Everything You Think You Know About Sleep is WRONG (Myths About Sleep)

So, you think you get sleep. Or, you think you "get" sleep, as in, you understand it! But you probably believe a lot of myths about sleep, and today I'm here to debunk those myths so you can be more "woke"! (Sorry…)

myths about sleep

Myth #1: It's okay to watch TV before bed.

You probably already knew this wasn't okay, because the light and noise are too stimulating and wake you up too much…But actually, there are two slightly more in-depth things to add here:

The first is that looking at a screen usually means you're looking at blue light. Blue light is the worst to look at when you're trying to fall asleep because it suppresses your body's production of melatonin, your natural sleep aid! For whatever reason, blue light makes it impossible for our body to produce its own sleepy chemical!

The second thing is that bright light at night interrupts our 24-hour clock (circadian rhythm). It tricks our body into thinking it's daytime. And you might think, "Melissa, I knew that!!"

But, when it comes to myths about sleep, did you know THIS?

Every cue that tells you it's time to wake up and that it's time to go to bed is called a "zeitgeber."

So, light/dark, cold/hot, loud/quiet, as well as exercising and eating patterns, are all "zeitgebers" that contribute to whether your body thinks it's time for bed!

And too much light is not only an "AWAKE!!" zeitgeber, but it actually ruins all the other efforts you're making to fall asleep. You can be in a warm, quiet room with perfect exercise and eating habits…and the light can STILL sabotage your ability to fall asleep!

Myth #2: Some people really only do need 5 hours of sleep. It's rare, but a few people are genetically blessed enough to be able to do it!

You hear it all the time: people "humble bragging" that they can make it on 5 hours of sleep. Or, maybe you've read an article spreading these myths about sleep…that there are a few LUCKY people who can actually function on 5 hours of sleep, due to genetics. But, deep in your heart, you knew it just couldn't be true, didn't you??

For example, Jim Cramer, who hosts Mad Money, claims that he can get by with only 4 hours of sleep a night to feel alert and well-rested. Or, there was an article in The Wall Street Journal claiming some people are "short sleepers," the genetically blessed 1% of the population.

But the mythical "short sleepers" are just that – mythical! A study done on 100 pairs of twins showed that the twin with the short sleeper gene needed one hour less of sleep a night then the other twin. Only one hour! So if someone tells you they are well-rested on 5 hours of sleep or less, feel free to tell them to hit the hay!!

Which brings us to our final myth…

Myth #3: It's possible to get a poor night's sleep and still, luckily, not be too tired!

So it's one of those rare times where you got 5 hours of sleep and when you wake up, you don't feel all that tired!

"Man," you think. "That's lucky! I must have slept really soundly when I did sleep." And while that's nice in theory…in reality, less sleep is always going to mean less light, REM, and deep sleep (even though it is true that you can get, for example, a higher percentage of deep sleep on one night than another night).

Studies show that with people who got 5 hours or less of sleep, and say that they feel well-rested, they've actually just deluded themselves into thinking they can function as well as usual. (They performed far worse on tests even when they said they weren't tired.)

You're way less awake then you think you are! 😉

And so, if you're the type of person who thinks they can get 5 hours of sleep and do OK, you really need to rethink things! Instead, you're actually falling into "micro sleeps" for 3 or 4 seconds at a time at the wheel…and, studies show, acting much like a drunk driver at that same wheel!

So buying into false myths about sleep can literally be DEADLY.

I'm having fun with this myth-busting series, so if there are any other topics where you'd like to know whether something is the truth or a myth, let me know. I'm happy to be your favorite mythbuster!!