10 Sleep Myths People Actually Believe (and Why They're Wrong)

Updated 07/24/19

@shionat​

 

When it comes to catching some shut-eye, some blissfully float off into a deep sleep while others need a bit of help to achieve a good night's rest. There are myriad ways people try to improve their ability to fall asleep quickly and have a rejuvenating slumber; however, some ideas work better than others. In fact, some methods don't even work at all.

In a bid to investigate what people get wrong about sleep, the meditation and relaxation app Calm conducted an international poll, surveying adults in the U.S., the U.K., and France. With the help of 4,337 participants, Calm was able to determine the top ten most widely held sleep myths in the name of helping people everywhere sleep better.

"There are so many common myths about sleep that we wanted to find out which ones are, in fact, most widely believed," Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of Calm says. "Some sleep myths are fairly harmless, while others are seriously dangerous," Alex Tew, co-founder of Calm adds.

Ahead, discover ten sleep myths that people actually believe and find out exactly why they're wrong.

Sleep Myth #1

The Myth: 56 percent of poll respondents believe that lowering the car windows or turning up the air-conditioning will help you stay awake when driving.

Why It's Wrong: These solutions are ineffective and dangerous, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Instead, your best option is to pull over in a safe area and take a 15- to 45-minute power nap.

Sleep Myth #2

The Myth: 48 percent of poll respondents believe that during sleep, your brain finally rests.

Why It's Wrong: Your body may rest during sleep, but the brain stays active, recharges, and continues to control bodily functions, the National Sleep Foundation explains.

Sleep Myth #3

The Myth: 50 percent of poll respondents believe that you should never wake a sleepwalker.

Why It's Wrong: A sleepwalker may put themselves in danger, so waking them up is actually extremely important. Experts suggest guiding a sleepwalker back to bed.

Sleep Myth #4

The Myth: 48 percent of poll respondents believe that you only dream during very deep sleep.

Why It's Wrong: You can dream in all stages of sleep, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke points out. However, dreams tend to be the most vivid during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep which happens during a lighter cycle of sleep.

Sleep Myth #5

The Myth: 31 percent of poll respondents believe that if you're struggling to sleep it's best to stay in bed.

Why It's Wrong: If you've been trying to fall asleep for 20 minutes and aren't able to drift off, the National Sleep Association advises getting up and doing a relaxing activity in another area of your home. Think reading or listening to music. Staying in bed when you can't sleep can actually create an unhealthy link between your bed and wakefulness.

Sleep Myth #6

The Myth: 30 percent of poll respondents believe that you swallow a few spiders every year while you sleep.

Why It's Wrong: You'll be happy to learn that house spiders are more likely to be scared of a sleeping person than to be interested in crawling around one, according to Tuck.

Sleep Myth #7

The Myth: 21 percent of poll respondents believe that you can catch up on missed sleep by sleeping in on the weekends.

Why It's Wrong: Although this myth sounds quite logical, a recent study published in Current Biology found that trying to make up for lost sleep over the weekend won't reverse any negative effects that a lack of sleep during the week causes. Instead, it's best to aim for a consistent sleep schedule every night of the week.

Sleep Myth #8

The Myth: 20 percent of poll respondents believe that alcohol before bed helps you sleep better.

Why It's Wrong: Despite the popularity of the nightcap, the National Sleep Foundation explains that drinking alcohol before bed can increase the number of times you wake up during the night.

Sleep Myth #9

The Myth: 17 percent of poll respondents believe that snoring is always harmless.

Why It's Wrong: In some cases, snoring can be a symptom of a serious sleep disorder called sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation. This is something to look out for especially if nighttime snoring is paired with daytime sleepiness.

Sleep Myth #10

The Myth: 15 percent of poll respondents believe that eating cheese before bed increases the risk of nightmares.

Why It's Wrong: Not only is there no evidence to support this unusual sleep myth, but eating cheese before bed may actually help you sleep better since it contains tryptophan (an amino acid that helps the body produce serotonin, a chemical messenger that aids sleep).

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