Scientists Dispel The Most Common Sleep Myths In A New Study

mbg Contributor By Caroline Muggia
mbg Contributor
Caroline Muggia is a writer, environmental advocate, and registered yoga teacher (E-RYT) with a B.A. in Environmental Studies & Psychology from Middlebury College.

Image by Studio Firma / Stocksy

We know sleep is essential for our mental, physical, and emotional health yet there's contention over how much sleep we need and what promotes and hinders sleep. It turns out that some common sleep myths could be fueling these debates and confusing us further. Luckily, a group of researchers from NYU School of Medicine is here to set the record straight.

In the new study published in Sleep Health, the researchers reviewed over 8,000 online sources to find the twenty most common sleep myths and whether they are, in fact, myths or supported by scientific evidence, and the extent to which they could negatively impact people's health.

Myth #1: People can get by on five hours of sleep

The researchers found that this is one of the most common sleep myths and was easily contradicted by scientific evidence that suggested a more consistent sleep schedule and at least seven hours a night is optimal for overall health.

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Myth #2: Snoring is harmless

Many people snore, and the researchers pointed out that in many cases it's not something to be concerned about. Nonetheless, it's not something to completely dismiss since snoring can be an indication of sleep apnea. The researchers suggest consulting a doctor if you or someone you know is experiencing loud snoring to ensure there's no risk of adverse health conditions.

Myth #3: A drink before bed helps you sleep

There's a common belief that having a drink before bed helps you sleep. Well, according to this study, there's scientific evidence that drinks before bed inhibit someone reaching a deep sleep, which is essential for healthy functioning.

The study suggests that some sleep advice, like whether or not to sleep in occasionally, is disputed among sleep experts. In light of these debates, the researchers point to the need for more research to provide clarity on certain contended myths.

"Sleep is important to health, and there needs to be greater effort to inform the public regarding this important public health issue," said the study's senior investigator Girardin Jean Louis, Ph.D., a professor in the departments of Population Health and Psychiatry at NYU Langone, in a statement.

The researchers suggest that doctors can play a critical role in dispelling sleep myths by speaking with their patients about healthy sleeping habits. "By discussing sleep habits with their patients, doctors can help prevent sleep myths from increasing risks for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes," said Jean Louis.

There isn't a perfect prescription for getting adequate sleep but with more science-backed knowledge and tips to build healthier sleep habits we can all work toward getting some more quality zzz's.

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