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Debunking Sleep Myths

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On the JJ Barnes Blog, I check out some of the most widely believed sleep myths, and evidence from experts that debunks them!

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I’ve shared many times about my struggles with sleep, and I have an enduring fascination with how my body can both need something desperately, and yet constantly self saboutage against achieving. Because of this, I’ve gone down many a rabbit hole into sleep theories, and often wondered what’s true, and what’s just a myth.

To help me answer that question, the experts at Adjustable Beds sent over their findings!

Sleep Myths

There seem to be a lot of sleeping-related myths and misconceptions out there, ranging from counting sheep to never waking a sleepwalker. This can make it difficult for people to distinguish between the myths and the actual facts, so the Adjustable Beds‘ sleep specialists have conducted research to demonstrate that some commonly held beliefs regarding sleep are not always accurate.

MYTH: You can function effectively on a few hours of sleep per night.

One of the most common sleeping myths is that people perform their best with little sleep. While the National Institution of Health has revealed that there is a rate and mutated gene that can uphold this hypothesis, it is a rare case.

Motivational TikTokers and famous people often say they don’t need much sleep. For instance, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson told Variety in an interview that he works just fine on three to five hours of sleep per night. However, it has been found that this isn’t the norm, unless the individual possesses the mutated gene that was mentioned earlier.

It tends to be noticed that people who say they function normally on next to no sleep might just not be aware of the impact it’s having, and not notice the mistakes they’re making. A 2018 study by the Sleep Research Society looked at the sleeping patterns of more than 10,000 people and found that getting four hours of sleep a night adds eight years to their brains.

I do tend to function on less sleep than is ideal, but I’m definitely aware that I can make mistakes or miss things that seem obvious when I’ve managed to have some rest.

MYTH: Less sleep helps you lose weight.

The myth that less sleep makes you thin is based on the idea that being more active and burning more calories overall results from sleeping less in the morning. Be that as it may, sleeping less hasn’t been found to help you lose weight, and in many cases quite the opposite.

According to a Harvard Medical School study, a person’s hormone levels are influenced by how much sleep they get. These hormones, such as leptin and ghrelin, regulate feelings of fullness and hunger and affect one’s appetite. Leptin, for instance, is made in fat cells and tells the brain when you are full; ghrelin, on the other hand, is made in the gastrointestinal tract and makes you want to eat more. Therefore, when you don’t get enough sleep, your levels of leptin decrease, which causes you to feel full after eating, and your levels of ghrelin also rise, which makes you want more food.

Simply put, the less rest you get, the easier you’ll find it to gain weight.

This could explain some of my wobbly tummy… it’s that or the cheese..

MYTH: Counting sheep helps you fall asleep.

Counting sheep is widely held to have originated from shepherds in the Middle Ages, and it is believed to have helped people fall asleep more quickly. The strategy is straightforward and consists of counting sheep, a tedious and monotonous activity, to induce sleep.

However, researchers at Oxford University discovered that counting sheep may excessively bore sleepers and distract them. Instead, a study found that relaxing images like beaches or waterfalls can help you fall asleep 20 minutes faster than counting sheep.

I find boring things absolutely make my brain spin, so counting sheep has never worked for me.

MYTH: Napping is lazy.

The widespread belief that napping is a waste of time and a form of laziness is popular in the UK. However, in other cultures, such as Spain, workers in hot countries typically take advantage of a daytime siesta to escape the midday heat and rest.

Research by the American Heart Association finds that napping can bring heaps of advantages like improving attention and memory, and increasing performance at work. However, it’s important not to let yourself fall into too deep of a sleep. Naps should be shorter than 30 minutes and taken earlier in the afternoon, around lunchtime.

I struggle to nap unless I’m particularly exhausted, but if I’ve had a really bad night of no rest then I find a good quality nap is the kind of life affirming self care that I thrive on.

MYTH: Never wake a sleepwalker

Despite the fact that this common misconception has been depicted in movies like Step Brothers and Secondhand Lions, the possibility of awakening a sleepwalker remains one of the most inaccurate information regarding the phenomenon.

Scientific American research demonstrated that a sleepwalker will not die or go into shock if you wake them up, despite the fact that they may not have any memories or might be difficult to wake up. It’s important to note that when they are awakened, they can be confused and defensive, but it is actually encourged to wake up a sleepwalker as their wanderings may be very hazardous, including risks such as driving, leaving gas burners on and falling down the stairs.

I used to sleep walk a lot as a child, but I still do it now. I recently woke up in the porch trying to get outside, but fortunately the door was locked and the key wasn’t left in easy reach. I dread to think how far I’d have wandered before I woke up had I managed to get out!


I need to work on improving the amount of sleep I get, for a lot of reasons. How about you? Did you believe any of these myths?

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