Sneaky sleep myths that’ll leave you feeling tired

Sleep; it appears a significant proportion of the population isn’t getting enough of it. Around 30% of people suffer from insomnia periodically. Ten-percent are chronic insomnia victims and the U.S. economy loses $63 billion per year as a result. Although the causes of insomnia aren’t always apparent, there’s a chance some sleep myths make the condition worse.

If you’re suffering from fatigue despite your head hitting the pillow each night, now’s the time to learn more about sleep myths. From night caps through to sleep restriction, some of your evening habits may cause more harm than you think.

Drinking alcohol will make you sleep

A review of seven studies has found that treating yourself to a nightcap is one of the biggest sleep myths. Initially, you will fall asleep faster. However, you won’t experience the refreshing REM sleep you need to feel awake the next day.

Around 20% of Americans use alcohol to fall asleep faster. If you’re one of them, you’re probably disrupting your circadian rhythm. Alcohol disrupts the production of the chemicals that let your brain know when it’s time to be awake and time to be asleep. As a result, you may find the second half of your night results in patchy sleep. Add alcohol’s diuretic properties to the mix and you’ll discover all those nocturnal toilet trips don’t help.

If you do want to use a drink to fall asleep, switch alcohol for chamomile tea. It contains an antioxidant called Apigenin that binds to the sleep receptors in your brain. As a result, you may experience a restorative and relaxing night of peace.

Coping on fewer than five hours’ sleep is okay

You don’t need to look far to find a celebrity or politician who perpetuates this sleep myth. From the former prime minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher to former-Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, many famous people make you believe sleep-deprivation and success go together. In addition to creating an unsustainable sleep myth, this one is harmful.

An analysis of 16 separate studies featuring 1.3 million people reveals that most adults need at least seven or eight hours of sleep per night. Getting between five and six increases your risk of premature death by 12%. Similarly, routinely grabbing more than eight increases your risk of premature death by 30%.

If you’re unsure as to how much sleep you’re getting, create a routine that dictates when you go to bed and when you wake. Doing this also improves your sleep hygiene, which can make falling asleep and achieving a restful sleep easier.

You can’t cure insomnia

As one of the most useless sleep myths, suggesting that you can’t cure insomnia is like suggesting it has a purely biological foundation that you can’t moderate. Although there is a small number of conditions where insomnia becomes uncontrollable, this isn’t the norm.

If your insomnia feels out of control, you may want to tackle your sleep hygiene. With a little reading around the topic, you might find that some of your habits are causing your poor sleep.

Why tackle sleep myths at all?

Tackling sleep myths is one of the best steps you can take toward excellent self-care. Getting a better night’s sleep prevents overeating, increases productivity, and reduces your risk of mental illness. If you’re finding that your overall wellbeing is suffering lately, take a good look at your nocturnal habits and see if you can find a sleep myth to address.

 

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About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.