Here at PurePower, we’re pretty passionate about sleep. However, we’re still seeing so much misinformation shared on how, when, and why we sleep. We’re here to set the record straight on 9 common sleep myths so you can get back to catching some quality Zs.
1. Myth: We need less sleep as we get older
There is some truth to this myth, in that as we grow up, the recommended amount of sleep drops from 19 hours a day for newborn babies to 8-10 hours for teenagers. However, this then plateaus out at 7-9 hours for the rest of our adult lives, even for seniors. The reason this myth is so widely believed is that older people often struggle to sleep well, waking more often at night and needing more naps during the day. However, the overall time they need sleep remains the same as younger adults.
2. Myth: People can get by on 5 hours of sleep a night
Although many adults claim not to need much sleep, saying that they feel rested following only a few hours, research has shown that after just a few days of restricted sleep, cognitive ability declines compared with people who sleep at least 7 hours a night. The bottom line is that while many people are simply used to living with chronic sleep deprivation, it’s not doing them any good.
3. Myth: The more you sleep, the better
Yes, most adults don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean that we should all be sleeping 9+ hours a night. While some people, such as those who are pregnant or recovering from an illness, need more than 9 hours a night, for everyone else, this can actually be detrimental to health. One study even linked excessive sleep to detrimental health outcomes and increased morbidity.
4. Myth: Alcohol can help you sleep better
A recent survey found that around 1 in 5 Americans regularly consume alcohol as a sleep aid. However, they could unwittingly be doing more harm than good, as alcohol has actually been shown to negatively affect sleep quality and duration, as well as reducing time spent in REM and increasing the likelihood of sleep apnea. If you do need help falling asleep, opt for natural botanicals instead of alcohol.
5. Myth: Successful people don’t waste time sleeping
It’s sold as part of the “hustle lifestyle”—why waste time asleep when you could be out there winning? Yet, as we saw in number 2, it is impossible to operate at peak performance if you’re not sleeping well enough. Many highly influential people, from Jeff Bezos to Bill Gates to the Dalai Lama, have recognized this crucial fact, and credit the power of sleep as a key to their success.
6. Myth: Napping in the daytime can make up for not sleeping at night
Have you ever taken a nap and ended up feeling more groggy and tired than when you fell asleep? That’s because when we nap in the daytime, we don’t move through the different stages of sleep in the same way. As such, naps are not a replacement for a proper night’s sleep. If you do feel the need to nap occasionally, limit your time asleep to 30 minutes to avoid moving into a deep sleep.
7. Myth: Moving around at night is a sign of poor sleep
The phrase “tossing and turning all night” is usually shorthand for a bad night’s rest. However, that doesn’t mean that you should expect to lie still for the full eight hours if you’re getting good-quality sleep. Small movements such as shifting around or rolling over are completely normal. You should only be concerned if your actions are violent, wake you up regularly, or involve sleepwalking.
8. Myth: Exercising before bed will stop you from falling asleep
This one is a bit complicated—we cover it in more detail here if you’re interested. In short, the relationship between exercise and sleep quality is complex, and changes according to age, lifestyle, and, of course, the type of exercise. Most studies agree, however, that gentle exercise before bed, such as yoga or stretching, can actually improve your sleep.
9. Myth: Your sleep environment doesn’t affect your sleep quality
Although most people can logically understand that having a good bedroom setup will help improve sleep quality, that doesn’t stop at least two-thirds of Americans from sleeping with their cellphone in their beds. It’s not just encroaching technology that can be detrimental to rest either: temperature, light levels, noise, and even color can affect the way we sleep. Don’t worry if this seems complicated—we’ve gathered all the top tips for hacking your sleep environment in this handy guide.