Sleep Health

Top 7 Sleep Myths: Fact or Fiction?

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Sleep, diet and exercise make up the three pillars of health1. These ingredients form the recipe for a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle. But sleep is often the forgotten or misunderstood element in this formula.

Many of us are still in the dark about how to achieve a good slumber. So, we’ve decided to shine a light on some of the most common myths about sleep. Let’s get the facts about sleep to awaken your best.

Myth 1: Snoring is a sign of good sleep

Fiction
It’s normal to snore a little sometimes. But if more than three times per week, you experience loud, disruptive snoring, it may be time to see your doctor2.

Myth 2: Screen time before bed will keep you awake

Fact
Just 1.5 hours or more of screen time reduces your feeling of sleepiness3. Repeated use can reset your body clock where you’ll want to go to bed later and sleep in4. It’s best to put away your devices at least one hour before bed to give your mind and body time to wind down.

Myth 3: Your brain and body can adapt to less sleep

Fiction
Less sleep can lead to a decline in your cognitive performance5. It means your brain is not performing at full operational capacity. This may feel like you are working extra hard to concentrate on a task.

Having the occasional night of getting less than 7 hours of sleep will not do long-term harm. But when you’re facing constant sleep deprivation you should seek help. You may get used to a lack of sleep or a misaligned body clock, but this can cause an increased risk of serious health consequences6

Myth 4: Naps are bad for you

Well, it depends…napping can be good for catching up on sleep. But napping will help or harm depending on your age, nap motive and duration.

Keep in mind that napping during the day could impact your night-time sleep. The ideal nap length is around 10 to 20 minutes. This is because it is long enough to help you feel refreshed but not too long that you will feel drowsy7.

Be careful not to make long daytime naps a habit. Long daytime naps are related to a higher risk of health issues such as diabetes and heart disease in older people8.

The best thing you can do is to aim for around 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Take a short “power nap” during the day to fight your feelings of fatigue when you need.

Myth 5: Sleep apnea only affects men

Fiction
It’s simply untrue that only overweight, middle-aged or elderly men experience sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can impact men and women at any age. Studies show that 3 in 10 men and almost 1 in 5 women have sleep apnea9. Yet almost 90 per cent of women don’t know they have it10.

Symptoms of sleep apnea in women include insomnia, headaches, restless legs, anxiety and depression. But they are often misdiagnosed due to a lack of knowledge of how sleep apnea appears in females11.

Sleep tests can help rule out any underlying sleep issues. Speak to your doctor to discuss sleep test options and whether a home sleep test is right for you.

Myth 6: Getting better sleep can improve your immunity

Fact
Good sleep can boost the immune system. Sleep doesn't only help with learning and memory capture. It can also help the immune system remember how to respond to antigens12.

On the flip side, a lack of sleep can interfere with your immunity and make it easier for you to get sick13. If you often catch a cold or flu, it might be time to look at how much you sleep14.

Myth 7: Alcohol helps you sleep

Fiction
That ends our sleep myth-busting. We hope you feel empowered with the knowledge to help you get better sleep. Sleep will be your secret superpower as you feel rest assured in understanding how to sleep well.

Interested in learning more about your sleep? Take our free online sleep assessment. It only takes a few minutes!

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Citations

1

Source: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/diet-exercise-sleep

2
Source: Ibid.
3

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5839336/#R74

4
Source: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/teens-and-sleep/screen-time-and-insomnia-for-teens#:~:text=Screen%20time%20is%20linked%20to,and%20increased%20next%2Dday%20sleepiness
5

Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12603781/

6
Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34775538/
7
Source: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/napping
8
Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26096839/
9
Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23589584/
10
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2825714/
11
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5028797/
12
Source: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/how-sleep-affects-immunity
13
Source: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/how-sleep-affects-immunity
14

Source: Ibid.

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