A group of researchers at New York University have discovered that commonly held beliefs about sleep are causing people to disregard their health and mental wellbeing and indulge in behaviour that could be damaging.
Myths about sleep
The study that was published in the Sleep Health journal looked into common myths about sleep and matched them with the actual available science. They found the following myths to be the most common:
- Five hours sleep is sufficient
- Alcohol aids in sleeping better
- Watching TV in bed can be relaxing
- If you can’t sleep, you should stay in bed
- Snoozing the alarm is OK
- Snoring is harmless
Dispelling sleep myths
Researcher Dr Rebecca Robbins points out that the number of hours sleep myth is the worst for health as losing sleep on a regular basis is known to cause health problems such as cardiovascular disease. She recommends getting at least 7 hours every night.
When it comes to alcohol Robbins says it can disrupt the usual REM sleep patterns and the stress of the subject matter on TV can interfere with falling asleep. Televisions also produce blue light that can disrupt the production of melatonin.
When it comes to insomnia, Robbins says that staying in bed can cause an association between being in bed and not sleeping. The best thing to do is get up and do something boring. The research also shows that getting up as soon as the alarm goes off and getting bright light to relieve drowsiness is ideal and that snoring can be sign of health issues such as sleep apnea.
Robbins says that sleep is one of the most important things a person can do for their body and that it can improve health, mood, wellbeing and longevity.