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Fact or Fiction? 12 Common Sleep Myths Debunked

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Sleep is essential - that’s a fact. But is everything you know about it truthful? With a plethora of sleep myths floating around, the lines between fact and fiction are blurred. You’ve probably heard of these misconceptions numerous times that they’re already etched in your practices as indisputable.

Untrue facts about sleeping can lead to misplaced worries or, worse, wreak havoc on your lifestyle. Unknowingly, these could be causing sleep deprivation only disguised as helpful advice. Busting sleep myths will help us wake up to the truth, understand our bodies better, and ultimately get blissful rest.

From snoring to forcing sleep, let us put these false sleeping facts to rest as we shed light on the truth behind good sleep.

Myth #1: Everyone needs 8 hours of sleep every night

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You might be wondering: is 6 hours of sleep enough? Should I hit that much-coveted 8-hour uninterrupted rest to feel recharged? How much deep sleep is enough?

The truth is it depends. Just like how each body is unique, individuals also have different sleep requirements. Note that longer slumber isn’t always better, the best is the one that fits your body’s needs. 

According to WebMD, 7 to 9 hours is the most common sleep duration among adults. Some can go up to 10-12 hours while a few people can function with as little as 6 hours of rest. Five hours or less is not recommended for adults, though some stick to a segmented sleep cycle. They may opt to rest 4 hours twice a day or whichever shifting system works for them. 

To find out how many hours is ideal for you, track your bedtime hours then observe your mood and alertness level the day after. Drowsiness and the need for extra caffeine and sleep signal that you’re short on quality rest.

Myth #2: Lettuce water helps you sleep

Fresh lettuce

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For centuries, lettuce has been used as a sedative as it contains lactucarium. It has gained recent attention on TikTok as a cure for insomnia but no studies have proved the direct correlation between lettuce water consumption and induced slumber.

Myth #3: If you can’t fall asleep, it’s best to stay in bed

One of the false sleeping facts is that sleep can be forced. Simply closing your eyes shut won’t do. And constant tossing and turning in bed won’t help either. 

If you are having difficulty drifting off within 20 minutes, dissociate your bed from your feeling of uneasiness. Get up, relax for a bit, or engage in low-impact activities. Try reading, listening to music, or meditating until you feel dozy. 

You can also explore the relaxing 4-7-8 sleep trick or breathing technique wherein you breathe in for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds.

Myth #4: Sleeping facing north is a big no-no

You’ve probably heard of a long-lived sleep myth that your resting position and direction can affect your health. Some traditions believe that spending the night with your head towards the north can cause nightmares and sleep paralysis. 

This belief originated from ancient Hindus following the same principles as Feng Shui - the energy flow and magnetic forces of the Earth impact our lives. According to this philosophy, sleeping facing north coincides with the positive pole of the Earth, repelling your body’s positive pole at the head. Hence, the disrupted blood flow and rest. 

It is worth noting there was a study countering this claim as it found that the north sleep position results in longer Rapid Eye Movement (REM) latency or deep sleep. However, until sufficient scientific evidence is revealed, the idea that sleep facing north directly influences sleep deprivation remains a myth. 

Experts are debunking sleep myths like this one, emphasizing that comfort matters more. If you can spend the night in a peaceful environment with ease, you are off to a good night's rest, regardless of direction.

Myth #5: Snoring is harmless

Mild snoring shouldn’t be worrisome. But when it becomes excessive and loud, it can be a sign of underlying health conditions like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).                      

To reduce snoring, try treatments such as over-the-counter medications, positive airway pressure (PAP) devices, anti-snoring mouthpieces, or lifestyle adjustments related to losing weight. 

Myth #6: Sleeping with wet hair gives you cold

Woman brushing her wet hair before bedtime

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One of the common sleep myths is that going to bed with wet hair will make you sick. There is some truth to this as doing so will run your scalp the risk of fungal infections, leading to dandruff formation and dermatitis. But it’s not the main culprit for viral diseases.  

Sleeping in cold temperature levels won’t necessarily give you a cold. While you are most likely to get sick during rainy seasons, this is due to exposure to respiratory viruses, not how wet your hair is. 

If you want to steer away from hair damage, it is best to wait for it to dry before bedtime. Take note of some precautions to protect your hair’s health when sleeping with wet hair. 

Myth #7: Sleepwalking is not dangerous

Sleepwalkers can hurt themselves and others. There were reported cases of them jumping out the window, leaving home, driving, breaking things, etc. 

If you see someone having a sleep walking episode, keep an eye on them and guide them back to bed safely. Wake them up if necessary. 

Myth #8: Catching up on sleep resolves sleep deprivation

Sleeping in on weekends seems like a convenient remedy for sleep-deprived, overworked people. Some might think cutting back on rest during the busy workweek is fine as long as they can recover from sleep debt when they’re already free. Falling into this habit does more harm than good because of the changing patterns. 

Yes, you may feel energized after gaining extended rest a few days a week. In sleep myths psychology, it may offer a false feeling of recovery. But in no way does it completely reverse the effects of sleep loss. 

A deficit of one hour may take up to four days to recoup and your body needs up to nine days for it to return to baseline levels.

Myth #9: Exercising at night interferes with sleep

Woman exercising at night

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Debunking sleeping misconceptions like this one might be the best thing that can happen to all fitness enthusiasts. No more skipping evening workouts because contrary to popular beliefs, exercising before bedtime won’t hurt! In fact, one study showed that evening exercises enhance sleep.

But if you’re doing intense routines, it might be ideal to work out at least an hour and thirty minutes before bed to give enough time for your body to cool down. 

Myth #10: Bedtime schedule doesn’t matter, only the duration

The timing is as important as the amount of rest you’re getting. A regular circadian rhythm or your internal body “clocks” are crucial for optimum health. If you’re constantly snoozing alarm clocks and struggling to wake up on time, that implies that they are out of sync.

Shifting patterns are only normal for infants undergoing a 4-month sleep regression. Generally, the time you should sleep and wake up must be consistent and aligned with the environment. As a wake up hack, try the 90 min sleep cycle where you set your alarm 90 minutes prior to waking up.

This is also the reason why sleeping with the lights on can negatively impact your circadian rhythm. Night owls are deemed unhealthy because irregular biological tendencies increase the risk of heart problems and diabetes.

Myth #11: Alcohol makes you sleep better

Man drinking alcohol in his living room

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A nightcap may help you doze off faster due to alcohol’s sedative properties, but it does not improve the quality of rest. Booze before bedtime can disrupt your sleep the rest of the night once the effect wears off.

Moreover, intoxication may result in frequent waking, vivid nightmares, and drowsiness the day after. It is recommended to steer clear of indulging in a drink or two at least four hours before going to bed. Note that you should never mix sleeping pills and alcohol as it could trigger a harmful interaction resulting in impaired memory and sleepwalking. 

Myth #12: You can sleep best in a warmer bedroom

When you drift off to dreamland, your core body temperature dips. Hotter rooms are not conducive to restorative sleep as they impede your body’s instinct to rest. 

Opt for the temperature most comfortable for you. Some experts would recommend 18°C to 26°C room temperature. 

Apart from a cold room temperature, the best way to sleep well is to invest in quality beddings and temperature-regulating sheets. Luxury bed sheets like TENCEL™ are renowned for their sustainable and moisture-wicking properties, perfect for keeping hot sleepers cool and sweat-free no matter the weather.

To help you choose the best bed sheets for you, take into consideration the quality, type of material, thread count, price, and more. 

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