Four Sleep Myths That Could Be Damaging Your Health
Believe it or not, according to new information published independently in both the United States and in the United Kingdom, your attitudes and ideas about sleep can actually have a horrific impact on your health and well-being.
Researchers at New York University as well as those working on behalf of the BBC independently arrived at the conclusion that there are a host of sleep myths damaging your health– sleep myths you likely hold up as truth right now – with most people none the wiser.
Below we clear up for of the most dangerous of these myths, shining a light on the topic so that you can not only get better sleep each night but also so that you can improve your overall health and well-being at the same time.
Let’s dive right in!
Hot Toddys And Alcohol Help Sleep
There is something almost primal and soothing about the idea of having a nightcap to relax your mind and your body.
Plenty of people around the world slow things down at the end of the day with a glass of wine, a bit of whiskey, or maybe just a pint or two of their favorite beer. A lot of people are operating under the idea that this little bit of alcohol is going to help them get to sleep faster and enjoy higher-quality sleep at the same time.
Unfortunately, new research shows that while alcohol may help you to fall asleep faster it will dramatically reduce the overall quality of your sleep each night – damaging your health along the way.
Incredibly valuable REM sleep is degraded significantly after consuming alcohol. On top of that, alcohol works as a diuretic and you may find yourself waking up frequently throughout the night to go to the bathroom.
Health Benefits To Sleeping Naked Or On Your Side
Even though researchers show that only about 8% of the population sleeps naked on a consistent basis – and only about 40% of people are “side sleepers” – both of these decisions can dramatically improve your overall health and well-being while increasing the quality of sleep you enjoy each night.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have shown that just some of the health benefits of sleeping nude include helping to reduce stress and anxiety, helping to lose weight faster while you sleep, and that there may even be a link between sleeping in the nude and making more money (the last one is still a little bit tenuous at best).
Sleeping nude (and sleeping on your side, for that matter – particularly in the “fetal position”) is a lot more natural for obvious reasons. It also helps you to sleep cooler, something that improves your immune system response. It’ll even reduce your blood pressure levels, protecting you from cardiovascular disease and heart issues later down the line.
Sleeping on your side helps to prevent sleep apnea, helps to cut down on snoring, and has also been linked to falling asleep faster and staying in REM sleep much longer, too.
Sleeping Less Can Make You Live Longer
There’s an idea out there that just won’t seem to die, the idea that people who sleep last live longer than those that spend a lot more time each night sleeping – but nothing could be further from the truth.
Sure, some of history’s most productive human beings slept as little as possible each night and were able to enjoy incredible personal success as well as health and vitality. But modern research conclusively shows that getting any less than five hours of sleep each night is one of the most damaging things you can do to your short and long-term health prospects.
Your risk factors for cardiovascular disease (including heart attack and stroke) skyrocket almost immediately, your risk for neurological disease (including Alzheimer’s and dementia) skyrocket as well, and there’s even a link between not getting enough sleep each night and diabetes.
Shoot for at least six hours of sleep each night and ideally between eight and nine if you can squeeze it in.
Sleep Deprivation Causes Weight Loss
As we highlighted above, getting more sleep – and higher-quality sleep each night – is actually going to help trigger the kind of metabolic uptick you’re looking for to improve your weight loss results.
Too many people are wondering can sleep deprivation causes weight loss, but the truth is actually the exact opposite. Sleep deprivation stunts your body’s ability to lose weight, in part by putting it into “survival mode” that will slow your metabolism down, conserve energy in any way possible, and actually make it harder to lose weight altogether.
Can not sleeping because weight loss in the short-term?
Sure it can.
But over the long haul you’ll be doing a great disservice to not only your weight loss journey by depriving yourself of sleep but you’ll also be negatively impacting your health and well-being, too.
Other Myths Surrounding Sleep
Some of the other sleep myths damaging your health that are quite popular include, but certainly aren’t limited to:
- Watching television (or streaming on your phone) helps you fall asleep faster
- If you’re struggling to fall asleep stay in bed and you’ll eventually not off
- Hitting the “snooze button” will help you feel more refreshed in the morning
- There’s really nothing wrong with a bit of snoring each night
… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Truth be told, the kind of light generated by modern screens (televisions, mobile devices, etc.) so closely mimics sunlight that are body naturally cannot fall into a circadian rhythm. This keeps us awake a lot more than it helps us fall asleep.
If you’re struggling to fall asleep the fastest way to fall asleep faster is not to lay there and think about your situation, but instead to rollover, climb out of bed, and maybe do a bit of light reading or a little bit of light physical exercise (like push-ups) for about 30 minutes before you jump back into bed. You’ll find you fall asleep a lot faster this way.
Research shows that the snooze button is disastrous to your energy levels each morning. If you go through a sleep, wake, sleep, wake cycle too often you’ll find yourself depleted of energy and a whole lot groggier than you would have been if you just popped out of bed at the first alarm.
Finally, snoring may be harmless but it also can be a sign and symptom of sleep apnea – a potentially dangerous disease you’ll want to get checked out by a medical expert.
At the end of the day, hopefully the dispelling of some of these myths helps you get higher-quality sleep each night going forward.