleep could be a better choice.
5. My Bedroom is My Sanctuary
Is your room your place to get away from it all? You are not alone. For many people, their bedroom is the office, entertainment area, and workspace. This means that the bedroom is home to various electronic devices, including a tv set.
While it is understandable that people would seek refuge in their bedrooms during the day and early evening, this can cause problems. The more the bedroom becomes a place to hang out, watch television, or surf the internet, the less it becomes associated with sleep. For someone who is prone to sleep issues, this can cause problems.
6. I Woke up Twice Last Night: I’m Going to be Exhausted Today
For some reason, this one really gets people obsessed. They wake up a couple of times during the night, check the clock when it happens, and are convinced that this means they aren’t going to get enough sleep. If this sounds like you, relax.
The truth is, we cycle through sleep by entering and exiting various phases. Some of these are very deep. Others are extremely light. In fact, they are slow light that they can even involve waking up and being momentarily aware of our surroundings. If this happens, you aren’t missing out on sleep. You’re just entering a new phase of it.
7. Early Risers Are go Getters
For some reason we place a moral and character value on how and when people sleep. The guy that makes it into the office before everybody else is seen as a go getter with major self discipline. The guy that comes in later, not so much.
The problem with this is that it just isn’t based in fact. There is no evidence that the early start time guy is going to be more productive. In fact, there’s evidence that waking up too early causes problems. It’s time to judge people by what they get done, not when they arrive at the office.
8. Just Take Some Benadryl or Other PM Medication
There are sleepless people all over the world tonight looking into their medicine cabinets to help them find something to get to sleep. Many of them are going to find over the counter cold or allergy medicine to help them sleep. Unfortunately, this can have an unintended negative effect.
Most over the counter sleep medicines have an antihistamine as the active ingredient. Others even use alcohol. The result is that these meds can help you go to sleep initially. The problem is that they often block deep sleep. This means that the user might be able to fall asleep at first. The only problem is that they can’t stay asleep. Then, there are those who fall asleep, but don’t realize how it impacts their overall sleep pattern.
9. Teenagers Who Sleep in Are Just Lazy
If you’ve ever announced that teens who want to stay up late and sleep during the day are just being lackadaisical or that they lack self discipline, you’re guilty of perpetuating a myth. Even worse, it’s a dangerous myth.
Teenagers don’t follow this sleep pattern because they are undisciplined or rebellious. They follow it, because it meets their biological needs. In fact, it has been shown that forcing teens into unnatural sleep patterns can be extremely detrimental. There have even been start school later programs designed to ensure that all kids get adequate sleep.
10. Eight Hours of Sleep is Ideal
If I go to bed right now, I’ll get my eight hours. Better put the kids to bed so they get their eight hours. For some reason, eight hours has been defined as the gold standard for the right amount of sleep. If it works for you, that’s great. However, it is important to remember that this is literally just a number. You may need a little less. You may need a little more. You’re better off monitoring your sleep, daily productivity, and overall well being to determine if you are getting enough sleep.
Too little sleep is bad. On the other hand, there have been studies showing that people who sleep too much don’t live as long. Whatever works for you is great. While you shouldn’t fetishize undersleeping, don’t get too caught up in the idea that you absolutely must sleep a certain number of hours daily. If you need help racking, some wearables will log sleeping patterns for you.
11. Eating Before Bedtime Gives You Indigestion And Nightmares
First, there is nothing about food that causes you to have bad dreams. Yes, you might incorporate eating or food into your dream. However, that’s because we often dream about our thoughts and activities immediately leading up to when we fall asleep. If you did algebra homework right before bed you would probably dream about that as well.
As far as indigestion goes, that’s a bit more personal. If your body works in a way that you get heartburn or indigestion at night, you may need to adjust your eating schedule. If this is not the case, then by all means enjoy that healthy late night snack.
How important is sleep. Believe it or not, getting adequate, restorative sleep is key. Unfortunately, as a general rule, society doesn’t seem to get that. Instead, we tend to make value judgements on people who nap, sleep in, or have unusual sleep needs. This can result in the perpetuation of various sleep myths. The next time you feel compelled to state some tried and true fact about sleep, do a bit of fact checking. You could be passing along a sleeping myth.