Many popular notions about sleep have little basis in fact, but we tend to accept them as fact. Now, researchers at NYU Langone Health’s School of Medicine have conducted a study to debunk the most common sleep myths. The results of the study have been published in the journal Sleep Health.
Lead study investigator Rebecca Robbins, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Health and her team reviewed 8,000 websites to discover the most common notions about sleep. They then used a hand-picked team of sleep medicine experts to determine which were myths. Dr. Robbins stressed the importance of the research, saying, “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.”
One of the myths that was debunked by the study was that being able to fall asleep anywhere is a good thing. Being able to fall asleep anywhere is not a sign of a well-rested person, it is the sign that the body is so exhausted that it will grab sleep whenever it seems able. It takes a healthy sleeper about 15 minutes to fall asleep when they are ready to rest.
Another myth that was proven to be untrue is that the body can learn to adapt and function optimally with less sleep. Most adults need between seven and 10 hours of sleep each night, depending on their age. During this time, the body cycles repeatedly through four distinct phases of sleep to fully restore itself. Dr. Robbins said, “We have extensive evidence to show that sleeping five hours a night or less, consistently, increases your risk greatly for adverse health consequences, including cardiovascular disease and early mortality.”
Many Americans also believe that snoring is harmless. Snoring is a marker for sleep apnea, a dangerous sleep disorder that causes breathing to stop and start over the course of the night. The disorder has been linked to a number of adverse health effects, including heart attacks, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and mental disorders. The researchers said patients should see a doctor if they experience loud snoring since it may lead to other illnesses.