Popular sleep myths proven false by expert

From counting sheep to never waking up a sleepwalker, there seems to be a lot of sleeping myths and misconceptions out there that can confuse people into not separating the myths from the real facts. Sleep experts from Adjustable Beds have carried out research on how some popular sleep statements are not always true. 

MYTH: You can function efficiently on a few hours of sleep a night  

Individuals performing their best with very little sleep rank high amongst popular sleeping myths. Although the National Institution of Health has reported that there is a rare, mutated gene that can support this theory, it is an infrequent case.  It’s common to see motivational TikToker’s and celebrities claim that they don’t need much sleep, for example, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson claimed in an interview with Variety, that he functions just fine on three to five hours of sleep a night. However, unless the individual has the previously mentioned mutated gene, working efficiently on a few hours’ sleep has proven to not be true.  

It can be noted that individuals who claim to function normally on very little hours of sleep could just actually be unaware of the impairment, as when people are sleep deprived their ability to accurately assess their own performance decreases, so they may not realize how many mistakes they are making.  According to a 2018 study by the Sleep Research Society that examined more than 10,000 people’s sleeping habits and found that getting four hours of sleep a night is equivalent to adding eight years of ageing to the participant’s brains. 

MYTH: Sleeping less makes you skinny 

This myth is based on the thought that less time sleeping in the morning is related to having a more active life that burns more calories overall. However, less sleep not only does not help you lose weight, but it can cause the opposite effect.  

Harvard Medical School published that the amount of sleep a person gets affects certain hormones. These hormones include leptin and ghrelin, which affects individuals’ appetite as they control feelings of hunger and fullness. For example, leptin is produced in fat cells and signals the brain when you are full while, while ghrelin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract and stimulates appetite. So, when you do not get enough sleep, the leptin levels decrease so that you do not feel full after eating and then ghrelin levels also increase, making you crave more food.  

To simply put it, the less sleep you get can mean putting on more weight.  

MYTH: Counting sheep makes you fall asleep quicker  

Counting sheep is has been a popular believe for generations and thought to have been derived from shepherds in medieval times. The method is simple, a repetitive and boring activity of counting sheep to make you fall asleep.  

However, scientists at Oxford University found that counting sheep might bore sleepers too much and cause a distraction. Instead, they found in a study that imaging tranquil images, such as waterfalls or beaches, can make you fall asleep a whole 20 minutes faster than counting sheep. 

MYTH: Napping is lazy  

This myth popularity is dependent on cultures, as generally napping can be looked upon as quite lazy and a waste of daytime. However, in other cultures, such as Spain, a daytime siesta is typically a chance for workers in hot countries to beat the mid-day heat and rest.  

Research by the American Heart Association finds that napping can bring lots of benefits such as improving attention, memory, and performance at work. Although it is warned, not to get into a deep stage of sleep by napping too long or too late in the day as it can disrupt sleep patterns. It is recommended to keep naps to under 30 minutes and earlier in the afternoon, around lunch time.  

MYTH: Never wake up a sleepwalker 

This universal myth has even made it onto films screens such as Step Brothers and Secondhand Lions however the danger of waking up a sleepwalker remains one of the most incorrect facts around sleepwalking.  

Although a sleepwalker may have no memory or be difficult to wake up, Scientific American research confirmed the individual will not die or go into shock if you do wake them. It is worth noting they can be disoriented and be defensive when woke up but like a similar reaction when waking someone up in bed. It is actually encouraged to wake up a sleepwalker depending on the surrounding environment as it can be quite dangerous, as driving, leaving gas burners on and falling down the stairs are all examples of severe sleepwalking activities.  

Author Profile

The Editorial Team at Lake Oconee Health is made up of skilled health and wellness writers and experts, led by Daniel Casciato who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We aim to provide our readers with valuable insights and guidance to help them lead healthier and happier lives.