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Busting 7 Popular Sleep Myths and the Real Tricks to Get Better Rest

Here's the truth about some of the most common sleep myths.

McKenzie Dillon Writer
McKenzie, a Certified Sleep Science Coach and proclaimed mattress expert, has been writing sleep content in the wellness space for over four years. After earning her certification from the Spencer Institute and dedicating hundreds of hours to sleep research, she has extensive knowledge on the topic and how to improve your quality of rest. Having more experience with lying on mattresses than most, McKenzie has reviewed over 150 beds and a variety of different sleep products including pillows, mattress toppers and sheets. McKenzie has also been a guest on multiple radio shows including WGN Chicago as a sleep expert and contributed sleep advice to over 50 different websites.
Expertise Certified Sleep Science Coach, Certified Stress Management Coach, Bachelor of English.
McKenzie Dillon
3 min read
A bed floating against a purple background
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Sleep plays an integral role in your body and its functions, from your mood and decision-making to your immune system and heart health. Bad sleep hygiene can keep you from getting the restful sleep you need to maintain good mental and physical health. By identifying bad sleep habits and sleep myths, you set yourself on the right track for restorative sleep that actually makes you wake up feeling refreshed. 

Below, I debunk common sleep myths and practices you may not know are bad for sleep and offer tips on achieving better rest. 

Myth: Not everyone needs 8 hours of sleep 

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Truth: Besides a little fatigue and grogginess, you may not immediately recognize the toll poor sleep takes on your health. But studies show that sleep deprivation can damage all aspects of your health. Especially in the long term. 

Take it from the experts and some of society's most successful entrepreneurs: A full night's rest is crucial in living a long, happy life. 

Myth: Scrolling on your phone before bed is harmless

Truth: We're all guilty of endless scrolling on our phones when we should be gearing up to go to bed, but it's not just the addicting reels keeping you up. 

Electronic devices like our mobile phones and laptops emit blue light that delays melatonin production and messes with your circadian rhythm, keeping you from feeling sleepy when you should be. Wearing blue light glasses in the evening, or during the day if you work at a computer may help. 

Myth: Sleeping shirtless or nude helps you sleep cooler 

Truth: If you're a hot sleeper you might think less clothing equals a cooler, comfortable sleep, but nakedness is actually working against you in this circumstance. 

By sleeping shirtless or in the nude, your sweat has nowhere else to go but your sheets, creating a sweaty, steamy and damp sleeping surface. Wearing a lightweight, breathable pajama shirt can help wick sweat away and keep you more comfortable. 

Myth: Alcohol or a 'nightcap' before bed helps sleep

Truth: An alcoholic drink before bed is referred to as a nightcap. While alcohol is a sedative that can make some feel sleepy, it ends up harming your quality of sleep in the long run. 

Researchers from a study in Finland found a small amount of alcohol reduced sleep quality by almost 10%, by 24% after moderate alcohol consumption and by almost 40% after heavy alcohol consumption. Alcohol disrupts your body's circadian rhythm and limits time spent in restorative, slow-wave sleep. 

Myth: Consistent snoring is normal 

Truth: Snoring due to a cold or occasional alcohol consumption isn't a cause for concern, but regular snoring that's loud and disruptive could be a sign of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes your breathing to stop and restart constantly while you sleep, and could potentially be dangerous because it prevents your body from getting enough oxygen. 

If you suspect you or a loved one has sleep apnea, reach out to your doctor who can help diagnose and discuss treatment.  

Myth: Leaving a TV on before bed can help you sleep

Truth: Unless you're watching TV about a relaxing waterfall in the pitch black of night, your TV is likely disrupting your sleep. The blue light from your television messes with your circadian rhythm and melatonin production. At the same time, abrupt changes in sound and loud noises can disrupt sleep. 

I used to fall asleep with the TV on, and without fail the George Lopez show theme song would wake me up. Instead, try listening to relaxing sounds before bed with sleep headphones or curating a sleep playlist

Read more: Best Melatonin Supplements

Myth: Napping is for lazy people

Truth: There's nothing wrong with a midday nap – the key is to limit your nap to about 30 minutes or shorter to avoid entering your deep sleep stage. An afternoon power nap can help ease stress, boost memory, better your mood and even improve your performance at work. 

Read more: How to Take a Nap Without Ruining Your Sleep

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.