Sleep Myths Doctors Seriously Wish You’d Ignore

Misconceptions about sleep could rob you of a good night’s rest.

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Everyone sleeps, so we’re all experts on sleeping, right? Not exactly. Many of our commonly held beliefs about achieving good slumber are not backed by the latest scientific research on sleep. Here, sleep expert Natalie D. Dautovich, PhD, sheds light on some of the biggest myths about sleep so you can rest more easily. Thanks, science!

Sleep myth: Snoring is annoying, but not super-serious.

Snoring is one of the most well-known sleep problems, but what is snoring, exactly? Most people tend to think of it as just a nuisance or annoying quirk, but snoring is also a common symptom of sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder that can affect someone’s breathing and quality of sleep. While those adhesive strips found in drug stores may reduce the symptoms of snoring, someone with sleep apnea should consider treating the cause of the sleep disorder by meeting with a doctor or sleep specialist. In fact, making certain lifestyle changes could help prevent sleep apnea or reduce its severity.

Sleep myth: If you wake up a couple of times during the night, you’re having difficulty sleeping

Many people worry they might have insomnia after experiencing a restless night, but what is insomnia, exactly? Turns out, doctors define insomnia as not an occasional occurrence but a habitual trend. If you wake up a couple of times during the night but are able to fall back asleep relatively easily, you don’t have insomnia, assures Dr. Dautovich. Insomnia also does not apply to “night owls” or anyone working night shifts. If you regularly have a sufficient opportunity to sleep but cannot fall asleep, then you may be experiencing insomnia. There are ways to manage this sleep problem, such as picking the perfect mattress for your health needs.

Sleep myth: You can make up for lost sleep.

When work deadlines or scrolling Instagram into the wee hours keep you up past your ideal bedtime, it’s easy to think you can catch up by sleeping longer on the weekends. But this sleep strategy is simply not as effective as sticking to a regular sleep pattern throughout the week. Any day without a full night’s rest can have consequences, such as increasing stress, reducing your alertness, or raising your risk for certain health issues.