If you’ve ever gone to work on five hours of sleep, had a drink of whiskey as a nightcap, or refused to get out of bed when you can’t drift off, you’ve bought into some common sleep myths – and they could be wrecking your health.
A new study from researchers at the NYU School of Medicine takes a look at the most widely held myths about sleeping, suggesting that they may pose a significant risk to your health.
Researchers looked at more than 8,000 websites to find out the most common myths, then used a team of sleep experts to debunk the most damaging ones.
Lead investigator Rebecca Robbins said: ‘Sleep is a vital part of life that affects our productivity, mood, and general health and well-being. Dispelling myths about sleep promotes healthier sleep habits which, in turn, promote overall better health.’
With that in mind, shall we get on to those myths?
You’ve likely heard someone bragging about how they just don’t need much sleep, and are magical beings that can survive on just a few hours of snoozing a night.
Those people are wrong, says the study.
Robbins says this myth poses the most serious risk to health from long-term sleep deficits, and maintains that humans need a consistent sleep schedule of at least seven hours asleep a night.
‘We have extensive evidence to show sleeping five hours or less consistently, increases your risk greatly for adverse health consequences,’ she said.
Those health risks include heart attacks, stroke, and a shorter life expectancy.
Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, a condition that causes breathing to stop and start throughout the night.
If someone is experiencing loud snoring, it’s important to chat to their doctor about possible causes.
Sorry, that nightcap isn’t a good idea. Study authors found that drinking alcohol before bed is bad for your sleep, preventing you from achieving the deep sleep you need for proper functioning.
Yes, booze might help you drift off, but the quality of your sleep will be lessened. Skip the glass of wine and just head to bed.
If you’re tossing, turning, and struggling to switch off, just lying in bed won’t help.
If you can’t get to sleep after 15 minutes, get up and do something else. This will prevent your mind associating your bed with sleepless nights.
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