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5 Popular Sleep Myths Debunked

Experts address popular sleep myths and misconceptions

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From counting sheep to never waking up a sleepwalker, there are plenty of myths out there when it comes to sleep. Sleep experts from Adjustable Beds share research on how some popular sleep statements are not always true. 

MYTH: You can function efficiently on a few hours of sleep.  

Many claim to function well with little to no sleep. Although the National Institution of Health has reported there is a mutated gene that possibly supports this, it is very rare. It’s common for motivational TikToker’s and celebrities to claim they don’t need much sleep—Dwayne The Rock Johnson claimed in an interview with Variety that he functions just fine on three to five hours of sleep a night. However, unless the individual has the previously mentioned gene, working efficiently on a few hours of sleep proves to not be true.  

Many who claim to function normally on very little hours of sleep could be unaware of the impairment. According to a 2018 study by the Sleep Research Society that examined more than 10,000 individuals’ sleeping habits, getting four hours of sleep a night is equivalent to adding eight years of aging to their  brains. 

MYTH: Sleeping less makes you skinny.  

Sleeping less in the morning is often correlated to having a more active life, ultimately burning more calories overall. However, less sleep not only does not help you lose weight, but it can cause the opposite effect.  

Harvard Medical School highlighted the amount of sleep a person gets affects certain hormones. These hormones include leptin and ghrelin, which affects individuals’ appetites as they control feelings of hunger and fullness. For example, leptin is produced in fat cells and signals the brain when you are full, while ghrelin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract and stimulates appetite. When you do not get enough sleep, the leptin levels decrease so that you do not feel full after eating and then ghrelin levels also increase, making you crave more food.  

The less sleep you get can actually mean putting on more weight. 

MYTH: Counting sheep makes you fall asleep quicker.  

Counting sheep has been a popular belief for generations and may have been derived from shepherds in medieval times. A simple and repetitive method of counting sheep should work to make you fall asleep. 

However, scientists at Oxford University found  counting sheep might bore individuals too much and cause a distraction. Instead, they found in a study that imagining tranquil images, such as waterfalls or beaches, can make people  fall asleep 20 minutes faster than counting sheep. 

MYTH: Napping is lazy.  

In some cultures, napping is looked upon as lazy and a waste of daytime. However, in other cultures, such as Spain, a daytime siesta or nap is typically a chance for workers in hot countries to beat the midday heat and rest.  

Research by the American Heart Association found napping brings lots of benefits, such as improving attention, memory, and performance at work. People should not to get into a deep stage of sleep by napping too long or too late in the day as it can disrupt sleep patterns. It is recommended to keep naps under 30 minutes and earlier in the afternoon, around lunch time.  

MYTH: Never wake up a sleepwalker.  

This myth has made it onto movies such as “Step Brothers” and “Secondhand Lions,” even though it is actually incorrect. The danger of waking up a sleepwalker remains one of the most incorrect facts around sleepwalking.  Although a sleepwalker may be disoriented or difficult to wake up, Scientific American research confirmed the individual will not die or go into shock if you wake them. They can be disoriented and defensive when woken up but it is a similar reaction to waking up someone from their bed. It is actually encouraged to wake up a sleepwalker depending on the surrounding environment as it can be dangerous.

About The Author
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Sophia is an intern for Well Defined. She is passionate about journalism and has focused on writing stories covering adoption, sports, and other topics as a staff writer and copy editor for her high school yearbook staff. She has achieved several high school journalism awards for her writing and has aspirations for a successful professional writing career.