4 Common Sleep Myths That Are Keeping You Up at Night
You'll rest easy knowing there's no truth to these commonly held sleep myths.
A good night's sleep is hard to come by, especially when a multitude of factors threaten to ruin your nightly routine. One such threat: commonly held sleep myths we've all been led to believe over time.
In an effort to debunk common sleeping myths (like that age-old fear of swallowing a spider mid-snooze) across the globe, the relaxation experts at Calm—a sleep and meditation app—surveyed 4,337 adults across the U.S., United Kingdom, and France.
"There are so many common myths about sleep that we wanted to find out which ones are, in fact, most widely believed," says Calm co-founder, Michael Acton Smith. While some sleep myths are fairly harmless, results from the survey revealed that a few fables may be harmful to your overall sleep health.
Concerned you're not meeting your requisite eight hours of shut-eye? Read up on Calm's sleep myths that may be keeping you up at night.
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Myth #1: You should stay in bed if you're struggling to fall asleep.
It sounds counterintuitive, but putting some physical space between you and your bed may be the solution to sleepless nights. If you find you're still tossing, turning, or scrolling through Instagram 20 minutes after you turn off the light, the National Sleep Foundation advises on actually getting out of bed. According to the NSF website, restless sleepers should get up and return to another place in the home to engage in a relaxing activity, like reading or listening to music.
"Lying in bed awake can create an unhealthy link between your sleeping environment and wakefulness," says the foundation. Rather than associate your plush sleeping arrangement with sleepless anxiety, it's best to link your bed and its accoutrements with sleepy thoughts only.
Myth #2: A regular nightcap helps you sleep more soundly.
As perfect a pair as white wine and Friends reruns are in the hours before bedtime, booze before snooze is a definite no-no. Numerous studies have proven that alcohol consumption disrupts healthy sleep patterns, and according to the National Sleep Foundation, "While alcohol may calm you and speed the onset of sleep, it actually increases the number of times you awaken during the night." With that in mind, restless night owls may want to swap our their nightcap for a more sleep-friendly cup of caffeine-free tea.
Myth #3: You can catch up on lost sleep by hitting snooze on the weekends.
Sleeping in come Saturday sounds incredibly tempting, but hitting snooze doesn't repay your sleep debt. Making up for lost sleep over the weekend simply doesn't work, and according to a Harvard Medical School study, chronic sleep loss is nearly impossible to catch up on. "Even when you sleep an extra 10 hours to compensate for sleeping only six hours a night for up to two weeks, your reaction times and ability to focus is worse than if you had pulled an all-nighter," says the National Sleep Foundation.
Myth #4: You swallow a few spiders every year while you sleep.
It's true that spider swallowing is a fear that most of us have harbored in our minds since we first heard of the myth. Whatever the source of this urban legend, the good (nay, great) news is that it's simply not true. "Common house spiders just aren't that interested in sleeping humans," advises the sleep experts at Tuck. "A snoozing person is more likely to scare a spider than attract one."