By Lucy Buglass
A new study suggests that common sleep myths could actually be doing more damage than we originally thought.
Researchers from New York University School of Medicine have scoured the web to identify the top sleep myths across 8,000 websites. Alongside a team of sleep experts, they then ranked the most common based on whether or not scientific evidence could bust these myths once and for all.
After all, it's important to know the truth about our nightly kip, given that it's one of the most important things for our overall wellbeing.
According to ITV News, study leader Dr 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."
And it turns out that following these myths can be seriously damaging to our mental and physical well-being, so it’s no surprise this team of experts was quick to shut them down for good.
So which common sleep myths could be damaging your health?
Myth: Nightcaps boost sleep
Hands up if you enjoy a nice tipple before bed? Most of us are guilty of this, and some may even look forward to it every evening.
Unfortunately, the team found significant evidence to suggest that drinking alcohol before bed is more detrimental than we originally thought. Alcohol reduces the body’s ability to achieve deep sleep, which is essential to feeling well-rested the next day.
Myth: Less than five hours sleep is okay
It’s not. If you’re the kind of person who likes to stay up way past their bedtime, now might be the time to stop. The idea you can get by on such a short amount of sleep was the top myth identified by researchers, and it presents the most serious risk to your health too.
Dr Robbins said, "We have extensive evidence to show sleeping five hours or less consistently, increases your risk greatly for adverse health consequences."
How adverse are these consequences? NYU claim it’s cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, and shorter life expectancy. That’s enough to convince anyone to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night.
Myth: Snoring is totally harmless
Yes it’s annoying, but has anyone really been concerned by their or their partner’s snoring? Turns out, it’s more serious than you might think.
It can be a sign of sleep apnoea; a potentially serious sleep disorder, where breathing starts and stops during the night. If you’re a frequent snorer, researchers recommend seeing a doctor to rule out any serious underlying health issues.
Myth: Watching TV will help you drift off
Have you heard about the problems with blue light? Much like our phones or tablets, the TV produces the same light, which can impact our ability to nod off. On top of that, researchers suggested that it could cause you unnecessary stress before bed, depending on the programme you’re watching. The evening news is definitely not relaxing enough to help us get some shut-eye…
So while you may find unwinding in front of the TV a good way to relax, it turns otu it's not great for achieving good quality sleep.
Myth: It’s fine to hit the snooze button
When you’re comfy and warm in bed, it’s easy to roll over and snooze. Sometimes that extra few minutes of sleep can feel blissful.
But researchers looked into this, and discovered that snoozing can actually make us feel worse than before, and we should get up as soon as we wake up so we don’t disturb our natural sleep cycle.
Dr Robbins said that when you snooz,e "Your body will go back to sleep, but it will be very light, low-quality sleep." It's best to wake up as soon as you can, and get started with your day. Plus, it'll hopefully leave you feeling ready for bed come the evening...
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