7 Myths About Sleep That Are Total B.S.
True story: You don't actually need 8 hours
You’re tired. Like all the time. And we have a feeling that some old wives’ tales are to blame. Here, all the sleep myths to stop believing and get some smarter shut-eye.
Myth: You Need 8 Hours of Sleep a Night
Truth: Sleep needs vary from person to person. (Madonna famously said she only needs four hours.) For times when you know you won’t get the full eight, use a sleep calculator to determine the exact time hours between your REM patterns. You should always aim to wake up between two cycles--not in the middle of one.
Myth: The Older You Get, The Less Sleep You Need
Truth: Sure, sleep patterns change as we age, but the amount of sleep we need does not. This handy guide from the National Sleep Foundation explains: Seven to nine hours is the sweet spot, whether you’re in your 30s or your 60s.
Myth: Hitting Snooze Is OK
Truth: It’s actually just another sign you’re sleep-deprived. In fact, if you hit snooze multiple times, those “bonus” intervals can confuse the heck out of your body and throw off your internal clock. As horrible as this sounds, it’s actually better to set your alarm for the time you actually need to get up and--this is the tough part--actually get the hell up.
Myth: You Can Catch Up On Sleep Over the Weekend
Truth: Studies have shown that one long night of extra ZZZs will help you wake up feeling refreshed…but only for the first six hours of the day. After that, you’ll notice that your reaction time is ten times slower than usual, which can lead to mistakes and errors. That said, if you can’t adjust the quantity of sleep you get during the week, focus on the quality. Little things--like investing in a sleep mask--can help.
Myth: Daytime Naps Are a Waste of Time
Truth: In short increments (say 20 to 30 minutes), they’re actually great for resetting your system and making you more productive later in the day. And FYI, famous nappers include Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Eleanor Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. You do the math.
Myth: Waking Up At Night Means You'll be Tired All Day
Truth: It actually might just be your natural cycle. So, if you wake up and can’t fall back to sleep within 15 minutes, do not--we repeat, do not--watch the clock. Instead, tune in to your rhythms and get out of bed and read a book or listen to music (just no TV!). Then, when you start to feel sleepy, go back to bed.
Myth: Never Wake A Sleepwalker
Truth: You actually should. Contrary to popular belief that doing this could be fatal, waking a sleepwalker could actually save their life. Sure, they may be startled or a bit disoriented at first, but the risks of nocturnal roaming (like climbing through windows or driving cars) are far greater than anything else.