Over the past 20 years, sleep science has advanced dramatically, giving researchers a better understanding of how sleep functions, why it’s important, and how it might be disturbed.
Despite this, it’s still typical to come across false information regarding sleep that’s spread online, via social media, or by word-of-mouth. Some of this false information is repeated so frequently that it becomes a well-known myth believed to be true by many.
Here, we will list some of the most common sleep myths and find out if there is any truth in them.
Whether it’s climate, time zones, or illness, our bodies are extremely adaptable. But does this translate to sleep? Research has found that having little sleep has negative effects both immediately and later on, showing that your brain and body cannot simply adjust to receiving less sleep.
If you find yourself having a few restless nights, you will probably feel more tired throughout the day. Without enough sleep, this rise in daytime sleepiness may settle over weeks or months, but this does not suggest that your body is working optimally or has successfully adapted to the lack of sleep.
Consistent sleep deprivation has a negative impact on daytime function, impairing creativity, memory, focus, and decision-making. Over time, these effects can spread to several other elements of health, including hormone production, the cardiovascular system, the immune system, metabolism, and mental health.
Find out more about sleep deprivation here.
Most people’s quality of evening sleep is generally unaffected by brief naps. However, taking a nap can make your insomnia or poor quality of sleep at night worse. Night-time sleep may be hampered by extended or frequent naps.
You could think about scheduling a nap if you:
- Are feeling fatigued or sleepy for no apparent reason
- Are about to lose sleep
- Want to incorporate planned naps into your daily schedule
Thankfully, there are some ways to create a positive relationship with napping. Have a read through our guide on how to take a nap to learn more.
We’ve all heard the 8 hours of sleep myth, but everyone’s sleep requirements are different. There is no magic number of sleep that everyone should get. You’ll usually be able to gauge what number of hours suits you best.
In general, getting less than 6 hours every night is not good. It has been found that people who frequently get less than 6 hours of sleep are at a bigger risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep has also been proven to increase stress levels in your body, which can result in high blood pressure and heart rate.
Most of us sleep on what’s called a monophasic sleep cycle, which revolves around one single duration of sleep. However, there are other sleep patterns to experiment with if you’re curious.
Read more: Beyond Monophasic Sleep: Can We Deviate From 8 Hours A Night?
Oftentimes, a few drinks can be calming, which makes getting to sleep an easier task. The issue is that drinking alcohol significantly lowers sleep quality. Before going to bed, drinking alcohol might increase the likelihood that you’ll wake up during the night, disrupting your sleep patterns and leading to you feeling worse off in the morning.
People tend to focus on the negative effects of having too little sleep, not knowing that there are many issues than can arise from having too much sleep.
Although certain individuals, such as those recovering from illness, may require more sleep, excessive sleep is a sign of a deeper health issue. A few long nights here or there isn’t anything to be overly concerned about, but if you regularly oversleep, it might be worth consulting your GP for some assistance.
Read more: 7 Ways to Beat Oversleeping
Research has shown that exercise at night doesn’t tend to have an effect on your sleep. In fact, many people seem to feel that working out before bed helps them to sleep better.
However, this may not be suitable for all people as it can take your body a little while to relax after exercise, making it difficult to settle down to go to sleep. Exercise raises your internal cortisol levels, as well as your heart rate. Both of these things help us stay awake and feel alert but, as they rise, our ability to sleep becomes much harder.
Has your quality of sleep recently deteriorated? Our help and advice hub helps you get the right information to enhance your sleep experience. From choosing the right mattress to deciding on bedroom layouts, you can find it all at Mattressman.