Sometimes the things we think we know can be our own worst enemy. This is true when it comes to sleep. Misunderstandings and misinformation handed down or around from others can result in us not doing the things we should or doing things we should not. If you are waking up tired or struggling to get to sleep, one of these common sleep myths may be to blame.
1. I Will Sleep When I Am Dead
While this statement offers an extreme example, it signifies the attitude and belief that many of us have about sleep – we can get by on less than we need. This myth is pervasive throughout our society and unfortunately, it carries some serious consequences. Long term sleep deprivation has been linked to everything from diabetes to cancer to pre-mature death. But you don’t have to wait until your earlier-than-it-should-be death to see how skipping sleep affects your life. In the short term, not getting enough sleep impacts your cognitive abilities, your alertness, your mood, and your productivity.
Remember, being able to function isn’t the same as living and thriving. You may be able to make it through tomorrow if you skimp on sleep tonight but the consequences make skipping sleep for anything else a bad bargain.
2. I Don’t Need as Much Sleep as Other People
Okay, this one might be true as long as the less sleep still means getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night. However, most of the time, this statement is used to justify sleeping only 4 or 5 hours a night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night and that includes you. Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis increases your risk of several serious health problems like heart disease and hypertension.
While you may not need 9 hours of sleep it is very unlikely that your daily sleep requirement hovers around the 4 to 5 hour mark. Give yourself enough time to get the sleep you need so you can wake up well rested and ready to take on the world.
3. I Can Just Sleep In on the Weekend
This is probably one of the most common sleep myths commonly believed by adults. While it is true that you can help pay down your sleep debt by getting a little extra sleep here and there, believing that you can pay back sleep you miss during the week on Saturday morning simply isn’t true. Skipping sleep during the week and then sleeping in on the weekend can actually do more harm than good when it comes to your overall sleep. Trying to payback missed sleep in this manner just disrupts your overall sleep pattern and causes confusion that can contribute to sleep difficulties.
Maintaining a consistent sleep routine which means going to bed and getting up at the same time every day helps ensure you get the sleep you need. While taking a nap on the weekend might help you make a payment on your sleep debt, sleeping in will only leave you more tired in the end.